Race Report – Ultrapalooza 50K

Dateline September 3, 2022: I did it!

So exciting because of all the stress leading up to this event. What idiot signs up for a 31 mile race on Labor Day weekend? We all know it is hot on Labor Day weekend. So I spent the summer running in the heat. I covered 290 miles in July and 370 miles in August. In both months, I averaged 5 weight sessions per week, of 25 minutes each. Going into this race, I was in great shape with no injuries.

Ten days out from the race, the last day to drop down in distance, the race day weather looked incredible: temps between 61F and 81F, clouds, and maybe some rain. But each morning thereafter, the temps got hotter and hotter. The humidity would be high. Finally, two days before the race, temps were predicted in the 90s, I freaked. It takes me 7.5 hours to complete 31 miles, and I was afraid I’d have to walk for two or three hours to finish the race if it got too hot. I freaked and turned inward to my higher power. I said, “Inner Being, I can’t do this.”

And then I sat quietly and waited for my Inner being to answer. Soon, a lady I knew from a 12 Step program popped into my mind. She is deceased and I haven’t seen her for decades. I don’t think about her often. I remember her as a wise woman who dispensed wisdom in 12-step meetings. It was quite a surprise to have her visit my meditation. She dispensed wisdom to me. She said, “I can’t, He can, I think I’ll let Him.”

I took this to mean, “Let go, Let God.” I did. I released my fear and came to believe that my Inner Being could do what I cannot. And so, the night before the race, I prepped my drinks and drop bags. I taped my toes and laid out my clothes. I went to bed early and woke up at 1:30 in the morning. The alarm wasn’t until 3:30, so I read a book. I was eager to go to the race. After I got up, I drank some coffee and ate a little. Then jumped in the car and drove an hour to the race.

All went well. I arrived in plenty of time and the race started at 6:30. It wasn’t really that cool for the morning low. I decided to jog as long as I could, to get in as many miles as I could, before the heat caught up to me, and I’d have to add in walk breaks. It turns out that I jogged up to about mile 18. I felt really good about these miles. At that point, however, it was getting hot so I added walk breaks to manage my heat stress.

I drank about one liter of Super Fuel (by Skratch) every 6 miles. Because of this, I got plenty of calories and felt really good the whole race. I also drank two packets of Pedialyte and took four Endurolyte salt tablets. I ate one gel and three Skratch bars. I had to stop at the porta-potties at every aid station every 6 miles, which means I was properly hydrated. But I took a lot of time in each aid station too. I am incredibly happy with my moving time of 7 hours and 5 minutes. I loved the ribbon and belt buckle we got as finisher awards.

The next day, I was tired but nothing injured. I want to complete a 50 mile race in two months. I now believe that I am capable of completing 50 miles, however slowly. For this 50k, I don’t think I entered the pain cave like I did last April when I did a 50k on the same course. I did many more training miles leading up to this race.

The next day. I found myself also asking myself why I do these ultramarathons. I don’t think it is about accomplishment, because that feeling is so fleeting. I don’t think it is about ego, because no ego can maintain the momentum needed to train for and finish such a race. I think it has to do with my spiritual nature. These experiences have a spiritual component that I appreciate. My life is a spiritual experience. My life doesn’t have a purpose. My life is just existing and aligning with The Greater Consciousness.

Don’t look like I’m 63 in either of these photos.

Start
Finish

If Not Today, When?

I jog/walked 22 miles today and I spent 5 hours doing it. It takes about 4 to 4.5 hours to get into sore feet territory, but it only takes about 15 miles to get into mental training territory. My brain likes to stop running around 15 miles. It is very easy to run 15 miles and doesn’t take that long. But going longer means my brain starts to come up with excuses for why I should stop running. Ignoring the excuses and continuing to log miles is my mental training. Today, when my brain wanted to quit, I asked it, “If not today, when?”

Sure there is an amazing westerly gale blowing. And yes, I didn’t like the wind in my ears so I kept my cap on. It was very warm but still not that warm so long sleeves stayed on. My knees were very happy and pain free. No blisters. There was nothing wrong with me. So I ask my brain, if not now, when else would we get a 22 miles training run in? Why not now?

In a month, 4 weeks, I’m going in a 24-hour race. I hope to complete 50 miles within the 24 hour period. I need to do some long miles and mental training to be successful. My brain needs to remember that I don’t hurt that bad. Keep going because nothing is broken, just sore. This is what 22 miles feels like. No need to panic.

Running ultra-marathons is difficult for me mostly because of my brain. At some point, I usually do start to believe it and quit. My brain has told me an incredible number of lies in my lifetime. In fact, my brain is usually lying by telling me what I can’t do, for various false reasons. It is a wonder that I am as successful as I am. I guess I persevere and endure just enough to accomplish a few things.

4.75 laps of the park

Racing Season 2021

I run and work out a lot. Unbelievable numbers of miles pass under my feet. This year, I’ve been feeling especially good and training for marathons has gone really well. I also lift weights and cross-train. Winter is coming. There will be more cross-training. I might even buy a new ex-bike this year. I’d like to have an assault bike.

Anyway, the racing season started with a DNS (did not start). I was entered in a marathon up in Iowa in the middle of September. It is cold in Iowa in September, right? Not this year. Temps were scheduled to be very hot. I didn’t sleep at all the night before the race worrying about it. Hence when the alarm went off at 3 am, I was unable to drag my body out of bed and get in the car.

Race number two was in Manhattan Kansas in early October. To ensure that my body made it to the start line, I got a hotel in Manhattan. Same hot temperatures, but at least I started and finished the race. I did really well considering the heat, finishing in 5:18. I ran all the way up to 21 miles, then had to add some walk breaks to manage my body heat. I won my age group, but I was the only lady in my age group. Actually, the oldest lady in the race.

Little Apple Marathon

In my life, both times in my 50th decade of existence, I have qualified to run the Boston Marathon. But I never wanted to go to Boston because it seemed like an expensive hassle. Mostly, I just like to brag about how I had qualified to run Boston. This year, the Boston Marathon sponsored a virtual marathon. I signed up for it in order to get the swag. My Little Apple marathon time was used for the Boston virtual marathon. The swag was very crummy considering how much money I spent on it. The size small shirt is too big for me to wear. Having signed up for numerous virtual marathons in the past two years, I’ve become a swag aficionado. The virtual Houston marathon had the best swag, with the Marine Corps and the Air Force also pretty good. But, I don’t think I’ll sign up for any more virtual marathons since real races are now available.

Swag from virtual Boston marathon

After the Little Apple marathon, I was very excited about my physical shape, so I signed up for one more race this year. I decided on a half marathon with the intention of seeing how fast I could do it. I met my expectations with the Longview Half marathon. The weather was clear and cold. Yes! A pretty flat course, but not totally flat. I did run to my potential considering I had on a couple of layers of clothes. I finished in 2:21, 10:53 minutes per mile, which is a little better than my training run a week ago. I do like the idea of trying to race as fast as individually possible once a year. It feels good to put an effort into something. I got second in my age group. As of this writing, I think there were four ladies in that age group. The medal was really pretty and I love the hoodie we got. Overall, SUCCESS! A good way to end the racing season.

Before the start of the Longview half marathon
At the finish of the Longview half Marathon
Great Swag from the Longview Half

Now, I plan to discontinue marathon training until the spring. No racing probably until March. But I will keep up daily physical fitness and shorter runs. 90 minutes is about all I can stand when it is really cold. Also, I am busy with my new part-time job. My new job is in a health food grocery. I find myself eating much higher on the vibrational scale. My well-being is trending higher.

30 Day Process – Day 30

Yes, it is true, if you stop looking at the news, then the news stops being on your mind. For me, that means that now my mind is free for other thoughts. There will always be thought. Which thoughts do I want to think? I assess myself. 30 days is enough to detox. It is not enough to build something new. The dilemma is to keep building the new way without going back to the old way. I am on a cusp. I am in a clear and open space. What thoughts would come to me apart from societal conditioning? Is it possible to obtain thoughts that are outside of mass consciousness? Of course. So, go get them.

For the 30 day process, there were four practices, apart from news fasting. Two of them, focus wheel and segment intending, I didn’t use that much. I realize now why not. I viewed segment intending as a tool for dealing with difficult people and situations. I don’t have situations with difficult people. My life is somewhat only one long segment. I viewed focus wheel as a tool for working on a known objective. I don’t really have a material world goal. I have created exactly what I wanted. So I have only half heartedly used these tools. My desire is for God, so how do I use these tools?

As I am clear of news debris in my thoughts, it is time to go deeper. Keep exploring the depths of my soul, the divine presence and consciousness. Can I think, or receive, a thought which is not directly someone else’s? My studies of philosophy indicate to me that the subject is a shambles. Philosophy has been dominated by European white men, mostly competing with each other over trivialities. My new thought should be an expansion or evolution.

I went to the monastery to be a contemplative. It seemed like the main desire I obtained from living in a monastery for nearly 4 years was the desire to live an eremitic life. I had to achieve a point in life where I didn’t have to work. And now it is a thing of courage. Is being a hermit a genuinely worthwhile activity? I am currently listening to a philosophical lecture on the meaning of life from an MIT professor. My ideas clearly don’t fit his definition of worthwhile. Do I dare try it? Would I go crazy? Ha! I haven’t been any crazier than the time I spent in a monastery. That was the worst emotional experience ever.

What is the meaning of life when bad thing don’t happen? That is my story. Bad things don’t have to happen for one to find meaning in their life. I find meaning in epiphanies, which aren’t necessarily sourced from externals. In the hermitage, I can realize that I am beloved of God. I can also realize that so is everyone else, and grant them that reality. Non-trivial, don’t you think?

My life continues to include physical fitness. In fact, I am incredibly grateful to love 10 mile runs, being in my sixties. Or the small weight workouts I use to break up my academic days. You don’t know how grateful I am to have arrived at this point in my life without the 30 or more pounds that my peers are carrying around.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Race Report — Get Your Butt Kicked on Route 66

It is summer and it is hot. There aren’t many races during the summer, but even still, covid has killed some of them. I like to go in races. Sometimes I win age group awards. Sometimes I get awesome bling; yeah, I like bling. Sometimes I get in the Zone and impress the hell out of myself. So I enter races and then see what happens.

Summer, a night race sounds good: Get Your Butt Kicked @ Route 66. The race was put on by a Saint Louis ultra runner club, so there were a number of amazing runners there. The race was a 6 hour event from 6 pm to midnight. The idea is to run as many miles as you want in 6 hours. The race was held in a small state park on a totally flat course of about 2.5 miles, in trees. It turns out that it was a very informal affair, more like a fun run than a race. They gave us our medals when they gave us our bibs. No pressure. No goal. Have a nice run.

Conundrum. What was I doing there? I drove over 200 miles. I had a hotel room. Maybe I was there to complete 26 miles in 6 hours; an obvious goal. Look, I ran a marathon. But the informality of the event plus the lack of awards for completing something left me with no goal. Like, now I was there just to run as long as I felt like it. No dopamine rewards from this effort. Pride of self could somehow not be obtained. I need the constraints, like you don’t get your medal until after you run the 26 miles.

But the race was a jovial and friendly event. We were saying hi and chatting it up with perfect strangers. I parked next to a young man named Nate. Neither one of us had been there before. I put my cooler with bottles of Gatorade and my chair along the course. Nate said he would bunk next to me, as he put down his own water bottles. That was cute. The result of all these personal aid stations was an area lined with chairs and non-runners sitting around, music and a party atmosphere.

For Missouri in July, you could say it was a cool evening. But 85F with humidity feels pretty warm when you are running. About 100 runners became very sweaty as soon as we started running. I started drinking my Gatorade sooner than I usually do. I added in walk breaks sooner than I usually do. Around 9 pm, I needed to start using my head lamp. This is when I began the hard decision making about how long I would stay out there. With a bright light on forehead, many flying insects were attracted to me. I was still sweating. My Gatorade was running out and I’d have to switch to water. No extra bling for 26 miles. I wasn’t motivated to stay at the race for 6 hours or 26 miles. My head was not in the game. So, how do I decide when to quit when there is basically nothing wrong with my feet or legs? My problem is that I just don’t feel like keeping going. Hummm. Finally I thought, well go for longer than you would if this was a training run by yourself. Go until after 10 pm. Go for at least 20 miles.

So that is what happened. No glory in this activity. No Instagram worthy moments. Nothing to brag about. I got to hear a large number of bugs and bull frogs making noises in the swamp. I got to experience my self as I struggle with myself. Not great fun but a common mental state for me. I am what I am.

Video of the starting area is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uV798kRbfag

Wearing lucky bib #8888

The Seventh Day

On July 9, a virtual race began. It was a 10 day virtual race. That is, do as many miles as you can in ten days. Get a belt buckle if you get 100 miles. That was my goal, the belt buckle. I mapped out a schedule of how many miles to do each day, considering work days, in order to achieve 100 miles by the end of day nine. I had a real race, an in person non-virtual race, on day 9 from 6 pm to midnight. It would be great to polish off the 100 miles by running 26 of them at a real race. That is the set up.

Day 1 went real well. I got 19.8 miles which was 4.8 miles over schedule. On Day 2, I got 23.4 miles which was 8.4 miles over schedule. On day 3, I worked half the day and went for a walk in the afternoon and got 6.9 miles, which was 1.9 miles over schedule. That is 50 miles in 3 days. At which point, I made the mistake of checking the competition. I saw that I was in first place. Now, a different part of my brain kicked in. My goal shifted from the belt buckle to beating the other people in the race. Now really. It is a virtual race. What the other people are doing has nothing to do with me. By definition, you can’t win a virtual race. My brain seemed not to know the difference between virtual and real. Trying to beat others was stronger in my energy than trying to get to 100.

Day 4, 22.1 miles, 7.1 miles over schedule, intentionally wanting to stay ahead. Now I faced a dilemma. I was supposed to work day 5 and 6. That meant that I couldn’t throw another 20 miles on the board those days. So I got someone to take my shift on day 5 and I put up another 21.1 miles, 16.1 miles over schedule. This got me to 93.3 miles. The 100 mile goal is now a given. Belt buckle yay!

The night of day 5, I slept almost not at all. Then I got up a 3:30 am to go to my job. I was exhausted after work. I didn’t feel at all like going for a walk to get some miles to keep ahead in my virtual race. Day 6, working on feet but no running.

In the mean time, the weather for the actual race on Saturday night, day 9, looks superb. That is, not very hot with a slight chance of showers. It came to my mind that with perfect race conditions, I could do really well at the real race. But to do well, I’d need to recover from the virtual race. So, no miles got done on day 6. The 93 miles I got in 5 days had actually drained me and broke me.

Now it is day 7. I slept incredibly long and hard last night. I didn’t wake up until 8:30 am, That is really late. Today is rainy outside and I have absolutely no energy to go out and run, let alone run 20 miles in order to beat a virtual person. I haven’t checked the leader board for the virtual race since day 5. I no longer care if I am winning. My brain has somehow shifted it’s focus. I want to do well in the real race.

On the seventh day, God rested. So am I. No work and no running. I am now in recovery and preparing for the real race 3 days from now. How exciting.

Photo by Daniel Reche on Pexels.com

Finished the Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee

Finisher Certificate

I did it. I finished the 2nd Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee. It took 54 days, 147:37 hours of running. 642.9 miles.

I finished 5 days faster this year than last year. This speaks of focus, intention, health, expansion. Despite the heat, I did the miles relentlessly. While focused on doing miles, I did little else.

I now return to other projects and qualities of my life.

Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee – Update June 4

The Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee has a course that is 643 miles long. It began May 1st and is to be completed by the end of August. I am trying to do as many miles each day as I can. So far, since May 1, I have completed 386 miles. I just got to 60%. Averaging 11 miles a day. I am amazed how my brain actually thinks that completing as many miles as possible is a necessary activity; that is, the race is something real to my brain, not virtual at all.

Letter 5/31/20

The most interesting, poignant, thing happened today. I was running in a small park which is out in the county, surrounded by fields. The park itself is very uncrowded almost all the time, which is why I like using it. Today I was running 2 mile laps and stopping at my car for drinks of water. The run was going very well and I was appreciating it.

During my last lap, I noticed a very very small fawn. It was all by itself and making this pathetic little bleating cry. Very small. No mama deer anywhere in sight. Oh my god. My heart was crushed. This poor little fawn had no mama. About that time, another car came by on the park road. It slowed down looking at the fawn, but also, I was out in the road too. They rolled down their window when they got to me. I asked if they had their phone could they call an animal shelter or something. I pointed out that the fawn had no mama. 
We were not able to call anyone right then, it being Sunday. I said that I would try to call later. As I jogged away, I noticed that the young man had got out of their car and was walking toward the fawn. I assume that they caught it, as it wasn\’t there when I drove by after I finished my lap. 
Such an amazing thing to see human hearts reach out to this tiny living being who would die without help. Oh, yeah. The people who stopped to help the fawn were black. 
I don\’t know much about love,but I think this was it.
In other news, I am just over half way in my virtual run across Tennessee. In the month of May, I jogged or walked 335.7 miles.  The winners of the race finished in 11 or 12 days (621 miles). And many of them are participating in a race back to the start. I know of a 73 year old lady who is planning to walk there and back within the 4 month allowed time frame. Me? Once, I get across Tennessee, I\’m done.
Here is a map of the course and my location. And, the race t-shirt came yesterday.