Learn : Ultramarathon Story  

Running Background:

marathon photoI consider myself an advanced runner and I primarily run because it's fun. I decided to run an ultramarathon because I like running long distances -- stress evaporates and I savor the endorphins.

Marathons were a great way to build speed at shorter distances. When my marathon times improved, I switched to longer distances and time-on-my-feet.


I started without a marathon goal. I just wanted to trail run, but then I ran a mountain trail race and was hooked. Shortly after running the trail race, I paced in the Leadville Trail 100 and was definitely hooked on ultramarathons.

I ran a 10 mile trail race 4 months after I started trail training, then I actually skipped the marathon distance and ran a 50K race one month later. Basically, I worked on speed for one year, then switched to increasing distance.

For this particular race I trained for 5 months and I averaged 20 miles per week.

The best training advice I received is to run your own race. Every race is just a training run for the next race.

The worst training advice I received is that you don't need good shoes.

Race Day:

The 2005 Goblin Valley Ultra was about what I expected. It was out in the desert and it was below freezing. I wasn't sure I was doing a smart thing because I hadn't really built my races up to that distance, but I had decades of experience hiking in the Rockies and knew I could cover the distance. I just wasn't sure I could run the whole way.

The racers were very friendly, and the atmosphere was informal. I just relaxed and tried to throttle myself back. In the end, I figured that I shouldn't have done that. I should have run as fast as I was used to, but certainly no faster.

My ankle was getting rubbed by the shoes I was wearing. By mile 20, my ankle was purple and I had to finally start walking, with only occasional running. But I finished.


My recovery wasn't bad. Massage, protein, tons of water, lots of sleep, and I continued to run the days after, even though it was uncomfortable at first.

Running Gear Recommendations:

Camelbak and/or hand-held water bottle
I've heard people say Camelbaks slow you down too much, but they can allow you to skip an aid station. So they save as much as the lose. If you do complicated courses, and you get lost, you'll need it!
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Accel Gels
They have protein and no caffeine. Caffeine is only good for about the last 10K. After that, it's a liability. Because of the expense, most races either lack gels, or don't have enough. It's very important to have gels.
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GPS Watch
GPS watch - but don't get too focused on it. It can be wrong. Also, you could be wrong in your head and misinterpret good GPS data. Power lines can freak some units out. Used properly, a GPS watch can be pivotal.
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Tips/Words of Encouragement:

It helps to have two kinds of training, speed and endurance. You can have a program that incorporates each kind in a week, and/or you can concentrate on speed one week (or month) and then endurance the next. Race smaller races to get used to the crowds and dealing with race jitters. Arrive early so you get good parking. Don't eat a big breakfast! Have fun.

Plans to Run Another:

I'm planning to continue to run ultramarathons because I like to run a big, long race every month. The people, the experience, the fitness, are all unbeatable.

For my next marathon, I'll take more photos.

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