Tuesday, August 14, 2012

An Ultra Adventure

Well, this weekend was one I had been looking forward to for a long time.  The Howl at the Moon Ultra Marathon in Danville, IL.  It is a timed Ultra Marathon.  The largest timed Ultra in the United States.  Run as many miles as you can in 8 hours.  It was supposed to be my first Ultra Marathon but I managed to sneak one in a couple months before this.  Got to run this one with my buddies Becky and Katie.  It was going to be their first Ultra Marathons.  Becky had ran 1 marathon before but never anything over the 26.2 distance.  Her first Ultra.  Katie had been out on a couple 20 mile training runs with me earlier in the year but had never ran a race longer than a half marathon.  So what does she do.  Skip the marathon, we'll just run the Ultra.

Couldn't have asked for better weather at race start.  Temp's in the 50's and high right around 80 for the day.  It was looking to be a great day.  Race started at 7 am so we arrived at 5:45 am.  Having an 1:45 drive made for an early morning.  Gave us time to set up our canopy, get our coolers situated, food ready for what was going to be a long, fun day of running.  Packet pickup was a breeze.  We found this to be a very well organized race.  One thing about the Kennekuk Road and Trail Runners, they like to have fun and they know how to organize a race.  Great group of people.  If you have never done one of their races I highly recommend it.  Probably the best organized races I have ever been a part of.

The course consisted of a 3.29 mile loop to see how many loops you could do in 8 hours.  The last half hour they let you do 1/2 mile out and backs.  We get started right at 7 am. I'll be the first to admit I hadn't really trained for it.  I had still been running every day during the week but only 2-3 milers and then doing a 20 miler every other weekend.  I hadn't been doing any work on trails but only roads.  The course consisted of mostly rugged trail with one stretch of paved road that goes up this HUGE HILL right toward the end of the loop. I ran up the hill most of the day but by the end of the day the hill had won and  I was doing anything but running up that thing.  I felt really strong at the beginning of the day.  First 28 miles I was able to maintain a 9:15 pace and actually almost had a PR for the marathon distance.  The cooler weather was definitely helping but at mile 28 I started to feel really tired and decided to walk.  I walked for 2.5 straight miles and then something hit me.  I didn't come here to walk.  I'm here to run so lets do this.  I never walked the rest of the way.  Ran almost the entire 8 hours except for that 2.5 mile stretch.  Was definitely less walking than my last Ultra.  I ended up doing 13 loops on the day and then 2 out and backs at the end for 43.77 miles total.  Good enough for me to toward the top in my division and place.  Received my first belt buckle for an Ultra.  It sure looks awesome!!  One of my proudest moments as a runner yet. 

This was Becky's first Ultra Marathon.  She had ran one marathon before but never anything longer than the 26.2 distance.  She hadn't really trained for it either.  Only doing 13 mile runs as her longest training runs she decided to just wing in.  As crazy as that might sound you really have to know Becky to know this was very possible for her to do this.  She has this never quit attitude and that chic can get it done no matter what.  She is all about being heart healthy, whether she is running, kickboxing, boot camp, or any other activity she always has a way of motivating people to get Heart Healthy and has fun doing it.  Her results proved her toughness running 38.19 miles on the day. She did 11 laps.   I only lapped Becky 1 time during the day and never saw her at our camp so just figuring that way I knew she was going to blow her goal of 32 miles away.  Amazing effort of will and determination.  She also placed toward the top of her division and received a belt buckle as well.  I could tell after it was over she had caught the Ultra Marathon bug.  She is already wanting to do it again next year and bringing a big group of us to do it next year.  Sounds like a plan to me!!  Super proud of you Becky!!

Now Katie.  This was going to be her first Ultra Marathon as well.  Not only was it going to be her first Ultra, it was going to be her first Marathon as well.  Ya, that's right.  Skip the Marathon and just go for the Ultra.  If anyone could do it Katie can. She is tough and has the will and determination to do it.  She hadn't really been training for it either.  Her longest runs recently only being around 13 miles she planned on winging it too.  She started off wearing her trademark gloves because her hands are always cold.  I know how tough Katie is and knew nothing was going to stop her from doing this.  In the back of my mind I was hoping to lap her but never did.  If I had lapped her I knew I was going to be able to beat her then.  I never saw Katie the entire day.  Never saw her at the camp, never saw her on the course,  never saw her at all the whole day.  That played a part in the back of my mind.  How far behind me was she? She is probably just right back there waiting for her time to pass me like Indy Mini.  I finally saw her at the end when we were doing our out and backs.  She was flying on these out and backs so now I'm thinking how many of these has she done??  Was it enough to get more miles than me?  How could she still be going this fast after running all day.  Katie ended up with 41.48 miles.  She did 12 laps and also placed toward the top of her division and received her first belt buckle as well.  She did so amazingly awesome!!

We were featured in a article in our local paper, The Banner Graphic which was really cool.  You can see the article by clicking here

I also want to give a shout out to The Greencastle Running and Fitness Club.  What a great group that made cards and notes for us.  We opened them up along the way when we needed some encouragement throughout the run.  They are such an awesome motivational group that I am so proud to be a part of.

This is going to be an annual tradition for me every year to go to this race.  We are already talking getting a lot bigger group to do this with us next year.  This will be definitely be on the race calendar for years to come and made for an Ultra Adventure.