An Ultra-Good Decision?

The days following my 25k trail race, I mused the complexities of taking a plunge into my first 50k. I think it’s a pretty common occurrence, after a big race you go a tad crazy for awhile and try to fix that hole in your schedule with beer and powerlifting as I did, or you plan your next big scheme. After I let my thoughts (and my liver) marinade a little bit, well, balls…

The technicalities of being prepared for such a race shortly after a good old fashioned northern Pennsylvania winter were my main “surface” concerns. The more I learn about trail racing, though, the more I realize how I can creatively work my way around that.

I cross country ski, I snowshoe, I can put in some long hours to build up the endurance it’s going to take to be in the woods 7+ hours. I can treadmill a little to get some speed work in. With a little planning, it’s definitely do-able without just strictly trail running.

My major concern, though, was of more of a personal nature. Why should I, the girl who has never trained for a regular marathon, even consider a trail ultra? Quite frankly, the idea of running an actual road marathon isn’t something I have any desire to do. It sounds horrible in my mind.

I assumed I was a weirdo and that I needed to do that before I jumped to 50k. Then I read this amazing post by Candice Burt who I secretly creep on because her blog is awesome. Anyway, the post is entitled The Ten Rules of Ultra Running, and reasons #5 (Fear the Marathon) and #6 (Walking = Running) basically quelled those concerns.

My lack of desire to run 26.2 miles straight has no direct correlation with being able to “run” 30+ miles of trails. My “crawl up giant hills, run like hell when I can, and walk when I must” strategy is fairly commonplace in the ultra world. The end. I like trail running and racing. Traditionally those come in sizes starting at 25k, and then onward to 50ks, 50 milers, 100ks, and 100 milers. Next logical step, therefore, is 50k.

Also, there’s that little voice in my head that reminds me of how fast this running journey has snuck up on me and knocked me on my ass. How blessed I am that I can run any distances. Sometimes I think that I shouldn’t be able to even attempt events like this, like my mostly non-running adult life, my proclivity for not running, my build, my lack of experience and running friends – those are elements that make me unworthy of an ultra.

But then there’s this, one of my recently most favorite posts by “Ultra Trail Goddess,” who is basically a bad ass tank who runs trail races. Except, she’s delightfully unexpected. Still, she advocates doing what you love no matter how much you weigh, no matter what society expects from you, no matter what. She loves running hundred milers, bless her heart, and doesn’t think she should have to wait until she’s a certain size to do so. In turn, her words help me to realize that I can train for this I am allowed to do this I want to do this, and if I put in the work, I deserve to do this.

So, there it is. Over the winter, my quest for 30 races is on possibly permanent hold while I prepare for one of the greatest challenges in my life – my quest for 30+ miles. And I couldn’t be more excited. And you folks get to bear the brunt of my grand scheme because everyone in my daily life already thinks I’m ultra crazy… so upward and onward!