The reality of what I have signed up for hadn’t hit me until two days ago. It wasn’t until this Saturday that I realized what I was getting myself into with this whole running a 50k thing. I mean, I knew the 31 miles would be a challenge but that’s only 5 miles more than a marathon, so how hard could it be? Marathons are my thing, so I wasn’t too worried.
Then I ran some real trails this weekend. The kind with serious elevation change and summits and stuff. For about 4 hours, I ran. I climbed. I hiked. My calves burned. My stomach growled. I struggled. Big time.
Straight out the gate, we were climbing. And climbing. And climbing some more. We reached one summit (hallelujah!) and I hoped that was the end of the climbing. It wasn’t. That was South Fortuna. We still had to run North Fortuna.
So we did. This one wasn’t quite as bad but it still felt plenty hard on my newbie trail legs. I was sure this was all the serious climbing for the day, but I was too afraid to ask. I just went with it.
We got back to our cars and I couldn’t believe we were only halfway done. We already hit two summits, how could we only be halfway done? Where were we headed next? I was just along for the ride.
I followed the pack and we climbed another mountain. This one was the hardest of all. I let everyone go ahead of me because I knew I would be taking my time. I panted and pressed my hands onto my quads for support. I fell when my legs were starting to give out. When I landed on the ground, I stayed there awhile. It felt so good to just sit there, not moving.
I contemplated staying right there in the dirt and waiting for the others to come back down, but I’m not a quitter. I got up and dusted myself off. When I did, I saw my friend Eugene up ahead waiting for me, casually munching on an apple. It made me think, maybe this run isn’t as hard as I am making it out to be. It is more likely I am just not in very good trail running shape. Basically, it’s not you, trails, it’s me.
Finally, I was the last one to reach the third and final summit. Being last is new for me. I can’t say I love it but it’s a reminder I’m doing something outside of my comfort zone. Something new that I have not yet mastered. It’s perfectly ok to be last, especially when your trail running friends are a bunch of badasses like mine. I’m quite happy to chase them all day long.
While I made this adventure sound a lot like Mount Everest, it wasn’t even close. We actually climbed about 3,700 feet and ran 18 miles. It felt more like 10,000 feet and 26 miles but again, that’s because this whole trail running/uphill thing is new to me. I’m learning. I’m training. I’ll get there one day.
I now realize this race is NO joke. Just take a look at the difficulty level.
I really need to respect the distance and the difficulty of the course. It’s going to be hard as hell but I’m going to do it and I know I am going to love the challenge. I am trying to focus more on the 5-star scenery rating. That’s the real reason I’m doing this whole thing.
Let’s take a peek at last week in training, since I haven’t updated in a few weeks:
Monday: 6 miles (a.m. Chicago lakefront)
Tuesday: 6 miles with Sheri (p.m.)
Wednesday: 5 miles (a.m. trails)
Thursday: 7.2 miles (p.m. trails)
Friday: 4 miles (a.m. trails)
Saturday: 18 miles (a.m. trails)
Sunday: 5 recovery miles (p.m. trails)
Total: 51.2 miles
Now that reality has sunken in, I am slightly terrified. I still have a couple weeks to work on that elevation thing and I should probably do some back to back long runs, too. I booked our Airbnb for San Francisco so this is really happening, like it or not. 🙂