So I did another ultra on Saturday. That makes an even dozen. I believe I have a problem.
My friend Kasey-Dee wanted to do a 50 miler because I made it sound so cool, so she asked me to run the Stone Mill 50 with her.* I’m always game for a good run, so I easily – maybe too easily – agreed to run it with her. She very casually asked me if I had ever heard of the race one day via text. I told her that I had, and that I had considered running it before, and that if she wanted to run it I’d run it with her. Within hours we were both signed up. S asked me if it was smart to run a 50 only 6 weeks after running a 100K. I told him it probably wasn’t.
I signed up only to run it with her. I didn’t have an agenda other than to get her to the finish line. It was very different to focus on someone else’s race rather than my own. Even when I woke up Saturday morning, I didn’t feel like I was getting ready to run 50 freaking miles. It was surreal.
We had the most perfect weather for a race like this. We started at 6am and ran for about 45 minutes before the sun was out enough for us to turn off our lights. It was overcast with temperatures in the mid-50s. There was a bit of a breeze at times that made me decide to ask Santa for a pair of compression sleeves, but otherwise it was perfect.
The aid stations were great. The first two had the typical ultra junk food, but they steadily improved. Each one featured something I’d never seen before in a race. Since my stomach behaved, I was able to have some of the yummies. Yes, that’s Knob Creek you see in the photo. No, I didn’t have any. One aid station worker very nearly poured me some Maker’s Mark because the AS captain insisted that I have some. Had we been at mile 48 or so, I might have considered it, but not at mile 25. That would have been dumb.
I did, though, drink beer. I drank two sips around midway and then two more with about 7 miles to go. It wasn’t enough to do any damage, but it was enough for a taste. Mmmm….beer. Along the way I also had some apple cider, two gingersnaps, a couple of pickles, some roasted sweet potatoes, and a few pretzel M&Ms. Yum.
Kasey experienced problems that many ultra runners experience. I felt bad that she had so many of them in one race, though. Thankfully I had taken some good lessons from my running mentor, Anne, and was well prepared. I had Pepto Bismal, ginger chews, ibuprofen, band-aids, an encouraging attitude, and I knew when to push her. She started to have some problems in the middle of the race but then rebounded like a pro. We finished 38 minutes after the cut-off, but she finished upright with a smile on her face. I was so happy that she let me be a part of her experience. Personally, I had probably the best race of my life. Nothing hurt for even a second. I had zero stomach problems. I didn’t have to fall back on gels and Gatorade. I think that going her pace rather than my own allowed me to feel great the whole time.
If you are considering trying an ultra, consider Stone Mill. It’s cheap ($35) and has great aid stations. The course was great, though awfully flat. If you are from Central PA, you know it’s not super hilly here (though we have some good ones), but it’s definitely more hilly than Maryland. There were a few sections that sucked, like an out-and-back on singletrack, 3 miles on a towpath, and some road running, but otherwise, it was great.
* For a while during the race, I think she was secretly plotting to kill me for introducing her to this dark, dark world.