Going into the Beast of Burden 50 miler, I tried to be nothing but positive. I was excited for an adventure and it was simple; I was happy. Yes, I was a bit nervous and anxious about my gear as well as pace, but I believe our bodies can achieve what our minds believe. I believed in myself and I DID IT!! I tackled that BEAST.
For those of you who read Part I of this adventure as a novice ultra runner, there were two areas I was concerned about most: my GEAR and my PACE. I am so pleased to report that I nailed both of them! Want to hear about it? Read on!
Ok, GEAR. Oh, the gear. My poor husband, I think I drove him to a few extra drinks this past month with constant blabbing about my gear. So, because the weather was unpredictable, I needed to be prepared for anything. The night before, the weather report indicated snow all day, strong winds with a temp of 28F (-2C), which I knew I could handle (phew). If the temperature was any lower with the winds, then it would have been a completely different beast because of windchill. What did I wear? Here is a quick rundown:
Base Layer: REI Merino Wool mid weight (which is more like a light weight)
Mid Layer: Ice Breakers Merino Wool 1/2 zip Mid weight
Outer Layer: Patagonia rain/wind jacket (wore this 3/4 of the race – I needed it because of the snow & wind … but it did make me sweat)
Pants: Ice Breakers Merino Wool running pants with drawstring (LOVED)
Sunglasses: SunGod (no sun but these bad boys kept the snow out of my eyes!)
Head: Run Like a Girl Buff
Feet: CEP compression socks (LOVE – kept my feet at a perfect temp the entire race), ASICS GT-2000, REI low gators
Hands: Basic layer gloves covered by wind/rain proof REI outer mits with hand warmers at the start and leg #3
Pack: Salomon S Slab 5L
*Thank you to friends and FB for recommendations!
I always start out cold and heat up fast. I shed my outer shell and gloves within the first 3 miles to prevent my body from overheating. Because the head wind was so strong on the reverse route, I needed to bundle up again with my Patagonia shell. By mile 37 the temp was dropping as night approached and the wind was getting stronger. I was sweaty so I changed into a single mid-weight Patagonia synthetic top under my Patagonia shell. It was a great choice with only 13 miles to go. Overall, I loved my choice of wool!
Ready for my PACE? On a good day, I am able to pace out an 18 mile run (road) at 7:34 min miles with hills. This pace is absolutely not sustainable for 50 miles – even with flat terrain, which this race was. I knew this. I NEEDED to chill out and slow my roll. I went out at a very slow jog, feeling great, knowing I didn’t need to rush home to pick my kids up from school, go to work or make an appointment. This whole day was for me and me only; it was as if I was on a beach vacation, holding a Corona in my hand. Well, not exactly, but I knew there was no rush and that was HUGE for me! So, I was able to keep that steady pace the entire race and never once thought about it. Although, it was such a strange feeling as my legs began to fatigue, I felt as if I was sprinting, running at a fast clip. I double checked my pace and nope, I wasn’t. It was simply extreme muscle fatigue! My average pace ended up around 10 min miles including bathroom breaks/aid station stops.
So, the race took me 8 hours, 26 min. Several people have asked me what I think about while I run for this long. A lot of people listen to music, which is a great way to pass the time and stay motivated. However, I never listen to music on the trail or road. So, that leaves me with my mind. My mind is my music. My thoughts range from: “why the hell am I doing this?” to “I wonder if the kids remembered to feed the goats” to “you can do this, you can do this….” but most often I either count or repeat the same mantra over and over. I find it very therapeutic and meditative. Closer to the end of the race, I found myself muttering out loud “I can do this” “One more bridge and then you’re there” “two more miles, you got this”. Simple motivational statements, as if it were my husband and kids yelling them to me. I figured it was okay to let the crazies out since I was alone and it was dark!
What was the best part of my race? It wasn’t crossing the finish line; it was seeing my friend waiting for me under the aid station tent at mile 43 with a huge smile on her face! It motivated me to finish those last miles and finish strong.
If you take anything away from this blog; take this: “Positive thinking is a mental and emotional attitude that focuses on the bright side of life and expects positive results. A positive person anticipates happiness, health and success, and believes he or she can overcome any obstacle and difficulty.” Are you a positive person? Is your glass half full or half empty? Just something to think about!
Despite the unpredictability of the winter weather for this BEAST, it was hands down a terrific first 50 mile race experience. It was flat, aid stations every 5-7 miles and terrific volunteers.
Thanks for reading and Happy Running!