For the past couple of years I have participated in the Dallas Marathon. It’s a great event and well organized with a pretty steady course. This year I decided to sign up for the 30 mile Ultra Marathon version. Only an extra 3.8 miles and it would mean I should finish closer in time to someone I train with who is a bit slower than me. I’m 99% it said 30 miles. Sadly my training partner damaged his knee and was unable to participate but I still decided to run the extra 3.8 miles (or so I thought).
I picked up my packet on Friday from the convention center where you also got a nice T-shirt and had a quick look around the Expo. The weather was forecast to be dry for Sunday (after a lot of rain Saturday) with a low of 35 and up to about 45. I ordered a thermal undershirt that I planned to wear under a throw-away t-shirt.
It had an amazing felt type inside that was really comfy and warm. It’s made by a company called Tesla (not the car company 🙂 ). I headed out the house at 4:30 and parked in the underground car park under the convention center which was by the start line. I was one of the first people there and it really didn’t start to get busy until about 6:30 (for an 8:30 start). I sat in the car and watched movies on my phone and you had full access to the convention center for restrooms which was great.
I brought 5 waffles and 5 energy gels with just a small water bottle with Gatorade that I planned to just fill up at the aid stations which were about every 2 miles.
At 7:30 I decided to start heading out (very slowly) and was in the coral (I got B since I didn’t lie about my estimated time like so many others obviously did) about 7:45. The corals are well sign posted and lots of organizers to help direct etc.
I had my phone with me since you were allowed to wear headphones (something you can’t do during an Ironman)! I started off with a t-shirt over my thermal shirt, hat and gloves. I had running pants with running shorts over them and really didn’t feel that cold.
Coral A started at 8:30 with Coral B starting 10 minutes later. My goal was to try and maintain 6 mph pace so start slow and maintain. I was very focused on taking it easy but was running around 9 minute miles but it felt really good so I didn’t worry about it and just focused on running a pace that felt comfortable and didn’t really look at my watch. I should point out that prior to this run I had not run more than 15 miles since the Chattanooga Ironman and that 15 miles was the week before on a treadmill but I’m always up for a challenge. I’d been focusing more on weights and trimming down a bit.
At about 3 miles I threw away the t-shirt to try and cool down a little was feeling good. I was having a gel every 6 miles and half a waffle at the 2 and 4 mile points after the gel cycle reset. At the water stops I actually slowed down and got a good 2 cups of Gatorade and filled up my bottle as required. In the past I would try and waterboard myself by not running but finally realized slowing down and spending an extra 10 seconds a few times is not significantly going to impact my 5 hour time 🙂
The marathoners, half-marathoners and ultra-marathoners all started together and ran the same course with the half-marathoners splitting off at about mile 10 I think while for the ultra-marathon just after mile 11 we broke off to run an out and back segment to add the additional mileage. The 3.8 miles to make it 30 miles since I firmly believed this was a 30 mile ultra. Not at this point I do recall hearing someone say 50K but I figured people just rounding up as 50K is NOT 30 miles. No, its closer to 31.1 miles and I distinctly remember the marketing saying 30 miles. You know where this is going 🙂
So just after 11 miles I follow the sign for the ultra-marathoners and start along a very pleasant out and back course but it seemed really long. It didn’t seem like 3.8 miles, it seemed like 5 miles but that’s impossible I thought since then the course wouldn’t work.
We rejoined the main marathon course where we broke off and came to mile 12 marathon marker and then shortly after the mile 17 marker (they had mini extra markers showing the ultra distance points on the course) for the ultra (which makes sense since ran an additional 5 miles) which meant 13 miles left. While the marathon still had 14 miles left. That seemed odd unless they planned to split us again at a certain point. Then mile 13 and my ultra mile 18. That’s when it dawned on me. It was a 50K. I quickly ran the math working out was closer to 31.1 miles at which point “lying sons of bitches” repeatedly spewed from my brain (in the same way Ralphs Dad swore at the dogs who stole the dinner in A Christmas Story) and continued to spew from my brain at each subsequent mile marker. 31.1 miles was wayyyyy further than 30 miles 🙂
Also at this point my legs were hurting, specifically my quads. I do nearly all my running on a treadmill and running on the concrete felt very different and I think my quads hurt because of the shock absorption which they are just not conditioned for. This pain continued to get worse. At mile 25 is the big hill which I walked up. Pretty much everything else I ran/old man shuffled. There was a sobering moment when I was cursing my hurting legs until I ran past a group of athletes on artificial limbs which really put my minor pain into perspective and remembered a saying I’d heard before “I cursed my bunions until I met a man with no feet”. I’m always amazed by people who overcome adversity and puts my own, self-inflicted issues into perspective! The picture below still summed up how I felt for most of the last 8 miles.
I was down to one waffle left for the remaining 7 miles which fell out of my pockets. Not the end of the world but I knew I’d be hungry. Fortunately at mile 26ish there were heroes giving out Krispy Kreme donuts. A chocolate glazed ring donut was just the ticket (well half of one anyway). I continued my ever slowing pace until I hit mile 30 where I started to curse even more about how I should now be finished and had to convince myself that sitting at mile 30 protesting the unfairness of another 1.1 miles really wouldn’t change much. Ever onward until i hit the 26 mile marker for the marathon and then there was the finish line and over I went! YAY!!!!
5:18:45 for 50K. I was happy with that. Basically 5.9 mph average speed which was very close to my plan and think would have been 6 mph if it had been 30 miles 🙂
The medal and finisher shirt were AWESOME!
Below you can see my split times (realize the split miles after 11 are the marathon markers but I’d run an extra 5 miles). I came in 61 out of 162 doing the ultra which I was really happy with and I was just happy with my overall performance.
Then the detailed stats from Garmin:
Another great experience and I couldn’t recommend it enough. Nice, fast course. Well organized, great on-course support and great goodies!
I want to try and get some outdoor running in before New Years Eve marathon as I’m supposed to be doing a double (marathon New Year’s Eve and New Years Day) and right now I think my legs would be killing me limiting ability to run the second day.
Still my first ultra done! Ever onwards!