Things you may have overheard me saying recently:
- I’m going to skip jump roping today. I ran a 50K yesterday. No, not 15. FIFTY.
- Cupcake? I’ll have two. I ran an ultra yesterday.
- Did you know that 50K is 31 miles?
- I know this vest is bright. It’s my race swag…from the ultra I ran on Sunday.
- Why yes, that is longer than a marathon. That’s why it’s called an ultramarathon.
- I can totally have another piece of baklawa. Didn’t you hear? I ran an ultra this weekend.
- What do you mean you don’t have a 50K magnet for my car? I can’t wear this vest every day…
I’m really not conceited, and I promise you I’m not trying to brag. I’m just so damned excited I could pee rainbows. I mean seriously – I ran for seven hours and forty two minutes. That’s pretty flipping cool. And insane.
The run started at 7:15 (when you have nine hours to run, you need all the daylight you can get), so my race day chauffeur picked me up stupid early so we could rendezvous at my sister’s and be on the road by 5:45. I had of course stayed up too late the night before watching the Miss America pageant and violently searching for my misplaced running gloves and jacket (I must be only person on Earth that can lose an article of clothing that’s so bright it burns your retinas). Somehow I still managed to shove a PB&J English muffin down my throat, along with my now routine “please let me breathe ” round of meds…all containing the word “air.” In my backpack was everything I could
never possibly need, from extra socks, cashews, deodorant, and Body Glide to Knuckle Lights, a dozen Gus, extra shirts, and a hairbrush.
We got to the Ledges shelter at the Cuyahoga Valley National Park with plenty of time to check in, test the air, and layer up as much as possible. I ended up wearing my super warm Sugoi SubZero tights, one of my trusty Nike Pro LS Half Zips (with thumbs, of course!), an Old Navy fleece pullover, and my Saucony Vizipro jacket. I topped it off with Smartwool socks, gloves, a hat, and my recently acquired
baklava ninja mask balaclava. It was freakin’ FREEZING when we started. And still pretty dark!
There are three distances available to Regis runners – a half, full, and ultra marathon, and the course consists of two loops of 5 and 8 miles each. Even though you select a distance when you register, you are allowed to change your mind as you run – going longer or stopping early without consequences. Everyone that finishes at least eight miles gets the super sweet race swag: this year a yellow embroidered Brooks Nightlife Essential Run Vest ($60!). I may or may not have worn that vest to work today.
We started as a group of five – Brian, Kali, Mike, Kelly, and me. The pack thinned out very quickly, and the miles zoomed by as we completed one of each loop as a group. The aid stations were stocked with PB&Js, Ramen, pretzels, cookies, candy, water, pop, HEED, Hammer gels, and super friendly and supportive volunteers. I stuck with water, Gu, and PB&J and took advantage of the (2!) available indoor, heated bathrooms. Each time we finished a loop, we returned to the Ledges Shelter to get our bibs marked and grab some fuel, before heading out again to the cheers of race volunteers. Kelly finished the half, and then there were four.
Heading out for our first of five loops! Shouting "See you in 20 minutes" no doubt
Loving Kelly's socks!
Lots of time for photos in 8 hours!
It was a slippery winter wonderland
Still smiling after 18!
It only snowed a tiny bit during the race, but Saturday’s snowfall blanketed the ground and hung heavy on the trees. I was happy for the snow, because running in the mud is a lot harder on the ankles and wetter on the feet than running on the white stuff. That being said, after several loops on the trails – and the steps – the packed snow was more like ice, and keeping traction was nearly impossible at times. I saw a lot of people fall, and my steady pace always slacked on the icy downhills (where no-fear BMO took the opportunity to pass me every time). We took turns leading until Mike’s testosterone exploded around mile 19 and he blazed away from the group (taking the camera with him…and finishing twenty minutes ahead of us!). And then there were three.
LOTS of stairs
STILL smiling...and shivering!
Kali pushed hard to finish her 26.2, and BMO and I headed back out to finish the last 5 mile loop. And then there were two.
Checking in after 26! (which was really 27!)
It was during the last loop that I spent a lot of time in my head. I ran ahead of Brian for a couple miles, wanting to soak up the reality of the race. I thought back to the Cleveland Marathon and truly realized for the first time that I am not the same person – physically or mentally – that barely finished those 26.2 miles on May 15. Although my body hurt at mile 29 of Regis, it wasn’t the crippling oh-my-God-I’m-not-going-to-make-it pain from mile 24 of Cleveland, but more of a heaviness in my legs. Ultra me is infinitely stronger and more confident than marathon me. And happier. And more
stubborn determined, if that is possible. And a hell of a lot more badass. As an added bonus, despite all the asthma drama of recent months, my lungs behaved themselves the entire day, so it was also around mile 29 that I mentally gave props to my asthma guru, Dr. Kent Knauer (no joke). I thought ahead to my next marathon (Cincinnati), giggling at the fact that I can say it’s only 26 miles and looking forward to scaling back to running only four days a week. So for a couple miles on the last loop, while my feet pounded the trails with “perpetual forward motion” (a volunteer’s battle cry I took up as my own), I guess you could say “And then there was one.”
And then I got grumpy and tired. But that’s why I run with BMO – he pushes me when I need it. And I needed it.
31 wut wut! Still smiling! In an amazing ensemble, I know!
After immediately shedding some wet layers and warming my frozen bum by the fire, I inhaled a bowl of vegan chili, devoured a grilled cheese sandwich, and topped it all of with a very slushy cup of ginger ale. There are no awards because no one (or everyone?) wins Regis, so we picked up our vests, said our thank yous and goodbyes, and headed
home to the nearest Starbucks. I spent the rest of the day warming up in the tub, stretching, napping, and eating pizza. Luckily I had Monday off, which allowed me a quick massage with the PT at Achilles, a pilgrimage to Whole Foods, retail recovery therapy, and an hour of [very easy] boxing to keep my legs loose. And since I am a firm believer in the idea of rollover calories, I am now headed into the kitchen to indulge in my newest food addiction: Sensible Portions Veggie Straws. #ultrasmakemehungry
PROS: Absolutely everything. Sweet swag, a good cause, amazing volunteers, yummy grub, indoor plumbing, breathtaking scenery, camaraderie, running BFFS, double bridges, trail markers hung on icicles, “if you can read this you’re going the wrong way” signs, slippery slopes, a dog wearing boots, men wearing shorts, icy beards, VFFs, fireplaces, frozen eyelashes, tied shoelaces, and easy breathing
STATS: Time: 07:42:53. Place: 53/60 overall, 11/14 female. I am shocked at the small number of people that ran the 50K.
PS 04:45:20 won overall. Holy shnikes. (Woman: 05:21:20)