Recovery is all in the head at times. I have no choice. I need to recover because I have committed to run an Ultra the weekend after my Mercedes marathon. This one's very special as it's going to be my first Ultra, the "Black Warrior 50K". Name sounds too cool isn't it? Black Warrior, like a Ninja or Samurai or Gladiator. It sure is going to be a battle more on top rather than physical.

Monday morning, this is how I am at work now. Off my work shoes and an ice pack stuffed into my sock to ease of the soreness.
Funny as it may look, but like I said I have no choice but to recover as early as possible. Do anything to remove the lactic acid from my muscles. Felt much better by Tue though. Hit the gym and biked for a good one hour. Felt much better. I ran on the tread mill and biked 5 miles for the next couple of days until Friday.

TGIF, managed to get off from work a bit early. Diane, Kim and I rode together. Little did I know about a great runner whom I was about to meet that night. Ultra Jeff. We decided to crash at Decatur, AL. While we were on our way, Jeff and Amanda picked our race packets. After settling down in our rooms we decided to hit the Red Lobster for dinner. We exchanged our running resume while carbo loading. We all shared one thing in common, Passion for running. That's all. Jeff whose goal is to run 50 Ultras in all the 50 states and he has already completed 30 of them by now, if I am not wrong. It was exciting to be amidst my running friends who started running marathons even before I was born and still continuing their journey. I was getting my motivation from the enthusiasm they had for running. I am truly blessed. When Diane told Jeff about my blog, Jeff asked "Why do you blog" for which I had no answer. I'll address that in a separate post later but honestly I don't have an answer and that left me pondering!! We called it a night and decided to meet at 6:30 the next day for breakfast.

6:00 was cold. Pinned up my BIB and got ready for my first ultra. While everyone was eating bagels and stuff I deiced to just have coffee. Kim and Diane insisted that I better eat something for the long race, but I didn't listen to them. A costly mistake. :)

We reached the race spot on time. The weather was still freaking cold. 50K on muddy horse trails. Sweet. Met Phil at the start line. Only a handful of runners unlike Mercedes Marathon. Everyone knows everyone like its one big family event. That's the best part about running Ultras.

The race started on time and we ran on dirt road for about 3 miles until we took a turn to hit the trails. 
(Right in the middle. Bib 53)
Slushy mud as soon as we hit the trails. While some runners were trying to avoid getting their shoes wet by going around the trail, I had no problems running through them in my Five Fingers. It looked medieval. A primal feel. I loved it. Reached a small waterfall and I could see icicles. 
Came to the point where 23K runners take the diversion. No turning back after this point. My "This is the moment". Took a right turn and headed into the trail. Steep, muddy, roots, slippery trails. Found a runner whose pace was just perfect for me. Ran along with the pack until I hit an aid station. Guess what, I was hungry and starving. Met Kim and Jeff. Took their advice and had PBJ sandwich. Felt good. From here on I ran pretty much alone.

Horse trails are very difficult to run. At times you have to share the trail with the horses; after all it’s their trail. Some of the horses were so majestic. The trails are not so wide but filled with slushy mud. On my way I met a runner trying to pull something out of the mud. Guess what, it was his shoe. The mud just sucks your shoes when you run through them, so you can imagine. I had no such problems though when you run through them, your shoes lose the traction and you will end up kissing the ground like it's your beloved.
I kissed the ground to glory for may be a half a dozen times. If you resist then the roots will ensure that you do. Escaped narrowly from bruising my face though my knees and arms graciously took some. After all what's there to trail running if there are no bruises and dirt on your face. Exhaustion was creeping in. Steep hills were punishing. Legs were sore. Stood in the ice cold creek on the way for a couple of minutes and it felt good, more like a natural ice pack. Pace was falling down. Reached the 21 mile mark and 10 more miles to go but the next few miles were all uphill. Sweet! Walked the hills and ran the downhill at a good pace. Guess what my next big problem was, tadaa, I couldn't pee. Drinking Gatorade and electrolytes all the way was a big mistake. At one aid station thought I asked the volunteer to fill my bottle with water he refilled it with Gatorade and I didn't realize until I got a mile away from the aid station. My kidneys were struggling and I was getting cramped up near my waist. Found a stream and drank out of it. That felt better but still couldn't pee. I was praying hard, He didn't help either. It was getting warm. I was hungry again. The last aid station, supposedly 4 miles before the finish line, was nowhere to be seen. When I found it, it was like finding an oasis in the desert. Did no mistake this time. Drank water and ate PBJ sandwich and some oranges. 

No more trails, 4 miles on the road to the finish line. Wanted to get it under 7:00 but crossed the finish line at 7:10. w00t. My first Ultra marathon accomplished. It felt great. All that pain and soreness vanishes the moment you cross that finish line. Just the sense of accomplishment. My first ever Ultra and I wanted to finish it at any cost and I did it. Finish time: 7:10:05

Rice, beans, hot burgers and mountain dew was waiting for me but above all my happiness knew no bounds when I got the urge to pee. Huh, what a relief after 7 hours of struggle. It was starting to get cold again and hot rice and beans and burgers tasted heaven. We picked our bags and headed to the hotel. What a wonderful day and what a great race!! Had dinner at Logans. Jeff would be leaving early in the morning. We called it a night and would soon be meeting in our next big race. "Land Between the Lakes 50 Miles". Huh, call me nuts!


coolview said...

I love those shoes ! You must be feeling real comfortable in them. Il tell Bubba abt leaving his Shrimpin Bzness and joining you.

coolview said...

I love those shoes ! You must be feeling real comfortable in them. Il tell Bubba abt leaving his Shrimpin Bzness and joining you. = Forrest Gump

Navin Sadarangani said...

Sounds like a fun experience, besides a great run overall. Every 1st is always special i'm sure. Congratulations on your first ultra and i'm sure it'll only get better (the timings) from here and even mores sweet (distances, toughness, intensity, etc.).

Run On!

Love and Regards,
Navin Sadarangani

P.S. Couldn't pee for so many hours?? You couldn't nourish some of the trees along the way?? Man that's freaking crazy stuff, i would have collapsed. Or probably filled up the bottle and risked consuming water instead!

Thiyagarajan said...

congrats dude.. :)

Thiyagarajan said...

Keep running and keep writting

giusippe said...

cool dude! shd only be getting better and better now! (btw i could only pee once a day maybe on the last trek ;) )

Ravi said...

Amazing feat and your feet!
Congrats. Good post.