The idea of running a 50k was never something that I ever thought I would do. Running a marathon had always been on my bucket list, but I guess after running two marathons and getting ready for the third this coming October, I felt like I was ready to start a new adventure. Also, my friend Sabrina (she also tweeted from the race!) wanted to run 30 miles during her 30th year. So, when my husband signed up for Evergreen Trail Runs, Soaring Eagle 50k, we said, “heck, we can do that!”, we have run marathons before, no sweat! You can walk up the hills, you can walk a lot. You get pizza and soup at the rest stops. I admit I was a bit relaxed about, I did also prepare myself for being dead last or not finishing. We figured all we needed to do was keep a 17 minute pace and we would finish before the course was closed up. I really did think it was all mental, and I still do think going the distance is all mental. We knew we could finish the distance, it would just take positive attitude and mental focus and a lot of time. What we didn’t think about was our pace and how it changes over 10, 15, 20 miles. When you are not fully trained for a race like this (which we were not – my average was about 15 miles A WEEK – not enough to keep up the pace), your pace seems to slow way down and that walking starts to sound better and better all the time. Not to mention the concern for running all over the branches and roots sticking out. As you get closer to the finish, you get a lot more clumsy.
After about 6 hours of run/walking, when we came in for our second 10 mile lap (just finishing 21 miles – we did a 1 mile loop at the start so finishers got the complete 31.1m or 50k distance), the race director kindly let us know we were moving way to slow to actually finish in time for the race volunteers to pack up the flags on time. But, luckily if we really started moving we could have finished the last 5 miles to finish the 26.2 marathon race, instead of getting a DNF (did not finish) next to our name. We contemplated this and headed out to start our last 5 miles and as our legs felt like lead and we finished our energy drinks we realized we might be okay with the DNF, stretching out in the sunshine and just relaxing after a long 6 hour/21 mile hike/run/walk. That seemed like enough for the day, we weren’t sprinting off the line to get those last 5 miles in and we felt our bodies would thank us if we just called it a day. So that is what we did. It is not my favorite to get a DNF next to my name, but I was not the only one that did not finish and 21 miles is really nothing to sneeze at. Running through the woods and on the trails was a lovely way to spend a gorgeous, sunny, Northwest day. I truly admire all those that finished the race, including my awesome husband! Now, I have to debate whether I want to try this ultra marathon distance again. I do think I will, I will make sure that I get A LOT more training in and really focus on picking up my pace so that I can finish with the flags still up!