Why an ultra?
I can’t run fast, so I might as well run far! The mental fortitude of ultra runners is something that I’ve always admired. To me, ultra running seemed to be less about physical ability and more about pushing through pain and resisting the urge to give up.
How did you pick the one you ran?
I picked the Jack Bristol Lake Waramaug Ultras (50-mile distance) because it’s one of the oldest ultras in the country, has a reputation for being a well-run event, and has aid stations conveniently placed every couple of miles. I also thought that being a road race (as opposed to a trail race) might make the transition from marathon distances to an “ultra” distance easier for me.
Was training more intense?
I’ve been training with Mat Nark for a couple of years now, which has allowed me to steadily improve my marathon PRs through a combination of speed work and long runs. Training for an ultra this winter and spring has been a little different in that I’ve been ramping up my weekly mileage and adding back-to-back long runs, with less of a focus on speed work. In my opinion, training for an ultra has been less intense than training for a marathon because I’ve taken my long runs at an easier pace and my body seems to need less time to recover from long runs than it takes to recover from speed work. I appreciate that Mat was able to get me through this injury free!
What was the course like? Was it as difficult as you thought it might be or worse?
This race was comprised of 6+ loops around a picturesque lake, following winding roads and rolling hills. It really was a fantastic, easy, course. I had some physical issues with nausea throughout the race, but that was the worst part. Some of my Nark teammates decided to surprise me and drove over two hours to cheer me on for my last two laps. I was overwhelmed with gratitude and that provided all the mental strength I needed to push on for the last few hours.
The 60 million dollar question is: will you do one again and if so, which one is tempting you?
Absolutely. My primary goal for this 50-miler was to finish in under 12 hours to qualify for the Vermont 100 in July. I’m currently on the waitlist for that race, but I did qualify (yay!) and I have my fingers crossed that I’ll make it off the waitlist in time. My next race is in a few weeks - the Infinitus 88k in Vermont. I expect that to be very challenging and my only goals are to finish before the 24-hour cutoff and to enjoy my time on the trails.
Any advice for runners seeking to do their first ultra?
Go for it. Find a race with a generous course cutoff time and go as slow and easy as needed. Soak in your surroundings and enjoy being out there, challenging yourself with other like-minded adventurers. Take it one mile at a time and relish your accomplishment as you cross the finish line.