As per Part I, "Saturday morning is supposed to be a 20 mile training run according to my over-the-counter training regiment for the San Diego Rock 'n' Roll Marathon. Instead, I will be upping the ante and attempting my first ultramarathon." Click here to read Part I of II
With temperatures nearing to 80 degrees, my 31.2-mile endeavor on Saturday was nothing short of epic. The first 16.2 miles were quick and maybe a bit too ambitious for never having completed a training run greater than 18 miles. Perhaps it was the beautiful singletrack on the north shore of Lake Hodges or maybe even fear of being eaten by the legendary lake monster "Hodgee" that propelled me to complete the western leg of the course in 2 hours, 35 minutes.
Upon leaving the drop-bag station at mile 16.2, temperatures had already climbed 20 degrees since the start of the race at 7:30 a.m. I could feel electrolytes being sucked from my cells as the sun baked the San Pasqual Valley. My ration of electrolyte replacement capsules was depleted and they had materialized as a coating of salt on my skin. By mile 22, I began to experience muscle contractions in my quadriceps and calf muscles. Fortunately, this was the beginning of Raptor Ridge, where I would be forced to walk because of the acute elevation gain. Once I reached the summit, my plan of making up time on the downhill was thwarted by full-on cramps in my quads and calves. Instead of racing down the back of the ridge and into the flats, I was forced to employ my original run and walk ratio. Thus, my 10-minute-per-mile pace deteriorated to 15 minutes per mile during the final leg of the journey.
My projected finishing time of six hours was right on as I crossed the finish line in 6:15. I learned a few lessons that will lead to a stronger marathon in June as well as better preparedness for future ultra endeavors.
First and foremost, my gastrointestinal system (GI) handled the predominantly liquid diet without complication. My fuel of choice did seem to lack the calorie content that my body craved during such high output. Thankfully, the aid stations were fully stocked with fruit, cookies, pretzels, PB&J sandwiches and potatoes. One pleasant surprise for me was the container of chopped potatoes served alongside a large bowl of salt. This was new for me and proved very important as my salt levels were nearly depleted. I made sure to ingest a handful of salt at each of these aid stations. For my next race, I will carry a full supply of electrolyte capsules. This will be a major preventative measure to ensure that I do not experience the effects of electrolyte depletion. With this measure in place, I could maintain a 10-minute pace and finish in less than six hours. This will also prove effective during the high heat and intensity of the San Diego Rock 'n' Roll Marathon on June 3.
I have now ventured to the other side of 26.2 and enjoyed the scenery. Perhaps it was the moderate pace that provided more time to appreciate the local lore or maybe it was the solitude of the trail. What I am sure of is a feeling of satisfaction for achieving a goal that I once considered out of reach.
(Photo provided by Toby Guillette)