Last week I ran more miles than I ever have in one day. I am not sure how many, because I did not want the pressure of my GPS suffocating every step, but it was a long run. I raced my first 50K ultra marathon, the Ray Miller 50. However, I do know it was over 50K because after mile nineteen or so the group of runners I was with turned back and exclaimed, "We're going the wrong way!" So, I backtracked with them only to find out we were indeed going the right way after all. Oh, well. Honestly, I didn't mind the extra time in the sunshine or extra pounding on my legs, I was ready for anything the race asked of me, and simply savored the entire experience.
I probably ran 52K, but I am not sure. I do know that I loved every minute of it. I even appreciated the tumble I took at the bottom of the canyon floor two and half hours into our day because it woke me up, and added a little dirt design to my spiffy outfit. Plus, I find it life-affirming when a little blood is added to the marathon ball.
I am positive that I ran 6:09 hours. I am positive that I could have run another six more. I was not running fast, in fact, I did walk up some of the gargantuan hills, and delicately scamper down the countless downhills at a less than lightening pace, and it was all spectacular. There were heavy winds for the first few hours, and pestering heat through out the day, but nothing could break my spirit. I was locked in a near perfect running zone. I fueled correctly, thank you Picky Bars, and Cliff Blocks! I held faith that I prepped my mind and body for the rigors of running farther than a marathon by running hundreds of miles over the three months I lived in Albuquerque this summer. I was ready.
Plus, the ocean was our back drop, and my life-force when I needed it. The race took place in Pt. Mugu State park, which is just north of Malibu, and right above the Pacific. There were moments when I felt alone, I literally was for a few stretches here or there, but the big blue sea never left my sights. Even when I couldn't see it with my eyeballs while running through the inland valleys and canyons, I felt its strength cheering me on from a distance. Suddenly, it was right in front of me.
The last mile or so was a gorgeous, yet slightly scary set of spiraling switchbacks that spit us out right at the finish line. This was it. I just needed to hang on, stay upright, and finish strong. Luckily, my body was a champ and never let me down, even when I clearly could not control it correctly by taking a digger fifteen miles in. It didn't matter. I made it through my longest run ever. It was a glorious sensation and not to be taken for granted. I ran my first 50K, and along the way clicked off my 40th marathon, what an awesome way to spend a Saturday.