15 November 2013

50 Miles in One Day

It's been a busy running season for me this year.  In January, I took on the Goofy Challenge at Walt Disney World (a half marathon the first day followed by a full marathon the second).  In May, I did a mini version of the challenge in the Canadian Rockies at the Rocky Mountain Soap Company run in Canmore by taking on a trail half marathon the first day and then a 10K the second.  At the beginning of September, I tackled my first mountain marathon in Panorama and in October, finished my fifth Chicago Marathon.  Which brought me to November 2 and the ultimate goal of this year - the Chicago Lakefront 50/50.

The Lakefront 50/50 has two choices for the steady of foot - the 50 mile distance or the 50K distance.  Last year, I took on the 50K and had a great time doing it.  I finished in a great time and, while pretty sore after, made the decision that I would go for the 50 mile distance the following year.

The 50 miler was fantastic.  It started on a chilly November morning on the south side of Chicago with about 130 other runners looking to go the distance.  My friend Christin paced me for the first 12.5 mile loop and set the tone for the rest of the day.  It was chilly, but we managed to stay warm as we chatted and encouraged the other runners on the course.  I grabbed Gatorade at the aid stations and had been sure to pack some real food in my pack for the day as I knew it would be a long one.  At the turnaround, I stuffed a Clif Bar in my mouth, bid adieu to Christin and started the second 12.5 loop.  

Almost halfway through, I was met by my friend, Katie.  It was great to see her and she joined me for about a mile on the trail.  I ate some pretzels and pickles at the aid station and enjoyed catching up with her along the route.  It felt as though the temperature was dropping a bit, so I was happy to be warmed by some awesome company!

Katie and I on the course.
At the turnaround to start the third 12.5 mile loop, I ate a hummus and spinach wrap which tasted SO GOOD at that point.  I knew this would be a long one as I wasn't going to have any support and so I needed to watch my pace and ensure I wasn't getting ahead of myself.  I kept focusing on other runners going by, encouraging them and handing out a few high fives along the way as well.  That's the awesome thing about these ultra-distance runs...everybody is rooting for everyone else to finish!

At the fourth loop turnaround, I was met by the best smile from my friend, Matt.  He was ready to bring me home and it was great to see him!  He and I chatted about music, friendships and pop culture as we worked our way through the first half of the last loop.  At the turnaround, I noted to him that I was going to have to change up my pace and go a little faster as I was tiring of the slower pace.  He and I picked it up and ate a few of the yummy homemade fuel snacks he brought with him along with some gels.  I ended up kicking it up for the last mile and a half and finished with a smile on my face...freezing, but having had one of the best running days of my life!

My reward...an awesome belt buckle, lots of memories and a hunger to do it all over again!

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