A Light Run at the Rails to Trails and thoughts on Ultra Running

the end of the western section of the rtt

I ran 5.5 miles at the rails to trails today.  I did the run around 7:00pm and it was still pretty darn hot but at least it was windy.  The windy conditions kept the mosquitoes away and added a little comfort.  I didn’t map the run because the route is just a straight line to the end of the trail and then turn around and come back.  I ran the western section of the rtt which is the rockiest and prettiest part of the trail, in my opinion.  Also, at the very end of the trail is a place called “the shrine”.  The original prayer flag project was there.  It’s amazing that there are still prayer flags out there that date to 2009.  Because the shrine is shrouded in a thick canopy of trees the prayer flags are protected from the elements a good bit.  So, the prayer flags at the rtt last a lot longer than the prayer flags at the dairy farm which are very exposed to sun, wind and rain.

I think you will be happy to know that I have not one but TWO people to crew me!  Yeah!  Awesome, eh?  My brother, Sam, and his lovely new wife, Delora, have agreed to crew me.  I am so happy and grateful for their assistance.  I really thought I was going to have to back out of the race.  I even exchanged emails with Tim Waz, the sponsor of the Cremator, that I may not be able to do the race.  And, I said that I if I cannot find anyone to crew me I would like to help out as a volunteer for the race.  Tim said that he had an idea he wanted to talk to me about but then my brother called and said he would help.  So, I’m back in the race!

"the shrine"

Wildlife inventory:

  • 8 dragon flies
  • 3 terns
  • 3 wasps
  • 1 rabbit
  • 1 seagull
  • 1 dove
  • 8 million fiddler crabs
  • 1 woman’s sandal

I confess that I’m a bit insecure about this race as it approaches.  I’m kind of scared that I will not complete it.  A 50 mile foot race is nothing to scoff at but, with disciplined training it’s very doable.  I haven’t trained for this race as well as I have for other races I’ve done in the past.  I’ve been slack.  I haven’t been very focused on my running this year.  I don’t know.  After climbing Kilimanjaro earlier this year I just haven’t been very disciplined in my training or overall fitness.  So, I don’t know if arrogance has played a part in my lack of discipline.  After I climbed Kilimanjaro I felt I could conquer anything.  I felt that same way in 2008 after running 100 miles in the Boulder 100.  I guess that’s what happens when a big goal is accomplished.  What humbled me back in 2008 after the Boulder 100 was a catastrophic heartbreak I experienced with a woman I loved so dearly and, the loss of my beloved dog, Maccabee.  Saying goodbye to Margaret and burying my dog, Maccabee emptied me of all joy and anything grand I may have felt.

Just having finished the boulder 100 with a time of :24:05 (24hrs, 5 minutes)

Climbing Kilimanjaro was a childhood dream of mine and this year that dream was fulfilled.

When I approached the Cremator Ultra 50 it seemed like an easy race to bag.  As I’ve trained for it my view has changed quite significantly.  This is not going to be an easy race…an easy goal to attain.  Fifty miles is almost two marathons in one day.  Add temperatures above 90 degrees along with high humidity and you’ve got quite a beast to deal with.  The distance will be tough but the heat will be the 800 pound gorilla that I will have to confront and get past.

at top of kilimanjaro with palmetto running company banner

At this point, I do not feel very confident about my outcome for this race.  You don’t approach a 50 mile race with the same mentality that you would a half marathon or a marathon. You have to factor so many things doing an ultra marathon.  Before you do an ultra you have to come up with a plan on how you plan to run this race & you pretty much have to stick to it.  There’s not going to be much wiggle room in your ultra run plan.  What pace do you intend to keep and for how long?  Will you run slow at the beginning and then unleash yourself the last 10 miles?  Will you run a 10 minute pace the entire time?  Will you run a 10 minute pace for the first 40 miles and then walk the rest?  How many electrolyte pills will you consume?  How often should you take one?  How many gels should you have?  What will be your ratio of electrolyte fluid intake to water?  How much food will you consume?  What kind of food will you consume?  If you feel strong at the beginning of the run it’s almost certain that you will not feel strong three quarters of the way into the race.  Ultras are such long races that you cannot wing it the day of the race and run a different race than you had planned prior to the start of it.  You make a plan prior to the race and you pretty much stick to it.  Ultra marathons are about patience and looking at the overall picture.

the last bridge of the rails to trails

When you hit the wall and, you will hit the wall – where will your desire and strength to continue will come from?  To continue the race, will it mean endangering your health for something that in the grand scheme of things is not that important?  Will you be able to distinguish between obvious fatigue or approaching a dangerous level?  All of these things are what makes ultra marathons interesting to me.  How much can I endure without endangering myself?  The race officials are trained to pick up on what’s fatigue or what’s red-lining the body but in the end you have to be honest with yourself and be willing to ask and answer the question – can I realistically finish this without endangering myself?  That is a tough question to ask yourself.  The answers do not come easy:

  • If you answer the question honestly and walk away from completing a goal that’s within reach that pill is very jagged and hard to swallow.  You will feel defeated.  You will feel like a loser.  I’m talking from experience here.  When I’ve walked away from something, I’ve wondered over and over if I had a little more in me or if I sold out for some quick comfort.  It’s a tough thing to deal with but you have to be ready to say to yourself I honestly know that I did my best but the chips were not in my favor – to go on is foolish.  I will just have to come back and try again on another day.  And then, live with that decision.  It’s tough.  I know.
  • The other answer of course, has the worse outcome.  Your health is endangered.  You push so hard foolishly and possibly end up in the hospital or worse.  Not trying to be overly dramatic but you have to be smart and honest with yourself.  Is this worth endangering myself?  Am I really in a danger zone?  It’s within reach you may say to yourself.  If I push myself just a little harder I will make it over the edge.  The edge you go over, though, may not be the one you had hoped for.

a woman's sandal

Running ultra marathons is not an easy and pleasant experience.  They are rough races that will challenge you like nothing else.  Making foolish decisions during an ultra marathon can have devastating results.

So, why do I put myself through this?  That’s a question to address on another blog, on another day.

I haven’t trained for this race as well as I have in the past for other races but I’m going out there and giving it my best but I’m going to be smart about it.  If I have to pull out of the race some where along the way because things haven’t gelled right for me I will do so and deal & live with that decision because there are more races that I want to do and more mountains that I want to climb.

There you have it.

  • run log
  • days until the CrematorUltra 50:

Thank you so much for stopping by.

All the very best to you and yours.




Here are my two beloved dogs, Maccabee and Isabella. I miss these guys so much. Maccabee is the blue merle, Isabella, the red merle

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