Lessons From My First Ultramarathon

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A few years ago, I ventured beyond the marathon for the first time.
I was 5th place at the Pisgah 50k Mountain Trail Race in 4:27 and change.
My watch had 4:22:38, but I stopped it while I was jawing with the aid station workers and refilling my water bottle a few times.
The winner was about a half hour ahead of me.
He pulled ahead of me in the first 7 or 8 miles or so and I never saw him again.
I had no idea what to expect, given that I'd never run more than 28 or 29 miles at once, had only gone over 30 miles a few times between two runs, and had never raced more than 10k on trails (that were generally easier and flatter), that I'd never run more than 15 miles on trails before, that I'd been sick Friday night, and given that I had a migraine the morning of the race.
The goal was somewhere between 4:00:00 and 4:30:00, since I did not think I'd be able to run faster than that.
The longest that I had run for the past few months were a couple of 14 and one 15 miler; I didn't really have time to build my mileage up after deciding to run the race and didn't taper for it at all.
Since the first 30 minutes were in a torrential downpour, I was  surprised that my feet were not more beat up than they were.
I didn't get any blisters until after the aid station at mile 25.
I got some wicked chafage from the wet shorts, but my muscles felt fine.
They were really sore when I finished the race, but after eating and stretching and walking around they started feeling okay.
I drove about a third of the way back to Maine without any trouble.
I guess that's one of the advantages of trail racing.
I decided that I definitely needed to work on my hill ascension and descending on technical trails, though.
It is much much different than doing it on roads or on easy trails without rocks or roots.
I now saw what the guys I run with meant when they spoke about your toes jamming into the front of your shoes.
I did run a few of the descents hard; one in particular where I was chasing somebody that had just passed me was scary as hell since it was full of rocks and roots and loose dirt.
Thankfully, there was no bridge at the bottom.
Those bridges on the course were wood and wet, and may as well have been ice from the fine layer of damp moss on them.
There were 15 trees blocking the path.
This doesn't count any that I could run under (ducking the head didn't count), that were not fully blocking the path, that had had any part cut out of them, that had had the trail routed around them, or that I didn't have to break stride to get over.
At least 9 or 10 of them were in the first hour, and most had probably come down from the previous day's storm.
It was a good time, and after that I've been able to call myself an ultramarathoner.
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