Published March 20th, 2011
Yesterday I became a woman — an honest-to-god trail-running woman!
Even with 50+ marathons and 14 ultras under my feet, I still couldn’t identify myself as an ultra-runner. I hang with a pretty gnarly crowd; they eat mountains for breakfast and consider 40 miles an easy day. Me? I like to take baby steps when it comes to challenging myself. Most of my ultras were on relatively flat, well-groomed “rails-to-trails” courses. It was time to hike up my “big girl” pants.
Mind you, I wasn’t a total virgin to technical trails with major elevation. In August 2009 my darling and I joined several other runners on a 27-mile training run on a section of the Cascade Crest 100-mile course. Not only did I have to contend with the most technical trails I had ever encountered, it was also freaking hot (90 degrees at the Snoqualmie Pass summit). Soon after hitting the trail I was sweating buckets, and even though I had 60 ounces of water in my hydration pack, salt tabs and several gels, the sweeper was really worried about me. By the time we hit an aid station at mile 10 I knew it would be foolish to continue, and fortunately we were able to get a ride back to the start.
I had another disastrous trail run last summer. I joined my darling for a training run on the first half of the White River 50 course, but it ended up being a long, slow hike (9 hours to cover approximately 25 miles). I was still recovering from two fast road marathons in the two weeks prior, plus I hadn’t eaten enough that morning. I was sucking wind on the uphills and far too timid on the downhills. By the end I was stumbling along in a daze. I somewhat redeemed myself, however, as two weeks later I swept the first half of the course during the race. It still took 8 hours, but I was responsible for removing the plentiful course marker ribbons, which added at least 45 minutes to my time.
That’s when I decided to make 2011 “The Year of the Ultra.”