I ran the Buffalo Run 50 miler on Antelope Island. Because some of my family and friends will read this, I wanted to address why I would want to run this long distance. Training (and the race) take a lot of time, so I have been thinking about this lately. Here are some reasons. Races are an adventure. Life can be monotonous, so getting out and doing something different and challenging gives me something to look forward to. After I complete a challenge, I feel a genuine sense of accomplishment and that I can tackle other difficulties in life. Running is a great way to see nature...some of the ground we covered in this race can only be experienced by foot. Going to a race is a nice way to interact with others in the community and with friends. I feel better (physically and mentally) when I am in shape. Lastly, running is a good way to show my kids that physical fitness is a priority for me. So even though running (especially ultramarathons) is not for everyone, it's something that I enjoy.
It was great to do an in-person race for the first time in a long time. I ran this race in 2010 and had been wanting to give it another attempt. My training has been consistent for the past 15 months, so I felt better prepared than I have for a race in a long time. The weather was perfect, and my friend Matt was excited to pace me in the last 3rd of the race. So it was a perfect opportunity to run this race.
The race started at 6 am. The first segment involves ~20 miles on the most hilly part of the course. The scenery is beautiful, and we were treated to a view of the full moon in the west and its reflection on the Great Salt Lake. That alone was worth the entry fee. I felt relaxed and that I was running within myself during most of these miles, but I may have been a little too aggressive on the uphill portion in the middle of this segment. I finished this part of the race in just under 3 hours, which was right on target.
The next 13 miles are relatively flat on the way to Fielding Garr Ranch. I wanted to see if I could pass some people. I deliberately pushed the pace and passed 5-6 runners. However, looking back I can see that I was extending myself too much. It would have been a better strategy to relax more. As I approached the ranch, I started to feel the miles.
It was awesome to meet up with Matt at mile 33. I am so grateful that he took an entire day out of his life to support me! At first, our pace was fine. I had slowed a bit but not too much. But once we got to the next aid station, I needed to take longer and pull myself together and use the restroom. I walked an uphill part around there. Running with Matt helped me keep running for most of the next segment. I was watching my time and making calculations about whether I could break my goal of 8 hours, but it was difficult to tell.
When I reached mile 44, there was a steep, uneven, uphill portion. I had been dreading that part. I hiked it slowly but kept moving. The next 3-4 miles were the worst part of the race. I walked off and on and felt horrible. After getting some sugar in me and getting through a rocky portion in this segment, I started to feel better. At one point, Matt told me that we had about 2.5 miles and 25 minutes to reach the goal of 8 hours. I said, "Let's do this." It was still uncomfortable, but things were looking up. Then with about 1 mile to go (and 10 minutes to reach my goal), I tripped and fell and cut up two of my fingers. I had difficulty regaining my momentum, and it seemed the finish line would never come. But Matt encouraged me to keep pushing, and we ran under 9 minutes for the last mile. I was thrilled to reach my goal. My time was 7:59:09. I could not have done that without Matt pacing me!
One struggle during the race was eating. I wanted to consume calories to keep my blood sugar up. I just didn't enjoy eating while I ran, and I dislike eating energy gels. However, I did find that Crustables are a good food to eat while running.
Although I was happy with my time, I reflected on what could have helped me run better. The biggest thing was to train more on trails. Due to the winter and time constraints, most of my training was on roads. My body wasn't ready for so many miles on trails.
This is an excellent race. The only complaint I have is that there are multiple out-and-back sections, and it's frustrating to have to run around people going in the opposite direction. Other than that, I highly recommend the race. They have many options for shorter and longer distances.
Lastly, I am super grateful to my family for supporting me. They were very encouraging and made signs to welcome me home! Mostly I train when the kids are asleep or in school, but I could not do something like with this without their support (especially Laurel).