Since 2004 I have run 8 marathons, 8 -50 K ultramarathons, 4 -50 Mile ultramarathons and 1 -100 mile ultramarathon. I ran another 50 mile ultra marathon yesterday, but yesterday the race was not about me. Yesterday the race was about my friend Brian. Brian ran his first marathon 51 weeks ago and yesterday he finished his first 50 mile ultramarathon. Not bad for a guy who ran his first 5K just a few years ago.
When Brian first said he would try a ultramarathon, myself and our other friend Ross agreed to run the entire race with him. That is what we did and together we finished in 12:04. Thats the short of it, here is the long.
We headed up to the Kettle Moraine state park east of Madison Wisconsin. This is an area I am familiar with as I have ran a few races on these trails. This race would basically be routed over the northern part of the Kettle Moraine 100 course I had ran earlier in the year.
I won't go into all the pre race festivities but suffice to say Brian was his nervous self. The morning of the race we woke up and arrived about an hour early for the 0500 race start. Right at 0500 we had a short speech by ultrarunner and North Face athlete Dean Karnezes and we were off. This race was much like the other ultras with the exception that I ran with at least 2 other people and sometimes as many as 5 the entire race. It felt like a Sunday group run. Rather than describe terrain etc... as I usually do I will regale you with some Brianisms.
Mile 0-10- "My back hurts" This was not good. Brian had been having some chronic back pain and it was flaring up. Ross and I were worried we may be running without him after the first aid station.
This continued to be a worry but eventually he seemed to be controlling the pain and pushing through it.
Mile 10-20 " I am getting meadow fucked" This section was through the same meadows section I had run during KM100. Although it was about 20 degrees cooler it was still hot and no shade. Also the ruts and grass continued to aggravate Brian's back issues.
Mile 20-30 " How can they make us run 7 miles with no Coke?" Brian really wanted a Coke to settle his stomach and when we got to the turnaround at mile 27 he wasn't happy none was available. Also not happy the aid stations were so far apart.
Mile 30-40 "This sand is like a plate of shit served in a dirty ashtray" There was a lot of deep sand on the course overall but especially in this section. Brian didn't like the sand. Also in this section our other friend Kelly passed us going the other way. She was looking really strong on her first 50 mile race. She would end up placing 4th female and 1st in her age group. Solid solid!!!
Mile 40-50 " Are you guys fucking with me?" Brian said this when we told him there were only 1.8 miles to go. He didn't really believe it. Couldn't process that he was almost done. It was also in this section when he thought running a 100K might be something he could do. More on that later.
I shared these quotes to show you the differing range of emotion you can have during an ultra. Also despite the constant pain in his back, the sand, the lack of coke etc.. Brian kept moving forward without much prodding and he regularly asked how the rest of us were feeling as if he needed to check on us as well. He is one of the mentally toughest guys I know and a good friend. I hope his first 50 mile was everything he hoped it would be.