A year ago, I was hyped, and driving to Lovell Canyon to attempt my first Ultra Distance race. Around halfway to the start, my truck started to overheat. Not wanting to get stranded on the narrow road, I managed to get pulled off to the shoulder, turn around, and coast down the mountain. Needless to say, my race never happened, and anger was heavy.
Fast forward to 2015, zero car problems were had on the way to the race! I was dropped off at the start line, an hour or so before the race started. It gave me plenty of time to get my legs loose, and mentally prepare for what lay before me. Talking with some of the other runners, I met a pair of couples visiting from the UK, who wanted to include some running in their vacation.
Once we began the run, my ankle was giving me some serious issues almost straight away. I pushed on, and kept climbing the initial hill. After a short while, my ankle pain went away, while I started talking with other runners. The distraction was all the doctor ordered, apparently, which let me continue on.
This course starts at the bottom of Lovell Canyon, heads to the top (where the road goes to a private camp, or turns to a dirt road), heads back down the mountain a few miles, turn around, back to the top, and turn around once more, heading back to the start. Upon reaching the start, the 50k ultra runners were able to get our money’s worth with another out and back, up the mountain.
Runners were attempting up to 50 miles that day, and many, many runners were dropping distances, as the hill, and temperature got to them. I don’t blame them!
Reaching the top of the course. I adjusted my shoes, had a snack and some hydration, then started down the hill. As usual, my descent running went well, and I was hopeful for a respectable time.
Turning around at the second point, I began the climb again. This time, it wasn’t as smooth as the first time, but still went well. It was fun joking with the volunteers, and other runners, talking with them, and enjoying the scenery.
Surprisingly, when I tried descending the mountain for the final time, I could not get a good pace going. My legs were heavy, my lungs were burning, and it felt like I was just spent. Trying my hardest to keep moving, I was unsuccessful in maintaining a good pace.
A group of us formed up toward the bottom of the biggest part of the hill, around the base of a sharp, but short climb. Approaching the top, we started getting distance between us again. The sun was beating down, while it wasn’t a truly hot desert day, it was hot enough.
When the start/finish line was in sight, I could feel my legs try to pick up the pace. Getting to the checkpoint, I had to sit down for a bit, before attempting the last 10k. I was given cool, wet towels to try and help bring my core temperature down, and filled my water bottle with more ice and water.
That last climb seemed to go on forever. My mind was trying to convince me spirit that the turn-around point was in the wrong spot, and to just turn around there. Nobody would know. Nobody, except for me! Will power was all that kept me going, making that final turn, I worked my hardest to reach the finish line as quick as possible.
Nearly collapsing at the finish, from exhaustion and elation, my legs did not want to hold me up any longer. I relaxed some, before hopping in the car for the ride home. My time was slow, and not at all what I hoped for, but I finished my first Ultra Marathon Race!
Another keynote of the Labor of Love 50k, was that it started a busy couple months worth of racing. Keep an eye out for how often, and how far I raced after this May 2 race.
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