A friend once said “Never trust a runner. If he/she said that we won’t do it again or won’t be running just as fast, you know they are lying”.
I wasn’t lying when I said I was done with loops when I ran my first [incomplete] full marathon. But a few days later I when heard that there will be a female-only ultramarathon, I knew that I just had to sign up for it. Plus, a part of me wanted redemption for not being able to complete a looped full marathon. Initially, I signed up for the 50km solo category, which required me to run 17 loops of 3km (17 X 3KM = 51KM), but as the event date approaches a male friend of mine decided to run with me, so we upgraded to the 100km duo category (each participant will run 50km) because that’s the only category that allows male participants.
My ultramarathon objective is simple: Just finish the race within the cut off time of 9 hours. To be able to do that, I must prepare myself physically and mentally. For first timers like me, it is advisable to clock in at least 200km in one month before the race, and run at least 30-40km one week before race day so your feet is used to moving slowly but consistently over long distances. All of that training will wear you out, you will feel exhausted even before race day! So spend at least 1 week before the race tapering and resting. Most importantly, you have to come to the race mentally prepared. It is going to be hot, at 42°C there is nothing else that keeps you going except your inner motivation. It is going to hurt, but keep telling your mind to fight through the pain. Like 2 straight lines moving together, both mental and physical preparation must be parallel to able to finish an ultramarathon.
My ultramarathon strategy is equally simple too: Run 30KM continuously at a very comfortable pace (8:00 – 8:30 min/km), then power walk (10:30 – 11:30 min/km) for the rest of the way. I was glad that the training paid off. When boredom or negative thoughts started to kick in, I turned up my music or randomly chatted to other participants. There is an encouraging vibe to a women-friendly event, I even made new friends along the way! To avoid wasting precious time, I had to refrain myself from stopping too long at the checkpoint. All I did was quickly drank some water or Coke, refill my bottle, or mix my hydration tab or Gatorade powder, and grab a quick snack, all in less than 3 minutes.
I think my partner’s shirt almost matches my top. True to it’s Ultra name, this top is highly recommended for long distance running. It is bright to minimize heat absorption, evaporates sweat quickly, and very light.
This medal is for my family who have never doubted my capabilities, my official and unofficial pacers during the event, Nashata for always keeping me covered, late night training sessions, pre-dawn LSDs, support crew for coming to cheer, messages of encouragement, well wishers, and advisors. Thank you for being a part of my ultramarathon journey.
In the end, I completed all 17 loops in under 9 hours, thankfully without any major injuries or cramps. There was the usual muscle fatigue and soreness the next day, but that is normal. I expect to start running again in less than one week, and hopefully I am at least 80% recovered by then. So, what’s next for me? Would I do it all over again if I had to?
Until next week,
The Weekend Runner.