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November 01 2012 / Emily

Venturing into Ultramarathons

Although buoyed by my latest marathon success, I have lately been thinking that marathons aren’t really getting the wow-factor anymore.  Of course I realize I don’t run distance just for the reactions it gets from other people, but I won’t pretend it doesn’t help.

Yesterday, a new facebook friend of mine who I interacted with via photos from the Ridge to Bridge Marathon, posted that she was not going to register for Uwharrie.  Well, it was more of a mantra, talking herself out of it.  Many of her friends on the ensuing comments did their best to talk her into it.

I have looked up the Uwharrie Mountain Runs a number of times in the past, but was always too late to register for them.  There is a 40 mile option, 20 mile option and 8 mile option.  I always stumbled upon the 20 miler when I was looking for tune-up races in the spring and was disappointed multiple years to find it sold out already.  Little did I know it sells out in a matter of minutes.

Riding high from my recent success, after seeing the facebook post, I looked it up to discover the registration opened this morning at 8am for the 40 mile race, 9am for the 20 miler and 10am for the 8 miler.  Goodness, was I really considering this?  Trail runs are hard!  A different breed of hard.

Anyway, I asked for opinions from my own group of friends and it was a mixed bag, but I did find out a few other folks I know would be there.  Always encouraging to know there will be friendly faces afoot.  I decided that I would make the extra effort to be at my computer at 8am and give the 40 mile registration a try, and if that didn’t work out then I’d try to sign up for the 20M.

I’m not usually at work by 8am, though I should be, but today I was in the office by like 8:01, pacing around while I waited for my computer to boot up.  I was finally on by about 8:04 and went to the appropriate website and found it crashed.  Opened in a new browser – crashed.  I refreshed and refreshed multiple tabs for a couple minutes (which seemed like ages), sure that it was going to be sold out by the time it ever came back up.  But then suddenly the page loaded and I was able to start filling in my data.  I couldn’t believe I’d actually gotten through.  I typed feverishly and kept expecting the next click to time out again, or inform me it was full.  There was only about 5 seconds more thought given to “do I really want to do this?  can I really do this?” before I just pulled the trigger and hit that last REGISTER button.

By 8:08 I had an email confirmation in my inbox… and I was shell-shocked.  Had I really just done that?  Signed up to run FORTY MILES… on trails… in the woods… without any flat bits… whoa.  But yes, I sure did it.  Talk about a rash decision with long standing consequences.  Throughout the morning as I had a few spare minutes here and there, I found some blog posts about prior years which put the fear of God into me about this race and concurrently made me really excited for the challenge.

In just over three months, I will be toeing the line to run 40 miles in the woods with a small pack of other fools.  The race sold out by 8:16, and the 20 and 8 mile races seem to have followed on that trend as their registration times opened.  I feel lucky to have gotten in and know that I need to finish my little post-marathon breather and get back out there with a vengeance and prepare for Uwharrie.  It will be a totally different kind of race, and different preparation.  I need to get onto the trails a lot and just stay on my feet for hours, instead of focusing on things like speedwork.  And I need to look for trail shoes and gaiters and other trail things that I’ll probably need in that time.

My very early thoughts are that it will be about a 10 hour race.  That’s a long time to be running.  My slowest marathon was just under 5 hours so the thought of being out there twice as long is more than a little daunting.  I am also going to factor a 50k or two into my training, and prove to myself I can run 31 miles in my quest to run 40.  If 20 miles gets a runner to 26 in an acceptable fashion, hopefully 31 miles will get me to 40.  Or I’ll just run more.  This is uncharted territory for me so I need to figure out how to train for this kind of distance!

Now I already have some 50ks in mind, so I’d better get planning!

So much for choosing a nice fast marathon for my next big race.   Time to turn this runner into an ultrarunner.



Leave a Comment
  1. hinsone / Nov 1 2012 8:15 PM

    Well, you’re already an “Ultimate Runner” so why not eh? My friend Carmen (who was at Ultimate) was trying to get into the 8 miler and did not, so she is crushed. How many people are there, it has to be a small crowd to sell out that quickly… how many people out there want to run 40 miles? LOL

  2. Kim / Nov 2 2012 8:35 AM

    That’s awesome that you are going to try an ultra! My friends who ran MCM and Gettysburg marathon with me are ultrarunners (like 100 milers), and they love it! Let me know if you want me to ask them anything for you or put you in touch with them 🙂 Also, if you ever want to run a less hilly marathon with some extra purpose you can always run guide for me 😉

  3. vadoporroesq / Nov 2 2012 2:55 PM

    I think most people that run a 40 or 50 miler only run 30 or so miles to train for it, so I think you’ll be fine. I’m actually really disappointed and relieved that I didn’t even consider that sign-ups were coming up – I loved this race so much and I desperately wanted to do it again, but the idea of a 6 or 7hr drive to do it is just grueling, especially at my job now where I have limited vacation, plus neither of my friends who did it last year are in for it this year. We found a 25K that is closer to home that I think we’ll be doing instead.

    Have a good time – it’s a great race!


  1. Race Report: Uwharrie Mountain Run 20 Miler | run. eat. nap. drink.

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