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December 11, 2006

My first ultra-marathon

Our journey started on the 7th morning when Ani, me and Gau went to Houston to pick up our race packets. There was also a dinner there and we had a good time talking to the other runners who had come for the race. There was even a lady who had run a marathon in every continent.

We got to the hotel by 7:30 p.m. and prepared for the next day by creating packets that we could pick up and avoid spending too much time refueling at the starting point. We also prepared the clothing for each loop if the weather were to get warm and then cold towards the night again. We checked our lights and be able to run when it got dark. There were 4 loops of 12.5 miles each to complete the 50 miles. We had spare bottles so it could be filled out and kept ready when we came in for the loop. Part of our support team was also there to be there from the beginning.

We got to the park with time to spare and set up camp in the tent that Joe had set up the previous evening. We started the race at 7:00 a.m. and I decided to run the first loop slowly and try to make up the time in the next two loops to meet the 8-1/2 hr cutoff for the 37.5 miles I needed to meet to stay in the race. The weather was cold and quite nice for the race. I started strong and was running comfortably till mile 3. At this time my upper thigh and groin pain that has troubled me for the better part of the training on long runs started troubling me. From my previous experience it had only got worse over time whether I walked or run. It was also a little disappointing that the massages and visits to the chiropractor had only got me three miles. I took a Tylenol that I had packed on my fuel belt, I considered taking a couple, but decided against it since I had not had a lot to eat and I wasn’t sure if it will mess up my tummy since it was a long run. The pain subsided a bit in about 20 mins and I continued running till mile 8 with a niggling pain.

From then on the pain just kept getting worse. I finished the first 12.5 mile loop in 2 hrs and 45 mins. Our support crew was very excited to see me in such early time and ran up to greet me. I gave my fuel belt to refuel and also asked for my second Tylenol. I went to the loop marker and our ever efficient team had prepared everything for my second loop. I let them know that my pain was getting worse and was not sure how long I would last. I didn’t need to change since the weather had not changed one bit.

The second loop was extremely excrutiating as neither the pain-killer I took at the beginning of the loop nor the one I took in 6 miles gave even a bit of relief. I started debating if the damage I’m causing would be permanent and decided to call it quits when I got through the loop. It took me 3-1/2 hrs to get back a good 38 mins slower than the first loop. As I was finishing the loop I also met Joe our coach and just had enough time to tell him that I decided to quit. He looked at the pain in my face and gave me an understanding look and said that it was probably the best.

I gave my belt and bottle for refueling and completed my second loop and got back to the Rogue tent. I realized that inspite of my really bad loop the clock time was just 6 hrs 10 mins for 25 miles. Although, it felt bad giving up given the pain I had been running with for 22 miles I knew that the wise thing to do was to quit. The team consoled me that I had almost run a marathon and at the same time encouraged me to rest and try another loop. I sank into my chair and instantly started feeling better. I decided to complete the next loop no matter the pain and Murali and Arvind volunteered to wear my fuel belt so it put less preassure on my waist. I took the precaution of taking my lights with me although I had no idea of how long the next loop would take.

In the beginning, I walked the up-hills and ran the down-hills, but soon even that became painful and I just dragged my right foot along the course. Arvind offered me a shoulder to lean against and stretch every once in a while and the same course I ran briskly in a little over two and a half hrs took over 5 hrs to complete in the third loop. I had been out for 11 hrs 10 mins and went past the marathon distance covering 37.5 miles (60 km). I completed the loop and they removed my chip and asked me to go to the finisher area. Ani had finished her 50 km ultra and was waiting for me there. The sweet lady at the finish asked me to choose between an afgan blanket or a jacket and also gave me the finisher medal. I smiled and let her know that I didn’t finish the race and only ran 37.5 miles. She consulted with the other people in the stall and gave me the 50 km finisher medal.

I had finished what we set out to initially do and I was happy that I didn’t give up at mile 25. There are days when you run, but on my first attempt at the 50 miler I had survived.

I'm running to raise funds for the underprivileged in India. Find out more...


Anurag Hitchcock said...

the comment down below is misaligned.was meant to be here :D

Brownsheep said...