Three months of training, two mountains, 50 kilometers, seven hours and twenty minutes equals my first ultra marathon trail race experience. At Innovative Fitness our mantra states Challenge, Adversity, Victory. Therefore I will break down my experience in these three categories.
Three months ago we as staff were asked to list our big destinations for the year. Since I had only participated in 10 kilometer races up to this point, I thought a marathon would be a good challenge for me. And I chose the Portland Marathon. However, Jeff Dallin thought that this was not challenging enough and that I needed to think bigger. I was unsure of what I could do that would be bigger than a marathon. So I stuck with the idea of a marathon for a while until I took part in my first trail race in Bellingham, the north face endurance challenge. Now this was yet again another 10k, and I had a lot of fun doing it, but felt that the 10k was just not enough; I had found a new love of trail running and wanted to do more. Also racing in Bellingham were Mark Coates and one of our customers, Mike Fugman, both finishing the 50 kilometer option. Watching them finish this race inspired me to think bigger than my original marathon idea and find a 50k trail race to run for myself. So the challenge was laid out in front of me…The Frosty Mountain 50k Ultra.
So not only did I now have 50k ultra marathon 3 months in my future…I had also had three months worth of training to get through. This meant at least 5 days of running a week, 3 days of strength training as well as full time work schedule, weekends full of events and very little free time. While doing my own training, myself and some other trainers thought it would be a good idea to get others involved and share our enjoyment of trail running with others, so we started a trail running group and twice a week we met at Lacarno Beach for some very intense trail running and hill training. But doing this meant for myself very long days twice a week. Usually starting at 6 am and getting home at 8:30 pm. However if these running clinics inspire others as I have been inspired, it makes it all worth it. Finally race day came, after three months of a lot of running. The night before we spent five hours driving to Manning Park, getting to the campsite at 10 at night having only enough time to set up the tent and fall asleep. We awoke to rain pounding on our tents. And again short on time we had only enough to pack everything up and head down to the start line, having to get ready in the parking lot. At 8 am we were off and running. After 2 and a half hours we had reach the summit of Frosty Mountain…and yes it was Frosty! Four hours later we finished the first 25 kilometers. Thinking that the hard part was over, we started the second half of the run in great spirits. Those spirits slowly faded as we soon realized that we had to climb yet another summit! We had no choice but to keep going …so we kept going…up and up followed by a little more up. When we finally started the second decent it felt great to just let go and sprint. And that’s what we did until the final aid station at the 42k mark. Not only was this mark significant for me because it was the final aid station and we only had 8 k to go, but it was my very first marathon distance! From there until the finish line it was all flat, which was much appreciated. And then finally, FINALLY we could see the finish line. So the three of us, Mark, Cory and myself, ran side by side and crossed together.
Finishing my very first ultra marathon in seven hours and twenty minutes is my victory. Going from 10k races and jumping right into 50 k, is a giant leap and I managed with a lot of hard work to accomplish it. I can honestly say it was the hardest thing I have ever done and, next to graduating from University and High School, one of the greatest feelings of accomplishment I have ever felt. There was no greater feeling than what I felt when crossing that finish line after 7 hours and 20 minutes, especially having two other athletes who I immensely respect at my side. After doing this, there are very few things that I do not think that I could finish. I cannot wait for my next one, which is in another three months in San Francisco. I started this journey challenging myself with 10k and they were challenging when I first started out, everyone starts somewhere, but sometimes we need to push those limits. It took Jeff Dallin to challenge me to something bigger than what I thought was big, and Mark and Michael to inspire me with their victories to realize that nothing is impossible. There were always moments throughout that I felt I couldn’t do it, but you have to ignore those thoughts and listen to your inspirations. And now the only option is to think even BIGGER for my next challenge.