Saturday, April 2, 2016

50 miles

So, I have only been running for a couple of years, but I am in love with it. My first "race" was the Alaska Run For Women, which benefits breast cancer, and I walked most of the 5 miles, and never thought I would actually be able to run that far. That was when I still thought I hated to run.

(I'm on the right, and my good friend Charlene, who tried to get me to actually run some of this race, is on the left)

Fast forward a couple years, and my 45 pound lighter body figured out that running can actually feel good, and I was hooked. I ran a couple half marathons two summers ago, and those were fun, but I thought that was probably far enough.

Then winter hit, and I barely ran. I didn't feel tough enough to run outside, and the treadmill sucked. Then spring of 2015 hit, and I felt like I needed a challenge to get me moving again. I had seen Facebook advertisements for the Marine Corps Marathon, and on a whim, I put my name into the lottery. When I got the email saying I was in, I could hardly believe it. I was so excited and nervous I couldn't sleep that night.

I started training, and ran the Anchorage Big Wild Life marathon in August, mainly as an experiment to see if I was going to be able to "beat the bridge", the only time cut off in the MCM. I was thrilled to discover that I could stay within a minute and a half of my half marathon pace for the entire marathon, and finished in 4:57:47. I knew then that not only could I run marathons, I could enjoy doing it. Most of the last 10 miles, I just kept feeling like this was SO. MUCH. FUN. and I just couldn't wait for the chance to do it again.

(crossing the finish line of my first marathon)

Then the MCM day was finally here. That was a tougher race for me, mostly because of my own poor planning. I got lost on my planned 3 mile shakeout run the day before the race, and it turned into more like 4.5 miles. Then I did too much sightseeing on top of the longer than planned run in completely unsupportive shoes, and woke up race morning with my hip flexor hurting.

That dang hip flexor hurt with every step of my 26.2 miles and it seemed like the constant ache drained me, so I walked way more than I wanted to. Plus, I hadn't realized how long the port-a-John lines were with 30,000 people running, and I spent a lot of time standing in line and watching people run by when I had to go. My time in the MCM was 5:36:17, much slower than my August marathon, but I still got it done, and enjoyed it...except for the dang hip flexor.

And... now it's spring time again. I've kept running through the winter, but I'm excited to get my mileage back up now that the weather is improving. And apparently, spring must be the time of the year when challenges excite me. I was thinking about what races I want to do this summer, and it was easy to decide that I'm not going to do many less than half marathon length races, because there are lots of longer ones in the summer, and I only have so many dollars to spend on entry fees. And of course I'm going to do a marathon or two, because I know they are fun. But I already know I can do those. So now what?

And... so now what is a 50 mile race in July. Yep, every time I think that, or type it, or say it to someone, I sort of have to wonder if I'm crazy. But when I told my husband that I'd signed up for a 50 mile race, he wanted to know why. Umm... because. Because the pictures were beautiful. Because it sounds challenging yet amazing. Because I think it will be fun. The easiest answer? Why not??

So, yeah. I signed up for the Angel Creek 50, in Fairbanks.

It's a mountain race, on trails, with lots of ups and downs. If I did the math right after looking at the detailed course description, it has close to 13,000 feet in elevation gain and loss. It will be a huge challenge. But it looks beautiful. Remote and mountainous. The finish line is at the Chena Hot Springs, and I will get to soak in the hot springs afterwards, something I have never done. And it's going to be so much fun!! But now comes the training....

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