Follow the Leader
Sitting with my back against a tree, I winced in pain as my hamstrings convulsed simultaneously. I laughed with new friends though as I sipped on a sports drink, because accomplishing what I had set out to do 18 months earlier made me not care about cramping up.
After playing team sports in high school I needed a new fitness outlet my freshman year of college and started running. Dean Karnazes’ book “Ultramarathon Man” inspired me and I decided I was going to run an ultra (an “ultra” is defined usually as anything 50km or longer).
The longest race I had run at that point was a Turkey Day 5-miler, so most people told me to start with a 10k, then a half marathon, full marathon before graduating to an ultramarathon. I decided to meet in the middle and signed up for race called the “Twisted Ankle Marathon” in north Georgia about 3 months in the future (more on that later).
It was a huge learning experience and I discovered that my outputs were only as good as my inputs. I learned how to eat while running — since I was a broke college kid this meant scarfing down a peanut butter and honey sandwich as I was knocking out a 2+ hour run on a Wednesday. Stretching, getting proper sleep, cross training, eating the right foods were all important.
Listening to people who were successfully doing what I wanted to do led me to cross the finish line at the SweetH2O 50k in 5 hours and 26 minutes back in April of 2011.
I’m not planning on running any more ultras in the near future — but I’m glad that I still have successful people to learn from and specific goals to accomplish.