I could see the plank was tilted. I could see the slip marks in the black mud on the end of the board. I could see the footprints next to the plank where other runners had stepped to avoid the danger. I was telling myself, “Don’t put your foot on the board.” But I put my foot there anyway…
You know those times when you innocently say something and are met by a really odd look, and then you realize that you’re not talking to an ultrarunner? Well, that was the case when I was talking to a local newspaper journalist recently and referred to running the Vancouver marathon as “a good, middle distance effort.” Well what else do we ultrarunners call a mere 26.2-mile jaunt other than “middle distance”?
A novel new addition to race week at this year’s Western States Endurance Run was the first-ever Medicine & Science in Ultra-Endurance Sports Conference. Medical research is one of the three pillars of the Western States Foundation Mission, and the formulation of a research conference in conjunction with the race has been in the works for several years.
If we avoid injury for many years, at some point, time and age catch up to us, and a decade later, something gives out. For me, this was my left ankle, and the real culprit was excessive abuse in my teens and 20s at other sports. But ultimately after a few DNFs and pain with every step I opted for surgery on April 23, 2013, a day I’ll never forget.
Located at the highest point in Dallas, Prayer Mountain, the Big Cedar Wilderness offers runners a 100% single track running experience. 100 milers will run four 25 mile loops, 50 milers run two loops, and 50k runners run one 25 mile loop and a shorter 6 mile loop.
I have many clients who are runners and they come to me with similar stories: my lower back hurts, I tire easily, I’ve hit a wall in my training, my endurance isn’t what it used to be. Whatever the reason, I can’t wait to get them on the Pilates program to discover what their bodies are truly capable of when pounding the pavement and beyond.
One thing I’m frequently asked about is how I incorporate weight vests into training, since it’s a tool I use for myself and for those I coach. It was especially key to my attempt at the 2013 Grand Slam of Ultrarunning, where I ran 100-milers close together and had to get the most out of training while focusing on recovery.
For the uninitiated, for those who marvel at the idea that 50 or 100 miles of continuous running is possible, the phrase “I could never do that” is often an instant, almost involuntary reaction. “I could never do that” precedes a second common reaction, “I can barely run a 5k.” Despite how frequently I hear this reaction, it still gives me pause and makes me wonder: Why, after all, are people so fixated on finishing an ultramarathon, when the road to the starting line is where most of the journey takes place?
If you’ve ever been to my house for dinner, you will soon come to understand that I am a nutritionist…
Ultrarunning is an endurance sport and as such it requires you to push yourself up to your limits. As you approach these limits and work to overcome them, you will find yourself facing similar physical and mental challenges over and over. Ultrarunning is testing you to see if you are learning from your mistakes, if you are equipping yourself to better deal with these challenges.
I’m not going to give my story or my excuses, or place blame or defend myself. I didn’t finish. Those are the only words it needs. I didn’t finish, and I went home crying in the middle of the night, showered crying in the middle of the night and fell asleep crying and cramping in the middle of the night. When I woke up, I told my family and apologized. I was embarrassed and ashamed and exhausted, physically and emotionally.
Mention race walking to a runner or ultramarathoner and they usually have one of two reactions: they laugh and mock the hip-wiggling, much-maligned Olympic event, or they speak of it with respect either from trying it themselves or because they were passed late in a race by a steady-paced heel-to-toer.
One of the greatest things about our sport is its spirit of collective effort. At ultramarathons it’s as if we are racing with, not against, each other. Maybe it’s because running so far is so daunting that people “pull together” to overcome the challenge. Or maybe it’s simply that the nature and values of people attracted to this sport selfselects for friendly, helpful people.
Hyponatremia is defined as a blood sodium concentration below the normal range. Depending on the laboratory, that value is generally around 135 mmol/L. When hyponatremia occurs during or shortly after exercise, it is referred to as exercise-associated hyponatremia (EAH).
Few races in our sport are as eagerly anticipated or widely followed as Western States 100. Maybe that’s because it’s the first 100, or the deep and elite field. Or that it’s the culmination of the Montrail Ultra Cup. Or maybe it’s because of the incredible tradition and history of the trail itself, coupled with the amazing volunteers and best-in-class race organization. Most likely, it’s all of the above.