13 Months of Ultras

As 2018 is coming to a close I wanted to take a couple of minutes to recap my first 13 months of running ultra marathons and acknowledge everyone that has supported me through this process.

I made the commitment to begin training for an ultra back in April 2017 but didn’t commit to my first race until I was confident I was going to see the process through.  I figured if I at least registered for a race then I was committed to a goal and would see it through, no matter how much I disliked running.  Yes, that is past tense.  I now pretty much enjoy running, except road miles, nobody likes that.  But put me out in the woods or the mountains on some trails and I am in my happy place.

My first race was the Antelope Island 50k near Salt Lake City in November 2017.  Coming from and training in Houston I figured that should be a pretty good challenge to deal with some vert and thin air on the first try.  If I could make it through that and still have fun then I knew I found something I could continue pursuing. 

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My first ultra finish, Antelope Island 50k

Let’s just say after that run, I was hooked.

Since then, I’ve run 17 races in 13 months that covered 4 states.  I had zero DNF’s, a 1st overall, a 2nd overall, a 3rd overall, and 1st place age group.  Pretty good I think for a rookie.

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16 races worth of bling and a special thank you gift

I hit just about every type of terrain possible.  From flat and rolling hills, through magnificent forests, open ranch lands, swamps, high desert, and my favorite, the mountains.  Trudging through shin deep mud, waist deep water, energy robbing sand, and gravel while avoiding hazards like rocks, roots, and stumps (so sorry toe nails, you deserved better).  Spotting and encountering wildlife ranging from buffalo, deer, bunnies, squirrels, boar, coyotes, spiders, and snakes too numerous to name.

Not to mention training or racing in just about every environmental variable you can encounter.  Temps ranging from below freezing to 100+, humidity that was almost non-existent to what felt like breathing underwater, snow, freezing rain, sleet, glaring sun, torrential rains, flash flooding, and winds of 50+ MPH.   

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Storms rolling in during Silver Rush 50 in Leadville, CO

I covered trail racing distances ranging from 5k to 100 miles and events that included multiple distances in a single day as well as multiple events over consecutive days.  All of them presented their unique challenges and I loved every second of every one of them.  I wanted to get a taste for as many possible variables to see if some stood out more to me than others.  

The only thing I can state for certain is that the mountains are the most rewarding runs for me.  The majesty, the technical terrain, the beauty, and the challenge of coming from my flat,  sea level home to tackle the vertical and lack of oxygen.  However, I am perfectly happy on just about any trail.

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Photo courtesy of Trail Racing Over Texas/Stasulli Photo

Oh man, the people.  I have met some of the greatest people out on the trails and at these races.  Such a different world compared to the road running community.  I am by no means a social butterfly, but everyone is so friendly it’s hard not to make a friend or two every time out there.  Some have become good friends that I keep in touch with between races to see where we may run into each other again.  I also met my bestie trail bud as we both rode the same struggle bus to the finish of a race.  Pretty sure we were twins separated at birth or something, we are so much alike when it comes to this world.

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Photo courtesy of Trail Racing Over Texas/Stasulli Photo

I wrapped these past 13 months up just over a week ago with my first 100 mile race.  I missed my primary goals for that run but overcame everything and still finished with a respectable time for ones first attempt.  It was a tremendous learning experience and a true test of finding out what is possible when you unleash the power of your mind. 

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My first, hopefully not my last, 100 mile buckle

I look forward to an eventful and big 2019.  I currently have committed to my 2nd and 3rd 100 milers; Lonestar 100 (February) and Leadville 100 (August), R2R2R run of the Grand Canyon (April), Possums Revenge 70 miler (May), and pacing/crewing my bestie at Ouray (July).  I have some others lining up to fill gaps, just working on scheduling and logistics.  

Thank you to my friends and fellow runners for the encouragement, support, inspiration, and mentoring along the way.  Y’all are wonderful and I’m happy to be able to now pass along my words of wisdom and hopefully some inspiration to others.

Most importantly, I couldn’t have done any of this without the support of my wife and my family.  My wife has been a trooper putting up with this obsession.  It’s expensive and I spend a lot of time training and weekends away at races but she is right there supporting me every step of the way.  She has even ran in one event and committed to two more next year!  My boys and the rest of the family think I’m crazy but support me none the less knowing this is something I love doing.  THANK YOU so much from the bottom of my heart!!!!

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Jenn and I finishing day 3 of Franklins, her first trail and mountain run

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.  Here’s to 2019 and happy times on the trails.

 

 

2 thoughts on “13 Months of Ultras

  1. Hi

    My name is Jaco. I have just seen your post and it is really encouraging.

    I am 40 years of age and live in South Africa.
    My family and I have decided that this coming year we will each pick something of interest that would be hard for us to do, and go for it.

    I have decided on trails.
    I am so excited, but this is totally new to me. I am an absolute novice and have no idea where to start. Not even sure I can finish a 5k.

    Thanks for the inspiration.

    Liked by 1 person

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