On Saturday I will start the Seneca Creenway Trail 50K race. It is my first attempt at a 50K race but not the first “ultra marathon” I have done. Last year I completed marathon the course in 7:16, it was very muddy and around mile 22 I had a mental break due to the unrelenting mud. Within minutes of crossing the finish line I said I wanted to do it again next year and that time has come.
Website for the race: http://www.senecacreektrailrace.com/
This race has a marathon course and a 50K course, the difference being a loop around Clopper Lake which is about 4 miles. Since the addition of the Seneca Ridge Trail, the course has been reported at 29 for the marathon and 34 for the 50K. We will also be running from Riley’s Lock on the C&O Canal up to Damascus which makes the course a net uphill that should make things very interesting from mile 20 on for me.
This year’s race has me in an interesting set of feelings & emotions. I have not run as many miles as I would have liked but I have been in the gym more than any race I have done in the past 3 years. My hope is that the strength that I have gained will help me in the last 15 miles of this race, the ones I am most concerned with. At mile 22, as I mentioned above, the hours of sometimes ankle deep mud, coupled with the amount of overall pain I was in led to a dramatic decline in my pace and overall speed. By the time I got to the last aid station around mile 27 I was in “survival” mode. I plodded along the last few painful miles with only the finish line in my thoughts. I was alone on the course with my pain, it was something of which I have never experienced. My post race thoughts on the day mostly are on how to avoid that mental break and what to do if one happens again.
This year I hope to learn from that and will be conscious of the need for a positive mental attitude all day long. I see this as being a central focus on any long distance you run, swim, bike, hike etc. I would imagine that people break mentally far before they do physically. With all of the hours of training that goes into any event, if have a solid plan and stick to it the physical, in my case, usually comes together.
I also have a bit of a paranoia that I “can’t” quit, I finished this race as a rookie on what was described as a very “difficult conditions day. Even with the extra miles, I have put some pressure on myself to “not fail”, which I realize isn’t healthy but it’s there and I can’t get rid of it. I will use that “day long” positive attitude to keep those thoughts at bay and only in the event of an injury will I DNF.
I sign off here, nervous about what is to come but excited for the test of my mental and physical abilities. That’s why I am doing it, to challenge myself to go further and endure for longer than I ever have.
Wish me luck!