This year I set a goal of completing 3 ultra distance races. I started out my year very early with the Zumbro 50 mile race, which went really well. Next up was Spring Superior 50K, which resulted in a DNF, 7 miles from the finish line. Although a disappointment, I was really pleased with how my race had gone in the first half. My final ultra of the year was to be a return to my first ultra ever, last year, Surf the Murph 50K.
The wife and I awoke at 4am to start getting ready and get some food in our stomachs. We got to the course nice and early, and managed to use the bathrooms, and generally get ready for our race. Unlike last year, which started in the rain, this year was clear, dry and beautiful. The starting temp was around 40 degrees, and it got up into the 50s soon after the sun came up. I knew my training hadn’t been that great lately, so I went out slow and steady, and simply tried to keep it under 15 minute miles.
Soon the sun was shining bright, and I was tucking layers into my vest pocket to stay cool. I got to see friends at each and every aid station, and they greeted me warmly and took care of my needs. The first 10 miles of the race went as good as I had hoped for, which gave me hope for the second loop. However, it was not to be.
Around mile 12 things started coming apart. My legs started feeling heavy and weak. My knees and ankles were protesting fiercely and my running turned into an 18 minute hobble. Last year I managed my first loop in around 3:25. When I hit the 3:40 mark and still had 2-3 miles to go to finish the first loop I knew I was in trouble. I told myself that if I could get there before 4 hours I would consider going on. I hit the Finish area at 4:14. Despite having literally all day to finish another loop, my body was feeling broken and battered. It was time to call it a day.
Thankfully, at Surf, you can get credit for however many loops you complete. Since I completed the 25K course, I got a 25K medal, and my time will be listed in on the same page as the regular 25K racers. It was half of what I was planning, but I still felt like I accomplished a lot. My wife came into the finish area about 7 minutes behind me, and had an amazing first loop, but also decided she was done.
We chatted with friends for a while and then started the long drive back home to shower and get some lunch. The drive gave me an opportunity to talk and think about how everything came off the rails today. I’m going to save that post for tomorrow, because I feel it deserves its own space. After spending time thinking about everything, I shouldn’t have been surprised that today didn’t turn out the way I planned. I know why it worked out this way, and I’m sure I’ll be able to fix it going forward.
Despite dropping to a lower distance race it was an amazing day to be outside on the trails. The weather was perfect for running and being outside, and the trail was mostly dry, with all the mud being avoidable. You can never complain too hard when you’re stuck outside on an amazing fall day in Minnesota.