How I Turned a 50K Race Into a 39 Mile Run



You know how a lot of people are afraid they'll get lost in a trail race? Today I wasn't paying attention and I made a wrong turn in my 50K race. After feeling disappointed in myself, I realized that if I finished the 50K course, I would run a lot farther than my longest distance ever, which is a marathon. I was kind of happy about the idea of running nearly 40 miles. Could I do it? I ended up adding 8.1 miles to my 31 mile race and I ran 39.1 miles today! So there was bad, but there was good.

Race page: Hog's Hunt 50K Trail Race, Huntsville State Park, Texas (north of Houston)

Date: 5/10/14

Results: 8 hours 44 minutes to run 39.1 miles

Course: dirt park roads, mostly shaded, some single track and sand, lots of tree roots, hills, 8 aid stations, flushing toilets at the start, at least one porta-potty on the course


Weather: humid at first, warm to hot, 70-86F


Volunteers: 
After I told the race director about my wrong turn, he called ahead to the aid stations to let them know some crazy runner (my description, hopefully, not his!) who needs help with directions would be coming through. I'd get up to an aid station and they'd cheer for me and make sure I had extra directions about where to turn, or not turn, once I left their station. It was great!

I really didn't think they'd be out on the course the whole time because I was so late, but the aid station volunteers and volunteers at an important turning point waited for the very last finishers. Two volunteers ran with me on the course when I was in the later miles and nearly alone on the course. That was a real pick-me-up. They hustled to get me through the stop quickly and they made food/drink suggestions. I read that aid station volunteers should treat runners like preschoolers. A tired runner appreciates everything spelled out.


Post-race: The Trail

Fuel Pre-run: pancakes, syrup, banana

Fuel During Race: 

6 servings Tailwind Nutrition sports drink powder carried in my 40 ounce Nathan fuel belt. Using less caffeine (2 servings) than usual and/or more water per serving (10 ounces) worked better than usual for the first part of the race. I started with 3 full bottles of Tailwind mixed with water. Rather than mess with powder on the course, I put 3 servings of Tailwind with a little water in one bottle on my 4 bottle belt. When I had 2 empty bottles, I squirted 1/3 of the Tailwind mix into two bottles (leaving 1/3 of the mix in the first bottle) and filled all three of those bottles with water. A volunteer helped me with this and it worked well.

Because the race lasted much longer than planned I ran out of Tailwind so I used the course provided drink, vanilla Heed (50-80 ounces maybe). It's less sweet than Tailwind and I liked it.

Post-marathon Food: Chocolate milk (from home), banana, M & M's. According to the desired carbs: protein 4:1 or 3:1 ratio, that's too many carbs or too little protein, though. The provided food was at an aid table at the finish.

Nature/Roots:

I didn't see a snake, an alligator or a wild hog like I thought I might. Although I stubbed my toe on roots, I never fell. Because of roots and a hurt ankle, I didn't finish this race in 2012.

The Finish:

Next time, I'll write a separate post about finishing and what it's like when people think you are the first female finisher when you turn out to be the last. 

Comments

  1. Oh my gosh, you are amazing!!!!! 26 miles was waaayyy long enough for me, let alone 31, let ALONE 39! WHOA! Glad you made the most of it, and still found some good in the race :) The future will hold many more great races for you I am sure :)

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  2. Congrats on reaching the finish line in an epic race like this!!! It's still amazing to me to reach 26.2, let alone anything beyond that distance. Darn it about getting lost ... you know, that is a worry I have with trail races, a 'what if' ... I still haven't run a trail race yet myself. Many congrats!!! And since you added the extra miles, now you know you can go even farther :)

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  3. Holy long run! Great job not giving up after you got lost and finishing. Sounds like there were some pretty awesome volunteers to help you through it. also I am glad you didn't trip and get hurt again!

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  4. Wow, I can't believe you stuck with it after running that far off course! How cool that you were still able to finish! Congrats!!

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  5. Wow. Amazing job looking at the positive and not the negative of getting lost. Woohoo Ultramarathoner!

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  6. Wow! Good for you. My daughter has gotten lost in trail races more than once.

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    1. Thanks, that makes me feel better! When I stopped during the race to talk to someone and try to figure out where I was on the course, a runner overheard me and said she's gotten lost before and I felt better then, too.

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  7. Wow! That many miles and you are still standing and smiling! Congrats!

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  8. When I read the title of this post I said "oh, dear." Congratulations on finishing the race, and congrats on the PDR! That is a long ways to run and a lot of time on your feet. I love how the volunteers were giving you extra directions to help keep you on track :) Congratulations!!

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    1. I had to look up PDR. Personal Distance Record - thanks for teaching me something new!

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  9. Good for you Tina. You kept going and didn't give up AND you made it quite an experience. I just love you're never quit attitude and turning a situation where some would panic about getting lost, adding more miles into a positive experience. Great job.

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  10. First of all CONGRATS!!! You are a rock star!! 39 miles on trails, that is amazing!!!

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  11. What an accomplishment! Congratulations on finishing the race and a huge high five for taking the extra miles in stride, so to speak. I'm glad you were able to work out the fuel and finish strong!

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  12. Good for you in pushing onward to the end despite the wrong turns and keeping a smile! A 50 miler may not look so daunting to you now!!! :-)

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    1. You know, you're right about that - maybe I'll do a 50 miler someday!

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  13. Congratulations to you!! Sounds like a good day in all ways even the extra distance :) Fantastic work.

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  14. Hoooly moly! You ran an extra 8 miles at a trail ultra?! That is amazing. I mean, you pretty much ran the Goofy challenge in one day. Way to go!

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  15. Great job!! I thought about you Saturday - 39 miles is awesome!!! I love that you decided to run even further so you could finish - incredible!

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  16. How does it feel to be an ultra-marathoner!? Congratulations on completing your 50K and THEN some!

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  17. This is so awesome Tina! How cool is that to go beyond and still be standing and have such a great report! I hope you are recovering well! So... when are you signing up for your first 50 miler?! ;)

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    1. Are you running it with me? I may need a running buddy to keep me on track!

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  18. Congrats Tina!!! Sorry about the wrong turn, but it sounds like a 50 miler should be in your future. Great job, sounds like your training did the trick to get you to the finish and a few bonus miles.

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  19. Wow, way to turn something that could have been stressful and disappointing into a positive. I love your attitude about making a wrong turn. Congratulations!

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  20. Wow, when you go off course, you go WAY off course! Great job doing the most important part of ultrarunning...finishing!

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    1. Yes, I go way off! Thanks for making me laugh!

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  21. I am in awe-- simply amazing-- I could never do that many miles or run for that long-- WOW

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  22. A LATE congrats on your first ultra!
    I just can't imagine this situation - and being able to stay positive is a very important accomplishment. The race management is fantastic there. You were taken care of! I am curious how you got a hold of the RD? I guess I take it for granted there is no cell service on most of the trails out of town here.
    It's easy to take a wrong turn on trail races, and I saw it happen on a 30k/half trail race here. The RD made a new distance for all the runners who missed an important turn and put them in that category.
    Anyway, you can bet that your next ultra will be right on course!
    Well done, Tina!

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    1. The race director was at the start/mid-point mark and later, along the course, too, so I talked to him a couple of times along the course. He called the volunteers at the aid stations and they were expecting me, which made me feel pretty special! So there was cell service. I even called my husband to let him know I'd be kind of late!!!

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