Now that 2007 is in the books, it's time for me to look back over my first full year as an ultra runner and see what I've learned. Here's a handy Top 10 list for your review:
The Idiots Guide to Ultra Running: What I learned in my first year
10) My right knee is a vengeful knee
This picture was taken at the finish line of my first 50 Miler. A sharp, constant pain in my right knee was a huge issue to deal with while training for/running this race, so I let it know how I felt about it...
...and this one was taken about 3 months later when ol' Righty's revenge forced me into surgery...I guess he had the last laugh. The jerk.
9) Marketing Guys Brainstorm Together
I do a lot of research on the various food/beverages out there for Ultra runners, and I've discovered that no matter what a product does, it will invariably be named something like "EnduraStride" or "Infiniti Fuel" or "ForeverAde". Apparently it's all about the name. Given that fact, I think the entire Ultra community can be sure it will never see an ad for "Slow Guy Ultra Gravy" in any industry magazine.
8) These Races Start Waaaaay Too Early in the Morning
I used to worry about getting quality sleep before a regular marathon. I'd always turn the lights out early but invariably toss and turn and fight to get a few hours of sleep. The good news is, all those worries are long gone in the 100 Mile world. You never have a chance to get any sleep at all before these things kick off, so it's useless to even try. The Vermont 100 started at 4 a.m.. This meant I had to get up at 3 a.m. - Here's what it looks like at 3 a.m. ...Good times.
7) Trails are Dirty
...but don't worry, the ladies think dirt/tan lines are really sexy....
6) Conversations Between Ultra Runners are Simply Not Normal
I learned early on that when a veteran ultra runner tells you something like "...but I only lost 6 toe nails, so it turned out to be a great race!", it's best to simply offer a silent nod of approval than to reply "SIX toe nails??? 'Great' race??? What the hell is wrong with you, man?!!".
Also, when you walk away, be sure to note that you should never borrow a pair of that guy's socks under any circumstances whatsoever.
5) Beer is an Official Recovery Beverage
After 50 or 100 miles of forcing down a dozen bottles of ForeverAde, you've never wanted a beer more in your life. Thankfully, most races have them in a cooler right there at the Finish Line!
4) You Need an Extremely Understanding Girlfriend/Wife
Just about every weekend you abandon your loving partner for a 30+ mile training run. Here's Elizabeth's last view of me every Saturday morning as I run out of our apartment...Don't worry, Honey, I'll do the dishes when I get back, I swear!
3) You Never Have to Worry About Crowded Races
Fed up with huge crowds on marathon courses? I was too...then I started running Ultras. Shortly thereafter I found myself talking to squirrels for company...
2) There's No Way to Thank Your Crew Enough
1) Finishing 100 Miles Feels Really Really Really Good