Steve’s First Ultra Marathon – Race Report

Laury, Sindy, Sandy, Steve, and Gary at Finish Line of Ultramarathon

The truth is that I really didn’t want to do this race. It wasn’t planned, going back to my 2007 race goals. Yet, Gary took the liberty of signing me up and what the heck, I could be spending a Sunday in the mountains or in LA; I’ll take the mountain chi.

I didn’t research the course by looking at maps and elevation gain charts. I tried not to think about it and “just show up.” I did know that it was a up and down 33-mile race, with over 7,000 ft of climbing at altitude. Sunday, I just showed up without expectations. I followed Coach Ilg’s pre-race meditation of remaining relaxed and empty, ready to experience.

Going in all I knew it was going to be a long day, in fact the longest day of racing I have ever put in. Armed with this knowledge I decided to use a different strategy, go easy on the uphills, fly downhill and race the first 20 miles pretty hard. I figured when I hit the wall I could at least walk it home and still be able to add an Ultra Marathon to my resume.

Since I’ll be editing a Runumentry – RunCast this week, I’ll keep this short and you can watch the movie.

This race was technical trail running, rocks everywhere. I almost went down numerous times. This race was absolutely beautiful, pine trees, lakes, mountain meadows and scenic views toward the desert. You get to see a lot over the course of 33 miles. Ultra marathoners are a cool group of friendly people, the volunteers were awesome and race was well organized.

6:50 hours went by at a decent pace. I worked on picking my spots to attack this course. I took a long time at the aid stations, like I would in a century bike ride. I ate about 250 calories an hour along with Enduralytes®. Our MaraYoga training system was key. I used every ChiRunning® technique I teach. I used my metronome most of the day, especially during those miles between 21-27. The last 6 miles were tough and I had a difficult time maintaining even an 85 cadence. Miles 30-33 were harder than I expected, even being downhill. Crossing the finish line felt like a real accomplishment. I ran well enough to finish ahead of Gary, which I didn’t think was possible. Learning to train easy on easy days and harder on hard days this year paid off. And, my base training this year (the best of my life) carried me through without the normal specific training for a race like this. My fitness is strong and I was able to run most of the 33 miles. I figured I only walked about 4 miles total.

The Mental Race

I stayed in the moment as well as I ever have in a race. I didn’t look too far ahead, just step by step over the technical terrain. I thought of almost everyone in my life, carried them with me and received their support. In this Ultra I ended up running miles with no one in sight or to be heard. It truly was my church, alone in nature with God. I prayed, and gave thanks for all the gifts in my life. I ran my race without expectation. I didn’t even wear a watch. Most of the time I had no idea of how long I’d been out or how far I had run. I ran with an attitude of gratitude. I ran with a smile. I ran with an open heart and I ran one of the best races in my life.

No rush to get my next one in. I’ll (in)joy the summer training with the Beach Runners and my friends. Look out Mt. Baldy, I’m feeling good.

Thank all of you for all your kind thoughts.

Namaste and Train Focused, Steve Mackel – Beach Runners Head Coach


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