Sandy’s Ultra Marathon Race Report

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Sandy enthusiastically tackles largest hill on 33 mile course
I started with Beach Runners last winter and I have been having the time of my life ever since. I’ll start by giving a brief history on my running. Like many other runners, I started running as a way to cope with life’s many challenges. I considered myself to be a walker and had no aspirations to run. It took a major heartbreak 3 years ago to get this lifetime walker to get out and run.

I started running on a treadmill and was only able to last 5 minutes before I had to stop and take a break. Mind you, I wasn’t even running very fast. Slowly, I progressed to 10 minutes, then 15 minutes and I was super stoked when I got up to 30 minutes. I know. I’m easily excited.

Fast forward. You may have already figured out that I am not a natural runner. With that said, instead of training for a 10k, I decided to go for the half marathon instead. I was training on my own using a training plan off the internet. I got up to 8 miles and found that my knees were way too sore and there was no way I was going to run the half marathon without some help.

I remembered reading about the Beach Runners and Chi-Running. The idea of running injury free seemed too good to be true. By this time, I had fallen in love with running and its many benefits, so I emailed Steve and here I am today. I started running with the group in the winter 2006 season and was running pain free within weeks. I read Danny Dreyer’s book religiously and practiced my form constantly. I was even focusing on my posture at work. I didn’t care that I looked like a dork leaning up against the copy machine, while waiting for my job to finish.

Long story short, I have finished two half marathons, a marathon and now my first ultra marathon. I can’t believe that this has all happened within 7 months of starting to train with the Beach Runners.

I felt a bit lost after the Catalina Marathon.  I no longer had a race to train for.  I’m not quite sure when I decided to do the Ultra Marathon, but next thing I know; Gary, Sindy and I were training again.  I logged in many a miles with and without my training partners in the PV hills.  The training I got from Gary when we did run together was priceless.  I also took Gary’s Power Yoga class every chance I got.  He truly did wonders for my mental preparation for this race.
I won’t go into too much detail about the ultra marathon course. Steve described it well in his race report. It was a lot tougher than I had imagined. Many parts of the course were rocky and super technical. Our PV trail runs were great training for this course. I trained hard and I was ready to accept whatever came my way.

I knew going into this race that it was going to be a mental run for me. There was a point on the course where I focused on just putting one foot in front of the other. Miles 21 to 25 were the toughest miles for me. That part of the course almost brought me to tears. I began to debate whether I wanted to continue the race.

I ate every half hour. I sipped on Cytomax and water every 10-15 minutes. I also made sure to grab a few bites at every aid station, even if I didn’t feel all that hungry. The elevation was a concern for me. Luckily, I had no serious reaction to the elevation. I did have some blurred vision at about mile 15. I made sure to hydrate as much as possible at the next aid station and my vision seemed to go back to normal.

I have found that my ability to body sense helped me to run a really fun and safe race. This is definitely one of my favorite aspects of Chi-Running. I ran with several things going on in my head at all times. I focused on having soft feet, relaxed legs, picking up my feet, not pulling and running with my heart out. I also focused on keeping my knees together while running, which helps me to keep my knees down. Thanks Gary for this invaluable tip.

I had a little tinge of pain in my right knee, but I kept my focus on picking up my feet. I have a strong tendency to power run once I get warmed up. I am happy to say that I finished the race strong and with no pain whatsoever. I ran the last 3 miles of downhill with a smile on my face. Chi-Running is the only reason that I was able to run the last three miles of a 33 mile course.

Thanks for letting me share my experience. This has been a spiritual journey for me in so many ways. Little did I know that joining the beach runners would change my life forever? I am thankful for Gary, Steve and all the Beach Runners. I have yet to run with someone in the group that did not have a smile on their face and an enthusiasm for a sport that has turned into an activity that I hope to be doing for the rest of my life.

Truly grateful beach runner,

Sandy

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Sandy comes up on finish line filled with Joy

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