top of page

How does one become an ultra-runner?

Happy MONDAY! TGIM! QUOTE OF THE DAY: "What one can be, one must be" ~ Abraham Maslow THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: How does one become an ultra-runner? Find a race that is over 26.2 miles long. Sign up for the race. Train for the race by running a lot. Run some more. Run again. Train for it. Then run the 50K race. Congrats now you are an ultra runner! In its simplest form that is what it is. Let me tell you a little bit more about this adventure. I owe a lot of credit to my friend Dan Calder. It was the fact that his parents live in Clebourne Texas that initially drew me to this particular race. After my 26.2-mile run in January, I was itching for another long trail race. As I was searching and looking around Texas, I found a lot of them were in the Dallas or Houston area and that would involve a good amount of driving and coordination of a hotel for a place to stay. As it turns out, Dan and his parents were nice enough to allow me to stay at their house the day before the run, the day of the run, and the day after the run. That was totally awesome. Thank you again for doing that! I soon signed up for the race. Now to the training part. I was going to continue running as I had done for the past 3 months leading up to the 26.2-mile race. But about the time I was signing up for the race, Joel Hagaman sent out a note that he was offering run training for 5K to marathon to ultra-marathon distances. I contacted him about helping me train for the 50K race coming up. I had about 10 weeks to train. Joel gave me a plan based on time on my feet. In other words, I wasn't training for number of miles per run. I was training for the amount of time per run. A typical training week was to run 30 minutes on Monday, 45 minutes on Tuesday, and 30 minutes on Wednesday. And some longer runs of 1 hour or 2 hours over the weekend. At first, this took a little getting used to but it eventually made sense. Joel was suggesting that on the trail the miles could take longer than the road miles. For instance, 5 miles on the road could be 45 minutes but on the trail could be more like maybe 60 or 70 minutes based on the terrain and/or weather conditions. I first wanted to say there are probably a lot easier ways of running a 50K distance. This course was very hilly! There were parts and inclines that were so steep and best suited to walk up and some steep parts best suited to walk down. The race started at 7:15 a.m. but we needed to take a shuttle bus to take us to the start of the race. My friend Dan got me there at 6:15 a.m., dropped me off, and I rode the shuttle bus the 4 miles to the back of the park to the Coyote Trail. Dan went back to his parent's house and would come back at about 11:00 a.m. I went to the bathroom a few times and dropped off my "drop bag" and hung around the race start. After some short announcements and a couple of more times to the porta-potty, we were on our way at precisely 7:15 a.m. All roughly 60 of us started out on the course but since it was a trail race there is not a lot of chance to pass people in the first couple of miles of the course. We all just headed out and ran and walked our way along the trail. I finished the first 8-mile loop in about a little under 2 hours. I got some water and some snacks and headed out for the 2nd loop. At least I knew what I was in for the 2nd time around. They had aid stations at about mile 3.5 and at the end of the loop. I mostly snacked on watermelon, bananas, some pickles, some chips, and my own snacks along the way. I filled up on water and Gatorade at each station as well. I knew going into the race it was going to be a long day. I was figuring somewhere between 8 and 10 hours to finish. The first loop gave me a good idea of what the race would be like. Not too bad. But as the race went on, I grew weary. At the end of the second loop, I was feeling good. I had done half the race and my friend Dan was there to greet me. I filled up again on snacks and Dan took a picture of me. I changed into a different shirt and a different hat. He told me repeatedly that I got this! Going into the third lap, I failed to bring my own snacks along with me. A Cliff Kids Brownie Zbar or some Black Cherry Clif Bloks would have come in handy on that lap. This was not a big mistake but somehow I missed it. The weather was warm in the mid-sixties at the start and warming up through the day. It was not super sunny. We had a cloud cover and a good breeze. The third lap was hard and I walked quite a bit. I even entertained a 5-minute conversation in my head about quitting and taking a DNF. My energy was a little low and I had a little bit of a low blood sugar. But once I got some food in me again at the aid station at the end of lap 3, I decided to go out and finish it. There were about 18 people who did not finish their 50K just FYI. I walked a lot of the 4th lap and just concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other. I had a good podcast to listen to and made it to the aid station and filled up on water and snacks. At that point, I had about 4.5 to 5 miles to go. I caught up to a guy who was also walking a lot of the trail and we chatted it up a bit. It was his first 50K as well. We walked and talked for a few minutes and then he sped up and I saw him again eventually at the end of the race. My feet hurt a lot. And at some point each step was painful. But I kept going. I would pass rocks and points on the trail and say out loud and/or to myself this is the last time I am going to see that rock. And that rock. And that tree. The whole thing took me about 10 hours and 30 minutes. At the end of the race, I got a high five from the race director, and a volunteer handed me my medal. I had done it. I was an ultra runner. Dan took my picture again and we headed to the shuttle. I took off my shoes and socks and I had the biggest blister I had ever seen on my right heel. OUCH! Overall, my muscles were not as tired. My feet just hurt! Thanks for reading this long post! I wanted to again thank Dan Calder my good friend for helping make this possible. I also want to thank Joel Hagaman for the running plan, for the encouragement along the way, and for answering all my questions. AFFIRMATIONS OF THE DAY: 1) I can do anything I put my mind to. 2) I make my dreams a reality. 3) I love myself. Share the Matt's Motivational Monday love: 1) Support Matt's Motivational Monday here 2) Or share this e-mail with a friend who might need some motivation or encouragement this day!


bottom of page