Road to WTM: Jumping into the Kal Haven Ultra
The decision to run World’s Toughest Mudder has had some interesting repercussions. Of course, my entire family has officially written me off as insane (it was questionable before, but apparently signing up for a 24-hour long obstacle course race leaves no room for doubt). More importantly with such a large event impending my training has also changed as well. By change I mean more of everything; more running, more mileage per run, more weight training, and so on. I also figured that it wouldn’t hurt to add a few more races to my roster for the summer either.
I’ve yet to run a 5K. Well, I’ve run them many times. But I’ve never “officially” ran a 5K that ended with beers and medals. My first road race was a half marathon and somewhere in a deep, dark place I knew that I had to run a marathon if for no other reason to say I did it. There happened to be an ultra marathon, 33.5 miles to be exact, in my area in April. The course was the trail spanning between my hometown and the city in which I currently reside. I grew up playing on one end and spent a lot of time the past year training on the other. This race, the Kal Haven Ultra, was too perfect as it was a goal of mine to run the entire thing, so might as well do it with aid stations and some bling at the end. However, there was no marathon I could feasibly get to that would be before the ultra. Regardless I registered knowing that I was skipping the middle man and going straight for that religious experience that ultras have always been touted to be.
The whole thing took me just under seven hours. The first two-thirds went pretty well. I hit my pace dead on within the first mile, my body felt great, and my shoes (Inov-8 Trailrocs) felt like a dream. The weather was perfect, at least for me, sunny but cool. I hit mile 18 and the big mid-way aid station. I still wasn’t hurting. I didn’t really feel tired. After drinking some Gatorade I kept on. Little did I know that mile twenty-two was coming along with that wall I had been avoiding. And that’s where the real race began.
The final 11-1/2 miles were filled with mind games. I’d run for half a mile, walk a quarter, run for a quarter mile, walk a half mile, run for eight minutes, walk for two…whatever it took to keep my mind off of the pain radiating from my lower back downwards into my hips. I had also miscalculated the drop bags and had my change of shoes in the final drop area that was only six miles from the finish. But I finally changed into my Inov-8 Race X-233s and ran the last of the mileage. Sore and my face raw from sweat, I finished my first ultra. 33-1/2 trail miles should translate to roughly 25 WTM miles….right?