Crossing the finish line with Jennifer Palmer (left).
Photo courtesy of Virginia Beach Distance Races
It's amazing how blogging and social networking helped me achieve many things that I never even dreamed of. In October 2014, I started following Penny Lane of 26.yikes on Facebook. She blogged about her training for two major events: a marathon followed by a 50K three weeks later.
I was already signed up for the Disney marathon on Jan. 11 when I found Penny, and she got me thinking: what's 5 miles on top 26.2? I'm already training for the marathon. I think I can push myself to cover the additional miles.
And so it began. In November 2014, my journey to complete a 50K started
Finding a 50K race is not as easy as finding a 5K
I'm standing on the finish line looking at the club house which served
food and a warm place for all. Restrooms in the building
were also open to runners.
My usual race finders did not include events longer than a marathon (26.2 miles). It took a lot of digging to find the ideal race. First, I found the UltraMarathonRunning.com but it didn't have a search tool. Then I found ultrasignup.com, and I was happy.
Orange cones blocked parts of the course to guide runners.
Porta potties, similar to the left, were available every mile.
The first race I seriously considered was the Jed Smith Ultra in Sacramento, California. Coming from Pennsylvania, I was concerned about the time difference and travel costs. After more than a month of waiting and searching, I found the VA Beach 50K. It was in the same time zone, only 6 hours away, 12-hour time limit to finish the race, and cost only $35 in registration. Of course I signed up!
VA Beach 50K was a 2.3-mile loop. I was ready to take on the distance, but I wasn't thrilled about running the same loop 13 1/2 times. Again, I turned to Facebook and asked Coach James Whipple of Whip Runs for some tips. I didn't know him personally, and I was apprehensive to ask, but I did anyway. He was kind and graciously shared the following tips: use the treadmill, run loops or out and backs during training. And so I did. I never ran loops before, and to my surprise, it wasn't so bad. I actually prefer loops over a treadmill.
A Beautiful Race Day
It was a pretty small race: 36 runners. We each got a free cotton shirt, but no finishers medal. I was a bit disappointed when I found out there was no bling, mainly because I learned about it via emails with the director instead of reading about it on their website. They did not advertise any finishers medal. It was my fault for assuming that there would be a bling because I always got a medal for finishing races that are 13.1 miles and longer.
The course looped through a golf course which was closed for the race. It was quite flat, and was on all asphalt surface. Distance should have been 31.06 miles but my Garmin recorded 32.26 miles. This included my extra movements around aide stations, and turning at corners. Ideally, we should take the shortest route between 2 points, but that's not always possible. There was also some confusion during the 1st loop.
|The course around a golf course.|
We were blessed with awesome weather. As the sun came out, the temperature rose from the 50s to the 60s.
Everyone was nice and pleasant. Runners and spectators, cheered each other on. Volunteers were very accommodating. I asked for bananas, and the next time I came across the aid station, the bananas magically appeared. They served a wide variety of food including bite-sized peanut butter jelly sandwiches, choco chip cookies, oreos, candies, and everything I love.
It was well organized, and communication during the event was clear and constant.
The Results: New friends and a great time
|Jennifer (left) of Hands Free Fun.|
|Now or never bracelet from Jennifer. |
So appropriate for our upcoming challenge.
Jennifer and I paced together for the 1st half until she got tired of me =). Running with Jennifer helped me finish strong. I placed 30 of 36 with a time of 7:22:54
I met other runners and felt like I was with family.
|Meet Virginia Davis, 65, started running at 60, finished her first triathlon last year, ran the VA Beach 50K in 6:54:44 - the new state record. She was 'just practicing' for her 2nd 24-hour ultra in April. She once outran hundreds of soldiers in a 5K. What an inspiration!||I had the pleasure of meeting John Price at packet pick up. In 2011, John ran across the USA in 3 months, and he's doing it again in April this year. I didn't know about his legendary feat until I got home. Jennifer of Hands Free Fun confirmed that he's the man! Thank you Jennifer. Check out John's story||I ran with Chris for about 2 miles and had a nice chat. I usually can't talk and run but my pace for this race was comfortable enough. Chris has been running since 2008. This wasn't his first ultra, nor his last. He said he wanted to finish in less than 7 hours, and he did.|
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