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Virtual Dallas Marathon - First Road Ultra!

First road ultra went better than I thought it would, but man did it hurt! Great way to round out 2020 :)


Race Information



**What?** Dallas Marathon (50k length)



**When?** December 20, 2020



**How far?**  31.1 miles



**Where?** Tucson, AZ



**Website:** https://www.rundallas.com/events/bmw-dallas-marathon-festival



**Strava activity:** https://www.strava.com/activities/4497367260



**Finish time:** 3:42:13



**My stats:** 25 male, 5'11", ~155 pounds



**Shoes:** Brooks Ravenna



 



**Goals**



 



Goal A: <3:45



Goal B: <4:00



Goal C: Finish without injury



Goal D: Finish



 



**Mile Splits**



 



1    7:53



2    7:18



3    6:59



4    7:03



5    7:02



6    7:02



7    6:55



8    7:00



9    7:09



10  7:06



11  7:12



12  7:09



13  7:21



14  7:21



15  7:32



16  7:25



17  7:38



18  7:23



19  7:24



20  7:13



21  7:18



22  7:22



23  7:11



24  7:01



25  7:07



26  7:00



27  7:01



28  6:54



29  6:47



30  6:38



31  6:24



0.1 5:56



 



**Training**



 



To start, I'm a long-time lurker on this sub and never post. Do really appreciate this community's advice, race reports, guidance, etc.



 



I started taking running seriously this past January as my family and I signed up for the Wisconsin Marathon that was to be in early May. My Mom ran the Boston Marathon in '19 and my sister was getting in to ultra trail running and inspired me to get into it. I wanted to be able to finish the WI Marathon without injury as my longest run prior to '20 was 13mi that caused bursitis in my hip because my training wasn't up to par for it.



 



The WI marathon got cancelled but I ran it in 3:22:30. After that I joined training plans with my sister to help her for a virtual 50 miler. Through this sub and some helpful runners in the area I knew this was a lot to tackle so soon, but I tried hard to listen to my body and not overtrain. The 50 miler with her went mostly great (it was a high of 93 that day so we fought fueling and hydration issues), I did two more 50 milers this year (one legitimate race) and I think that all set up really well for this 50k.



 



The 50mi race took place on Nov. 7. I loosely followed the free training plan from Relentless Forward Commotion for those and their 50k training plan in the time period between the 50mi and this 50k. With training I focused on hill work, a little bit of strength training (I've struggled to be consistent at this), and volume. With the 50mi training plans and runs learning different pain thresholds helped me mentally prepare for the race. Through various virtual 10k challenges and workouts I thought sub 4hrs was doable, so I told myself I just needed to work through 4hrs of pain. If I blew up the course was mostly flat so I thought I could jog or walk it in. Not a ton of pressure as I kept my goals to myself and didn't tell many folks about the race (I'm weird like that. Does anybody else do this? Haha)



 



Anyhow, sorry for the tangent but most of my weeks had ~6 days of running, 1-2 hill and speed workouts, 1 long run, and 1 recovery run. Tried to keep the mileage between 60-80. Going over 80mi thus far has been a real challenge to keep up with work and life. This was the first race I thought my taper was effective. Really dialed it back in the last two weeks per the training plan and my legs were screaming to get let loose on "race" day.



 



**Pre-Race**



 



Tapering was difficult mentally (I love running and it's been a huge stress relief from COVID) but after some not so great races and virtual competitions this year I started to grasp the value of tapering diligently. My Dad and younger brother were to bike alongside my sister, Mom and I for the run (ladies were doing the marathon length) so we discussed the route, meet up spots, etc. These weren't crystal clear to me but I figured we'd sort it out.



 



We aimed to start at 7am so I got up at 5am, had an english muffin pb&j and shuffled nervously while being on the receiving end of weird glances from my family. I was taking it a lot more seriously than they were (lol).



 



**Race**



 



Early plan was to pick up my handheld with watered-down gatorade and a couple gels at mile 8. For precautionary purposes I through a gel in my glove and was on my way.



 



The first mile had a bit of climb but miles 2-8 were flat and slightly downhill. Great way to start but I didn't want to wreck my quads so I tried to stay in control and keep the pace closer to 7:20, 7:30 than 7:00. That being said, the legs were feeling fresh and I figured I could throttle it back for a bit once things flattened out if I needed to. The route was a "T" - down to a bike path, right to the end of it, back to whatever mileage you needed (for me, 12 to the end of the right hand part of the T, 9.5mi to the left then 9.5mi back).



 



Unfortunately I missed my crew at mile 8 (guess they were slow to get down there). The air was cool (low 40s) and I was hydrated to start so I figured if I saw them by mile 15 I'd be ok. Fortunately inked up with them at mile 11 (~1:20) so I immediately threw back a gel and some of my handheld. It was a relief to find them and they helped me a bit with direction. I was still hovering above my goal pace (7:15/mi) but I was downwind and on a flat section. They told me when I hit the turnaround I'd be going on a slight uphill grade and into the wind. Awesome.



 



Pain started to set in shortly after the turnaround at mile 12. This is all sort of new to me, but when I've run hard on road for long distances the ball of one or both of my feet feels hot and burning. This started to happen in mile 12. There were a few bridges and tunnels that proved difficult for me to navigate so I had to make 90 degree turns, run around traffic, etc. My Dad did a good job of providing direction but I struggled to process information he was giving me. Everything I've learned about running has told me things go better when you're happy and calm, so I tried to stay in that mindset despite the mix ups. I took another gel at 1:55 and found some strength by doing so. Dad told reaffirmed that I was going "upstream" along a canal and that once I turned around it'd be easier, so I just tried to grind until that point. Somewhere around 2:00 I made it my goal to hit 25mi by 3:00 which I thought I could then get in under 3:45.



 



My brother met me at mile 20 and refueled my handheld. By then the sun was high, air was dry and I was feeling shaky. Above all I knew that the last 10mi of this race would be awful. He gave me some unsteady looks.. clearly hadn't seen me in this position before. I got confused on another bridge but finally worked up one last hill and shortly thereafter turned around at mi 22.5. With a mostly full handheld, couple gels, and the confidence I had the wind at my back (it wasn't crazy, about 7-8mph for the day) I was confident I'd finish without a blowup. I had been low at that point thinking "what's fun about a road ultra??" to that point so some words of encouragement helped a ton. I took my last gel at 2:50 and thought I could make it home on just gatorade and water.



 



When I looked down at my watch at 3:00 and saw 24.9mi I was a bit disheartened. Brain was struggling to do math but I picked up that if I maintained a 7:00mi I could make it home and beat my goal. My legs, feet and hips were screaming. I wasn't sure when to really lay the hammer down, if I even still could at that point. My triceps were burning at that point too, a nod to my lack of strength training. I see my brother at mile 29. I'm about out of water so I just ask for a swig of his but not a full refill. I didn't want the handheld in my hand for much longer. I worked to keep the pace below 7:00 and tried to let loose for the last 1.5mi as best I can. I didn't think I was sprinting as I hoped I'd be able to but I didn't have more to give. I clocked the watch at 31.08mi and was beyond relieved to be done.



 



**Post-race**



Entering the new year with a loose resolution to stay injury free and keep getting faster. My sister and I are signed up for a 100k in April and a marathon in May but I'm hesitant to overload the calendar as I think it might be too much too soon. Some running friends and mentors warn me of burnout but I've come to learn I enjoy training the most. Races and events are alright to see where I stand amongst other but man are they painful. I (like the rest of the running world it seems) would like to qualify for Boston and will give it my best in May, but I enjoy ultra and trail running more so I won't be training specifically for the marathon this spring.



 



Additional Info



 



I'm working to become a better balanced runner by doing more strength and cross training. Foam rolling is huge for me, and I'm starting to look into Normatec recovery systems but I'm on the fence at the moment.



 



Know they're not for everybody, but I think trail and ultra running helped me a lot for this run. It gave me confidence in my nutrition/hydration "plan" and helped me stay calm through the pain. When you've been in pain for 5+ hours, ~3-4 doesn't seem as bad albeit it was certainly a heightened degree of it.



 



I'm sincerely appreciative of people who've made quality posts and comments in this sub and the people I've met and befriended through running so far. It's an amazingly supportive community. I'm happy to be here, look forward to my future in the sport and cheering all other runners on in their goals too!



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