A week later….
Now that exactly a week has passed by, I have had some more time to reflect on my experience.
I was very sore for two days before it started improving. I hobbled around slowly and unsteadily and almost fell down the first step I took out of bed the next day. It was a pain that is difficult to describe and put into words. We all have experienced muscle stiffness and aches after doing something that was physically a little too much for us. But this pain was much deeper, more intense. It was as if not only my muscles hurt but my bones and the entire essence of my being. The pain was much sharper than a simple muscle ache too. For a few days I worried that perhaps I might have a stress fracture in several places.
Remember the time you walked across the room at night only to accidentally bump your shin into a piece of furniture that you had forgotten about? We’ve all had experiences like that and we’ve all had a tender knot on our shin’s that we could barely touch to remind us of our mishap. Now imagine if every inch of your lower body below your pelvis hurt just as much and you will have some idea of what I am talking about.
Unless I decide to run another flat paved ultra, this might turn out to be the fastest 50 mile that I’ll ever run in my life. When running a trail 50 mile ultramarathon, I would usually plan for a finish somewhere around a 11:30 to 12:00 hours. Without setting out to, I even ran a qualifying time for the Comrades Marathon Comrades Marathon. The Comrades is the oldest, largest and most well-known ultramarathon in the world; some have called it the “Boston Marathon” of ultramarathons. It is 90 kilometers (54 miles) run in South Africa in June. The entire country shuts down as a national holiday while over 12,000 people attempt to run the distance in under the cut-off time of 12 hours. Well, I am not planning on running in South Africa in 2008, but who knows? If I ever decide that that is something that I might want to do, at least I know of a nice flat ultramarathon course where I might try to qualify again.
To my surprise and despite how severe the pain was initially, I have recovered more quickly from this race than from my first two ultras this past spring. I had massage yesterday that went far in removing the last remaining tight spots (I highly recommend a good massage for everybody every now and then, even if you’ve never run fifty miles). My soreness is now almost entirely gone. I almost feel ready to run again. However, I promised myself that I would take at least two weeks off from running completely and when I restart, I would go easy for a month or two.
I lost over 3% of my body fat during that run and that is even despite all of the calories I took in during the run in the form of energy gels, sports drink, and food. My appetite has been into overdrive this week and I have greatly enjoyed satisfying it. That is one of the best thing about all of this physical activity, perhaps even the real reason why I do it in the first place, I can eat whatever I want and not worry about it. When I was in my 20s I could do that without exercising but now that my metabolic rate has slowed down, I guess I need to be sure to actively burn those extra calories off.
I still cannot believe that I have done it. Before this, to run 50 miles was an inconceivable. Well, now I know exactly what it is like but I still cannot believe that I actually did it.
I don’t know what the future will hold. I am already thinking about potential races to run next spring or summer. Someone asked me if I am going do 100 miles next time. I don’t think so, not yet, not until I am ready. And I don’t feel ready for a hundred yet. There is much to learn about the 50 mile distance. I’d still like to do a trail 50 mile ultra. Maybe I will never need to do anything more. Maybe someday I will move up in mileage to the 100k or the 100m or maybe I never will. For now I am going to enjoy my success and the well-deserved off-season for the next few weeks. It is all about the experience anyway, not about the distance.
But then I guess, that is what the greatest ultramarathon of all … life… is like. It would be foolish to rush on to bigger and better things until we are ready and without enjoying the journey we are living at the moment. We never really know where our finish line of life will be anyway and so we each must enjoy every single day that we are blessed with.