Relentless Forward Progress

Tomorrow I will attempt to run my first (and last??) ultramarathon.   A 50K is only a few more miles than a marathon--about 4.8 more miles.   I'm not at 100%. body wise.  I woke up with a stiff neck six days ago, and it got progressively worse.  It's like a really, really bad crick in my neck along with some radiating shoulder pain.   Today, my neck and shoulder are still bothering me, but they are improved.  The pain is manageable.  I actually ran 2 miles yesterday with minimal pain, I'd say maybe a 2.5 on the pain scale of 1-10.  

Run Under the Stars begins at 8 in the evening.  About 100 of us will circle a half-mile horse track between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m.    Some people will run 50, even 60 miles.   I'll be content with 31.  And fairly content with 26.2 if the body is just not up for cooperating.   I plan to STOP at 31, which hopefully will be around 3:00 a.m. or earlier.  I might be able to squeak out 35 or even 40, but at what cost??   50K is plenty. 

To say I am well-rested is an understatement.  I've run a total of 2.5 miles since last Saturday.  I did walk a mile and cycled 2, but I don't know when my legs have felt this rested.  I have to remember to hold back because fresh legs that go even a little too fast in miles 1-4 are going to suffer in the next 27!

I came across the coolest quote about running ultras today on  It simply stated how to run an ultramarathon:

Maintain relentless forward progress until you finish.  

I'm going to Sharpie-tattoo that on my forearm to read over and over. 

Other quotes I found on were these: 

One thing you can count on in an ultra is some sort of nagging pain--a sour stomach, an irritable tendon, a recalcitrant knee. Pain's a given. It's all about how you handle it.

I am mentally preparing myself to suffer.  In a marathon or really in any RACE where you give it your all, you have to accept a certain amount of suffering.  If you aren't suffering, you aren't racing!   That is what racing feels like.  In a a marathon or ultra marathon, suffering is a given, even if you run it "easy."  Crossfit is like that, too.  If you aren't suffering to some degree in a WOD, you probably aren't doing it right! 

And this one answering the question of WHY run an ultra?

At the finish, I vowed I'd never run that far again; a promise that even now, a few years later, I've had little desire to break. But I was suffused with this warm sense of overwhelming fulfillment. In one day, I'd totally rejiggered how I calculated my abilities and weaknesses. What I'm trying to say, maudlin or not, is that I was deeply happy.

The by-products of my run--dogged patience, redrawn boundaries of endurance, deep energy reserves--improved my life running-wise and everything-else-wise. It aided my concentration skills at work. It helped me cope with the all-night stresses of a newborn. In a small but essential way, I felt transformed.

So I suppose that's my answer. Why run an ultra? Because it feels so damn good when you finish.

I hope I have some measure of happiness at the end.  :-)