There is a physical side of running more than 26.2 miles, of course, but the mental side of going long is sometimes-maybe always-the more important side of the equation.
The example of a positive attitude is this past 50K race I participated in. I missed a turn about mile three in. Another female and myself ran downhill, probably a mile, looking for markers. We finally turned around. I said something about bonus miles. I tried to keep it positive, mentioning, you can’t sulk for 25 miles.
As it turned out, that missed turn was entirely my fault-there were flags.
The course was “lightly marked” and there were two more instances of missing the trail-no markers right at the turn. Whether they had been removed, trampled, who knows. These mistakes were correctly pretty quickly, due to other runners yelling and sometimes coming down the trail at us. Also a moment to just shrug and accept it. After the first bonus mileage, my thoughts of a “good time” at the race had gone out the window-it had already become just a long training run to me.
It was a bit frustrating, at times, to come across another runner either standing there, or running back at us, also looking for trail markers.
One instance was the “bull field”. This trail goes across private property, and one field contained a bull. This was mentioned at the course briefing, and there was indeed a sign that said “bull in field”.
We climb the fence, and encounter the other runner. He mentions not knowing where to go. We start looking around. There is one carsonite marker, stuck in the middle of the pasture, and then nothing. I look up, way at the top of the field, and spot a wooden sign. We then notice kind of a worn path, so maybe that is where we need to go, and up we climb. Yep, sure enough, that was it.
I guess my point is try like heck to keep a positive attitude.
There was much more road in this 50K than I anticipated-and most of it was gnarly gravel road. But I kept saying out loud, about how nice it was to have cloud cover, and we were lucky it was not that hot (it was only about 80 and very humid, but we would have cooked in the open if it had been sunny). At one point, running down an asphalt road, I thought to myself “well, at least it’s only a 50K” meaning I would be done sooner than later! This could have been a 50 miler or a 100 miler, but I knew I would only be out there for six or seven or eight hours, then I would be done.
Lorraine and I passed a bunch of people in the race. After our off course miles, we really had no idea where we were in the pack. A few people mentioned just wanting to beat the cut offs. I told someone, (with this being a point to point race) “no one is going to pull you. Do they really want to drive you back with five or ten miles left in the race? It’s far better to just kick you out of the AS -unless you are hurt-and get you down the trail.” Now, I was not trying to be mean, just realistic. I have no idea if these folks were 50K newbies either. But really people. This is only a 50K. Nobody wants to pull you.
Maybe I am being an old curmudgeon and ultra experience teaches a bit more patience and less excitement about trail issues. I really did want to test my “time goal” when the race first began, but I did chuck that goal right out the window after going off course. But I still had to get to the finish line and I did get in a nice block of training for The Ring.