My first experience with yoga: and why anyone can do it
January 23, 2017
Recovery Mode from an Ultramarathon
February 22, 2017
This past Saturday, I participated in my first Ultra marathon. Having never done anything beyond a marathon on a flat, paved road, this was definitely a unique experience for my virgin feet. I want to take a few moments to share what I was feeling and what was going on in my head during this 50k (31 mile) run on trails in the Everglades at Fakahatchee State Park.
[I look like I'm feeling the runner's high in this photo. haha]
This run was about survival. If I would have to tell you my preferred distance run, I would probably say a half marathon. This race was more than half the distance and way more of an exertion on uneven grounds and in nature. My mentality on a marathon or half marathon is “go go go go go,” because I know what’s ahead on flat, paved road. But this distance seemed to truly push my endurance. Not just to race ahead, but to be careful with each step, each decision that may affect future miles. Staying hydrated and nutrient dense is difficult.
Mindfulness is key. There was no “tuning out.” This run tested me because I had to be very mindful of where I stepped, aware of my surroundings at all times, and I had to be constantly present in the moment. Rocks, roots, trees.... alligators, potential Florida panthers. Yup. I did not have my headphones on. It was not as easy to find a rhythm, but definitely do-able. Just different than any race I have done before.
Self love is essential even when I’m killing myself running so far. I logged over 65, 000 steps on that run. 65, 000 reps. For time. That repetitive motion is difficult on anyone’s body. Add in the hot sun beating down, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. Aid stations were my friends. So grateful for the volunteers and all the snacks! I never knew an extra Energy Gel could taste so good, but my body was craving calories and carbs and nutrition. One experienced runner I met had stashed a bag of jelly-beans in her bra. She told me that for the first half of the race, she would have a few every mile as a treat. And after that, she had a handful as she reached certain marks during the race as rewards. Sometimes it’s the little things on a long run that can make a difference. I may or may not have had a donut from Salty Donuts waiting for me at the finish line (I did, duh). By the way, that self love extends to before and after the run as well.
I think yoga may have saved my life. Stretching is just a side effect of yoga. For me (when it comes to running), yoga is a tool for learning to be mindful of range of motion and learning how to move. Learning to notice which side I favor, notice when muscles start to flex, restrict, or change. Noticing my breathing and heartbeat and how that changes as I exert myself. Awareness of what I’m thinking and telling myself during the run. Those are elements of yoga that greatly help my running.
This run was not rainbows and butterflies. There were times I thought I might not be good enough, strong enough. That maybe I should quit. I’m pretty certain I complained the entire time for the first 20 miles. Told myself lots of stories about what I would do after the run. The cool part was the setting. Being in nature rather than the city was pretty awesome, even in the Everglades. Every damn bug bite, glare of the sun, obstacle in the road... it all seemed like (somewhat) subtle nudges to PAY ATTENTION to where I was in the moment.
No one comes out of a run like that unscathed. I will never think that running ultra marathons is a healthy practice, but the challenge was epic. Thankfully, I was barely sore after that run, but my feet were sore after the race. That’s a given thing that I think no one can easily avoid after running so far. I iced them and they were fine after 24 hours of giving myself massages, an ice bath and some essential oil love from Doterra. 2 days after the race, I’m back to running. Carefully and with new awareness, back to running.