Ultra Races are intense. My first ultra race was a 50 mile 3 day 2 night race in the eastern sierra nevada’s. I completed it with another USMC vet and friend of mine. We served together as marines and as a result our bound has lasted well beyond our military days.
We talk about the physical and mental challenges that are common training experiences when we became marines. In an effort to test and push ourself both mentally and physically we signed up for this ultra marathon. There were so many challenges in this particular ultra. The first challenge was the elevation. During the trail race we were going to be running at serious altitude. At some points over 8,000 ft of elevation. For my comrade and I who normally live at sea level this felt like our longs where in total over drive.
Another challenges that the ultra run presented was the sleeping arrangements. Each day you had to get to a stopping point where you gear would be made available. Once you reached camp you had to set up your gear, cook your food, and then try to get rest. For me day two was the hardest by far. I knew in the morning that we weren’t even half way on our journey yet and I was already exhausted. I felt like I had altitude sickness but honestly I am not sure if that was real or mental explanation for my first day fatigue.
We had to grind through day two with my friend Steven pulling me along most of the way. Without him, I never would have made it. Somehow, day 3 in a weird way I felt refreshed. At that point I knew I could push myself through the last day and with each step I was one step closer to accomplishing our goal and putting the finishing touches on an incredible experience.
When we crossed the finish line we gave each other a big hug, cheered on and hung out with some of the other competitors. After getting a physical therapy massage for my soar muscles, I wrapped some ice around my legs and we headed to our hotel room. Oh it was glorious sleeping in a bed again after two days sleeping on the ground in a sleeping bag. The shower felt amazing, but the soreness got worse. But with the physical pain over the next couple of days, my mind found clarity and focus to get back to life knowing I had pushed through my discomfort and accomplished my goal.
Ultra races of 100 miles or more are crazy. I cannot imagine the mental and physical strength that those competitors have. My hats off to them, they are heroes or the running community.