My first Ultra: Holiday Lake 50k by Sarah Quigg
The literal meaning of the word ultra means, “going beyond the usual limit, extreme.” I experienced this definition first hand during my FIRST ultra on Saturday, February 11. Coming around the last bend to see the finish line in reach was the most beautiful sight my eyes had every witnessed. But I should back up and describe the journey it took to reach the end.
I had never set my alarm clock at 4 a.m. before, but that morning I awoke ready to go and conquer this day. I dressed in the clothes laid out the night before; a careful and meticulous process, because I knew that each article could hinder my success. Finally ready to go, my thoughts were focused on asking God for strength and wondering what the day would bring.
The start at 6:30 a.m. was slow and it felt strange to start at that pace, but I knew the day would be long and I would cherish that beginning feeling of strength. I felt rested and smooth, my body wanting to take off and be pushed, but I trusted in the wisdom of my Trail Mama and knew that the test would be during the second half. I tried to enjoy every aspect of my first ultra, the friendly smiles and encouragement at aid stations, the chatter of runners all around me, and especially having the ability to appreciate God’s creation in such a unique and often overlooked way. Needless to say the pain soon set in and thus came the true test of an ultra-runner.
Arriving at the second to last aid station I still felt strong, but my knees and ankles were beginning to throb with every step. I knew that with the journey this pain was to be expected, and I had previously made a mental commitment to not let physical pain deter my progress. Needless to say I was not prepared for the nausea that overwhelmed my body. I slowed down to a walk, hoping, praying that it would soon fade. I soon realized that this pain was here to stay, and so I tried my best to continue on. Alternating between running and walking the chorus, “Never once did we ever walk [run] alone, Never once did you leave us on our own, You are faithful, God you are faithful” ran through my head, and I begged that God would carry me to the finish line. No longer did I worry about my time goal; reaching the finish was my only desire.
Those last four miles were the longest of my life. Climbing the last hill and entering the paved road my hope was renewed. With each step my heart overflowed with the realization that I had finally conquered my first ultra-marathon. After dreaming, reading, and watching it was finally my turn to experience the end, the finish, the moment when all you have worked for is accomplished. I crossed the finish and, yes Coach T, got my first Horton hug, received my first finisher shirt, and became exactly who God created me to be, a runner for His glory.
Although I often questioned my own sanity during those painful last eight miles, I awoke on Sunday morning ready to conquer the next race. The pain has been erased from my mind, and although right now stairs seem to mock me as I struggle with each step, there is nothing like running an Ultra-Marathon, and that’s probably a good thing.
Thank you, Coach T, for always believing in me. You let me tag along on long runs, answered every question, explained each minor detail, and provided insight into the mind of the toughest runner I know. You have inspired me to be the best runner I can be, and no matter what happened I knew you were a proud Trail Mama. I can’t wait for the day when we run our first Ultra together!
"Run Silent. Run Deep. Run Long. Run Strong." (RTrittipoe)