Written By: Amanda Kremer
I have run a total of 13 road marathons. With each one, I have learned something valuable to improve my performance for the next race. This year I decided (or more correctly, I was lightly persuaded) to run a 50K -- The Flagline 50K, specifically. This was a distance I have never run, on terrain that was new to me. Only 5 more miles of running -- my inner voice said, “I can do this, no problem!” Well, a 50K trail race is a whole different animal, and I wanted to share what I learned from transitioning from road marathon to trail Ultra-marathon.
1. Terrain. As much as I love my ultra light weight, thin-soled Brooks Pure Connects, they did not protect my feet from the beating of rocks, roots and varied terrain. The bottoms of my feet felt like they had been beaten with a meat tenderizer. What I loved about this trail race, is that my hips felt great afterwards. After a road marathon, my hips are tight and sore for days.
Lesson learned: Get trail shoes with a thicker sole shoes and better traction. Save the Pure Connects for pounding pavement for 26.2 miles.
2. Carrying gear and being prepared for weather. Although this was a very well-organized 50K race, the aid stations are further apart compared to a marathon. I decided to carry my 2-Liter pack to assure I had water when I needed it. I have never worn a pack for my marathons, so the added weight provided a bit more of a challenge for me. I was ill-prepared for the weather. It ended up raining, snowing and sleeting, which resulted in a sloppy mess. The fact that I did not have any mittens or gloves nearly pushed me to drop out; luckily there were generous people on the course who allowed me to borrow their gear.
Lesson learned: Be prepared for ANY kind of weather, especially in the mountains. I know that I don’t function well being too cold, so I will have that covered for next time. Mittens are a must!
3. Crowd appeal. I always chose my marathons based on how large and popular they are. The bigger the better for me. I strive on cheering crowds for the entire length of my race--I love it! For a 50K, you don’t get so much of that, in addition to extended periods of time running all alone.
Lesson learned: Since I had silence most of the way, I had to stay mentally strong to motivate myselfthrough the race--more than I ever have for a marathon.
4. Change in form. It took years, but I have finally mastered good running form that works for me -- for road marathons. After running a trail Ultra-marathon, I was sore in all different areas of my body. My neck was especially sore from looking down at the trail all the time, my shoulders and biceps sore from tensing up on the trail, and feet and ankles shredded from the varied terrain and improper footwear.
I see myself doing more 50Ks in the future and a stronger comeback for next year’s Flagline 50K. I still have a lot to improve on and feel fortunate to be among so many influential runners here in Bend.
Amanda Kremer is an Animal Chiropractor in Bend, specializing in both large and small animals. She is currently practicing out of LaPaw Animal Hospital in addition to house and barn calls. Find out more about her practice at www.chiro4critters.com.