Regular running is one thing and many people start out with a target of completing 5k, but how do you go from that to deciding to run an "ultra" distance? An ultra-marathon is anything over the classic marathon distance of 26.2 miles. Keen runner and blogger Corey Melke Hinz tells us about embarking on her first ultra experience...
As I sit here typing out this article, I’m just a few short days away from my first ultra race. It will be my first attempt at any distance over marathon length and I’ve only done that once. People keep asking me why I decided to do this and to be honest, I figured, why not?! There is a massive possibility I could fail but as I see it, I’ll never know unless I try.
Another reason is because the event, Spitfire Scramble, is by far the most fun I’ve ever had at a race, period. I just love this race so much, I’m not sure if I would have done it anywhere else. Taking place in Hornchurch Park in Essex, this 24 hour trail relay happens on a 6 mile lapped course. Starting at noon on Saturday and ending at noon on Sunday, it’s a super fun, community of runners, camping and supporting each other and the energy is electric! You can race solo or in teams up to 8 people and you can even race with your dog. #awesome
For the past two years I’ve raced, first on a co-ed team of eight and last year on an all female team of six. The first year I completed 3 laps and last year I completed 4. This race helped me realise how exciting night running is, last year I ran back to back laps at midnight and probably could have done more. This year my friend Helen, asked me to be on a pairs team and I agreed - Team Ultra Decathlon Divas.
However recently Helen got very sick and busted a rib and is going to have to sit out. This has all just happened, leaving me with a whole new race and plan to consider. Am I freaking out a bit? Yes.
While I’ve completed 19 official half marathons and a trail marathon, one of my favorite distances is the 10k. Five years ago I suffered a traumatic foot injury, leaving my right foot with a 4 bone fusion, 12 pieces of titanium and the possibility of never running again. I managed to prove everyone wrong with more hard work than I ever thought would be possible but I still have to be very careful with it. That’s the reason I love the 10k, its a good distance without straining my foot all at once. That’s why this race is a perfect fit, if I feel off or sore I know it’s only a 10k to reach the end of the lap and I can rest if I need to and that makes me feel calm and happy.
After people ask “why" then they ask if I’m prepared. It’s hard to prepare for this type of race but I’ve trained hard, harder than I’ve ever trained before. Running 50+ miles a week and sometimes 3 10k’s a day, getting my body ready for the exhaustion and knowing how to overcome it on race day. I feel strong but I still have bad days. On Sunday I ran in The British 10K and the heat was brutal. My blood sugar was extremely high, making it hard for me to run and I felt exhausted by the time I finished with a 9:05 mile/avg. I thought to myself…how am I going to do this times 8? Oh yeah, I’m also a Type 1 diabetic. Ultra running isn’t exactly encouraged…
My blood sugar, my bionic foot, the possibility of very hot weather and exhaustion are all just a few of the things that could interfere with me achieving my 8 lap goal around 50 miles. I’m as prepared as I think I can be but then again, I’ve never done anything like this before…maybe my lack of experience will help me. I’m planning on switching out my 4 different pairs of shoes to help keep my foot feeling fresh and using ice foot baths every three laps to help with the swelling and aching. I’m praying for a cloudy day or rain but if history repeats itself, it will be hot and sunny.
My plan is to run 4 laps before 5:45 pm. The local school offers showers until 6:30 pm and nothing makes me feel better than a nice cool shower and fresh clothes. I plan on getting a massage, eating a veggie burger or jacket potato and heading back out again. I hate running at sunset (too many bugs) so I wouldn’t mind avoiding that altogether. My coach wants me to try and keep my HR below 150 (which is going to be difficult) so I will probably implement a run/jog/walk combination throughout the race. I would like to be finished before the sun rises, around 5am.
Do I think I can do it? Mentally I’m ready and I can only control the things I can control so there’s no use in worrying about the other stuff. And I figured there’s no better way to show my Type 1 diabetes who’s boss than by getting my 8 laps! Next month will be my 5 year T1D diagnosis anniversary and this race isn’t even half as scary as living with this disease everyday.
Do I think I can do it? HELL YES.