A Little Overconfident and Under Prepared

03/23/2018 - 13:46

By Rae Ann Darling Reed

Knowing your limitations and being a smart runner are meant to be compliments but can be difficult to hear when you just dropped out of your first 50K and feel like a failure.

I ran conservatively behind the lead female for two of the four 7.75 mile loops then took the lead about a third of the way through the third loop and felt great. I was just running the pace that felt right, comfortable for me. I really tried to ignore what the other runners were doing, other than on those first two laps when I held back to stay behind the leader.

On that third lap, I hit approximately the 22 mile mark and started feeling dizzy and chilled so I decided to walk the last 1.5 miles back to the start/finish pavilion that we passed on each loop.

While walking the last 1.5 miles, I went back and forth trying to decide if I should attempt the fourth loop or quit at three. I was in the lead! I should definitely try to finish that fourth loop, right? But the more I walked, the more chilled I felt and then the cramps started to kick in. Why push it? Seriously, why? It’s a local 50K at a beautiful park that I am running for myself. Who cares what anyone else thinks. Who cares what the results say. I put my ego aside and listened to my body.

Three cups of Coca-Cola and a handful of Goldfish crackers later, I changed into my recovery tights and dry clothes but still had the chill. After talking with a couple of experienced ultra runners, I felt better about my decision. One literally said, “It is smart to listen to your body and you are a very smart runner!” That’s a pretty nice compliment. So here I am with a DNF at my second ultra attempt.

My first ultra was a successful 57 miler in June of 2012. But I have not yet finished an official 50K. There’s another local trail 50K in April of this year. I am considering it. However ultras in southwest Florida are tough outside of our very short window of “winter” during the months of December and January.

I did learn several things I can do better preparing for my next 50K so thankfully my DNF did result in something positive. I need to train specifically for the 50K, like I did for my 57 miler back in 2012. I should not schedule my next ultra attempt on the morning after a long, late track meet. As much as I try to hydrate during a track meet, I can never quite drink enough it seems. I am on my feet the entire track meet, focused on my athletes, standing and walking back and forth for hours. During the race I need to start hydrating earlier and start my nutrition earlier.

The most important thing I will take away from this 50K attempt is to listen to my body; it really has a lot to tell me! Even days after the race, I learned from the severe low back and right quad pain I was experiencing that I needed to alternate the sides of the trail I was running on way more than I did. And I needed to train on soft sand similar to the trails at this park so my body was prepared for that extremely uneven surface. I was definitely a little overconfident in my preparedness going in and definitely under prepared, but once the disappointment of not finishing this 50K passes, I will be proud of the fact that I was a smart runner and did listen to my body.

(Rae Ann Darling Reed runs, coaches, and writes in Florida. She is an RRCA and USATF Level 2 certified running coach, Glukos Energy Ambassador, and has been in the Brooks Inspire Daily program since 2010. Rae Ann is a Fit Expert at Fleet Feet Sports Sarasota and coaches cross country and track at Manatee High School. Follow the RunnerGirl’s adventures on twitter @runnergirl or

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