"You show up to every race with the training you have, not the training you want... or something like that... whatever... it's mother flipping game time and I'm going to eat this (insert 4 lettered word) for breakfast. That didn’t sound right, wait, is that Tim Olson... ok keep breathing, it's just Tim Olson, he lives in Boulder, whatever... OMG HE SHOOK MY HAND!!! Today is going to be a good day!!!"
I'm going to let you in on a little secret of mine... I talk to myself... like, a lot... and sometimes out loud. Luckily that prerace monolog was an internal monolog. I tend to do that running when I need to focus. I talk myself through the situations, and then my mind goes blank again letting my body focus on what it needs to do. For my first ultra, the dirty30, that was my goal...to just let go, focus on what needed to be focused on and enjoy the experience while pushing hard.
I signed up for dirty30 because I thought it was close to home and knew I could make it a 1/2 day or day event (not realizing North Fork was just down the road.... like literally Just Down The Road!). Then I dug into the dirty30 information a little more (after I paid to enter the race) and saw the course and elevation gain/loss. I got a little queasy and super excited! I love me some hills! But this was a lot of “mf” hills! Like 1500' more than my previous ultra-distance run where I fell apart at mile 26, and I didn't race that!
The night before the race, after the kids went to sleep, my wife said to me, "We (the kids and I) don't care if you come in first or last, if you finish or not, all we care about is that you enjoy the experience! Don't push yourself too hard... well, I know you’re going to push hard, just don't hurt yourself. I know you love this, and you want to do well. We just want you to come home safe."
The race went well. The first 10 miles went better than the second 10, and the third 10 miles went a bit better than the middle 10. I fell three or four times, but nothing major, just some uphill toe catches. I almost went off course a few times, but quickly found my way. I did, however, kick a rock on a downhill that resulted in some of my former merchant marine training going into auto pilot (aka sailor mouth). I believe some of this monolog was verbally expressed! "OOOOUUUUUUUUUUCCCCCHHHH MOTHER FLIPPER THAT HURT… Dude I think you’re going to lose that toenail… Mother of Pearl... just keep moving. Is that blood coming through my shoe (stops for a second) yep... whatever, maybe at aid 4 I will stop and take my shoe off... maybe not.... idk, just see what you feel like when you get there.”
I got dehydrated, and my uphill running suffered because of it. The flats and downhills went really well through the whole race. My ankles and feet did great, no major ankle rolls or sketchy stumbles. So, all in all, I did have a good race. I enjoyed it from start to finish. I got 36 minutes from my goal time, and knowing the reasons why it was +36, I am happy with my performance.
I did really enjoy the racing, but it was the whole day that really made my first ultra everything I wanted it to be! I enjoyed the pre-race waking up “stupid early” and picking up some friends on the way, hanging out with all my running friends who were racing or volunteering that day, getting to toe the line with some really cool people, having friendly conversations on the trail, hanging out post race congratulating each other on the hard work, and having the opportunity to make new friends. There were, however, two events that day that really stuck out for me that I would like to share with you. The first is best expressed with my “internal” running dialog (I hope it was internal) and the second event will take a little explaining.
Internal Dialog: “Ok, I can see that pack up there, that’s cool, they seem strong, so don’t get sucked in, just keep running your pace, you are fine...who is... WAITTTTTTT it's Tim Olson again, what mile... 10.5... Dude you caught Tim Olson... sure he was walking out of the woods like he was taking a poop... ok he was doing that, but SCORE you caught Tim.... oh wait there he goes... whatever that was cool!... can’t wait to tell someone about this!"
And what follows is my favorite part of the race.
At one point in the race, on a less steep downhill section, the course leads you to a small pond. When I was approaching the pond, my mental race fog of just focusing on the course and my body lifted to notice all the non-runners around me. These were not race volunteers, they were hikers, people fishing and kids playing. As I came closer to the pond, there were a group of young kids, maybe preschool or kindergarten age, and some parents. They were cheering on the runners and holding signs. They were clapping and telling everyone they were doing awesome and to keep up the hard work. The energy from these kids was just amazing! They were so excited for us and to be there watching these runners run by. I teared up (I cry a Disney movies... so of course I teared up!) and told them that this made my day as I ran by.