On March 2, 2019, I officially ran my first ultra-marathon and by proxy my first marathon. Before this run, my longest run was a 30K trail race, that I ran in the summer of 2018.
This run appealed to me for a couple reasons. The first is that it was a single loop. I love trail running, but running multiple loops on a trail is less appealing to me. I enjoy seeing the scenic views of nature and this run did not disappoint. I feel like this run is a great tour by foot of the park and hits most, if not all, of the scenic highlights of the park. Another appeal were the aid station limitations. There were six aid stations along the route, but the aid stations were unmanned and only supplied water. They were basically glorified water caches. This meant it was up to the runner to plan and carry their nutritional needs for the duration of the race.
In my preparation, I sat out to do some research on nutritional needs during long runs. Pretty much all the resources I found said that the body can only burn 200-300 calories per hour and any more than that meant that you’re likely just carrying around useless food weight. With this in mind, I did a couple long runs carrying calories with me. The purpose of this was to see how my body reacted to a couple different foods while running.
I made a game plan of trying to maintain a 15 minute mile for the duration of the race. I felt that this was a good pace that I was comfortable with while not pushing myself to a limit that I may not be able to finish. Based on this, I determined that I would finish around seven hours and thirty minutes.
With all this knowledge gained, I determined that I would carry ~1600 calories of food with me. What I ultimately carried were welches fruit snacks, peanut butter m&m’s, a packet of tail wind, and a five hour energy. The purpose of the five hour energy was for a caffeine boost during the race. I know from past experience that I crave caffeine during long runs.
All this mostly worked out perfectly, but I’ll continue to modify my nutritional carries during long runs. Overall, the run went nearly exactly as planned. When I finished the race, I was pretty tired, but I wasn’t completely trashed. I attribute this to pacing myself through out the race. I loved this race and will likely do it again next year. I’ll also likely do some other ultra marathon races in the future as well.