Eagle Up Ultra Race Recap (finally, I know)

This race…it was amazing. My original plan, back in the day, was to go for 50 miles. Doing what BRF did last year–50 here, 50 at Burning River. By the time my coach and I were laying plans though, I had 100k in my mind. Twice as far as I’ve ever run in my life (and the 50k I did was about 5 years ago…). For a long time I said 50 miles was my goal, then I gradually started to leak that I was going for 100k.

Set out on Friday to claim a campsite–needed a home base for our tent on Saturday–and to check into the hotel. Stopped for some delicious treats from Oakmont bakery (that ended up fueling me through the whole weekend, money very well spent). Stopped at packet pickup, set up the tent, grabbed a drink and some dinner, and got our stuff together at the hotel.

Went to bed. Got up stupid early to get ready and get to the grounds with our stuff. Met up with friends, took some pictures, used the bathroom–all that good pre-race stuff. I was sooo happy when we finally got started. I knew that I would not run the whole thing, but I wanted to run as much as I could manage, and I did run the first 2 laps without stopping. Gradually started working some walking in after that–especially since I then started stopping by the tent and aid station between laps.

Me before starting Eagle Up Ultra…

I’m super focused when I’m in a race type setting. Even though I didn’t have real time goals I was shooting for, I still wanted to do the best I could and not dawdle at the aid stations or stop for too long. The longer you are running, the more imperative it is to keep moving–stopping for too long makes it harder to continue on as your body wants to give into the rest. So I did my best to just keep moving. Once I hit my half way point I started to take a few more pictures on course to check in with people on Instagram.

Me smiling for the camera…
Me questioning all of the choices that have brought me to this moment…

BRF Sean happened to be at the aid station with our friends when I was stopped before my 50 mile lap. We joked for a minute, toasted (his beer and my jello shot) and then I dashed off saying “I have to crush your 50-mile time now”, which I did, by more than an hour. (I know, I know, he had a hernia‚Ķ) Continued kicking ass and taking names. Said goodbye to the friends that had come to help out and “crew” for us (running back and forth to the tent to save us trips and stops). Before you know it, I was on my last out and back. I walked almost all of that. I was on my way in and I ran into Sean again and got a big hug–he couldn’t wait any longer he said, he needed to keep moving. Then I dug deep and ran into the finish. Almost shoved a guy out of my way because he wouldn’t move.

Me at the finish with my medal…

I far far exceeded my own expectations for this event. My goal was primarily to finish–I don’t believe in having real hard and fast time goals for your first stab at a distance. I had loosely set 20 hours as my B goal, and 18 hours as my C goal, though, to give myself something to shoot for, and I ended up finishing the 100k in just over 17 hours. (17:00:17 to be exact). I found out a couple of weeks after the fact that this earned me 2nd place in my age group–which floored me. Guess I’m kinda okay at this ultrarunning thing.

Swag…

Eagle Up Ultra is a truly awesome event. It’s very well organized and well-run. Aid station is amazing. The RD is an ultrarunner himself so he totally gets it. It’s a very friendly event and great for first timers and experienced runners alike. Highly recommend.

2019 Pittsburgh Marathon Recap

So I’m a little behind on the blogging–sorry friends, I’ve been using my morning time for some other things lately, I’ll do my best to get caught up here shortly. First and foremost I need to write about this year’s Pittsburgh Marathon weekend.

While all of my training is ultimately building towards my ultras (the first of which is just under a week away, *gulp*) the Pittsburgh Marathon was a goal race of mine this year. I wanted to PR at this marathon. That’s a tall order–Pittsburgh is known for being a tough course, most people don’t choose races with significant hills to shoot for PRs, but I’m also not most people. Pittsburgh is my half marathon PR even though I’ve done a lot of “easier” races, I wanted Pittsburgh to be my marathon PR too (at least for now).

So the Expo and the 5k were not remarkable. Sorry, they just weren’t. I visited my favorite shirt shop (shout out to Brag Swag…LOVE their stuff) and scored a couple new Pittsburgh designs, but very little aside from that. LOVE the official shirts this year, LOVE the Pittsburgh skyline Goodr sunglasses that we got as our premium. I used to love race expos, now I’m much more of a get in, get my stuff, make a lap, get out type of girl. The 5k on Saturday, was a 5k. I took it easy since it was a shakeout and not the race I was there for.

Sunday…oh Sunday…the main event. Met up with my friends in the morning. Little stressful getting us all to the starting corral–we seem to have different views of “on time” and when the event “starts” but it ended up being fine once I got my anxiety back in check. The group of us did our “Who Run? WE RUN!” chant which was fun. I ran the first 16 miles with my friend Lara. Ran up Forbes (which had been one of my goals). Got to watch BRF dance like a jagoff with the girls at Lululemon (my only regret is that I didn’t record it…it was EPIC). Had some beer. Pet some greyhounds (wanted to run with one but they were too cold and wet when I got there). Lara urged me to go at mile 16–she could tell I felt good and she was struggling. So I went off on my own and chased down my PR. Enjoyed seeing friends and my running club along the way (that Fireball at Mile 25 was EXACTLY what I needed for the final push). And then I crossed the line.

That face though…truly one of my favorite race pics…

5:23:19. 15 minutes faster than my marathon in March, on a much more “difficult” course. 20 minutes faster than my first marathon, which had been my PR until this year. That expression on my face is pure joy mixed with tears that were about to come a second later. I look vaguely horrified, but I LOVE that picture because I know how I felt in that moment. I was proud and happy. I felt amazing. This was far and away, of the 9 marathons I’ve run (so far) in my life the best I had ever felt during and after the race. It was the most fun I’ve had at a marathon. I posed for a pic with my medal. I got my medal engraved. I rang the PR bell (at BRF’s insistence). It was a truly awesome day.

Official pic with my medal…

And now…my next adventure awaits. Eagle Up Ultra 100k is this weekend. Yeah, 100k. I’ve been saying 50 miles for the longest time, but my goal is 100k. I can’t wait to get out there and see what I can do. I can’t wait for a long weekend with my friends, spending literally an entire day running. I had a really great 30-mile training run a few weeks back and I’m hoping that will be a good preview of coming attractions. I’m going into the weekend feeling really strong and well-prepared, so I guess we’ll see.

More soon, friends.