Ultra #10

With my mother scheduled to visit me on the Fourth of July for two-and-a-half weeks from Korea and not having raced in May, I planned to participate in a major one in June that could justify my taking some time off running and, for a second consecutive year, registered for the Night Train 50K, taking place on the final Saturday of the month and starting at Camp Paradise in Virginia.

The race commenced at 90 degrees. Albeit I felt strong, perhaps burned out from racing too frequently, I had to fight my mind to motivate and excite myself while shutting up the question why I am doing this throughout the first couple of miles. Then nearing the first aid station around 5.5 miles in, out of nowhere, I felt an immediate sign of fatigue, which perplexed me and worried me on how I was supposed to recover sufficiently to carry on for another nearly 27 miles. One runner I shared this with laughed, but I would not be surprised if my wearing a hat had an impact, as I had not been accustomed to this and could feel the blood in my head pumping rapidly when I removed the hat. The more sensible explanation would be the 95-degree heat index. I continued to put one foot in front of the other no matter how slowly and thankfully got a second wind around 11 miles in. I often mixed running and walking, although I did the latter much more than I hoped to, and did not spend much time at any aid station to make up for this. Oddly, I was glad to experience this unanticipated adversity, which required me to overcome a new challenge, having to adjust so early on in such a long race. Seeing numerous runners behind me, I knew the heat affected every participant. Towards the end, I reflected on some of my recent ultramarathons and was puzzled why I chose most in extreme heat when my body does not react to heat anywhere near as efficiently as the cold, with my ideal racing temperature being 30-40 degrees. (I even have a skin condition that stems from my body producing too much heat.) Just behind the High Bridge, I began to sprint and pass numerous runners, not realizing I was farther away from the finish than I imagined, creating a semi-serious stomach cramp. I finished the 32-miler, 32.46 according to my COROS, with an official time of 7:37:53, embarrassing result but nevertheless grateful to be humbled and to Jesus for giving me such an exclusive hobby that allows me to experience metaphorically every stage and lesson of life. This marks my tenth ultramarathon completion; I think I can now justify taking some time off.

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