Well, in two weeks I'm out there again but this time I'm moving up to an Ultra-marathon. Its a 50 K run along the Potomac River. It starts in Algonkian Park and the moves down river through River Bend Park and into Great Falls Park where we run around the park and then back track up the course to Algonkian Park to the finish. The whole course is on the Virginian side of the river. I'm totally unfamiliar with the course even thought I spend a day in Great Falls Park back in February 1980. My memory of that area includes steep inclines...so my anxiety is up.
The total Gain/Loss listed for the course is 3147 feet. The only thing in my experience that comes close to that much climbing are the Palos Verdes Marathon in San Pedro and Big Sur Marathon in Monterey California. And those were just under 2000 feet of climb. So...how am I going to run the course. Very slowly...that is key. I know there are some supermen out there who will go out full speed on their first marathon, or ultra, but they really should be the exception to the rule, rather than the rule.
I'm a firm believer that the first time you attempt a distance be that a 5K race to the Ultra marathons, your personal goal should be just to finish the race. As you gain experience and knowledge of how to run that distance, you can begin to push it and try to set personal records. When I coached High School distance runners, I only had them run full out after they felt comfortable with the distance, and sometimes that was after their second full season on the track or on the trails. The need for practical knowledge of having run a course will always improve performance in following years.
So on 4 June, I'm off to run my first Ultra-marathon. Game plan: Go out easy, have fun and keep the desire to run.