Well, I entered my first ultra and dnf'd my first ultra. Even with the DNF I wouldn't change anything as it was a great learning experience. Here are some of the problems I encountered and lessons I learned while running the trails of the Capitol Forest on 30 April.
1. Running an ultra is hard, I mean hard, I mean very hard. My legs and feet took a beating on the trails.
2. I drank a lot (almost two gallons) and didn't pee the whole time out there, not sure if it was a problem, but it was a concern to me.
3. If you are going to run on trails, practice on trails (see #1). On the ride back to the start/finish a woman from a local running club was astonished that I had no trail running experience and was amazed that I made it 18 miles on such a tough course. I think she secretly thought I was stupid but was just too nice to say so.
4. Run hills, run more hills and run some more hills. My quads started bothering me and when I compensated for them my IT band locked up. I ended up walking most of the last 7 miles of the race and basically DNF'd because I was under the gun for time.
5. Learn how to read a topographic map before signing up for a trail race. Just because someone says the trail isn't too difficult or technical doesn't mean that it isn't. That is a subjective call based on each person's experience. If I had run some trails and knew how to read a topographic map I would have had a better idea how difficult the course was (I gained 1700' of elevation in the last seven miles and take my word for it, that is freaking steep with a lot of switchbacks).
6. I had a nutrition plan in place, but I needed to have a hydration plan (see #2) and to learn to know my body. While I wasn't dehydrated I was worried that I was since I wasn't peeing. I also need a bigger hydration pack, 2 liters is not enough for me. I ran out of fluids an hour before the aid station where I DNF'd. I think maybe 3 liters should do it.
7. Make my legs stronger (see #4).
8. Coach E's plans are great, I actually believe that I got as far as I did because they prepared me for it. I also credit not getting injured to him. It is Monday and my legs are already feeling much better, so I know as far as training goes I am on the right track.
I can say that this experience has been a good one overall. The DNF wasn't as depressing as I thought it would be and while I have a lot of work to do, I also have a lot of positives to take away. Thanks Coach E and everyone for their support I will be in my next 50k in September. Can't Wait!!!!