Testing The Ultra Waters
The Dirty German 50-Miler
Des Moines 2019 was my first full marathon. My alarm didn’t go off in the morning and I woke up at 6 a.m. in Omaha, Nebraska. I flew to the start of the race (in my car) and found the packet pickup area, got my bib, and started the race within one minute. I did a little too much running on my way to the packet pickup and feel I would have had a better race, had I got there when I was supposed to. If you are trying to get one in each state, I highly recommend Des Moines. It has been the best one I’ve done. Residents are out on their lawn, blaring music at 7am for the runners, handing out donut holes, and in a few places’ beer if that is your bag.
I left Des Moines and felt accomplished. I didn’t know if I was going to do another marathon, but I kept running 15 miles every weekend. I later did four marathons out west in 2020—it’s free America out there so COVID didn’t interrupt outdoor activities much after August. Highly recommend the Bass Pro Shop Marathon, that was another good one for those looking for one in each state (MO). After completing the last marathon and finding out I was moving back east I decided it was time to venture into Ultra Running and see what it was like. I researched a few places and races and signed up for The Dirty German 50 miler.
It was the most interesting looking Ultra, also I thought it would be flattish and an easy trail, boy was I wrong. I didn’t really get to train like I would have liked to going into the race. Considering I moved across the country and moved 3-ish times in the DMV until finally settling in my apartment in Arlington. Specifically, I had 59 miles in January (was coming out of an injury), 31 miles in February (month of my first move), 130 miles in March, 69 miles in April (had a series of small injuries), and 91 miles in May the month of the 50 miler. I had also started going to a physical therapist prior to the race to learn better stretching to keep me from getting injured, which worked really well—my small injuries prior to the race were not due to running.
Pre-race I went to Philadelphia, and met my parents there. They decided to come down and watch the spectacle. The race itself was just barely approved by the Philadelphia Health Department—oh the east coast. We arrived in the morning of the race and set up a blanket and two coolers. One kept my clothing and all my stuff in it as rain was in the forecast. My other one kept Gatorade that I liked, while the organizers have Gatorade at the pit stops, we all know that it’s going to be that race powdered Gatorade, which never beats the original.
The race itself was a three-loop event. The people running 50 miles had a few longer paths that we had to take, the people doing the other distances just ran either one loop 15m two loops 30m. There were 5 pit stops during each loop, so I just started off the race with my newly acquired distance drink cup that attached to my wrist, ripped off my mask after they fired the gun for my start group and took off.
Four miles into the race we had to forge a stream, unfortunately due to weather the stream was raging, and everyone’s feet got soaked. The rain also led to the course being extremely muddy. There were long straightaways that would have giant mud puddles that you had to slow down for and walk around the outside, then get back on track and do the same thing 40 meters later. The trail had various ups and downs and was paved for maybe 3 miles of the 16.3ish mile loop. I told my parents I would be back after three hours. I was within 5 minutes of my estimate for my first loop. I quickly changed my socks and shoes to get some dry stuff on my feet for at least the first four miles. I told my parents I would be back in four hours.
I ran into the river again, by this time it had gone down a little bit, but my feet still got pretty wet. I was able to keep up a pretty good pace for the second loop. I knew I needed to finish the second loop by 4 hours and my goal was to finish it within 5 hours. I came into the finish line for the second loop within 10 minutes of my four hours estimate so at this point I was at around 7 hours. I sat down on my blanket and took my shoes off. I had never seen so many blisters on my feet. I spent 10 minutes on the blanket. My mother told me to not go back out, but I said I’ll see you in another 5 hours.
This was the hardest loop, although I was successfully able to evade the water this time because the water had finally gone down far enough. That being said, the blisters on my feet caused by the wetness in the first too laps had gotten bad. I had one burst on the right side of my foot, I almost turned around, but I am glad I didn’t. After the race I ended up losing two nails from blisters but that’s another story. I finished the race in 11:54:05, 36 minutes before the cutoff. There were things I would have done differently, things I learned like having some squirrel’s nut butter for races that are over marathon distance for my toes and feet. Ensure that I have enough changes of shoes, and lastly be a little better prepared. However, I didn’t really fall in love with the distance. I like to run fast, not run slow. I am not one of those crazy people that can do a 6:50 pace for 100 miles, that will never happen for me. I did sign up for a 100 miler this December in Daytona, to get the belt. However, that’s going to be my last ultra, after that I’ll just stick with Marathons.