The top five things I learned from running my first ultra: the Bryce Canyon 50K
What if I told you that I learned more about myself in one day than I had learned in my last 32 years? What if I told you that the most painful, exhausting, and challenging thing I’ve ever done was something I’d actually do again?
Well, you’d probably say I’m a little crazy. And I’d say that I’m just your average ultrarunner.
On May 29, 2021, crossed the finish line of my very first ultramarathon: the Bryce Canyon 50K. It took me 10 hours and 22 minutes to run the nearly 34-mile course, complete with 6,200 feet in elevation gain.
As I crossed the finish line on that windy afternoon in Hatch, Utah, it hit me: I learned more about my life – and my career – in one day than I had learned in my entire life. So I wanted to share a few of my learnings:
Lesson #1: There are no shortcuts
Training for a 50K takes months – years actually – of preparation. As my endurance coach Nate Moore shared with me, if you put in the time and keep showing up, you’ll be ready. Progress is slow, but persistence pays off. When I signed up for the Bryce 50K, I was a new runner, with only a half marathon under my belt and barely a year of running experience. Following my training plan was my only hope of ever crossing the finish line.
Lesson #2: Embrace “The Suck”
Nothing about ultrarunning is easy. Logging 30-mile weeks, clocking in for daily 5am workouts, and training 6 days a week will certainly wear you down – on top of the demands of working motherhood. But I learned early in my running journey to be comfortable being uncomfortable. It’s not going to be easy, but it will be worth it.
Lesson #3: Prepare to pivot
Injury, scheduling conflicts, illness, cancelled races, motherhood/work stress…just a few of the many factors that caused me to change course during training. But thankfully, I knew this going into training. Things won’t be perfect. My motto throughout training: Just keep showing up!
Lesson #4: Ask for help
It takes a village to successfully run and train for an ultramarathon. For me, my village consisted of family and friends, my endurance coach, and my husband. Each weekend, I’d sneak away for my weekly long run in the mountains, often a 6-hour commitment. I couldn’t have trained without childcare help or the guidance from my coach, who understood the demands of working parenthood.
Lesson #5: Your willpower is your superpower
If you want it bad enough, you can make it happen! That’s what I told myself on race day. And it was true. I trusted my training, put in the effort and followed my training plan, so I knew I could do it. Quitting was never an option. The words of David Goggins replayed in my mind throughout race day: “I don’t stop when I’m tired. I stop when I’m done.”
So today, 10 days after my 50K, I feel prepared to handle any challenge life throws at me. I know that with hard work, dedication, and a little grit, anything is possible. And yes, I will be running another 50K in 2021!