My First Ultra

Carmel, NY to Tarrytown, NY, 30 Miles  

Saturday, August 4, 2007  


The day started off with me waking up half an hour later than I had planned--5:30AM instead of 5:00AM-- and I already wondered if I was too tired to do this run!  Oh well, I jumped out of bed, through some things in a backpack, through on my favorite pair of racing shorts and sports bra, grabbed my lucky racing tether, and flew out the door. 


I stopped by my corner deli to pick up a toasted everything bagel  with soy cream cheese (breakfast), a "treat" for the end of the run, and hailed a cab to take me to the Metro North station at 125th and Park! I arrived at the station at 6:16AM, met Julia, and we were set to board our 6:30AM train to Tarrytown! About 15 minutes into our trip, we realized that neither of us had the phone number for Firdaus, who had said he'd meet us at the station to take us to meet the bus that would take us to the race start. Oopse, now what?   


Thankfully, once in Tarrytown we spotted 4 other runners.  One had a car, and so we hitched a ride with them; Bob was the driver! We all made it to the race meeting spot, picked up our packets, and boarded the bus!  We had about a 45 minute ride, which would have been pleasant were it not for the putrid smells coming from the bus's  bathroom!  But we survived that, arrived in Carmel, and lined up to start the race!  No sooner had Julia taken the other end of my tether when we heard Rich start to count down the seconds, and we were off! 


The run went along beautiful trailways through Putnam and North County.  They were nicely paved, often enclosed by trees and fields on either side, went over little bridges from where you could see and hear little lakes/streams, and sometimes right through/along some big and small homes!  Parts of the path were wonderfully shaded, which was a treat as the day's temperatures and humidity were quickly rising. Every 3-4 miles, we were graced by an incredibly staffed and well-stocked rest stop!  There were 9 of these along the way, and Julia and I loved them so much that we must have spent a good 30-35 minutes in total just hanging out at rest stops!  All of the volunteers were absolutely fantastic-- offering us water, Gatorade (in various flavors), cookies, pretzels, chips, soda, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on whole wheat!  I felt like a Queen each time I hit a rest stop!  All of the attention was on how Julia and I were feeling, everyone wishing us luck, and everyone offering us everything we could possibly want to eat and drink!  We didn't want to leave the rest stops you see!  But we did. 


We went on past mile 2.98 where I had 3 chocolate cookies, on past mile 9.98 where I had my first 1/2 PB&J sandwich, on past mile 16.4, onto the shoulder of RT 100 somewhere between miles 17-23 (the hottest part of the course), and onto mile 25.5!  Here I had half a PB&J sandwich that tasted like the best PB&J I have had in ages.  We doused ourselves in cold water, drank some fluids, and hit the road-- in a couple of minutes we'd be hitting our longest distance ever run, 26.2 miles, and then we'd be in uncharted territories!  


It felt like the air was filled of excitement and nervousness for the next 0.75 miles-- Julia and I didn't chat much, we were both just concentrating on the run, and wondering what we would soon feel.  But in no time we were past the marathon distance mark, and I said, "We're past marathon distance, here we go!"  We picked up the pace a touch, and felt strong, comfortable, though definitely hot-- you could ring out every article of clothing on our bodies! Just when we were hoping for some water, an aid station materialized, and we were at mile 28.5 or so!  Sipping some fluids, munching on some chips, we set off for the final stretch.  We past a fire truck that I swear gave us a little spray of cool water because the firemen liked us, though Julia says they were just doing some work in the area-- But I know I wasn't delusional yet! :)  We then ran around the Tarrytown Reservoir for a bit, and out on to the road that would lead us to the finish.  We started what would be our final ascent, though didn't realize we were so close to the finish.  Just as we crested the hill we heard familiar voices and welcoming cheers guiding us right to the finish line! Crossing the finish, Julia and I hugged, and for a moment just stood still to let the experience soak in! 

Our first ultra was an incredibly relaxed and fun experience, and the "cherry on top" was that we placed third overall in the Female division!    


A huge thanks to Rich for organizing such an incredible race course and such wonderfully stocked and manned aid stations; to Dan (an experienced Ultra runner) who ran and chatted with us for a long stretch of the race; to Yayoi for inviting us to join her; and to Mike for cycling along side us for a few miles and for encouraging us to try an ultra! 


Thanks for reading! 


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