Marathon schmarathon. When 26.2 becomes routine, one goes searching for a distance that appears more challenging. So how about a 50 mile foot race? The JFK 50 is America’s oldest 50 miler. At 5:00 a.m. on November 21 I started my journey in the dark somewhere in Maryland. At 4:30 p.m. that day, somewhere 50 miles further away, I collected my medal for completing the ultra endurance race. It was amazing.
Wondering if a 50 miler is in your future? Read on to find out more what it’s all about and decide if you’d like to add it to your bucket list.
Why I Ran
Because I could. I was bragging about running a marathon to a stranger at a wedding and she came back with “Hey, you should run a 50 miler with me.” I thought… Why not? I never even contemplated running 50 miles but I was up for the challenge. Now that I know what it is like, I wanted to write about it so others can learn more and maybe set a goal for 2010 to complete one themselves.
I was expecting to have to do a bunch of really long runs, but to my surprise the longest run is a fall marathon, which I completed in Chicago in October. Other than that, I competed in several fall endurance events back-t0-back weekends, which I think helped prepare me for the 50-miler.
Fueling for a 50-miler is not really different than fueling for a marathon. You eat healthy foods. I enjoyed black bean soup, sweet potatoes, quinoa, thick crust veggie pizza, oatmeal, shredded wheat cereal, fresh fruits, sandwiches, and pasta during my training. I had extra carbs in the 48 hours before the race and I got plenty of sleep. Oh, and I can’t forget the carrot cake! I had a piece after dinner the night before the run. I have to say, if nothing else, I enjoyed it so much that it helps lower any “pre-race anxiety.” I went to bed in a great mood.
During the race, I hydrated with water and sports drinks. I had peanut butter sandwiches, bananas, pretzels, cola, and soup. The soup was so good I can’t even tell you.
After the race I was so hungry. I had a slice of pizza, a “happy meal” and a sweet potato and steak dinner between 5:30 and 9 p.m.
Should You Try One?
Only you can answer that. I would say it is a good idea to have two marathons under your belt just so you understand the basic requirements for endurance training and fueling. Nutrition is key for finishing the race strong and injury-free. Here are some other things to consider:
- Learn more about ultra endurance racing.
- Are you injury-free?
- Do you have time to train?
- Can you find a race and get in?
- Can you sign up for a fall marathon?
- Practice fueling during your training.
- Set a goal to “finish,” but have a race plan. For example, I planned to jog five minutes and walk two minutes during a flat 28-mile portion of the race.
Good luck no matter what race you attempt!