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My First Ultramarathon

This past Saturday, I did something I never thought I would do — I ran a 50K (31 miles). It wasn’t just any ultra — it was an unofficial one. Originally, I had signed up with a childhood friend, CJ, to run the Mt Hood 50K at the beginning of July. But due to COVID, it was canceled. We both decided that even though it was no longer happening, that the two of us would run together creating our own date and route. So for the past several months, I have been training for this ultra. Most ultras happen on trails, hills, mountains, and are flipping hard. And this proved to be true. It was incredibly hard and challenging — all the trails, hills, and long distance — but thankfully I had CJ who is a veteran ultramarathoner (who runs 100K, 50 miles, 50Ks all the time), to help me through it all.

 

The route. 31 miles in Eugene covers a lot of territory. We did 3 major loops — each ending at the “aid station” aka my parent’s home. Which is where we had our food, refill of water, and bathroom. These stops lasted 2-5 minutes and were crucial. There is no way I could have done it without refilling my water and fuel.

You can’t tell but this is a huge incline. Apparently during ultras, there is a lot of power hiking, which is just walking quickly up the steep inclines. You CAN tell that this is a horrible picture and that I look old and haggard and am bad at selfies. But YOLO. And we needed a picture of the two of us — so here it is.

We were so high up there that we were in the clouds. The first section was the hardest because we ran up Spencer’s Butte from the base of town.

Power hiking up the stairs.

This was at mile 11. Eugene is so beautiful that it was truly a pleasure running through it and seeing all the nature.

Mt. Baldy. This was on our way up to Mt. Baldy. IT WAS STEEP. FLIPPING STEEP.

CJ running — I know CJ from hebrew school growing up and the jewish community. And then we were friends in High School, reconnecting at our 20th reunion. He is a fantastic and smart guy — a professor at Santa Clara University and splitting his time between CA and Portland where his husband’s practice is. CJ is an inspiration with all his ultramarathons and runs he has completed. Thank you, CJ, for creating this ultra and guiding me through every step of the way. Wouldn’t have been able to do it without you.

Hayward Field, where the track and field Olympic Trials are held.

Good friends, Sara and her husband, Colin, met us along the route for several miles. This surprise was a HUGE boost in my run and I am so grateful and thankful they took the time and energy to support us along the way. THANK YOU!!!!

The last section consisted of running up to Prefontaine’s Rock where Pre died. For all those runner nerds out there, you know who this is and where it is.

Sara knows me!!! She dropped off nachos at the end of my run and it was the *BEST* best best best best surprise and treat. Nachos are my absolute favorite treat, especially after running, and this made me so very happy. And full.

The kids. On the mural we created. Thank you!!!

 

Overall, it was an incredible experience — a reminder that if you set your mind to something, you can accomplish it. So many times, I wanted to give up, but I didn’t. And I kept thinking you can do this, you can do this, you can do this — until I did it. And the only person that could do it, was myself. I found the mixture of trails and roads very challenging and I never seemed to get in to a groove. All the uphills and rocks and stones made it hard to run fast and the (lack of) speed got in to my head at times. But I know that it was about the distance covered and not the time it took. More of an adventure and accomplishment rather than a time award. I loved the experience — and now back to shorter distances aka the marathon.

Anika Yael Natori, aka, The Josie Girl
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