What do you do when you finish the Boston Marathon? Run a 50k! This is my journey on running my first ultra marathon.

I Finished The Boston. Time For A 50k

By Thessaly Nicolaysen

April 18, 2017: I had just returned home from the 121st Boston Marathon and met up with a friend of mine. He asked me how my 4th time running the Boston Marathon went, and I exclaimed with joy how great it was to get back into the full swing of running again! You see, in October 2016, I developed a case of tendonitis in my ankle which lasted for several months because I refused to stay off of it. Fortunately, I was able to start running again in mid-February, and was able to prepare for Boston throughout those two months. On April 9th I had run my 15th half-marathon, my first race since October, and placed 3rd in my age group. This gave me the confidence I needed to head to Boston knowing I would be able to finish strong.

While talking with my friend, I could hardly contain my excitement to run my first Ultra Marathon, which was scheduled for three weeks later, on May 13. We found out that there was a local 50K scheduled that weekend on April 23. Knowing that I was still on my runner's high, he asked if I wanted to run the Spokane River Run 50K. Of course I was on board, and we registered on the spot.

Preparing for this race was not unlike training for a marathon. In all of my racing, my training is primarily completed on a treadmill. I know, I know, "the Dreadmill?!" I absolutely love treadmill running, though. My case for the treadmill is that I am able to read, listen to music, not panic about potty stops, and have climate control year-round. The only predator I need to worry about are walkers and other gym-goers who hop on *my* treadmill before I snag it. But I digress.

Back to April 22, the day before my first 50K. Packet pickup was low-key, and it looked like I had a good chance of doing well after looking at the course map. It was a trail race, with a few steep hills and some tricky terrain. I was pumped!

Race day arrives! Thankfully it was a local race, and it started at a reasonable hour (no need for a 4am wake up). We arrived on time, and were getting the lay of the land. This course consisted of 2 different 25K loops. The first loop was definitely a challenge, but with an optimistic attitude, I was able to run/walk without much discouragement or mishaps. The second 25K loop was where I started to become a little over-confident in my ability. Thessaly2
I was running at a good pace, and after getting past the congestion of  10K and second group of 25K runners (they had a staggered start for this race, and started many of the events as the 50K runners were making their way to the second loop), I was totally alone. In some ways, I found that this was incredibly therapeutic. While I did start to slack off a little bit (its easier to justify walking if no one is there to witness your "bonk"), I was still enjoying the experience and in awe of how amazing it was to think that I was soon going to be an "Ultramarathoner." Miles 22-26 were run right by the river. There were rocks and many trip hazards, as well as a bit of hill work. As I was navigating this section of the course, I recall thinking of how dangerous trail running is, but how exciting it is! Then, just as I was thinking, "I love trail running! It's dangerous but safe enough that I won't get hurt!" I biffed it. Hard. I fell on a downhill section at about mile 26, and had a pain in my wrist, a bad bruise on my thigh, and scratched my knees and elbow pretty badly. I had no intention of quitting the race, but knew I should stop at the next aid station so they could clean and wrap my wounds. While I was continuing, I felt an immense amount of pain in my wrist. At the aid station, I had to sit for about 35 minutes (I was TICKED that it was taking so long and adding so much time to my 50K), where I took some pain killers, and asked for an ice pack to take with me to hold on my arm. The last 5 miles of this race were some of the most painful I have ever endured. I ran when I could (hobbled is probably a more accurate description), but definitely took it easier than I normally would have wanted to.

Crossing the finish line was emotional. I was in pain, but was SO proud of my new accomplishment. In my years of marathon running, I thought that a marathon was the longest distance I would ever be able to conquer. However, over the past year I have been obsessed with the thought that "maybe I AM capable of running a more challenging distance." Crossing the finish line helped to remind me that I am truly fearless, and limitless in my potential as a runner. Surprisingly, even with my fall and 35 minute pit stop, I placed 2nd in my age group! I know that there is nothing I can't do, and I recognized a new sense of strength and accomplishment as a result of finishing my first Ultramarathon.

April 24, 2017: After a painful and restless night's sleep, I decided I should probably go to the doctor to get my wounds cleaned properly and my wrist checked. An X-Ray revealed that I fractured my wrist when I fell. Incidentally, the doctor who checked my injuries ran the 50K course as well, and knew exactly where I fell. To say he was impressed that I finished the race with these injuries is an understatement. I had my knees and elbow wounds sterilized, was given a prescription for antibiotics, and was scheduled to get a cast later that week. Thankfully, I was able to run again after getting my cast because I had my next 50K in a couple of weeks...


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