The Born to Run Ultra Marathon Race was definitely a life changing experience for me.
Cassie and I drove up to near where the race would be held on Friday afternoon. Traffic was heavy and sucked, but we made our way up the coast and eventually got to Buellton in time for our dinner reservations. After dinner it was time to get to the hotel and get some rest. Next year we’ll have to camp there at the race so we can be woken up at 4:14 am to shotgun blasts, and then Mariachi music at 4:15.
We woke up and got ourselves together, got ice in the cooler for our post race festivities, and got to the ranch. At the gate it said “Welcome Veterinarians” which just led to more of the mysteries known as as Born to Run.
The area was busy with people getting ready at their camps, or by their cars. I parked where we did because I knew I’d be running by it, so I could get things or drop stuff off during the race, which was convenient.
Getting the bib’s, the area was filled with music, electricity/excitement and smoke from the bonfire, which was nice to stand by before the start as it was chilly. Getting back to the car, I had time to get things ready and write the names of everyone on my bib for good luck. I though was nervous as all get go, and though I made some coffee, I didn’t drink any. My mind was just going a million miles an hour. Before I knew it, it was time to get to the line for final instructions. The course is a network of loops that are either marked pink for your first loop, yellow for your second, and both where they merge a few times. Then depending on how far you are running will then dictate how many loops you would have to do. The course I thought was marked pretty good, but some people did manage to get lost or confused.
Right before we started, we needed to take the oath - “If I get lost, hurt or die, it’s my own damn fault.” With that being said, a shotgun blast signaled we had started, and we were off!
We ran on the dirt paths of a working cattle ranch, so the start was a bit dusty with 100’s of runners, and at first I tried to avoid stepping on cow pies, something I’d stop doing soon enough. I helped a guy soon into the race who had his first aid kit just swinging all over the place on the outside his pack. I could see how it would drive me crazy, and offered to secure it better, and once that was done we ran and talked a bit. He said he was doing a 100K, but might be a bit out of his reach, as it turned out it was. I found out later on he dropped.
The first lap (10 miles) was a pretty good one. I felt good and relaxed, and was really pumped getting back to the camp, seeing people I knew, and getting the support from them. The weather at the start was cool, and we had a marine layer, but it burned off soon, and it was starting to get warm. The first lap had some vertical, but the second one had more and in a few spots was more technical, but not that bad. The views though of running through the Santa Ynez Valley is a sight to behold. Rolling hills and oaks made for a pretty place to run.
The second lap was a tad slower, but this lap was where I was running with some people, and listening to their philosophies on ultra running, and how it was not about your time, but the experience, learning about the trail as well as yourself. More mileage means more things that can go wrong, and the demons you’ll encounter along the way. These guys were hard core runners, who’d done the Hard Rock 100 and just about any other race you could think of. Completing the race, not matter what, even if crawling is a badge of honor. Their words would carry me through the third lap.
The third lap was where I started to have my problems. I got hot, and then thirsty. I was drinking a lot (44+ oz per lap), but I think I just needed to drink more. I ate pretty good as well and had no GI issues, but again perhaps maybe I could have eaten more, and I hadn’t gotten enough calories? Who knows. I did eat like a pig at the Aid Stations. My legs started to feel heavier, and the tops of my quads ached. I tried to run on the straights, but my legs did not have the energy they once had before the previous loops. I had to fight the demons in my head, you know the ones that tell you suck and shouldn’t be on the course as you aren’t good enough. I fought past them and kept moving - always moving. I am good enough damn it!
I finally got back to the camp, and Cassie was there waiting for me. It filled me up with a bit more energy. As we passed by the car, I dropped off my stuff, and grabbed a beer out of the cooler. I took a few swigs, and then said, lets finish this. It was such a privilege to run with my best supporter, my wife. We got up the the 50K turn around, and then made it back to the finish. I was very happy. I had did it. I am a Ultramarathoner! I got my amulet from Jacob (the skirt guy) who hugged me so hard and for so long, almost as if he was my best friend congratulating me, and filling me up with so much runner love! It was awesome. This Born to Run Tribe is a family of runner’s, and everyone is so supportive of everyone. It was a very moving experience and really it took awhile for everything to set in.
We got back to the car, to change out of shoes, get some champagne (Cassie’s bottle from Michelle) to celebrate. It was great to see everyone after. The Sole Runner’s who had the best Aid Station ever, folks from the Conejo Valley Trail Runners who cheered me on, and also my new training group, the SoCal Coyotes. I haven’t said anything about it yet, but I got accepted into that “pack” and will hopefully be progressing under the tutelage/coaching of Jimmy Dean Freeman.
Then I got a much needed massage on my legs, which she complimented me on. It was great, and totally relaxed me, and really I think helped with getting me feel pretty good from there on out. I never was really sore, though I did have some zingers and slightly restless legs that night. A guy was also doing tattoo’s and Cassie offered to get one for me, but I think I’ll make that for another time. We sat under a huge oak tree and watched more runners come in and cheered them on, drinking, celebrating, feeling the cool breeze, and just enjoying life. I also saw how they handle a pinata in these parts, not with a stick, but with a shotgun!
Eventually it was time to go, get cleaned up, and have a celebration dinner (the mac&cheese was the bomb!). We both vowed that we’ll be back next year. Cassie will do the 50K, and I think I’ll tackle the 100K. We both will have lots of training to do, but this race left a mark on us, and I’ll always remember it. Though I struggled at the end, it was the best day racing I ever had. I learned and felt so much, that I’m sure it will take a while to let it all make sense and be part of my running spirit. I think next year I’ll also run in a skirt! I do know now, I was Born to Run!