50 Miles or Bust!

This is it.

Tomorrow I leave for Washington, D.C., where on Saturday I’ll attempt to run 50 miles at the North Face Endurance Challenge.

Yesterday I went for my final training run.  It was kinda hot, and I really wasn’t feeling the whole “running” thing.  After what felt like a few miles, I looked down at my watch to see how much time I’d been out there.

10 minutes.

10 minutes, when on Saturday I’m going to be running for 10 hours.  And that’s if it goes well.

The longest I’ve ever run in my life is 5 hours, 40 minutes.  The funny thing about this ultra running deal is that you can’t really train anywhere near the distance of your race.  Sure, I could try to run 40 miles one day if I really wanted to be confident going in.  But the general concensus is that the cost of doing so (in the form of stress on one’s body) is more than whatever might be gained from such a run.

I’ve heard that it takes 30 days to fully recover from a 30-mile run, 50 days for a 50-mile run, and so on.  (Dean Karnazes, who’ll be at the race presenting awards, would beg to differ.)  But if it’s true, then it’s hard to run an ultramarathon without taking a big leap of faith on race day.

In my case, the chasm I’m faithfully leaping is 19 miles long.

Bagels, Hummus, and Lots of Vaseline

My “to pack” list looks a little different than it has for marathons or 50K’s.  Gels and sugary drinks have been replaced by bagels and peanut butter, hummus and pitas, and other actual meals.  After all, in a 10-hour span on any other day, I’d eat three meals.  If anything, I’ll need more than that on this day.

This time I’ll bring a change of shoes and socks for a nice refresher after 20 or 30 miles.  And a tub of Vaseline and some blister shield powder for whatever new body part I discover when it’s chafing at mile 40.  And a headlamp, required for all runners during the first hour of the race, since it starts at 5 in the morning.

And somehow, this all seems like a lot of fun.  I guess that’s because it used to seem impossible.

Here Goes Nothing

So that’s it.  I’ll head down to DC tomorrow to meet my friend Billy for a drink. (Even the night before an ultra, who can turn down the chance to have a beer with a beer blogger?)  And then dark and early Saturday morning, I’ll take on the challenge I’ve been working toward for the past seven months.

If I can get it working, my Facebook page will automatically post updates as I cross several checkpoints on the course.  If you’re into that, go join the page.  (Personally, I’d suggest going for a run instead of sitting inside watching for Facebook updates!)

And for those of you who will be there running the race or one of the other distances, I’ll be wearing a red Charm City Run singlet (since they got me in free).  So come give me a shout; I’m sure it will help us both keep going.

In the meantime, Christine will be back tomorrow with a post on five ways to spice up a dish that’s an absolute staple for vegetarian athletes.  And if you’re interested, you can check out an interview I did this week, courtesy of Brett over at Step 1 Runner.

Time to face the music.



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  1. Good luck! You definitely have all our support behind you!
    .-= Evan Thomas´s last blog ..Back To “Normal” =-.

  2. OMG Matt, I can’t believe I didn’t tell you good luck this morning! I feel like such a jerk! SO SORRY! Best of luck to you, I can’t wait to read about it! I promise I will RUN before I check FB updates. Or I’ll check them on my iPhone WHILE running!

    You’ve got guts, Matt! It takes a special kind of cat to WANT to run 50 miles. I love to run, but I don’t even like SITTING MY CAR FOR 50 MILES. You are an inspiration for sure!

    Go rock it!
    .-= Shari B.´s last blog ..Cooking Out, FitFeat Style =-.

  3. Good luck!

    You’re going to have a blast. If you can, take notes after the race on what you ate. I did when I ran mine and discovered I ate about 2400 calories before the race ended. No idea if that matters or not, but it’s an interesting thing to be able to write about later!

    Looking forward to your race report.
    .-= Blaine Moore´s last blog ..The Pineland Farms Barefoot 5k Video =-.

  4. Good luck, Matt! You’ll do great!
    .-= Nicki´s last blog ..Recharging =-.

  5. Best of luck! We’ll be rooting for you!!
    .-= Erica´s last blog ..Memorial Day: Spanikopita Burgers & A Winner =-.

  6. Good luck to you!

  7. GOOD LUCK and God Speed!
    .-= Mario´s last blog ..Monkey Shoes =-.

  8. Best of luck to you! Western States next year I say! 🙂
    .-= Jason D.´s last blog ..Training Update: 24-30 May =-.

  9. I’m so excited for you!!! I donate each and every mile I run on Saturday (about 10) to your 50-mile cause. I wonder how many blog topics you’ll think of during those 10 hours….

  10. GOOD LUCK! I’ll be running a friend in for the last 15.

  11. I promise that at our beer meet up I won’t let Matt get to the point that he can’t run the race the next day. I don’t want a bunch of angry NMA readers coming after me ; )

    You’re gonna rock this race Matt. See you tomorrow.
    .-= Billy Broas´s last blog ..The 5 Strongest Microbrews – In a Can =-.

  12. Good luck! I am so excited to hear how it goes.

  13. GOOD LUCK!!! You’ll do great. I’ll cheer for you!!
    .-= Heather @ Side of Sneakers´s last blog ..Lips are Sealed =-.

  14. I am SO excited for you and can not wait for your post run blog! Best of luck out there and I sincerely hope you do not find any new body parts.

  15. Woohoo! Have fun! Can’t wait for the RR. Amy
    .-= Amy´s last blog ..Youth Center Running Club =-.

  16. Good luck and have fun! Can’t wait to read your report!
    .-= Krista@CommitmentisLiberating´s last blog ..05.28.10: Triathlon Link Love =-.

  17. Woot!! Good luck!! It’s funny — the way you’re describing it now, running 50 miles DOES seem like a lot of fun. 😉 Hopefully the fun lasts for (most of) the race!

    You’ve got a lot of NMA support behind you and we all know you’re going to dominate this Ultra. I’ll be excitedly watching for updates (after running, of course).
    .-= Lauren @ Health on the Run´s last blog ..Shape Up Summer Challenge: Officially Unofficial Rules =-.

  18. goodlucky im sure you will do it, its amazing

  19. Good luck! You’re going to do great! 🙂
    .-= Aimee (I Tri To Be Me)´s last blog ..Random happenings and advice needed =-.

  20. There are so many of us out here – runners and non – who are cheering you on. I can’t even begin to imagine the feelings that will flood you as you cross the finish line.

    Enjoy every single moment of it.
    .-= Lisa´s last blog ..Laundry and the Meditation Cushion =-.

  21. Good luck!! I can’t wait to hear all about it!
    .-= Amanda´s last blog ..Being kind to me =-.

  22. Oh my goodness good luck!! You’re gonna do awesome! I can’t wait to hear all about it. I know its going to be rough but you’re a sheer trooper!
    .-= Diana @ frontyardfoodie´s last blog ..Sweet Peas!!! =-.

  23. best of luck! It’s guaranteed to be an amazing race-i can’t wait to hear how it goes!
    .-= Elizabeth´s last blog ..Veggie Crush: The Pea Tendril =-.

  24. happy running!

  25. GOOD LUCK MATT! I can’t wait to hear how the race went in what I am expecting to be a quite epic recap 🙂
    .-= Holly´s last blog ..Let’s do it up. =-.

  26. Good Luck Matt! I would recommend BodyGlide over Vaseline for longer runs.

  27. GOOD LUCK!!!!!!!!!!!
    .-= Junie B´s last blog .. =-.

  28. Oh my goodness GOOD LUCK! I can’t wait to see the recap!
    .-= Chase @ The Chase Project´s last blog ..Uh oh, Chase is blogging at 4:45am =-.

  29. “And somehow, this all seems like a lot of fun. I guess that’s because it used to seem impossible.”

    Awesome quote and life’s attitude! Best of luck!

  30. Brianne says:

    Have fun! You’ll remember the race forever. I can’t wait to read all about it when you’ve finished!

  31. Best of luck! We’ll all be rooting for you and looking forward to your race recap. Have a great time (or as good as you can have running 50 miles, I can’t even imagine!).

  32. Christina says:

    I can’t wait to read your recap! Best of luck to you!!!

  33. Good luck and have fun. My last minute advice is to make sure you DO pack the gels, chews, bars, etc. I say that because just when I think I know what my body will want or tolerate it throws me a curve ball in an ultra. You will want to have gels or similar on you just in case the stretches in between aid stations take longer than expected. It is good to always have a back up.

    Look forward to reading about your success! Enjoy yourself!
    .-= Devon´s last blog ..Onwards and upwards =-.

  34. Good luck, I’m pulling for you!! Show everybody out there what plant fuel can do for you and give it your best! I will absolutely be checking for updates – as well as running outside myself too 🙂
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..The Candle at the end of the tunnel =-.

  35. Hey, I just found your blog & I love the concept! I also just saw that your twittering (or tweeting?) as you run 50 miles which is amazing. Good luck! 🙂

  36. I am in awe!
    I simply cannot even wrap my head around 50 miles or 10 hours of running! I wish you a fantastic run and cannot wait for the recap!!

    Happy running!

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