Category Archives: Running

Why Run 50 Miles?

When I tell people about my goal to complete a 50 mile endurance event, the “why” question seems to be always stated or implied.  I think this is a sensible question, especially for the “weekend athlete.”  After all, isn’t the marathon (26.2 miles) far enough?  The marathon is the classic distance for endurance sports aficionados who want to “overachieve.”  So, why do more?

For me, it wasn’t that I wanted something “more,” it was that I wanted something “different.”  I’ve run two marathons.  The first one I was completely undertrained for and was a miserable experience for the most part.  I ran another one for two reasons:  my daughter wanted us to get in shape and complete a marathon, and, I needed to conquer the demons of the previous effort.  My daughter and I succeeded on both accounts.

After this, I really wanted to take on a challenge that was bigger than I really thought I could accomplish.  I really wanted a challenge that would have a goal that was intimidating enough to get me out the door so that I would train every day.  I wanted to see what I was made of.  I wanted the challenge to change me as much as I wanted to meet the challenge.

There’s a real possibility that I may not finish.  My training has not been great since the first of the year.  Any number of things could go wrong that are not related to my fitness.  However, even if for some reason I have to drop out at the first aid station,  this challenge has transformed me during this past year.  I have accomplished a number of things because of this goal that I would not have without setting this goal.  So in my case, even getting to the starting line is a measure of success and beyond that, will only be a greater measure of success.


The Things They Carried

I’m signed up for an event this Saturday called the Iron Horse 50 Mile Endurance Run.  Why I’m doing this is a subject for another post.  If 38581148-MCK_9194all goes well, I’ll be moving slowly through the piney woods of Northeast Florida for about 12-15 hours Saturday.  However, my thinking in terms of this post is, “if you had to boil your life down to survive for one day, what would you take?  What would you leave?

There are aid stations every 5.5 miles so I don’t have to carry enough food and water for 50 miles — only for 5.5.  There’s also a drop bag point at 25 miles to pick up gear that will be needed for the rest of the journey.  So, it’s not nearly as extreme as it could be.  Yet for some who is fifty years old and 220 lbs., this will be quite a test of mind, body, and will.  Weather-wise, the low is supposed to be around 55 F and the high about 78 F.  So, here goes:

For Event Itself 

Patagonia tech shirt

Pearl Izumi infinity shorts

Drymax socks

Hoka One One Stinson Evo 12.5 (yes, they look like clown shoes but they feel really great!


Wicked Skins Sleeves

Ultimate Direction 2 bottle pack

Dirty Girl gaiters


Visor or headband

4 gels or so

small vial of bag balm

Hammer Gels

Watch (maybe — could stress me out!  Also, I’m slow enough that a calendar might be more useful)

Safety pins (for number and to pop blisters)


For drop bag

Bag Balm container

Drymax socks

Compression shorts

Short sleeve tech shirt

long sleeve tech shirt

Headlight (yes, I will be out after dark!)



Massage stick

More gels

More Hammergels

Ipod (questionable — I don’t usually run with music, especially on trails, but it may get me through!)


Before and after

Camp chair

Yoga mat


Change of clothes

Something warm

Compression Socks


Coca Cola

Athletic Pursuits

I am an ultrarunner.  That means that I have run events longer than a marathon.  I say this rather tentatively, because I don’t look like an ultrarunner and I don’t train like an ultrarunner.  But I did run two 50k events during 2012 and finished them both.

The way I got into this was that I had this idea when I turned 50 last April that a suitable goal for the year would be to run and complete a 50 mile event.  So, in 2012, I ran a marathon and two 50k events as well as a few assorted other events to work up to this goal.  After the first 50k, I signed up for a 50 mile event, which is in two weeks.

However, ever since the second 50k, which was in December, nagging injuries have kept my training limited.  I haven’t had to lay off completely, but there has been a curtailment.  I mention this because I ran my longest run today since the last 50k — a 9 mile run.  I realize that 9 miles is a long way to run.  But I also realize that compared to 50 miles, its not very far.  But I set my goal, I paid my money, I put it on the calendar, and I’m gonna go for it.  And I’m really hoping that I can finish this, because I don’t know if I’m foolish enough to sign up for another one.

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