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We are bringing back “My First Ultra” on the podcasts, recapping David Rodriguez from Connecticut’s first ultra experience

Running shows you things you wouldn’t see otherwise. David and his family already traveled so much for work and pleasure, but it’s all worthwhile. Imagine running the streets of Paris at 5am and being able to see all the sights without the crowds.

 

David started into ultra running like a lot of us do, going up one distance at a time.

This first ultra took place for David in 2017. In 2015, David hired a coach and then proceeded to have a fantastic 2016 season of running from PR’ing (PR = Personal Record) the half marathon, the marathon, and so on. And that leaves to beg the question, what next? “A 50k is really not that much further than a marathon,” David tells Scott. “There has to be a price of failure for me to be worth it.” I think we can all relate to that in some way. What is the reward worth without a little risk?

 

 

Now it’s off to Ireland! Training up and then racing.

This leads David to exploring the internet and finding a road marathon near Galway, Ireland totaling in 63km, versus the typical standard first ultra distance people think of of 50k (39.3 miles). Then the training began! David’s coach added back to backs to his weekend efforts and based it mainly off the marathon distance. This looked like 13/13 miles, or 13 miles Saturday and 13 miles Sunday for instance, or 15/15, and so on. Training continued like this until the 30 mile effort, and mile 16 happened…something in David’s hip. What was it?! David stopped and went into taper.

Not getting in the 30 mile training run made David nervous for the 39 miles he would be attempting in his first ultra. Fast forward to the ultra. It’s a giant looped course with about 200 in the ultra distance race. David reflects on how no one but maybe the fastest runners would ever see anyone, it’s a long time in your own head. Because the course was generally not hilly or technical (being a road race after all), and because David was new to the ultra world, lessons were learned that being able to take a few walking breaks on hills can save your legs.

So David assumed he would run the whole 39 some miles, which is much harder on your body than you would think based on just the marathon distance alone. And for anyone new to ultras as well, or wanting to do them, most ultra runners do not run the entire time, either taking breaks at aid stations to refill, or taking power hiking breaks on hills; it’s all perfectly acceptable!

How the race rolled

Mile 13 comes around…

The hip twinge returns. “I have a whole marathon left…”

Mile 18, 19…it’s not getting better, but everything else is going well.

The idea of not finishing is dancing around for the first time in David’s head.

Mile 22…it’s bad now. David’s stride is being affected. The likelihood of finishing was diminishing quickly now.

By the time David reached the mile 26 aid station, he considered being done. Ate a little, drank a little. Feeling a little bit better, David continues on. Not much further into starting up again, David taps out.

Bummed about the outcome, David returns.

The mental side of DNF’ing is different for everyone. For David, the aftereffects of the race were minimal. The determination of trying again was absolutely there. David switches coaches in the meantime, someone more tuned in to ultra training. The second training cycle still wasn’t without its hiccups, but David was more cautious with his training with the ultra coach. Training time was lost.

Slightly under-trained, but uninjured, the strategy going into the second attempt was setup with the idea of a run-walk. It’s better to get to the start uninjured and under-trained than over-trained and injured. David finished in about 7 hours and 50 minutes greeted by his smiling family. No better feeling at the finish line.

If you are interested in checking out coaching for your ultra, consider Becoming Ultra or check out the Team BU!

Check out David’s instagram @daverod74.

Rocky Mountain Trail Camp 2019 is live! Go check it out here and hope to see you there September 5th through 8th.

Stephanie Dannenberg

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