Born To Run Ultra 2013 - Ultra Training

Pretty much the theme of the weekend.
At first I thought the two words BEER and MILE sounded fun when put together, but trust me, those two words are best kept separate. And if they are ever to be used in one sentence then the sentence should look something like this:

Run a mile and then relax with a few beers.

Which is the way it should be. Or in my case replace the beer with a few shots of whiskey (and we're talking the quality stuff folks not the nasty JD or Fireball crap) because I'm learning that beer compromises all my efforts to achieve a tight tummy (and to run without... well... the "runs" the next day). 

On your mark...
I have been officially schooled by the Born To Run Ultra Marathon Beer Mile.

Honestly, I seriously doubted my ability to down 4 beers within any kind of respectable (or un-respectable for that matter) mile time in the first place let alone try to chug one then run a quarter mile, then chug and repeat for the full mile. A mile is just a short flash unless my belly is full of beer. Then it feels like a fucking ultra. But not the enjoyable kind. My belly got more and more bloated with every jarring step. I imagined the beer in there frothing and bubbling up my esophagus (I may have belched a little louder than normal on my way to the quarter mile cone.) And trust me. This was NOT comfortable. My stomach felt like an inflated gaseous mass. Yeah. If you tossed me in a lake I would have been a human buoy. I openly admit I'm a beer mile pussy.

I was lucky though. I wasn't the one who puked.

But we had all been sworn in with the Beer Mile version of Caballo Blanco's pre-race oath that if we "... get hurt, puke, or die it's our own damn fault..." so that dude who puked owned it. And he finished. RESPECT.

My friend Alex and I chugging.
(Photo courtesy Patrick Sweeney)
I, on the other hand, cheated. I'm not a cheater, but it was either cheat or puke and I hate puking so I coerced my buddy Alex to drink two of my four beers and run the mile with me. Actually, he didn't need coercing and he drank up the two beers like a beer mile pro, but neither of us felt right accepting the awesomely cool finisher's medals - a bright plastic sand shovel amulet necklace made with love by Patrick Sweeney himself.

So I finished the mile, but only drank two beers.

Windy day at the Zaps Threads Booth
(Photo courtesy Patrick Sweeney)
Unfortunately, only two beers was all I needed to make my ultramarathon the next day slightly difficult because you see... prior to the beer mile I was randomly offering free shots with a shirt purchase at my Zaps Threads booth and a few of those shots somehow ended up in my belly. Hey. I had a few days of chillaxing to do and it was quality whiskey - the blended scotch Monkey Shoulder kind. But, once the beer mile started, my running was less than stellar. I wasn't exactly to the point of stumbling, but I certainly wasn't paying attention to where I was stepping. I landed hard on a sharpish, largish rock in my Lunas and my left foot paid a heavy price.

Friends Larry Gassan, Darkling Thrush,
Mike Miller, Tracy Longacre, Patrick Sweeney,
Tyler Clemens and Alex Haler.
So I knew the 50k the next day would be interesting. My midfoot was clearly bruised and it hurt just to walk on it.

But I was on the starting line shortly after the gunshots went off and the loud mariachi music echoed through camp. I was ready to run. I chalk everything up these days to ultra training. If I can't run 30 miles on a bruised midfoot how in the hell do I expect to survive a brutal hundred miler? Here was an opportunity to see how much pain I could suck up and run through. It was also an opportunity to find ways to cope.

I was only mildly uncomfortable in my Merrell Mix Masters for the first ten miles. The last twenty-one were a bitch. The pain was sharp and piercing like someone was slicing my foot through the pads at the bottom. By mile 15 I had seriously altered my running form so that I was intentionally heel striking. This not only brought on the pain from my neuroma (although it could have been aggravated by the impact of the rock), but my knees had started aching as well due to my fabulously poor form.


So when I came through the timing arch on my last ten mile lap I decided to stop at the car to find the shoe inserts that I had the uncanny forethought to bring. Mind you I was already wearing the inserts that came with my Merrell Mix Masters, but I thought that if I ever needed extra cushion it might be helpful to add the extra inserts from the Saucony's I bought (but don't wear because I feel unsafe in them.)

Friends Caity and Tracy hangin at the finish line.
So that's what I did. It was a strategy that allowed me to fix my running form and land on my midfoot again relieving my aching knees, but there was no question that my left foot was toast. The pain was a lot to manage at that point. 

That's when something odd happened. I think my brain was all "Bitch! You're not listening to me so I'm gonna just shut the fuck up now!!" and then the pain sorta went away. Well... it went away for a little while and then it would pipe up every now and then REAL LOUD and then go all silent again - coming and going in waves. Other than my foot screaming to be amputated at random intervals I felt really strong during this race and was even running some of the hills and feeling pretty energized the whole way.

And then, apparently feeling a brief reprieval from the pain in my foot, I did something I don't normally do...

I got competitive.

Yeah. I don't know what happened. That's not me, and regardless, that's not what this race is about. I don't know if I was just inspired by my friend Maggie's first hundo or if I was just feeling sassy or if maybe the whole foot thing put my brain into survival-get-the-fuck-outa-dodge mode, but when I pulled into that last aid station (The Barbie Aid Station) there were about three girls there who I assumed were running the 50k. I don't normally pay attention to who's where, when, and whether I can beat them, but I flashed back to my old high school cross country days and when I left that aid station just behind those girls I made sure to keep them at a pacing distance so that I could strategically pass them when I felt it was the right time.

It was a slight uphill climb out of the Barbie aid station before the dirt road t-boned into a straightaway with about two miles left to go before the finish line timing arch. I still had a short 1/2 mile out-and-back to do once I hit the arch, but I was close enough to finishing I could taste it. So I passed the girls on the last little hump of the uphill just before the straightaway and tried to pick up my pace as much as I could all the while my foot bitch-slapped me into a failed submission. I wasn't taking any crap from a fucked up left foot no matter how much it hurt. Ultra training.

When I got to the timing arch I still had a mile to go, but my brain was distracted. My foot hurt so bad all I could think about was that pool of cool water the Luna guys were dipping their feet in near the Luna booth. I was so distracted by fantasies of soaking my aching foot in a cool pool that I completely forgot about the last out-and-back I had to do before finishing. I started to find the pool.

Then my friend Caity McCardell yells to me "Krista! Aren't you going to finish the race?!"


I looked up the trail and there they are. The girls I had just passed were now about a quarter mile ahead of me. FUUUUUUCK. What a stupid girl I was!!! Why spend all that extra energy to suffer on a throbbing, useless, stump of a foot, to pass those girls at the end of my race just to finish behind them? Oh fuck no. THAT'S not going to happen.

I paid. But I wasn't about to let those girls stay ahead of me into the finish line. So I turn around and bail outa the finish line area in a near sprint. Well... with as much sprint as I had in me after 30 some odd miles... in pain. I kept thinking to myself... "time trial pace and I can beat those bitches!" To say I was focused is an understatement.

I finally caught up to them at the half mile turn-around mark. After that, I ran as fast as I could passing them and even "chicking" a couple guys on the way to the finish (one guy totally cheered me on) all the while my calves and quads had started doing their phantom cramping bit where they aren't painfully locking up yet but instead just giving me quiet fair warning they are about to shut me down. I backed off only slightly - mostly ignoring their annoying pleas and finishing in 5:38:18.

Then I went and sold some shirts. (You'll have to check those out in my next post.)

So it was another amazing year at the Born To Run Ultra Marathon. Words can't even begin to describe how much I love this race (wrecked foot, beer mile, and all) You can read more about the race vibe from last year's post, but if you only run one race this is the race to run. The people and the experience are beyond cool. Jeff Zahn from Gorilla Filmworks captures the essence of what this race is about in this beautifully crafted video... watch to the VERY end. The best part. Ha!

I plan to make this race a tradition and hope to be running and vending my shirts there again next year.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


  1. Had no clue from your demeanor at the time you were hurting so bad. Great job of keeping it positive! You are so going to beast that first hundo!

    1. Thanks Jim... I'm beginning to realize that keeping a mental positive attitude helps with pain. There's not much else you can do anyway. Ultra training. :-) Great job with your hundred!!! I'm constantly being inspired by you guys!

  2. Just another awesome adventure story from you! You did a great job toughing it out with that sore foot. Just to let you know, I have been wearing my Zap shirt with the cool red footprint on it. Perhaps I'll summon enough courage to try one of these ultras. You only live once, right! BTW, you look very fit in that photo finish. I also enjoyed the Gorilla video. Thanks for sharing.

    1. "You only live once" - you said it. :-) Its always worth it to try, and ultras are definitely worth it. You learn a lot by pushing boundaries that you never knew you had. You'd be surprised.

  3. Great job on the ultra! It gives me such encouragement to continue running and pushing myself. I'm the only runner in my house and my poor family (whatever!) has to endure me reading your blog to them...I actually think they enjoy it too. I have 4 teenagers, so they enjoy all the swearing I'm sure! Way to kick some ass on the run. Quite the over-comer you are, Miss Krista. Keep it up.


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