Monday, March 24, 2008

2004 JFK 50 miler: My first race

2004 JFK 50 miler( Boonesboro, MD)

On November 22nd, 2004 I toed the start at a very unlikely race. Who tries to run 50 miles, when they've never even run a 5k? The My training comprised of 25 miles a week, with 6 mile "long runs". Before the race, I felt a bit like Dorothy in the land of Oz. I felt really out of place surrounded by all these fast looking runners. Who was I kidding? I was no runner. I was a poser just trying not to die. Surprisingly, the race began pretty good. I learned to walk the hills, run the flats. I carried no food or hand bottles(mistake #1). I thought I would run 9 minute miles the entire time(mistake #2). I wore cotton everything, and wore $40 shoes(mistakes 3 and 4).

The morning is cold, about 32 degrees. The starting gun fires, and the 1,000 runners clustered on the small town streets get on their way. Through the first stretch into the mountains my running is good. I think I was still running on pure adrenaline and excitement at this point. My pace felt good for the first 15 miles. I was pretty surprised I was keeping it up considering I had never run anywhere close to this far (ie. 6 miles). At 19 miles I hit the wall. Around that time I figured I was in over my head. I thought about quitting for a little while. I mean 20 miles was still more than I ever imagined doing, but I didn't come here not to finish. Pretty soon my running turned to walking, and my walking became slower. Hey, only 31 more miles. I tried to jog, but wouldn't get very far before wanting to walk again. It was on and off for the rest of the day.

At 27 miles my spirits were still high, and I was able to joke around with other people. By 38 miles I was pretty much done. We entered the final 8.2 mile road section of the race which felt miserable on my feet. A cold rain began falling, and the night was coming. I just wanted to go home, take a hot shower, and sleep. By 44 miles I was in pure misery. I had to keep going.

How did I drag myself to the finish? Motivation. I was motivated to finish for my grandmother who was fighting cancer at the time. I wanted to tell her that I was thinking of her, and that she was the one who kept me pushing through the pain. I'm stubborn, and I wanted to prove to everyone who didn't think I'd finish that they were wrong. In the end I DID finish. 10 hours and 39 minutes in the cold November night, I crossed the finish line. All I had ever wanted to do was finish one marathon in my life time. 26.2 miles? No, but how about 50! One of the best memories, and feelings of achievement I have ever had.

Nov 22, 2004 (5:39pm)- ultrarunner Mike Bailey is born

About Mike Bailey

About me:

Name:Mike Bailey, Virginia
College: James Madison University, 2004
Favorite type of running: trails
Running Clubs I'm in: Reston Runners, Virgina Happy Trails
Favorite Distances: 50k and 50 mile, but will do others
Number of Ultras: probably around 28 by the end of 2008
Year I began running: 2004
Year I began Ultras: 2004
First race: JFK 50 miler(2004)
Why I run: comradery, the physical challenge, mental challenge, beautiful courses, travel, meeting new runners who share the same passion