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  • Writer's pictureAlyssa Rodriguez

How I Feel after running 30 Miles....Want to Join?

It was 30 degrees when I woke up at 5:30 in the morning on March 12, 2022. Today was race day. The best kind of days. The energy around the camp is contagious. You feel energized and excited like you had a shot of caffeine. My muscles feel loose, my joints are calm, and my head is clear. The race director starts the 10-second count down....and it's "go" time!

You may be wondering why am I running 30 miles. That's a great question! There is a community out there who may be a little crazy and enjoy putting themselves in various forms of physical torture. And that is the ultra-running community. Why stop at 26.2 miles when you can go just 4 more miles and reach that 30-mile marker! To us, it's the challenge. Pushing our bodies to the limit and realizing there is always more in the gas tank. It's remarkable what your body and mind can do if you can just take that first step. So to answer your question, I'm running 30 miles because I'm training for the Leadville 100 race in Leadville, Colorado. This is one of the more challenging ultra-marathons, and I didn't find Leadville; it found me. These past few years, I have been exploring various forms of endurance racing, from IronMan to Ultras. After completing two full IronMans, I was ready for the next challenge. The beauty of endurance racing is how it changes you from the inside out. You become stronger physically and mentally, and you are humbled each day. For me, running never gets easy, but that's a true joy. If I don't have to work for it, it's not worth my time. I have learned to be more grateful because of this sport because every day I get to run is another day I get to live.

The beauty in this sport is that anyone can do it. There is no room for the perfect athlete or perfect body type. If you have the guts to try, anyone can do this. So when Leadville found me, I knew I was ready to take on the challenge. Once I signed up for Leadville, I started to map out the game plan. I have not run more than a marathon, so I needed to experience 30 miles, 50 miles, and up, leading to Trail Racing Over Texas and Tejas Trail Racing. My first ultra ended up being the Sasquatch Shuffle at Mission Tejas State Park.

Race day could not have been more perfect. The weather was clear and crisp, and the sun was out all day. At 7:00 am sharp, the race director let us loose. It was a 6-mile loop that you had to run 5 times for this race. Easy enough. But trail racing is different than road racing. You have more technical terrain to navigate. Rocks, roots, and trees pop up out of nowhere, trying to trip you up. Uphills and downhills have your knees and quads screaming. But among all that, it's peaceful and beautiful. It really is much more enjoyable than road racing. Out here, most of us are not racing for the next PR. We are racing to finish and experience the joy of being in nature and using our bodies for what they were meant for; moving and living.

The first lap is tough. You don't know the terrain, and you are learning the route. The second loop is better, your feet are flying, and it's like you know where each and every root is. The third lap got hard. Miles 15-22...that's when I hit a rough spot. Six falls within 5 minutes. It was super frustrating. I hit the ground six times because my feet got tripped up, or they landed funny on a rock or root, and I just went down. Fun stuff! But it's part of the gig. Lap four was better since I knew I was almost done. There were some significant waves of pain and hurt, but it remarkably went away, and you hit a new high where your legs started to run again. The last lap was slow, and there were several pain waves, but I was mentally okay because I knew it was the final loop. Taking that last hill to the finish line was exhilarating. If you know David Goggins, you'll know I took some souls on that last hill. I never doubted I wouldn't finish, but it becomes real when you cross the finish line.

Ultrarunning is an experience. It's a small community, and every time you finish, everyone treats you like you won first place. It's not about the time; it's about how you finish. No matter what your journey was like, no matter what demons you had to face, you end up crossing that finish line with a big smile on your face.

Everything is sore after you finish. Your feet hurt. Your back hurts. Your knees hurt. It's all part of the process. Your body might be revolting against your next step, but it all becomes secondary because your mind is on such a high. So many factors play into your success. Mental toughness and nutrition are essential. PB&J and Gatorade slushies are my go-to! This journey to ultrarunning will be lifelong. I'm looking forward to reaching deeper into my personal pain cave and learning how far I can get. The pain cave is born from adversity and challenge. Running is hard, but life can be even more challenging. The best road to take is not always the easy one. The best road to take is the one less traveled because that's where you learn to thrive and grow, and that is what Ultrarunning does for me.

Keep following my blog if you're curious about my journey to Leadville!

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