Tallahassee Ultra Distance Classic (TUDC) – Saturday, December 11, 2010

Two years ago I challenged myself to go for a distance longer than the 26.2 miles of a marathon and the 50k at TUDC was the race I chose to be my first ultra. There are two options in this Gulf Winds Track Club sponsored race – 50 miles or 50 k (about 31 miles). Since the course is only open for 10 hours, I felt the 50 k would be enough of a challenge. On that day I surprised myself by finishing in 7:13 hours.
This year I decided to do the 50 k again. Both races are held in Wakulla State Forest, about 30 minutes south of Tallahassee. There is a Lodge convenient to the start and finish and there are real bathrooms, a warm clubhouse meeting area, and a big parking space, all close by. Participants are encouraged to set up their own little aid stations anywhere along the course, so I brought a folding chair and a duffle bag filled with food, extra shoes and socks, sunglasses, and other important stuff. I set up my aid station just past the finish line, out of the way of the lap counters and official #1 aid station. There is another aid station with food and water about 3 miles away at one of the turn-arounds. The course is a loop course with two out-and- back extensions, very easy to follow and impossible to get lost (even for me!).
The course is on asphalt on roads closed to traffic for the duration of the run. It’s peaceful and tranquil and scenic. While the 5 loops for the 50 k and 8 loops for the 50 milers can get a bit monotonous, just resting my eyes on the trees and sky made up for the unchanging scenery. I occasionally moved to the pine covered paths next to the road to give my feet and legs a break from pounding pavement. One of the best things about this course is being able to greet and encourage other racers coming and going. And ultrarunners tend to be a friendly welcoming group of folks. Many marathoners who run tend to look down at walkers but ultrarunners realize that long distances often require walking and they are kind to those of us who walk.
The morning of the race dawned chilly but clear. I wore 4 layers of clothes under my hoodie, as well as 2 pairs of gloves and a scarf. After a brief pre-race briefing by Gary Griffin, the race director, we set off at 7 am. No chip timing here – but lap counters kept careful track of our bib numbers as we passed through each of the three checkpoints. As the weather warmed and the sun came out, I shed various layers of clothing, stuffing them in my duffle as I passed my little aid station. Four loops went by and I was feeling great, just a bit tired and sore, and by the final loop I caught up with a runner who had been just ahead of me the entire race. As I did so, he groaned and said “I can’t believe you are walking faster than I am running,” and I turned and replied that I hear that a lot from folks, especially at the end of races when I seem to get a second wind. We ended up keeping pace with each other for the last 4 miles and crossed the finish line in 7:06, better than my previous time 2 years ago, and a PR for me in a 50 K! What a rush that was! Finishers had a choice of a handmade sun catcher or a hand-painted plaque of manatees. I chose the sun catcher.
I highly recommend this race for first timers who want to challenge themselves with an ultra.

4 thoughts on “Tallahassee Ultra Distance Classic (TUDC) – Saturday, December 11, 2010

  1. Marsha, I dug up your race report in preparation for the 2011 TUDC race. I’m looking forward to the race and appreciate all of the insight that your report provides. Are you returning in 2011? I hope to see you there. Dan

  2. Marsha,
    How do you train for this? do you walk every day and how far, also if you were on a treadmill how would your “walking” translate to a pace of “4” on a treadmill? what is your pace high and low, like 4 miles an hour or faster? Thanks Kelly

    • Kelly – the best training is to do lots of races (halfs or fulls). I don’t use a treadmill so I can’t compare my mileage to outside walking. However, when the weather is really bad outside, I use Leslie Sansone’s walking dvds to get my mileage in. I also carry a pedometer and usually aim for a minimum of 10,000 steps a day – aiming for 15,000 or more most days. In races, I can often attain a pace of 12.5 to 13 minute miles, but I usually aim for 14 (or even 15-17 minute miles in timed ultras). Timed races (8 hour, 12 hour, 24 hour, etc.) are my favorites because the emphasis is on endurance rather than speed – and older runners/walkers generally excell in perseverence.

      • I would love to watch someone walk a 12.5 or 13 min mile pace. Its inconcieveable to me, must be neat to see.

        I ran my usual 5 k last night for fun at a 10 min mile pace then I practiced being you and walked one 15 min mile. I felt walking 4 mph was fast, I cant imagine walking faster like you. But on the otherhand I couldnt imagine running a whole marathon at 10 min mile pace either. So maybe the Galloway method might be right for me.

        Learning about you and reading your blogs for like 3 hours yesterday (ha!) opened my eyes that I could do a marathon any way I want. My goal is to finish, and it that means speed walking the second half or Galloway, thats ok.

        Please write that book one day….I would buy it!

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