Ultra Success at Croom Fools Run

From not being able to run a single mile one and a half years ago to racing a 50-mile ultra run Saturday at the Croom Fools Run was simply amazing. What’s even more amazing is Lauren Nolan finished in just over nine hours to place 2nd Overall Female to an accomplished ultra runner. In today’s blog, Lauren, shares her experience including what led her to the decision to race an ultra run.

Before we hear her story, I have to share a couple thoughts. We started running together at the beginning of her journey, so being there Saturday was inspiring to me. When Lauren decides to do something, there is no stopping her. She knows her Why, and then proceeds with incredible discipline and determination. In the one and a half years, this is how many times she has missed a scheduled run due to:

  • Being Tired – zero
  • Overslept – zero
  • Rain – zero
  • Too cold – zero
  • Too hot – zero
  • Didn’t feel well – zero
  • Too sore – zero
  • Work – zero
  • Too busy – zero
  • Travel – zero
  • Vacation – zero
  • Son’s obligations – zero

I often say, if you want to achieve tough goals, there are no hacks. Anchor to your Why, work the process, love the process, and be disciplined. I know there were many times when any of those reasons popped in her head but not a single time did she miss a scheduled run. That drive and working the process led her to the second place finish in her first ultra. Simply AMAZING and I am so proud of her. Now her story…

Lauren’s Story

I felt so accomplished and proud of myself after completing my first marathon in November.  I was proud that I put in the effort, made time for training and followed through with my plan.  I exceeded my expectation that I still cannot believe what I accomplished for my first marathon. 

After the marathon I was trying to figure out what my next goal would be. I wasn’t really in a rush to figure it out and just wanted to train with everyone in my circle to keep up with fitness. One Thursday morning we were running down Bayshore towards Phillippe Park and Mark Middleton was talking about how he was going to Hawaii to run five, 26-mile runs on consecutive days. He was doing it training for a 100 mile race he was doing shortly after the new year. I thought to myself, “that is crazy!”  I then in my head wished he could accomplish that but thought that it was not really obtainable. Mark went to Hawaii and did exactly what he said! I looked forward to his post everyday and was excited he was actually doing what he set out to do. 

That inspired me so much! I was impressed how he was able to combine the strength of body and mind together and was kinda pissed at myself for doubting it wasn’t obtainable. This is when I decided I wanted to try an Ultra. I knew my body was strong enough but I wanted to combine the mental strength with it.  I kept going back and forth whether I should run the 50K or 50 mile. I ultimately decided if I was going to do it, I was going to for the 50 mile. 

So many people asked me, “Why?” I also heard several, “Ehhh…” when I shared the distance.  I brushed it off for weeks, but the last week leading up to the race I thought to myself, “why not?”  I’m not you!  

Leading up the race  I trained my body for 10 weeks and my mind for two weeks during the taper. I ran about 60 miles a week, listened to podcasts and trained my mind to move any negative thoughts that entered to leave immediately. Not finishing the race was not going to happen or be an option. I closed my eyes and ran through the course in my head several times with visualization of different situations I would be in and different ways I would feel. I decided I wasn’t going to focus on the miles but just the loops, nutrition and hydration.  I was not going to look at my watch for time or mileage at all. I was going to enjoy the experience and finish strong.  

The Race

At the start of the race, I really had no nervous energy or really any emotion at all. It was kind of strange. When the race started we ran .7 miles on paved road then took a hard left onto packed sand into the trail. It was pitch black out. The way we knew where to turn was there were glow lights hanging from the trees. I tried to stay with a pack so I wouldn’t get lost (happens a lot to me!). The course started with a 5-mile loop followed by three loops of the same 15-mile trail. I felt great after the 1st five miles and ran right into the 1st loop after taking some sips of electrolyte water. I ran past the 1st aid station and decided not to stop because I knew I was stopping at the 2nd aid station where Alan was going to be. About 2 miles after the 1st aid station I started to dehydrate. I knew at that point I was going to be fine but not to miss any aid stations for the rest of the race. 

I stopped at the 2nd aid station, got a few words of encouragement from Alan, Molly and Jesse (volunteers) and kept running. I felt great at mile 20 when I was back at “home base” where I was greeted by friends, Michael, Steven, Jeff and Derek. I was so happy to see everyone!  I stopped for half of a peanut butter sandwich and more electrolyte water.  I was going to change but decided not to, to keep any lead of what I had. I made it to the 1st aid station again and stopped, drank two cups of water and was on my way.  I made it to the 2nd aid station, stopped for a little bit to catch my breath, explained how I felt, ate a quarter of a pretzel and drank some more electrolyte water.  I decided to grab the water bottle with me this time as I was afraid I would dehydrate before I made it back to “home base.”

I stopped at the 3rd aid station, filled my bottle with water and kept running.  At home base I changed my shoes, socks, shorts and tank top.  My feet had very bad blisters at this time and my right knee was sore. I told myself at this time that I had one more loop and the faster I ran it, the faster the race would be over.  I drank some electrolyte water and a small piece of pretzel and was on my way. 

One mile in I realized I FORGOT MY WATER BOTTLE!!!  I made it to the 1st aid station drank a few cups of water and was on my way.  Around Mile 40 I saw Alan running down the course.  He had my water bottle!!  Alan ran slightly ahead of me until the 2nd aid station. I was tired at this point and just wanted the race to be over. My head was strong but I just felt tired and deflated at this point UNTIL!!!!!…..Molly at the aid station said the 2nd female overall (a very good and well known Ultra runner) just left two minutes ago if I cared. I said “I didn’t care two seconds ago, but I do now” and took off. That was exactly what I needed to finish! That gave me such a boost. I suddenly didn’t feel the blisters or my knee at all. I passed the 2nd female overall about 1.5 miles past where I spoke to Molly. I never stopped running after that. I was going to  finish 2nd overall female. It was pouring rain at this time. It was thundering and lightning. The wind picked up and the temperature dropped significantly. None of it mattered. I came around an uphill and saw cars in the parking lot from the woods. I remember yelling “oh yes, lets finish this” to myself.  I remember seeing the clock, Alan with his camera and volunteers and thinking how great I felt mentally and physically. It was a moment I will never forget…

Nutrition

I highly do not advise anyone to follow what I did. Everyone’s body is different. I know how my body functions and what I can run on and what works for me. I dehydrate easily but can run on little to no food fuel. Before the race I drank a 20 oz bottle of carbohydrate drink and 10 oz of electrolyte water and ate a full banana. During the race I drank electrolyte water, ate a quarter of a peanut butter sandwich, one gel and maybe a quarter of a soft pretzel the entire race. I took six salt pills and that was it.  

Overall, I moved to a plant-based lifestyle over two years ago and I know that has propelled me forward in so many ways. I lost 60 pounds, recover fast, run fast, love the food, and most importantly, feel better than ever!

Alan’s recap

What a fantastic story! I was amazed but not surprised in the slightest. This lady knew her Why, worked the process, and has incredible determination to succeed. Lauren has that special edge…the “it factor” it takes to compete at a high level. That enabled her to not just complete an ultra, but absolutely crush it. I am so proud of her. Now you know where her two boys, accomplished athletes, get their highly competitive genes and killer instinct.

– Add Health to Your Life

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