“The gratification of completing this race has not been within myself, but actually what others have gotten from my race experience.” – Ginger Kobliska
ultra run = over 26.2 miles
Ginger Kobliska finished her first ultra race in 39:38:44 at the Rouge Orleans ultramarathon in early February. Instead of choosing a 50km or maybe a 50 miler, Ginger took it one or two louder, with a 126.2 mile point-to-point adventure through Louisiana.
Enjoy the Q&A with Ginger as she shares some insights on her prep, the 39+ hour journey, and some insider tips for those interested in such a challenge!
[EB - You have completed triathlon's up to the Ironman distance and road runs up to the marathon. How did the idea of attempting the 126.2 mile Rouge Orleans adventure solo come about?]
I enjoy doing the different team relay races across the country. I have participated in Rouge Orleans as a relay for the past two years. When seeing the soloists, I was always intrigued and wondered if I could accomplish such a task. So instead of doing Rouge Orleans as a team for 2013, I decided to do it as a soloist and take a support crew instead.
[EB - In January it appeared you ran the Walt Disney World half and then full marathon across two days. Were there any lessons learned from this that you took with you into Rouge Orleans?]
I was a winter team running coach for Team in Training in January, so I took a team out to Walt Disney and ran with my teammates. As coach, I could go back in forth along the course to find my teammates. For the half marathon on Saturday, I logged 15 miles and for the full marathon on Sunday, I logged 32 miles that day. It was perfect for me who was training for an ultra. I was logging tons on time on feet on consecutive days, no matter what pace I was running. For the full marathon on Sunday, I know I literally was on my feet for 12 hours without sitting down.
[EB - 126.2 miles can be a challenge to wrap your head around. Did you have a specific approach to mentally make the race more manageable?]
I told myself I was not going to quit unless someone was shoving me into an ambulance due to a life altering emergency.
[EB - What was your nutritional approach? Did it change over 39 hours?]
I was consuming calories every 12-15 minutes. My strategy was to run 12 minutes and then walk three minutes. During those three minutes I was to consume calories. I was actually calculating my carbohydrates more than calories. My first 15 minutes, I would drink 5-7oz of Succeed Amino or Clip 2, then the next 15 minutes, I ate solid food that equaled 25g of carbohydrates, and then repeated that cycle the entire race. I tried not to get flavor fatigue by varying up what I ate. My goal was to get 40-80g of carbohydrates/hour. I ended up averaging about 60g of carbohydrates through the entire race. I had hours that I didn’t want to eat much and then I had hours that I could eat an entire Heath bar in those three minutes. I packed tons of food and everything was divided into 25g of carbohydrate snack packs. I had trail mix, cookies, Clif bars, chocolate covered goji berries, honey stinger waffles and chews, chips, candy bars, pretzels, soup, etc.
[EB - In ultra distance events, it is common to encounter times in a race when it feels like one cannot continue. Did you every experience that feeling? If so, how did you move beyond it?]
When I was extremely tired, I ate chips and coke and had chocolate covered espresso beans to keep me awake. I remember thinking I was going to fall over and face-plant if I didn’t get some caffeine. We had figured out eight chocolate covered espresso beans equaled one shot of espresso. Once I seemed to be more alert, we continued we two espresso beans per 15 minutes to keep up the caffeine effect.
Also, at mile 82 my left hip flexor locked up. It was right after stopping at an aid station and the cooling of muscles caused a locking effect in that hip. I went to run and my hip would not bend at all. I was in severe pain. I called for one of my crew members who is an athletic trainer and he worked it out and got it moving to the best of his ability. The rest of my crew was thinking oh no, this might be the last mile as I was crying and moaning in pain. I recall thinking that I am in pain, but I got to finish this ultra no matter what. Quitting is not an option with all these people supporting me. Before the race, I had told my crew that I believe in the placebo effect so if something went wrong that they had no fix for, at least make me believe that whatever they did or gave me was going to work. I have no doubt that my athletic trainer helped my hip without using the placebo effect, but my point is that I believed in my crew and that they would get me to the finish line even when I could no longer think for myself.
[EB - What were some of your strongest memories across the 39+ hour journey?]
Being a coach for the Indiana Chapter of Team in Training, I had over 110 people following my ultra through an email/cell phone application called LiveShare. My crew was posting how I was doing and family, friends, and teammates back home were posting back to the LiveShare site. Then my crew would read the posts to me as I ran. People back home decided to run their own ultra relay of 126.2 miles as I was running mine and would post their mileage. It was a great feeling to know all these people were out running back home while I was struggling to finish my last 20 miles. It was also a fond memory to reach the half way point, where I sang lyrics of Bon Jovi’s Living on a Prayer “we are half way there!”
[EB - Did you have any big personal takeaways from this experience?]
I must admit it took me a week or two to grasp what I did, and ultimately, I concluded that my ultra was just pure craziness! I have now been classified in a group where people just think I am insane with a screw loose. I don’t feel as if I have any huge personal take-aways except this ultra demonstrated if you set your mind to do something and you prepare adequately, what seems to be impossible is actually attainable. The gratification of completing this race has not been within myself, but actually what others have gotten from my race experience. I have had about 15 people say that they were inspired by me and are now wanting to push their goals to the next level. People who never dreamt of doing half or full Ironmans or half or full marathons or going longer distances are now approaching me and saying that I have inspired them to amp up their goals.
[EB - If someone was interested in running Rouge Orleans solo next year, what tips would you share with them?]
You must have time on your feet. Back to back long runs are key. I typically ran 30 miles on Saturday and 20 miles on Sunday once I built up my distance. And occasionally, I would do 12-15 miles on Wednesdays as well. You have to practice your race nutrition even on short runs. Bad nutrition can make or break a race and you have to train your gut. I would recommend taking a support crew to Rouge Orleans where provided race food and portalets are limited.
My support crew was my key to success. We were extremely organized with everything in labeled clear bins. My support crew would have walkie-talkies and would radio back and forth if I ever needed anything. They were logging my nutrition and every time I stopped to pee to make sure I was hydrated enough. When I would check into an aid station, my crew was always there waiting to check for blisters and help me change socks and/or shoes. My recommendation is to have a race plan and pick your crew wisely.
Congratulations Ginger and team! What a journey! Thanks so much for sharing with the tribe.
May we all have the courage to follow our passions.
To challenge ourselves.
To chase our dreams.
To step into the unknown.
To do the work.
Because in doing so, not only do we enhance our own lives, we give others permission to do the same!
Be active – Feel the buzz!
David – EnduranceBuzz.com