Tantek wearing a 50k finisher’s medal just past the The North Face Endurance Challenge finish line in Crissy Field, San Francisco, bowing his head, raising his left fist to the sky.Tantek on top of Cardiac Hill, above the clouds, a few spectators standing behind him.Tops of the Golden Gate Bridge towers poking through low fog behind the Marin Headlands, as viewed looking south from the SCA trail.Tantek running the last few meters on uneven Crissy field towards the North Face Endurance Challenge finish line, finishing area tents in the background.Tantek at the North Face Endurance Challenge finish area in Crissy Field in front of cotton candy colored wisps of sunset pink and orange sky, North Face expo tents behind him and to his left.🏅🏃🏻‍♂️I did it. 9:34:44 @thenorthfaceECS #TNFECS #ECSCA “50k”(53k😂). 50k distance PR in 8:59:41 according to Strava.

My first #ultramarathon race.

Yes I trained for this, and so many things had to go right to make this possible. Clean air. Ideal #running weather. Running up the first couple of hills with pal Vivek to new segment PRs.

Magically misty trails until climbing above the fog to clear skies above and a surreal cloudbank below. Pleasantly surprised to see Jenny Maier at the Cardiac Hill aid station pouring water for us racers. My only stop to take a selfie(2).

Feeling nimble down the Ben Johnson trail, picking up speed until I was leading a pair of much faster 50 miler runners to the depths of Muir Woods, whereupon they quickly passed me on the uphill. Worked through a right calf about to spasm and lock-up on the Lost Trail climb out of the woods.

Slower Dipsea descent than I wanted, but controlled. Stuffed salty Pringles chips in my mouth which tasted much better than they should have.

Tough grind back up to Deer Park and then fun times again chasing another faster runner downhill to the highway. Steady work on Redwook Creek back to Muir Beach aid station and then the Coastal Fire Road grind.

Finally the Fox trail descent on legs feeling tired too soon. I kept my toes pointed straight forward downward like Grady had told me to just 8 days before at NPSF, and took shorter shallower steps to maintain form. Picked up speed until I dropped into Tennessee Valley.

Delightfully surprised to see Krissi who ran with me and talked me up to the Tennessee Valley aid station, coaching me on a plan to beat the sweepers. After making sure I got the water & fuel I needed without pause and kept moving, she ushered me up Marincello making it clear I had to pick it up to make it.

Where I’d sped down earlier that morning passing racers, this time it was a strugglefest where I got passed. The last big long grind. I repeated the yoga yamas & niyamas to myself as a distraction from the exhaustion, spending just a moment trying to relate each one to my present and recent past. Literally a moving meditation.

Made it to the Alta aid station, the last one, and knew this was it, the make or break moment. Time to speed down the steady single-track SCA downhill. Stopped briefly to take my only other photo during the race(3). Focused on the rocky trail and started passing racers again. Turned left down towards the bridge, it looked so close. My legs kept trying to tell me they were too tired to go quickly.

No joke I started to hum The Rocky theme out loud to myself to drown out what the legs were saying and it worked. Picked up enough speed to both pass even more runners, and somehow set a couple of segment PRs!

Left the trails and started across the Golden Gate Bridge which was once again enveloped in fog. Except it was cold, wet, and windy enough to wipe out all the warmth I’d built up. Dropped into a slow robotic jog across the concrete bridge, no time to think or worry or feel the cold, or look at the time. Only had to use my whistle twice to part clumps of phone-staring crowds.

Exited the bridge onto the Battery trail and glimpsed my watch, I had a solid finish within reach. Last set of steps down to the Warming Hut. All the muscle memories from NPSF hill-day repeats on these stairs clicked and it felt like I was dancing on the wood beams, barely touching them, easily dodging tourists.

After the stairs, just the gravel flats to Crissy field. I’d pushed all my strong points, successfully executed Krissi’s plan and was down to a shuffling jog on this last slog. Barely buoyed by the remaining cheering spectators, I came around the last gentle bend and could see the North Face finish line arch. Felt myself smiling.

I saw my father in his blue jacket and flat cap, moments before he saw me and started running to join me, asking me how I was doing, taking photos.

Turned the tight hard-right onto the field and reminded myself to watch out for the uneven terrain. Kicked it as hard as I could without risking a finish line fall or twisted ankle(4, Photo: Hasan).

The cheers got louder. The announcer got my name right. Bounded across the finish line and accepted my medal. Bowed my head in gratitude and raised my fist in defiant victory(1, Photo: Hasan).

I’d done it. I am an #ultrarunner.

Epilogue: my dad had brought me a dry shirt and a long-sleeve zip. I changed to stay warm, picked up a veggie burger & cheese fries, found a bunch of #NovemberProject pals, and #NPSF #TrailRunning friends Bryan, Krissi, and Vivek who were nearby.

The sky turned to cotton candy(5).

#ultra #runner #UltraRunning #WorkHardDreamBigDoCoolShit #InstaRunner #TrailRunner #Marin #MarinHeadlands #CardiacHill #SCATrail #CrissyField #SanFrancisco #GrassrootsGear #NovemberProjectSF #IDidIt #50kfinish #50kfinisher #FirstUltra #FirstUltraMarathon #2019_320 #20191116 #latergram #nofilter

Follow-up: ran the ECSCA trail half marathon with my dad the next day: https://tantek.com/2019/326/t1/we-did-ecsca-halfmarathon

on (ttk.me t53e1) using BBEdit