We’re doing something new this year! We’re featuring some quick interviews with folks about their first ultra experience. First up is Laura Boyce who is a Fire Tower finisher and volunteer and shares about her first ultra experience.
How did you get introduced to trail running?
I was introduced to trail running when I belonged to the Coon Rapids Life Time run club. Lisa McDonough Millam was the run lead on Saturday mornings and it was decided to try running the Elm Creek Horse trail. I had only been running for a couple years and it was totally different and challenging from anything I had run up to that point.
When did you hear about ultras and what was it that made you decide you wanted to do one?
I learned of ultras through the run club and its members that were doing them. People were transitioning from street to trail. Once I had done a couple of marathons, my goal was to keep challenging myself. I had a surgery in 2019 that I had no guarantee of running again after. But I decided that if it went well, I was going to do a 50k.
What type of training plan did you follow for your first ultra? Did you like the plan or would you do something different next time?
My first ultra was a 50k called Trail of the Dragon in Ida Grove, Iowa in August of 2020. When I first started looking at it the pandemic was just hitting and everything was being canceled. I had a trainer set up, but that got canceled due to the pandemic. I decided to train as if I was going to be able to do it, so I took a Life Time marathon training plan that was available to me due to previous group training I received through Life Time. I adapted it to a 50k. I talked to people, read, got all the info I could. Part way through I was developing a calf issue and decided to dial back the speed workouts and spend more time on hills. That helped. I would not suggest this approach. I definitely follow trail training plans now.
What was the hardest part about training for an ultra distance?
The hardest part of training for that ultra was working full-time and getting runs and workouts in, especially as they got longer and longer, and in my case I wasn’t able to talk to others about a lot of this because of the pandemic. And just a general feeling of not knowing what I was doing and feeling pretty alone. Also figuring out food and hydration.
When you did your first 50K what went right, and what do you want to do better next time?
What went right? I finished! I resolved that the only way I wasn’t finishing was if they had to carry me out on a stretcher because I broke my leg. The day of the race it got to over 90°F, and not a cloud in the sky. It was a 3 loop race. People were dropping after the 1st and 2nd loops. Ice and hydration became the biggest issues. Aid station women were phenomenal. One woman introduced me to “boob ice” and also put ice in my armpits and then basically hugged my arms to help the ice cool me down. (COVID be damned!) My quads were hurting and I did a lot of walking the last loop, but ran it in to finish.
I think I learned so much from this experience! That alone helped to do my next one, and my 50 miler. I use a trainer and an actual ultra training plan now. I train smarter now. And I have confidence. I get better and better at handling mid-race issues.
2 thoughts on “Let’s talk ultras with… Laura Boyce!”
You’re a true inspiration Laura! Happy to call you a friend 😎
Love this story! ❤️ And I love your attitude! One of your answers was the perfect definition of an extreme sport; “I’m either finishing or being hauled out on a stretcher with a broken body part!” 😂💪🙌