I love running and everything about it but racing is what solidifies it for me. It brings out my competitive spirit full force! For me, ultras are in a different category. I don't go into them hoping to place well; I just want to be able to finish. When I toe the line, I'm more calm and begin to think about the hours that lie ahead. Ten years ago, I would have told you that you were crazy if you thought I'd ever run for more than two hours straight.
If you're a reader of my blogs, you know I like to push myself and I don't believe there are any limits to my abilities. I don't think anyone has limits but some will never try to realize that.
After missing a shuttle to the start of the race, my DBF and I luckily hitched a ride with someone's crew. The race was to start at 7:00 but didn't until about 7:20 which means we wouldn't need headlamps.
The first mile was uphill and had to be walked because of the congestion of runners. After a couple miles, I was able to open it up a bit or as much as I could considering the hills.
Trail description (out 20 and back):
- completely single track and completely covered in leaves about 97% of the way
- looked like an animal path through the woods; if not marked with white spray paint, it was easy to get lost
- under the leaves were rocks and roots almost the whole way
- lots of logs and streams to cross/hop over; you literally had to walk and balance on some rocks to keep from falling in
- well managed and stocked with everything
- I consumed: Mountain Dew and Coke (lifesaver!), PB&J's, potato chips, salt caps, hot soup. Of my own supply: chocolate GU and Sport Beans
- They also had: M&Ms, trail mix, cookies, and probably lots more that I can't remember
When I'm running single track, I zone out. I feel that I have to in order not to fall on my face every step. I don't think about anything but putting one foot in front of the other and then, towards the end, about being finished. Somehow I only stumbled a couple times and didn't fall or twist my ankle any. I met a few nice people along the run that I played leap frog with. I didn't talk much because I like to conserve my energy. It rained off an on about the whole day but I never got drenched. I don't think the temp got out of the 40's but it was manageable even with only shorts, a t-shirt*, and arm warmers on.
*I got my family and friends to sign my t-shirt!
Took from Erin's car
At every aid station, there were people cheering us in which really boosted my moral. At the halfway point, there were two guys playing a harmonica and singing "The Uwharrie Blues." They were AWESOME and I gave them high fives on the way back.
My amazing BFF Erin came out and I saw her at the 29, 32 and finish. It was so good to see her and she helped me when I really needed it. I passed the 50K mark only 10 minutes slower than my North Face 50K time back in October, so I was stoked. I felt really good....almost too good. Well, a few miles later, it started to hurt. I was walking a lot, getting really sluggish, and could run uphill better than the downhills at that point. I was getting passed by people I had passed a while back.
About the 50K point
It had been raining off and on all day but I didn't get too cold until the end. When I crested the top of the last hill we actually started running through fog; it was eerie. The last mile was a steep downhill covered in big loose rocks. It was a f__ing nightmare. I was so fed up with all of the rocks, so I got mad, cried, and dug deep to finally cross the finish line. My time was 9:09. Good enough for me! I finished! DBF smoked me by a couple hours but he is a super hero anyway : ) They haven't posted the official pictures yet so all of these were taken by Erin. The pics of the trail were borrowed from a friend's FB page.
I was able to hobble around the first couple days but decending any stairs was PAINFUL. Getting out of bed felt like a chore and I had to hang on to things to get myself down on my toilet! Ibuprofen has been a good friend.
I always wind up getting blisters on my big toes during long runs and both got them this time; one being a blood blister. Also, the big and index toes on my left foot always take a beating. I lost the index toenail last year after an adventure race but this time I think I'm losing both. Owwie! They are very sore and look/feel bruised. Other than that, I'm like brand new again!
That's only dirt on my legs. My family thought it was bruises!
After taking my toenail polish off, this is what I saw : (
Shamrock Whale Challenge in March, and a 24 hour run coming up in September where I'd like to get at least 50 miles. Then, I'd like to do Mountain Masochist 50 miler in November. Registration opens in May for that so I have some time.