I did it. I still can’t believe it, but I did it.
This isn’t going to be a huge race report because really, there’s not that much more to say other than, I did it. One foot in front of the other, one step at a time for 15.6 miles.
Josh’s 50K started an hour before the 25K, so we had to leave pretty early. We were on the road by 5:15 and got there with enough time to set up camp, grab our packets, but not enough time to just stand around and get nervous.
We did have enough time to take our annual picture though
Two small things were missing this year :)
Once Josh was off and running, I made a couple of trips to and from the car to finish setting up our things. I was hoping to cross the finish line before Josh and knew I wouldn’t want to haul the cooler out after I was done running. Plus, it gave me something to do so I wouldn’t get nervous.
Looking at the weather made me nervous enough
It wasn’t too hot, just hanging around the start line, but it was humid and warmed up very quickly.
Our little camp
Double checking everything. The only thing I forgot were my headphones. I was super bummed about that because I bought a new album just for the race but oh well. This is why you should always do some training runs with no music, just in case you have a race day snafu.
Then a mere 3 hours, 18 minutes and 30 seconds later
I was done!
Stop reading here if you just want the short version. Keep reading if you want the mile by mile recap.
Well, I won’t bore you with mile by mile because we’d be here forever, so breaking it into approximately 5K chunks, it goes a little like this:
Miles 1 – 3:
From the start, I was in for a surprise. I had remembered the race running the first mile on the actual road, but this year, they started us off on a single track section. It was also more uphill than the road, which I guess served to thin the line fairly quickly. I found two people running together and just hung behind them until about half a mile in. Then I passed them, found two more people running together and hung behind them. They were doing a run/walk combo, so I passed them when the started walking. We crossed the paved road and hit some more single track. I was keeping it at a comfortable pace and trying to stay behind people, but there seemed to be a lot of run/walking already, so I kept passing people, then getting passed. The first three miles felt comfortable and sustainable, but I was surprised by how slow I was going. About two miles in, I was already over a minute off my goal time, so I fairly quickly adjusted my thinking. We turned off the single track to a jeep road at this point and I still wasn’t moving as quickly as I hoped. But I felt good, so I was okay with a readjusted goal. I made one small error as well, although, it didn’t really matter. I had thought the first aid station came at mile 3 and I thought I saw it ahead, so I stopped to walk so I could take my first Gu. I didn’t want to waste time at the aid stations sucking it down so my plan was to stop and walk before each aid station, take it, drink at the aid station, then start running again. What I saw was just a parking lot and not the aid station, so got about a mile off schedule, but really, in the long term, that was no big deal.
Miles 4 – 6:
We turned off the jeep road and back onto another section of single track. This was pretty crowded at this point because the single track ended at the aid station, so you had people coming back to the jeep road. The crowd was pretty thin at this point though, so it could have been a lot worse. I stopped at the aid station and got my bottles refilled (I ran with two 8 oz bottles on my belt) with half gatorade, half water and then grabbed a cup of gatorade to drink and a cup of water to pour on myself. On my way back from the aid station, I started playing a little game where I counted the people I was passing. There were 5 people at the aid station when I left it, then I passed another 10 on the single track and by the time I got back to where we put in on the jeep road, I had counted up to 35 people behind me. At this point, I started chatting with another girl and we ran then next few miles together.
35:19 (ish) (Also of note, mile 4 was my fastest at 10:55)
Miles 7 – 9:
I had dropped my running buddy at this point (she found me at the finish area and said thanks for helping her get up a few hills with no walking, which I thought was nice) and we had moved back onto a single track with lots of climbing. This was also the point where you could see the tip of the lake, so it was good to kind of know where I was at on the course. It felt like for most of the course, I had no clue where on a map I would be. Luckily the course was super well marked because I had real fears of getting lost before this thing started. There were enough course markers that every time I felt the need to make sure I was on the right path, I could look up and there’d be one within a few yards. Single track, single track and more single track. There were a few turns, then we were back on a jeep road. I don’t think I passed anyone in this section, so it was pretty lonely. When I hit the jeep road though, I saw a pack of about seven women ahead of me and I knew I was getting close to an aid station as well. They stopped to walk and I did as well and took in another Gu. This was close to mile 8. The aid station stop was quick again. More half and half, along with gatorade to drink but I forgot this time to dump water on me. I left the aid station before the large group and at that point, realized I hadn’t been passed since the first aid station. So now, my new game plan kicked in. Don’t get passed again between now and the finish line. Then I was off again, this time, figuring I had about 45 people or so behind me. I knew this next part coming up was going to be the hardest. As a side note, having Josh’s information about the trail was invaluable. You get really lonely at times and if you’re directionally challenged like I am, it can feel like you’re lost from the start. There were no mile markers, so it was hard to know where you were at on the course at times, so having his insider info was a big mental help to me.
Miles 10 – 12
This is when I started to check in with myself on my mental checklist. I had pretty much run the entire way, except for two planned walk breaks to take my Gus and the aid station stops. I felt good and that my pace was sustainable. I wasn’t being passed and I was staying pretty well hydrated. I didn’t hurt too badly, the aches and pains were still all below my knees, nothing in my hips or abs. So I felt okay, better than expected actually. We were still on the single track and it was starting to get crowded, with lots of climbing involved. At this point, I decided to only pass people on downhills, so if they were ahead of me and started walking, I would as well. I hate leapfrogging people and figured if I passed them on the uphill, I’d either have to keep running or risk being passed on the downhill. This worked really well for me and helped me get through the hardest parts of the course. Mile 11 was the hardest part of the course. It had the most climbing in it, was also probably the warmest mile and there had been the promise of an unmanned aid station somewhere along the line, so it seemed like I kept searching for it and never finding it. But there it was, so I refilled, dumped some more water on my head, chatted with a few people, then took off again. We were back down at lake level at this point, so again I had an idea of where we were at on the map. There was also the last aid station at mile 12. I opted not to take a Gu at this point and instead, just had two gum drops (surprisingly yummy), more water and more gatorade.
This was pretty hard, mentally and physically. There were no more aid stops to look forward to, just the finish line. It was hot, sandy and you know, at the point, I just really wanted to be done. I crossed the half marathon mark and was like, I’m so over this. But still had to keep going. There were a few groups of hikers out that provided some distraction and some mountain bikers that provided annoyance, but it honestly just felt like a whole lot more of the same thing, footfall after footfall. I started singing out loud; the song of choice for mile 14 was “Holy, Holy, Holy.” I figured the trees needed some good praise choruses and hymns. It seemed like every uphill was covered in sand. I can run in sand, I can run uphill, but uphills covered in sand were a for sure walk break. Then it was the final turn and I was back on the single track that lead to the finish line. Some guys that had already finished were walking back and said, just cross that road up there and you’re done. The most beautiful words in the world. I had not been passed at this point either, which made me feel really good. Except by the lead 50Ker but he doesn’t really count. But then, I got passed with about 400 yards to go. I was just so excited to be done that I just didn’t care and I crossed the finish line with the biggest smile on my face and tears in my eyes.
I was a little dirty, a lot hurting and exhausted beyond belief, but I had done it and never once had I thought about quitting. Every time I walked, I started running again. I felt that I stayed mentally strong the entire race and I couldn’t have asked for a better race result than that, regardless of my finish time.
Yeah, I probably could have finished under 3:15, taken a few less seconds at the aid stations, pushed harder on the downhills, not chatted with people as I passed them, but this race in the end wasn’t about the time on the finishing clock, it was just about finishing. I had more fun running this race than I did spectating it and I’m just so pleased with the whole race experience that I don’t even care I missed my A goal.
The only thing that I would have changed was the fact that Josh didn’t see me cross the finish line because he was still out running.
But then, there he was too!
So dang proud of my ultra runner husband :)
Also, I am a sexy beast when it comes to recovery time.
It’s been about 50ish hours since I finished and most of the major aches and pains are gone. The physical fatigue is still very present though and most of this week is going to be spend napping and going to bed early. I’m not in any hurry to sign up for next year’s race, that’s for sure, but I haven’t ruled it out either.
So, to sum up what has been probably one of the wordiest posts ever, I’m incredibly glad I did this race and I’m very proud of how I did. It was a hot race on a pretty hard, technical course with a lot more climbing than I’m used to doing, but I had fun, I had just about nothing left when I crossed the finish line, and most importantly, I never quit.