|on the trail|
There were maybe 75 people there, if that ( I am horrible at eyeballing numbers), lined up in the parking lot. The course would consist of 3 loops of about 10 miles each, with options of stopping after each. I was debating whether to wear my hydration vest and carrying Gus since a simple aid station had been set up around mile 5. Luckily decided to strap it on. That 5 miles would take me much longer than planned.
In my Leopard print Moeben dress I headed off with the group into the forest. We were reduced to a walk as we fell in line on the single track trail. I felt some pressure to keep up my pace to not slow those behind me! Gradually we all spread out and had plenty of room to navigate. After one mile I knew my goal of a sub 6 hour finish was no longer reasonable. This trail was more technical then I had predicted and, as I would soon find out, this early portion was the most runnable.
|One of a couple sets of stairs|
I am not a good technical trail runner, if only for the fact that I don't run on them often enough. The last 50 miler I ran (North Face DC), I fell hard. I was nervous there would be a repeat performance today and I was determined to stay sure footed. However, I had a bad feeling, after a dozen stumbles and quick saves from face plants, that I would inevitably kiss the trail below my feet. I told a runner, Charlie, behind me to watch out so I don't take him down too. My toes started to hurt from all the toe jamming I was doing. I start to envision creating a trail shoe with a steel tip.
After the first loop I stopped at my car for 5 minutes to apply bandaids where I could already feel blisters developing. I guess the movement of my feet in my shoes going up and down such extreme inclines was rubbing some areas raw. I also threw some Heed into my pack and took a few extra Gus along.
Some of the hills were a bitty. There was no way I could run up these suckers. And a few of the declines were so steep I wish I had skis to just slide down them. Knowing you had to do it once again (for loop 3) was hard mentally. The stream crossings were not bad. I dipped my hands in the cool water to freshen up. I finished the 2nd loop 10 minutes slower than the first, which surprised me. I felt so much stronger and better that loop. I was now 4:35 into this thing! A sub six was out, so I set my sights on a sub 7 hour.
|see the man way up ahead?|
up, up and away
I was eager to start the third loop. It looked like most of the runners had already called it quits. I am not sure how many did the full 50k, but will post results when I get them. I had a great mental attitude going in for my final dance with this forest. I felt like I had gotten to know the trail enough to successfully navigate this last loop and get in under 7 hours. I would run all the runnable parts at a good clip, and did just that for the first 3 1/2 miles. As I was feeling like maybe I had this trail whipped, my foot caught a root or rock, and I hit the ground hard. Left side again (as at NorthFace), but no rolling this time. Just a solid thud to the earth. Should a 39 year old woman be falling like this? I was alone and there I lay for a moment figuring out the damage. My knee hurt and quickly developed a swollen knot. A couple scratches and a bruised hand was all I saw. I dipped my hands and knee into a stream to clean it up. I was coming up on a portion of the trail that was within a quarter mile of the finish line and my car. I seriously contemplated heading in. Twenty-five miles is good enough, right?
As I crested the hill at which the decision to go home was to be made, a volunteer was standing there. I told him I had fallen. He said it looked fine to him and to keep going. As simple as that, I did. As I ran I realized that my left side was hurting. I later find bruises on my clavicle, shoulder, arm and butt. Not bad though.
|in true ultra fashion: a sharing of|
the battle wounds
I'll spare you pics of
my bruised bum
I prayed, as I always do, for a safe finish as well as family and friends. I started to get lonely. I texted my husband and eventually talked to him. I was ready to be done but knew I had at least an hour to go. One step forward at a time. Just keep moving.
Something snapped in me with about 4 miles to go. I would run as much as I could, falling be damned, and get my ass done with this Fat Ass 50k. I caught up with a couple runners, with whom I hiked up our last major hill. Then it was down that super steep hill. I don't know what I was thinking, but I let lose and barrelled down that thing like I was being chased by a cougar. As I came to more level ground, I kept up the pace. This seemed like a good plan, and was going well, until that final climb the finish line. The distance was maybe 1/2 a mile, maybe shorter, but the zigzag to the top reduced me to a walk right at the end! I swore out loud and got going again. Then walked again. Damn. One more run attempt and I ran into the finish area where one person clapped.
|felt worse than it looked|
prettier as the days