At the start, and ready to go, and then we were off! We’d begin with a short jaunt down the road to a fire road and then onto some single track trails for a 5 mile loop. Part way through this loop I found myself with a group running comfortably, and 4 of the 5 of us were first time 50 milers. So we chatted and just hung together. Starting in the dark, and often running single file, the game of running with and talking to people for hours, without having seen their faces, was on.
As I went through my awesome husband pit crew was ready with nuun and Okole Stuff! And Charles had showed up for support. Lubed and bottle filled, my new found friends and I were on our way, back in our train. Now it was the first of three trips around a 15 mile loop. Use to much more defined trails, the terrain was a bit more open, and I had to pay a bit more attention to make sure I was really on a trail, and the right trail. But the orange markings of the trail system, and the tons of pink ribbons near turns, made it pretty straight forward. During this loop I got to see the course and aid stations and layout for the first time, and definitely agreed with what Andrea had told be about the second part of the loop being hillier. But there were some nice cool sections I thought would feel great on the later loops. It was also awesome to find Andrea helping at aid station #2! It really made the course feel friendly knowing there would be friendly faces so often on the loop.
About 15-18 miles into the race, our train broke apart a bit, and I met some new friends (like Sara) and just went with how I was feeling. And I was feeling pretty good. I came back through and my crew was still there. And then I saw it… pineapple… a snacksize little tube of juicy pineapple, sitting on the cooler. And I had to have it. Thank you Charles that was some of the best pineapple I have ever tasted! I thought about it for miles. And also while there, more nuun.
Since it had definitely started getting warm, I also stripped off my vest and shirt, just going with a hand bottle. The aid stations were close enough together that I didn’t feel the need to carry more. And the couple gels in my handbottle would be fine. I also tied my buff to the handle so that I could still wipe my face. I had decided to lose the layers around when the train broke apart, and since I almost never run in a sports bra I was glad Willem had mentioned that might be a good approach (when I ran into him at Running Center before the trip). It had me mentally prepared to just go with it, and I was glad I had.
A couple miles down the trail I realized I had forgotten to do the sunscreen part of my pit crew plan. And figured I would see Andrea at AS#2 again and ask her. And I did see her, and luckily she asked me if I needed sunscreen because my brain, although it regularly reminded me on the trail, didn’t while I was there. She took the 27.5-ish mile picture… but I have no idea what I was saying or doing!
The next section was tough. Not only was it getting really warm, but I was alone, and my guts were hurting. This might be a bit TMI, but what would a race report be without it? I started to get that horrible feeling of a bladder infection. Having only had one other (during Vineman’s run, of course) I wasn’t positive yet, but had a bad feeling about it. I am not sure if there is something I do with some of the hotter longer races that increases the pain or speeds those up (with both races I felt a bit off before hand, but not nearly as bad as I did during either race. I was relieved to come up that final rooty section that brought me to my crew, and finishing mile 35.
For this loop through the start/finish area, I mostly remember the grape gatorade. It was awesome. I took a bit more time getting in some extra fluid this time, and feeling the heat, I made good use of having packed baggies and made my own personal “ice chest.” And needing to walk for a minute, Mike joined me. And then was sent back for Okole Stuff since I needed a bit more. He is awesome – and I loved not having to worry about him catching up with it. I chatted with him a bit, loving the company but also knowing I needed to really get moving again as best as I could, so soon said goodbye and looked forward to Andrea at AS#2.
But before I got that far I had great support from Mark at AS#1 (and it turned out he is Sara’s husband). The Boston Red Sox shirt made me smile, and feeling fairly bad at this point he did a great job of just making sure I was ok and helping me just keep moving. And I knew soon I would see Andrea, and I just focused on that. Well, when I wasn’t being mad at myself. It was really tough to have my legs and lungs feel awesome, have the loop actually feel a bit cooler than the previous loop, and still just not be able to run due to the lower gut pain. I got passed by a couple people during this, and I just wanted to run, and my legs wanted to run. Soooo mentally tough — I was getting so frustrated. But soon I saw Andrea! She came toward me down the trail, and with that grape gatorade in hand! I didn’t need/want the liquid, but was so happy for the company, and the chatter to help keep me off my grumpiness was very welcome. Soon we made it to AS#2 and a little red room I was happy to visit while my bottles got filled. And as a bonus surprise, Mike and Charles and Armando were there! And soon (ok or not so soon, but eventually) they sent Andrea on for the final stretch. 7ish miles to go!
And we were off again! 3 miles to the next aid station, thinking in little chunks. Some running here, but not a ton. And then Mark from AS#1 appeared at AS#3 and it kinda blew my mind. So I just kept on going, and Andrea chatted a second while filling bottles and then catching up to me. And we got into a good rhythm of running downhills and some parts of flats, and hiking up the uphills. And of course every now and then just stopping and groaning. Andrea was awesome to put up with me for the bad parts, and encouraging me and telling me stories. I’m lucky to have such awesome friends who were there to get me through this experience.
And then… finally… it was the rooty section. And that meant close to the end. And the camera guy on the uphill that made me have to run some. Tasting the finish line, my brain started working a bit, and I remembered Mike’s favorite picture of me from the Calico race: downhill with a crazy face and “I love you” gang-sign hands. So I turned around, had him get a shot like that (which I don’t have yet, so can’t put here), and then continued on my way to run it the rest of the way in.
And then I was done! I had been thinking about a towel on the ground for a number of miles, and I got it! And no, I didn’t notice that there was poison ivy right next to my arm. And no, when I was told what it was I still didn’t care. And then I stole Mike’s run shorts and it was time for food. Shortly I found myself chatting and holding a hug bag of chips. They were awesome.
And here are some bonus pictures from the day: