Sunday, October 30, 2016

My first 50K to completion: Rails to Trails Ultra Extravaganza

This is going to be a bit long so pull up a chair and get comfy.

Okay, I will start this recap the day before on Friday.  We both got off  work a little early, and headed down to hit the pasta feed and packet pick up.  Note: the packet pick up was from 5-8, but the pasta feed was from 5-6:30.  I wished they would have had the pasta feed later, or from 5-8 at least, but I am sure there was a reason for those times.  For those of us traveling, it made it tough to get off of work and head down that early.
The kids had fun playing!  Thanks Lindsey for snapping these gems!

The pasta was good, spaghetti with marinara sauce, with the meat separate if you didn't want the meat mixed in.  They also had big yummy rolls, salad (which I passed up), tea and lemonade.   I later found some cake as well, that Andrew and I shared.

After spending some time hanging out in the  parking lot with Lindsey from and letting the kiddos play some, we headed over to our hotel that was so graciously giving us a nice big discount for the race.  I dosed myself with melatonin, as I always do the night before, and tried to sleep, but sleep just wasn't in the cards.  I couldn't get the room temperature right, so I froze on top of the covers, and sweated like I had been working out when under the covers.  Andrew was super restless, something he never is, and woke up several times wanting water. He kept throwing his leg over me, which woke me up every time.  I finally settled in, and got some sleep but I swear, right after  I got comfortable, my alarm went off.

Lindsey had graciously offered to pick me up and take me to the start line, so Tony and andrew could sleep in.  After dressing and heading out, we stopped at the starbucks for some coffee love.  I had already had one successful cleaning of my system (if you know what i mean) thanks to nerves, but the coffee helped me make sure everything was cleaned out and ready to go.

We got to the starting area in time to see the 100 milers pass by on their way out on the trail, after an out and back in town.  That was super cool to cheer them on.  They started at 6 am, with the 50 milers starting at 7 am, and us starting at 8 am.  I wish we could have all started together, or at least every 30 minutes, but I am sure they didn't want to overload the aid stations, so this is why they spaced everything out.  The bad news was, it was suppose to get up the mid 80s later in the day, and with the later start, we would be dealing with the temps for sure.  

After some coffee, some nervous peeing, and some great conversation, we were lining up to head out.  I am sure I had way too much stuff in my pack, and I am sure some of the ultra runners thought I was way over prepared, but I am so scared I am going to need something and not have it, so my pack was quite full :)  I also had prepared a drop bag to put at an aid station I would pass by twice at mile 10 something and again at mile 23 something.  I need to rethink my drop bags, and maybe buy one of those cute little plastic shoe box containers to pack and keep packed.  I just threw a bunch of random stuff together, and honestly the aid station had everything I needed both times, but it was nice to know I had things if I needed them.  

I started at the back.  I had no plan other than take it easy.  I found a nice lady who wanted to go the pace I wanted to go, around 11-11:30.  We settled in and talked almost non-stop for about 13 or so miles.  She was feeling good at that point, and i was already feeling the heat, so I told her to head out and I would see her later.  I really, really enjoyed her conversation and companionship.  We ran 6 miles in no time at all!!!  It was already getting super hot and my face was blood red when we took this picture at mile 10.  We had decided to start running 9 tenths of a mile, and walking the other tenth. I am so glad we did, because we both were able to finish thanks to taking it easy at the beginning.

Let me talk about the course a little.  It was FLAT and mostly was tree lined with little to no shade.  The parts of the trail that had trees were not much help, because the trees had mostly lost their leaves at that point.  Going out, we had 17 mph winds in our faces, which actually felt great for cooling us down, but kind of winded me at times.  It seemed the trail at times was a gentle climb up, but it was hard to tell if I was winded because of the trail or the wind.  We passed one un manned aid station with just water jugs first, and then found our way into our first manned aid station, bathrooms, and drop bags.  I hurriedly smeared some Chapstick on (had been using body glide:), re applied body glide, took a bathroom break, and re filled my water bottles.  We had to verbally check in and out, and totally forgot to check out, but I am sure she saw us leave.  As we were heading out, Tony and andrew pulled up, so I got some hugs and kisses and a major boost :)  I sure did LOVE seeing their faces even if it were for a brief moment.  After I left, poor tony got stranded.  The van battery died, he had to call triple A to be jumped off, and then spent two hours at a walmart trying to get a new battery for the van.  Plus, I guess Andrew was a hand full, due to not sleeping well, and pretty much made Tony's day even harder. 

Then next manned station was about 7 or so miles away, and it was a long 7 miles.  I saw several of the 50K runners coming back, and even passed some of the 50 mile runners who were taking it easy. We all looked rough to say the least.  

I didn't have a drop bag at the next manned station, but I really didn't need it. I  used the restroom and washed my face with some glorious cold water.  I had a cup of flat coke and my fuel, and got a second wind for the trip back.  Ultra volunteers are amazing.  They attend to your ever need and help you with any issue you might be having.  Between pretzels, cold water and coke, I was able to over come the heat this time with minimal problems!

I saw Lindsey as I was headed back.  She was doing well, keeping to her walk run intervals, and feeling great.   This was my mean face because I was not happy about the heat.  I was happy that the wind was now at my back, so that was one less thing to deal with.  I was pretty much by myself from this point on.  I had had my phone off, but turned it on and started listening to podcasts and music.  I also started walking more, and the more I tried to keep to a certain schedule, the more my body rebelled.  I hit the last manned water station and had to take a break.  They were AMAZING taking care of me, and helping me with every need I had.  They brought me coke, an ice cold towel, refilled my water bottles, and talked to me to assess my condition.  They let me sit long enough, but not too long, and sent me on my way with  my third wind.  I am seriously grateful to them, and will never ever be able to do a regular race again with just regular old aid stations.  I didn't lift a finger and they took such great care of me.  

Took this at mile 26.2.  I was SO hot and so ready to be done!
Again, I was pretty much speed walking more than running, but still keeping a decent pace.  I had noticed a weird sensation a while back.  Even though I would take a bathroom break at every potty available, I would have the need to potty right afterwards, and the sensation wouldn't go away.  Finally, I decided to squat on the side of the trail to get rid of that feeling, and pure blood came out!!!  I was still about 6 or so miles out, by myself, and very freaked out.  I even called my mommy:)  I figured I had no other option but finish.  I was out on the trail, no one was around, and all I had left was an unmanned aid station.   It didn't feel great to run or walk, but I needed to finish.  I had a time of reflection, a time of an ugly cry, and a time of jubilation.  I was so glad to see the finish line cones, even if I could see them a mile out and didn't feel like they were getting any closer.  

My very first belt buckle, and hopefully one of many more to come.  I honestly can't wait to try this distance again, on a different course, and hopefully different conditions. I would love for it to be me against the course, not me against the course AND the weather.  I may never be able to go back to regular running again.  I am so grateful to the aid station workers, the race organizers, and to the fellow runners for helping me pre and post race, for being so nice and helpful, and for putting on this race.  It was an amazing experience, and I am so glad I got my redemption race out of the way and finished the distance, because i knew I could.  I would love to do a race when it is cooler and I can actually run the whole time, but that will be next year probably before I try again.  Thank you to my coach for helping me through this training cycle and to my hubby for being such a great support the whole time!  On to some recovery and rest and then a spring marathon!


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