We finished 10 miles, and I thought, okay that’s just a warm up for the rest of the race. Do you ever have a run or race and think .. sometimes it takes 1-2 (or ten!) miles before your head tells your body it’s time to run (well at least for me it does)? Even though I felt good .. I knew there was still 21+ miles to go ..
A third of the way in .. and I was feeling good. We had already gone through several creeks .. shoes wet, then what felt dry .. and then wet again. At one point I stopped to check for what I thought were rocks in my shoes (and did this a few times at different aid stations). I never found the “rock”, so I just kept plugging away. I did my best to not let the “rock” get the best of me. I eventually realized in the car ride home that this rock was a blister .. and I was thankful that was my only physical problem that day.
At mile 12 or so I felt like things were going smoothly .. I kept repeating in my head, I can do this, I will finish this .. I am strong. I mentally checked off miles 13, 14, 15 and then before I knew it I was making my way to mile 19 where I had a friend waiting for me. I had warned her the week before and in some of our training runs – when I see you I will probably be crying .. angry .. mad and wanting to quit. When I turned the corner .. I could hear her screaming my name. Cheering me up the hill. I had not one of those feelings I had so anticipated in weeks past. This was so HUGE for me! She even told me I looked good and strong .. can I say I felt it. I took a few minutes to fuel and regroup. My go to fuel had been potatoes, PB&J, freeze dried pineapple, Tailwind endurance fuel in berry and a new ultra favorite Sprite (shhh.. please don’t judge ;), I know it’s bad for you, but it got me through .. it must have been the sugar shock)! I asked her how many miles and she told me I had about 10-11 left. I heard 10, and I knew I could do ten more. I did not turn my Garmin on that morning .. I just used it as a watch. I think I’ve learned, on what I considered my “good” races .. It goes so much better when I’m not using it to constantly look at my time, pace .. or mileage. One of the great things I’ve realized on running trails .. it’s not about speed, just complete .. whatever you have in front of you that day.
Roughly 20 down and I knew some of the last few miles were going to get tough and they did. This race has a total elevation net gain of 4,800 feet and the same in descent. On the race course I got such great encouragement from fellow runners, all ages and experiences .. telling me to finish “my” race .. I love this community! I just kept running ..
Miles 21, 22, 23, 24, check and then 25 aggghhhh, there it was Goat Hill – a hill that’s about .30 miles long with a 20% incline. I’ve only seen one person run (billy-goat like trot) up this crazy thing .. and every other ultra runner I’ve heard talk about it says “I don’t run it” .. yes even the best ultra runners save their legs on this little piece of trail. I had done this hill on five other training runs. Each time hiking up it I thought I was powering through, and each time didn’t feel as bad. However this was different, it was at mile 25’ish (not at random miles on training runs) .. and it was race day. I knew once I got to the top .. it was just a little over 5 miles to the finish, and the reality of “I would finish” would be in close sight.
.. the end is near, to be continued!