Saturday, I participated in (notice I didn't say "raced") the Frozen Trail Run Fest 50K. My first attempt at an ultramarathon and I've since been told, a pretty tough pick for a first one. Heather was friend enough (and perhaps just crazy enough) to join me on my adventure. She has since told me that any race I suggest she's game for so maybe I should be more selective in my suggestions. Anyway, pre race actually began Friday night when, as I was getting things ready to go I realized I couldn't find the charger for my Garmin anywhere. Finally after looking until 11:30pm with no luck, I gave up. How long will a Garmin last with 3 bars... can it make it 31 miles... 6+ hours? I was hoping.
Saturday morning I woke up and got ready, took a picture of my pretty toes (because I figured they wouldn't be so pretty at the end)
We got to Mt. Pisgah without trouble. Picked up our packets, where I was given bib #17 which made my day. For one thing it's an odd number, which I love but mostly because out of all the trails we would be running on, #17 was my favorite... I figured it was a good sign.
|Heather and me. |
Looking a little hesitant and my ear warmer headband is totally on sideways... I can't believe I ran 31 miles that way! Note to self... look in the mirror next time!
and were given a little bit of instruction, "Do base loop 1, then base loop 2, then base loop 1 again, then the summit loop... you're welcome." In case you don't remember from my previous post, here is a glance at the course elevation profile:
Base loop 1. 8.2 miles total. Elevation gain 889 feet. For the most part loop 1 was pretty uneventful. Heather and I settled into a nice pace. We checked in at the aid stations but didn't stop, walked a bit up the bigger inclines, passed a few people, were passed by a few people, passed a few people again and overall, dare I say, enjoyed ourselves. I had a Razz Clif Shot at mile 5. Before I knew it, we were up and over my least favorite trail, #7 and headed down #17 towards the start/finish for loop #2.
"Should we do it again?" "Let's do it again."
Base loop 2. 8.2 miles. 889 feet elevation gain. Although the stats for base loop 2 are identical to base loop 1, that increase in elevation comes at a much more rapid pace... I really think Summit loop 2 would be more fitting. Anyway... I had some Margarita Clif Bloks at mile 10 and stopped to use the facilities at the 12 mile aid station. After stopping, it took me a loooooooong time to catch back up to Heather but I finally did and we ran together for the remainder of loop 2. Once we were on the back side of the mountain on our second loop the trail began getting pretty sloppy. I had a Strawberry Clif Shot at 15 and welcomed the caffeine... I think it was a nice boost. We stopped for water at 16.6 (which by the way was manned by a very very nice and encouraging man) then headed up #7 again to #17 and back by the start/finish. For loop #3.
"Hey, let's run it again" "Okay"
Base loop 1 (2nd time) 8.2 miles. 889 foot gain. (spoiler alert... this was my least favorite loop.) I was starting to feel it at that point. We were 16.6 miles in when we passed the start/finish. We began being passed by runners doing the shorter distances (they had started racing at 10am). It was good to be running with Heather, she kept me going. Somewhere along there, I had a handful of Jelly Bellies and also quite a few PowerBar Energy Blasts... which I looooove. At the 19.6 mile aid station I stopped and ate a chocolate chip cookie (at the time it was the best chocolate chip cookie I had ever had... it tasted sooooooo good, even though it more resembled cardboard) and had two glasses of water. Heather stayed behind to use the Honey Bucket but caught back up to me in no time. We also had quite a few other people catch up to us over the next little bit. I slowed considerably as we began up the hills and pretty soon everyone was gone. I lost Heather and also another lady that I consider my running nemesis (she's my kids' music teacher and we've battled a few other times... here specifically). I tried not to lose hope at that point but I knew there wasn't going to be much chance of catching back up with them. My pace dropped even more and as I slopped up the hills I stopped several times to stretch out. My right hamstring from my groin to my knee was on the verge of cramping up and my lower back was killing me. As I was coming around the other side of the mountain I decided to try and enjoy myself a little bit more and stopped to take a few pictures of the muddy mess that we were
Summit Loop. 6.4 miles. 1023' elevation gain. (Also, my contribution to the Jingle Bell Hell Virtual Race put on by XLMIC) (It should also be noted that as tribute to the Jingle Bell Hell race, I had composed a song in my head during the first loop that went to the tune of Jingle Bell Rock (my least favorite Christmas song of all time). The song was completely lame* and made it so I had the tune of Jingle Bell Rock in my head for 31 miles... not a good thing.)
As I came by the start/finish to begin my final loop of the course the officials stopped me. I was secretly hoping they were going to tell me that I wasn't going to be able to complete the race but apparently someone had merely removed one of the summit signs and they didn't want me to get lost. Whew... I could keep running. :S Shortly after leaving the start/finish I realized I was basically out of water except for a few drops. Ugh... this was going to be hellish. It took me a bit to decide what to do. I knew I didn't want to return to the start to fill up... it wasn't quite 4 miles to the aid station at the summit, I could survive that long without water. I had planned to have a Chocoalte Cherry Clif Shot but wasn't sure that was the best idea without anything to chase it with. Ultimately I decided to take it... I really needed that double shot of caffeine. About that same time, my Garmin gave the beep of death and I was completely alone. No pace. No other runners. No water. Just me.
It wasn't long before I was heading up the summit. Here's another reminder of the elevation in case you were wondering.
Finally though, the clouds parted, literally, and I reached the summit. Maybe it's because I was already out of breath, but it was the most breathtaking thing I have ever seen. It looked like you could just walk out onto the clouds... so cool.
|Yep, still have that crooked headband... what a dork!|
I knew that the next aid station was just down from the summit and I was quite anxious for some water. When I stopped at the aid station though, ha ha, joke was on me, she was out of water!!! What?!!! I will admit, I did actually laugh at that point as in, you've got to be kidding me, you're out of water?! I did notice a nice bag of potato chips... think that would quench my thirst?! The volunteer was of course quite apologetic and assured me that the next station was only 1.6 miles away, which isn't too bad... unless of course you've just run over 4 miles without anything to drink except a sticky clif shot! Anyway, I survived. I actually was feeling pretty good. I think being less than 3 miles from the finish helped lift my spirits. I stopped again to take a picture of the mud... which at that point was just a mess. Then I laughed when I could barley lift my foot because I kept it still in the mud too long.
6:49:37 pace 13:12
20th finisher overall out of 27... at least I wasn't dead last, I had my concerns for a bit
6th out of 9 for the women
2nd of 3 in my age group
Aaaaaaand, my toes came out okay... just a little bit of mud and only one small blister.
All in all I'm really glad I did this race. I went into it knowing it wasn't going to be the best race for me. It was hard, but I told myself that no matter what I would be happy with just finishing it... I didn't intend to try and race it. I have a hard time "not racing things" and it's still disappointing to me to see my name so close to the bottom of the results but I really am happy with my effort. I definitely want to do it again... maybe sometime when I'm not pregnant. I've definitely caught the ultrarunning bug and can't wait to try some longer events... although I will wait, quite a while. :)
*Jingle Bell Hell (to the tune of Jingle Bell Rock)
jingle bell, jingle bell, jingle bell hell
we've run three loops and we've run them well
now onto the summit we go
we won't run too fast, nope we'll run real slow, ooohh
jingle bell, jingle bell, jingle bell hell...
Disclaimer: for anyone that is concerned... I did consult with my doctor before running this event and was given permission. I feel that I did a good job listening to my body and doing what was smart for me.