I figured that everyone else was writing race reports, so I might as well write one up. So here goes nothin’ in a very long winded kind of way....
I’d like to start by saying, wooot! I’m a marathoner.
And, what an amazing day it was. I’m not sure how much I even slept the night before. I was too excited and nervous to relax. I amusingly woke up at 3:30 to Jamie sitting there with his laptop, playing a game of chess online. When I asked him why he was up so early he merely stated, “The alarm goes off in 15 minutes”, like one should always be awake for the alarm to go off.
I tried to go back to sleep but couldn’t, so I got up and ate a bunch of my left over delicious garlic chicken pasta from the night before (can I just say how much I love eating leftovers for breakfast? Almost as much as I love pie for breakfast, but not quite.) I then spent some time on the foam roller and started to pack up what I needed in as few bags as possible.
We headed out to the race at 5 and got there in plenty of time for me to have to make two nervous pee trips to the bathroom. I had read in Mindy’s report that this is the one time where there is a very long line for the men’s bathroom and no line for the woman’s. It was really funny to see though!
In time my mom and dad and then Monique and Karen arrived. What an awesome support team I had there for me at 6:15 AM!!!!! The race was delayed 15 minutes due to a car accident that blocked the road to the race, so we began at 6:30. I thought that maybe I wouldn’t need my headlamp, but it was still pitch black out there. As all the runners made their way out of the gym to the start line, it was quiet the site to behold.
At this point I was so excited, yet in a bit of denial that I was going to run 26 miles. I really had so much adrenaline pumping, the worried part of me drifted away as we started out. Despite the bottleneck of moving from an open field onto a small path, I still ran the first mile pretty fast for me. As I made my way along in the dark I ended up falling in with a very fun group of women who led me all the way to Fast Fred’s. One of the women was named Ann. I will forever be thankful to her. She stayed with me the whole way through the first lap even though she could have run much faster. She kept me going and slowed down through the hills I was struggling on so that I could keep up with her.
I was cruising along great - and running fairly fast for me with the kind of trails we were on. When we hit the cold water - unlike Danielle and Val - I did not run right through it. I tried so hard to keep my toes dry and warm - poor things. I eventually realized the lost cause and made large splashes as I tromped through it. This is when my toes decided to hate me for the rest of my life. There is nothing like running through ice cold water halfway up to your knees in sub 50 degree weather when you still have 23 miles left to run.
I met my entourage for the first time a little after Al Cat’s Lounge. I guess they had been lost, but they didn’t show it! It was great to see everyone and get the encouragement to keep on going. I also passed off my headlamp to my mom so I wouldn’t have to carry it anymore. I had zipped though Al’s because I knew that if I stopped I wouldn’t be able to control the urge to eat the bacon and that would have made bad things happen.
The women I had been running with caught back up to me and I worked hard at staying with them. The first lap of this thing is somewhere around 13.5 miles. I gotta tell you, 13 miles is long. I had been working hard those 13 miles too and felt it as we were beginning to make it into the soccer field. I was feeling a little low when I looked around the corner and saw in the distance my mom standing with my Aunt Judy and Uncle Rod! What a surprise. I had no idea they were going to be there! What a pump of energy that gave me. I looked further down the field to see Jen and Adam there. Rockin’ good times all around. I now had a fan club of 8. This lifted my spirits. I am so blessed to have so many awesome people in my life who would come out at crazy hours and watch me run by them in the woods for a few seconds before I disappearing for a few more hours.
The second lap started fantastic. I was on such a high having just seen everyone and I had made it through in 2:58 (who would have guessed I could pull that off?). The first mile sped past as I watched 50 milers go by about to finish lap 3. As you cruise along this part of the course you suddenly make a sharp left up a hill to go into single track mode away from the “in and out” section. For some reason when I hit the top of the hill I felt like I had just climbed Mt. Everest. My brain went, “oh no, this doesn’t bode well for the remaining 12 miles”. I kept chugging along though. It was a little hard to have to stop to let the 50 milers go on by, but I secretly enjoyed the excuse to stop.
This lap was hard. I made it to Al’s and my left ITB felt like it was going to break in half like a too taut elastic. Seeing everyone again though lifted my sprits and Erik was there helping out. It was fun to see him! I hadn’t eaten any food and it still didn’t look appetizing. Looking back I should have partaken in the chicken soup. Erik tried to get me to eat. Next time I’ll listen to him.
Running alone in the woods is a funny thing. I did almost all of my training alone. But when training I would pause, find a comfy spot, perhaps lay down for awhile, call my mom and dad or friends to chat for awhile (Jamie eventually figured this out and would answer the phone with “are you laying down? get up and start running again.”). There were many points on the second lap where I looked longingly upon a lovely pine grove with a soft bed of pine needles just beckoning for me to have a moment’s respite from this torturous event I actually paid money to participate in. At this point in the race I also resorted to talking to my legs. They weren’t very good listeners though. I part of me didn’t really want to stop for long because there was a clock ticking away at the end. I had to keep stopping to stretch though. I was hoping a massage table and masseuse would magically appear at some point on the trail, but no such luck. “Who wants a body massage?” I did.
The last 8 miles brought some wonderful people who passed on by me, but helped me through some rough parts and kept me going. With a couple miles left before Fast Fred’s, I became ravenous. I pulled into the aid station and immediately started to chow down. My family and friends later laughed as they recalled the vision of me double fisting 2 ginger snaps and potatoes. Man those were good.
I was sad to leave this aid station. I remembered it had seemed long from this point to the finish line the first lap and then I was with Ann. This time I was all by my onsie.
Note: THIS WAS THE LONGEST FIVE MILES OF MY LIFE.
I’m not sure I fully remember these miles. I ran some very slow ones - around 20 minute miles (was I actually moving forward?). I stopped many times to stretch my left IT band. My calves were also screaming at this point. I eventually couldn’t figure out what hurt more. My ribs had had it with the coughing and I felt like they were broken, every stride the shift in my sports bra made the pain worse, my lungs felt like they were only half working, my feet hurt, my toes were cold, my nose wouldn’t stop running (and I refuse to partake in the pastime of snot rockets), my hips felt like a 98 year old’s and I definitely noticed the lack of cartilage in my knees. It was me alone in the woods with one very tiny violin.
I eventually hit a point I recognized and thought I was almost done. I was running so slowly though this stretch took forever. I was getting really annoyed with the fact that I was still running and not enjoying a beer when I heard Jamie’s voice bellowing through the woodland. What a sweet, sweet sound. I actually teared up a little. I still couldn’t see any one but I knew that if I could hear Jamie, the end must be near.
Jamie walked beside me while I lobbed along into the field. Ah, sweet victory - the finish line was in sight. Along with my mom, dad, Jen, Adam, Uncle Rod, Aunt Judy, Monique and Karen.
I have to admit that I found finishing fairly anti-climactic. I was so tired and moving so slowly it wasn’t the photo finish I had quite envisioned. I was just super happy to not have to move forward anymore. I was so glad to be surrounded by family and friends though. Again - a huge thank you to them all. I would also like to thank all those Trail Monsters out there who encouraged me along the way. What a very cool group of people you all are.
So thus, I am officially a marathonwe. I slow one, but a finisher. And I felt different going into work on Monday morning. Nothing around me had changed and no one looked at me different;y, but a piece of me had changed. Yep. 26.2. Check.