8:51:16. I’m not winning any medals for speed. But I went further and longer than I’ve ever been before.
I didn’t fall off the face of the earth. The world continues to turn. I survived. I made it. I didn’t DNF. Mission accomplished. I brought home a finishers smile, a sense of wonder and two lbs. of Maine mud. Oh, man. Too cool.
This weekend was the amazing Pineland Farms Trail Running Festival. This girl ran her first ultra Sunday. I am living out my dreams. Unreal. I am truly still in shock. This is the shittest post I’ve written to date. Please bare with me while I find my voice.
I don’t know where to start. I couldn’t sleep for two nights prior to the race. I had the attention span of my using former self. I got to Maine Friday to start my mini running vacation. Friday I wore grooves in the wood floor pacing. Hubby and I went to the Saturday festivities to pick up our bibs and see the Canicross and barefoot races. It was pissing down rain. It was cold and miserable for spectators. I lasted about 20 minutes before I let my nerves get the best of me. I was standing in six inches of water at the finish line, wondering if it would be this wet tomorrow. Yup.
We stayed with our gracious hosts Matt, Crystal and Sadie about an hour from Pineland. On race morning, with about 4 1/2 hours of sleep, we dragged our hides to New Gloucester. It poured rain. I fretted, nervously slugged a 24 ounce coffee and talked incessantly. Poor husband. Probably wondering what this strange hell he agreed to be a part of is.
We parked, glided, layered. The rain stopped and my eyes searched out a friendly face to nurse my nerves with. Way too early to be torturing my honey with my yammering. Way too early for most of the folks around me, as well. I must have looked like I was on crack, nobody wanted to chat. Go figure. So I prayed for some serenity and some help to make it to the finish line happy. Funny how I have to be a shit show before I remember to ask for help. Oh, well.
At line up, I spied fellow bloggers Heather at Learning To Run and Tony at Tony Runs To A 100. We had four seconds to meet and the gun was off. So psyched to meet them. Their presence at my start time felt like a BIG bonus to an already exciting day. They’ve been bearing witness to my dream. I didn’t realize how important something like that would be as incentive to follow through.
Within minutes, I was running with a few folks at my pokey pace. Just run your own race, Astrid. Without delay, it was a mud extravaganza. My Hokas felt like like ankle weights. Okay, I’m running. Here goes. I made it this far. No turning back. I’d briefly thought about how I could get out of running by some freakish accident. Like, say, getting a rock through our car windshield on the way to the race. Jon joked upon seeing a cop that we should flag him down and beg him to arrest us. Sorry, we got thrown in jail. Oops, no race. It’d make a pretty good excuse.
During the first mile, my angel of help appeared. Beautiful, experienced ultra runner Sherry and I got talking. And I never let her out of my sight. I was running comfortably at her side. I feel as though I latched on, letting her dictate the pace. Happily. I felt like I was just born on that course. And I appreciated her knowing what worked. I love being alone, but not today. Her knowledge and energy was like a carrot in front of this newbie. I keep thanking her for her company.
I’m not sure what happened. Time continued out on the course, despite me. I didn’t hurt for the first seven hours. I talked, walked the hills and totted around large amounts of mud and grass on my legs. I nervously waited to hit the wall. I never did. Miracle of miracles. Thank you, God.
I laughed constantly at the slipping and sliding I did. I could hear the Looney Tunes music in my head as I tried not to wipe out skating uphill in three inches of mud. It was a blast. My abs are utterly sore from laughing and all the lateral movement in the mud. It was agreed this was an ultra combined with a Tough Mudder. It seemed almost criminal to be having this much fun. Yips, hoots and hollers were heard everywhere from happy runners.
Some things that worked: Lots of bananas, water and Gatorade, salted potatoes, gummy bears, chocolate chip cookies, Belvita cookies (might be a cracker, not sure). A Tums and an S-Cap every hour. It was loving pointed out by Sherry I could eat a lot at aid stations. I took it as a compliment. I’ve been practicing eating during long runs. It used to cramp me up. Now, viola! I’m an eating machine. It served me well. Go figure.
Ifinished the first 15 mile loop in under four hours. Not bad. It took a bit longer to complete the second. Almost five hours. Oh, well. I almost missed the finish line. I started to go left, recovered right. I crossed the soupy threshold. And started bawling. I reached through tears for my cowbell and water bottle. It was kind of funny. The young woman passing out goodies probably thought I was hurt. It was the most incredible feeling crossing that finish line. Nothing but joy.
What a beautiful course. It is all farm land and some incredibly well maintained trails. I think there were three roots on the entire course. The course is well marked, the aide stations are really well stocked, and the rolling hills are merciful. Anyone thinking of trying an ultra should consider this an excellent option. I’m blessed it was in my (nearly) backyard.
As I write this, I’m icing my right foot, which is still lacking definition two days later. Tomorrow I head to the doctor to have it looked at. I can’t put any weight on. I don’t think it’s broken. I’m not worried. I’ll let you know what they say. Aggie is grateful for an extra day with her folks. And I’ll be catching up on some Netflix.
I didn’t take a single photo. So strange. I usually love snapping pics. Really, I was terrified to stop and lose my forward momentum. So, no pretty images to accompany this post. Just some muddy shoes and my finisher’s cowbell. Oh, hubs ran it in 7:15:00. Jerk.
What’s next? Not sure. You can bet I’m looking already. I’m ready for more. Lets run. Any suggestions?