I did it! I ran my second ultra! Unbelievable! The Pokey Trail Runner runs again. And it was incredible.
Where to begin?
I spent the entire weekend on Ascutney where the race takes place. We couldn’t have asked for better weather. 72 and full sun! After hearing about some muddy conditions the past few years, I felt really blessed to be dry and tan.
Saturday was packet pick up and a vendor extravaganza. I checked out some Salomon shoes and ate samples. It was an awesome day of socializing with my most favorite people…trail runners. Talking about trail running. So many people to learn from and swap stories with.
The pre race dinner was the standard fair of pasta and desserts. No GF pasta for Jon, so the poor guy had to have steak. Too bad.
Race morning, our alarm got us up for a 3am wake up. Ugh. We live close, but Jon’s race began at 6:35 and a pre race meeting at 5:30. So, we needed the requisite hour to gather last minute items. href=”https://vttrailgirl.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/20131006-201958.jpg”>
We arrive about 5am, amidst hordes of mountain bikers and a few runners. The race is 2/3 mountain bikes, doing the full 50. The bikes begin a staggered takeoff before the 50 mile runners set out. By the time Jon's start took off, I was having the mother of all panic attacks. The race officials had yelled go! about 15 times by 6:30, and I was a nervous reck. I said goodbye to hubby who had teamed up with Tom from NY at the start line. Tom is an old friend of Jon's. It was such great fortune for him to have some racing company at his first full 50. I finally found my good friend Joy at the start line, hugged her quickly and waved my goodbyes to all. Now, an hour and a half of waiting. More ugh.
It's funny, I hadn't been this nervous for Pineland at the start. I fully contemplated getting back in the car and driving home. End of story. No drama here, my brain was simply in flight mode. This was my first meeting with my Obie Wan brain, trying some Jedi mind tricks on my softer self. 'You needn't race today. This isn't the race you're looking for'. My awesome crew of Tara and Mallory turned me back to the start line. No disappearing act for this kid.
The race begins at the resort, and heads down to the main entrance to a short stretch of paved road. We quickly hook a right onto the first of many gravel roads. It continued to be foggy and chilly.
I think at mile 2-3, the first climb begins. It's still gravel road at this point, but we climb about 1200' in two miles. More ugh. I expected the climb, so it felt doable. Non technical hills, psychologically, aren't terrible. We'll save that kind of pain for later.
I can't remember, but I think we entered trails after 4 or 5 miles. I was never bored. But, ready for an uphill power hike. The first 13 miles are fast. I felt great and was 32 minutes ahead of my projected time. Wow. Okay.
I was glad when folks wanted to chat, no music. No headphones allowed. Such a bummer. I did get some company here and there playing my iPod softly (sort of) stashed in my hydration vest. One woman ran with me for a bit so she could listen along. That happened to be my fastest mile of the race, while she encouraged me to keep up so she could hear more! I think I ran a10:30 minute mile then. Coon Club, Ralph's, and Margaritaville were all awesome and well stocked aid stations. M-ville is also on the VT100 course and it is a well oiled machine. I learned from racing Pineland, I can waste tons of time at aid stations. I kept to my resolution of 30 seconds or less at each of these stations. I needed those precious moments to walk when I got tired later on.
At some point, maybe 7ish or 8 miles, the 50 milers joined with the 50k for about a mile. We would rejoin before Fallon's.
12.9 to 22
Running with bikes was not that bad. It broke up the monotony of my thoughts. Which sometimes border on annoying. The thoughts, not. The bikes. I chatted with other runners and drifted in and out of the company of others.
Tara met me at Fallon’s, also the start finish line for the VT100. I refilled the pack, eat a bunch of ginger. and tried to pee. I’d been eating way too much sodium, so I felt like a water balloon. And not a drop was leaving my body. Ugh.
I remember little of the actual trails, but I still felt good. My hips were starting to get tight, but nothing major. I got to share the trails with the likes of Aliza Lapierre, Amy Rucieski and some top male runners. Too cool.
I walked when I wanted to, and ran when I could.
22.9 to 31
Jon’s awesome pacer, Jeremy, was armed and ready at Linda’s, mile 22.9 for me. I checked in at about 5:20:00. I eat leisurely for a few minutes and shot the poop. I felt like I was in the home stretch. I really let my guard down here.
Jon was expected to come through in about an hour or so. This would be his 41 (!!!!) mile mark. Crazy. I guess the word was he was running well. Less ugh. I was really grateful to get word he was running well. It helped me relax and focus on my own run.
Thank God, cause here’s where the course gets tricky. There are constant trail switch backs and no fulfilling downhills. My Obie Wan brain was in full effect. ‘This isn’t your race. You can stop now. You earned a big dinner. (Since when did Old Ben care about a big dinner?). You needn’t go this way’. I got tired and wasn’t eating enough. I was queasy and thirsty. I forgot to refill my pack at Linda’s. The next aid station, at 28, felt light years away. I lost all my extra minutes in this section. I was getting crabby. The trail was super narrow, I stopped and jumped off trail frequently for mountain bikers and fast 50 milers.
By the time I arrived at Johnson’s, I was ready to quit or hurl or both.
I drank a bunch of ginger ale, burped, and set off. I know it seems a bit over the top to want to quit so close to the end. But, I felt awful and I didn’t really care. I definitely lost my game face a few miles back.
I walked for a few minutes. Okay. I finally resolved to simply finish. I forgot about trying to finish in under eight hours. Just finish this. Even if I walked the last miles, I would still finish this.The last three miles are all trail. It’s about 1000′ climb on STAB trails. I gave the finger to the ‘3 miles to go’ sign, when I thought I had 2.5 to go.
Then I saw a sign that read
Okay. Moments later, I saw the first sign of the resort. I kicked it into high gear. I dug deep, asked for help and ran for my life (picture Kermit the Frog introducing a musical guest on The Muppets). I had nine minutes left to break eight hours. Go get it. Run, run, run. I could see the finish line for a full mile. The switch backs had me yelling out loud ‘really? Really?’. Relentless. COME ON! Til…. The beautiful finisher’s shoot…And the pain is forgotten.
Talk about suspense. And some great tears of joy.
The 50 milers:
Hubby finished in 11:12:00. The love of my life is an amazing ultra runner.
My hat’s off to Tom R.’s 10:46:00 finish, especially considering he was only planning on running 10 or 20 miles due to a bum knee.
And to Joy, who finished under 11 hours. She is an ultra master. And gorgeous.
And to Fish Stick’s first 50. Uh hum, I’d love a race report, sir. And bad ass Heather for a FAST relay leg (20 miles) and simultaneous pacing gig. You go, girl!
And a huge thank you to my crew, Tara and Mallory, who took tender loving care of me. I hadn’t originally planned on having a crew. I would’ve really missed out on great company and smiling faces to meet me and lift my spirits. Thank you, loveys. Even if I think I think I don’t need it, if someone offers to crew for me, I will immediately accept.
The VT50 is an incredible event. It is well marked and varied. I thought I would hate all the miles of gravel roads. It was actually a welcome mix to the single and double track. And the foliage is peak, making this a pretty good choice for a destination race. I’ll be there again next year. Thank you to all the great volunteers (Lorinda and Susan, especially!!) and enthusiastic officials.
There are massive pots of coffee at the start area. Enough said.
The combination of mountain bikes and runners is fairly seamless. Communication between racers is key, and never a problem.
I only derailed ONE biker. Your OTHER right, Astrid.
I carried a printout of the aid stations and my anticipated splits. This came in handy so I could look forward to the themed aid stations.
Gu or gels are great, but not for me. My stomach can’t handle the concentrated sugar on long runs. Boiled potatoes and bananas are perfect. So is ginger candy for settling my stomach. Too much carbonation is BAD. Very bad. More water is better.
I will learn to eat more. I’m semi-allergic to nuts (don’t ask) so Clif Bars and the like are out.
My Hoka Mafates were great. I was staring to be disappointed by their lunky-ness. But they preformed so well, I’m reconsidering. No sore quads. I blistered, but that was my fault, because I didn’t tape my big toes.
I continue to love my Nathan Hydration vest.
Endurolytes are the best.
Injinjis continue to be the best socks. Ever.
I have to work on my Obie Wan brain. I have a terrible game face. If I want to race longer distances, I better get my head together. My head, not my fitness, will probably be what causes me to DNF. Cause you know I’m thinking about a fifty miler next year…
I missed Aggie terribly. Running without her sucks.
What’s next? Any ideas? I’d do an ultra over the winter…
I love this life!
Thanks for running with me,