I tried to drop down to the 50k, the race director would not let me. I tried to bail on the race because I felt like I wasn’t ready and I was tired of traveling. My friend backed out of helping me with the 8 hour drive and when I told Ryan I was not going he said he would go with me. I even tried to ask my coach if he thought I should drop out and he encouraged me to go have a fun training run. None of the stars aligned in the events leading up to the race. Our usual house sitter was unavailable with such short notice and we could not bring the pups. Luckily two of my very good friends were able to help out in a pinch with the pups!
My anxiety was out of control and I really felt out of shape to try to run 100k. I love the 50k distance and with anything longer than that I become very panicked about my fitness and ability to finish. I have had some great training runs since Boston and am getting my mountain fitness back, but…It is not completely back and that worried me!
Ryan and I had a very uneventful drive to the race, set up the tent and went to pick up my race packet. Ryan was supposed to crew and pace me but he was getting the itch to race. He asked the race director if there were any no shows and we got an answer that was completely unexpected. Ryan handed over a check and I lost my crew and pacer! I was honestly okay with it and had to laugh because everything that was supposed to be with this race changed. It was a good reminder that life doesn’t always happen as planned.
We got a big dinner and settled in for a great night of sleeping. The forecast was for 73 degrees and sunny. When we started the race with headlamps at 5am it was 41 degrees and pouring rain. Hmmmm…..
I wore my La Sportiva wind shirt and arm sleeves. It was pretty raw out! The race started and my plan was to go easy and try to pace myself well. We ran up the rocky hill slipping and sliding in the Pennsylvania mud that was like Axel grease! I took a good digger but got right back up and kept plugging away at the climb. On the descent I felt really good and floated down the hill dancing over the roots and rocks. It was here that I took the lead. She was extremely fit and strong looking so I knew at around 40 miles she would be chasing me down like a mountain lion.
I ran with a fun group of guys and we laughed about the usual stupid crap that people discuss in ultras. I was feeling the burn in my legs and just kept my pace comfortable because I knew it would be a long day.
Around mile 8 I came up on Ryan who was walking. He had been up with the lead pack and after racing a 50 miler two weeks prior he wasn’t in the mood for hammering it out, so he hung back to run with me! A small group of us spent several miles together chatting and laughing. The course was so ridiculously beautiful and challenging! It was also soaking wet with our feet constantly buried in a mud puddle, stream or river crossing. The macerations on my feet started and a couple of massive blisters were sloshing around in my shoes.
I ignored the pain and focused on moving forward. Ryan and I enjoyed being together and spending time getting to know some really nice people! One of them made my day by telling me that his 10 year old daughter Bailey saw a picture of me and wanted to go running with the braids and sunglasses I have. It made me melt, hearing that was so special!
About halfway through the race the group started to break apart, some pulling ahead and some falling behind. Soon it was only my Ryan and myself sharing miles, conversation and motivation to keep going. I had some wicked low points and we laughed about how much pain and suffering the human body can withstand! Ultrarunning is so amazing just for that reason! Seriously, who runs that far!!!!!
The sun came out and it started to get quite hot, and along with the heat our ability to eat solid food started to wane. The only thing my stomach could tolerate was the CarBoom energy gels. It was hard to force myself to eat but once I got it down it did not make me sick but instead gave me the energy I needed to keep going. I had been eating a lot of aid station food and I think around mile 50 it really caught up with me.
We rolled out of the mile 50 aid station and heard the volunteers cheering loudly for a runner that came in. I suddenly got it in my head that it was the next female chasing me down. I didn’t want to get caught with only 13 miles to go and in an ultra that is usually where the game is lost.
I pushed hard, real hard. I jammed up and down the hills the best I could. I did not look back but I listened for any sign of someone behind us. At the aid station with 6 miles to go there were a bunch of very enthusiastic volunteers and we filled up on water and rolled out of there quickly! To our surprise there was one more aid station where there was only 5k left to finish!
Ryan gave me a kick in the pants when I started to cry that I didn’t want to lose the race with 3 miles to go. I had not been looking at my watch and did not want to know the time. I pushed as hard as my little legs would take me and smiled because my Boston Marathon training was helping me out so much on this runnable terrain before the finish. Ryan told me to stop crying and just go. I did and rolled into the finish line first woman and set a new course record by just over an hour!
I had to thank the race director for not letting me drop down to the 50k. I was so incredibly happy with how smart I ran and very happy that Ryan and I shared so many wonderful miles together on the trail! I asked if the prize was an axe so that the winner could cut their legs off, I think the race director thought I was a wacko!
I want to thank my sponsors La Sportiva, Choucas Hats, Julbo USA and BoomNutrition for their support. I want to thank Andy for dealing with me being such a pain to coach. I want to thank my friends for training with me, hanging out with me and helping me through the good times and the bad. I want to thank my Ryan for taking a weekend to do something for me on a whim and making me smile for so many miles! I want to thank my Jack Puppy and Bennett for being such wonderful trail running buddies and of course snuggle buddies! I am such a lucky girl!
If you are looking for a fast paced White Mountain adventure go to www.redlineguiding.com and hire myself or Ryan to be your trail running guide!