The 3:20am wake-up hurt a little. I was still incredibly full from eating my weight in pasta and sourdough the day before (even though I knew better) so breakfast wasn't really happening. Butterflies in my belly were, however, definitely happening.
|With Peter and Laura. I procrastinated putting my bib # on...|
That would mean it was really happening.
|Still smiling @ the start|
My strategy was to eat solid food for the first 20ish miles and then switch to liquid calories (Heed and Perpetuem by Hammer) exclusively to stay away from stomach problems. Peter was the most amazing and resourceful crew I could wish for and had my liquids pre-mixed and ready to go (along with a pep talk and ice to keep me cool) at each crew-accessible aid station.
|Coming in to Horseshoe, mile 10.8|
The people, energy and food at the aid stations were amazing - and they really helped to break the race down to mini-distances, so all I had to think about was running from one aid station to the next. But despite RDL being an out-n-back course, those same stations seemed much farther apart in the second half. "Who moved my aid station?" became the title of that chapter.
Once the sun came up, the most amazing scenery greeted me. I remembered (and was super thankful for) pre-running the course a few weeks ago but it blew me all over again.
And then mile 17 happened...and I rolled my left ankle. Badly. Ouch. A few tears and a few minutes spent hardly moving, waiting for adrenaline to kick in and the pain to subside a little. I took some ibuprofen (my kidneys will thank me later) and chose to suck it up. I would roll the same ankle again around mile 40 and then the right ankle around mile 55 (even worse)...just because, clearly, all good things comes in threes.
Getting to the turnaround point at around mile 31, I was still (generally) all smiles. I talked to some friends, stretched and was on my merry way in a few minutes. The climbs were a little tiresome, but I had enough energy to give them a good powerhike so I was still on pace. In my head, I was going to negative split the race and I was on a mission.
I'm not even sure when, but a little after ankle trouble #2, the proverbial poop hit the fan. My pace slowed, but I was still moving forward. When I got to the aid station with about 10.8 miles to go, I was crying hard (making boys around me a little uncomfortable) for no apparent reason. I refueled and wobbled on...
The sun set soon thereafter and I was alone in the woods. I was hoping someone would catch up to me, but the next person was about half an hour behind. Just me, darkness and all kinds of animals, who, in my mind, were all out there to eat me. Note to self: I really need to practice night-time trail running.
So, there is a section called meat-grinder. It's about 4-5 miles long and the nickname is very fitting. In daylight it's manageable, but still slows you down. At nighttime...not only do the rocks talk to you and morph into the shape of animals (I swear that happened) but they really get in the way of forward motion. Despite a second wind of energy a few miles leading into that section, I averaged a 21min/mi pace between miles 51-57. So that negative split thing went out the window...fast. At mile 55, my right ankle went out..with a crack and pop. I fell down into a bush and sobbed for a minute. The only thing that got me up and going was a strong desire to get the heck out of this "enchanted forest". With only about 3 miles to go, I pulled something behind my left knee. But by this point, nothing really mattered. I was determined to finish, no matter what.
Needless to say, I would have never finished (and 80% enjoyed) a race like this if it wasn't for my amazingly supportive friends, training partners and my race-day crew. So thank you, all. And no, I am definitely not done.