It is race morning and I am feeling calm really calm, as in it is just another day for me. When in fact it was the first race of 2011 on my schedule. I wasn't feeling anxious or nervous. I was ready for it and I was ready for anything this day had to offer me. I was in a good place mentally. I was focused. I was ready to execute my race plan and finish within my race goal. I was also ready for if things went south what my plan was for that. I just wanted to be ready. Maybe that is why I was relaxed and not anxious. I was ready.
Like I did in 2010 for my races I spent the night over at Coach Nikon and Lily's house. It is tradition and one that I don't plan on breaking in the near future. We arrived at Cool around 6 am. It was cold but not freezing like last year. We mingled for a bit and then I decided I needed to sit in the car. What I really needed was a little quiet time, time for me to focus again. I did just that, I went over the course in my head I saw myself hydrating and fueling I saw myself running.
I spotted Miss P. and we both decided we should do a warm up jog. I have never done this before, but this time if felt like I needed it. Maybe to wake my legs up or just to keep me calm. I also wanted to represent the shirt I was wearing. The Fleet Feet Ultra Trail Racing Team. It was a big deal to me when I received my shirt and I wanted to do my best.
Once we finished our warm up jog I gathered my things did some last minute race preparation (body glide) and headed back towards the Fleet Feet tent for a group photo and then off to the starting line. Miss P., Power Girl and I lined up. I took in a GU about 10 minutes before the start and then it was time to go.
I was excited I was full of adrenaline because the first mile we completed at 9 minute pace. That is a bit too fast. The first mile and half was on pavement and I was just running trying not to get stepped or step on someone else and I was also trying to remain calm. Soon enough the field thinned out a little bit and we hit the single track towards Knickerbocker Creek. It was still fairly congested but there was plenty of room to maneuver without using up precious energy. After the creek crossing we were on a fire road for a bit before reconnecting with the single track and the congo line.
The congo line was long and I knew I would be wasting energy trying to maneuver through it so I just settled in and passed when others stepped off to walk. By mile 4 the day was warming up. I took in my first salt as it was going to be warmer then what I was us too and I wanted to make sure I stayed ahead of my salt intake.
During the first 8 miles I walked a bit, my legs were feeling ok but it just felt like something was off. Maybe it was too much adrenaline at the start and this was the after effects of the adrenaline wearing off. I knew that I I shouldn't worry and to keep running. This section of trail was fast at times and then extremely muddy where it was too dangerous to pass. As I neared the fire station Miss P. was right ahead of me and Power Girl was gone. She took off around mile 2 and I never saw her again.
On approach to the aid station I heard "Hey there is Trail Pigeon" I looked and waved. I had a fan!!!! It made me smile. At the aid station I grabbed a square of peanut butter and jelly and kept walking and eating. I didn't need anything else and I didn't want to waste too much time outthere. I knew the next three miles were basically all down hill toward the 49 crossing. Miss P. caught up to me and we were running together until I took the lead and never slowed down. I was off. I was clocking 9:20's on the descent. I just opened up hoping I didn't blow up my quads for when I would really need them later in the race. I let go and was off. It was a fast descent to 49. My quads were feeling really good, I was feeling better physically.
As I approached the crossing Wonder Woman was there, she yelled my name and I waved. I ran across the street and she asked if I needed anything. I said "I am doing good, Miss P. is right behind me." and I was gone. I was cruising and I didn't want to slow down. I knew that Miss P. would catch me on Quarry Road as this is her strength. The nice rolling fire road. Quarry Road reminds me of Cavitt and I really do not like Cavitt.
I approached the aid station at mile 11 and here I grabbed a GU just in case and a square of PB&J. I was off just as quickly as I came in. I was wasting no time at the aid stations. Eat and walk, eat and walk and then start running. I choked down the PB&J. It was too dry for me but I knew I needed the solid foods in my system so to get it down without it coming back up I washed it down with water. Uhmmm a water soaked PB&J. Yumm!!!
I saw a Port-o-let and decided I should try and use it as I knew there was nothing else besides the woods. I actually went potty. Wow! That is amazing, I must have hydrated well and been drinking properly. Yeah Me! After the quick and I mean quick potty stop I was off again. I was feeling pretty strong on Quarry road but this road just never ends. It keeps going and going and going. I powered hiked the large hills and kept expecting Miss P. to come up behind me. She did, I looked back saw a blue shirt and asked "Is that you Miss P." "Yup" it was her. She caught me. But it didn't defeat mentally as I knew it would happen. It was actually a good thing she caught me because she kept me moving on the road. She even pointed out that we were at the half way mark!
We finally came to single track and I knew that I didn't want to be in the lead on this section of trails. I wanted to tuck in behind someone. But I couldn't keep up with Miss P. She was gone. Some runners came upon me and tucked in behind me and we ran eventually catching back up to Miss P. I really enjoyed running with Miss P. It made me feel not so alone just knowing that she was either in front of me within distance or just behind me at any time ready to pass me.
Miss P. and I had flown through the aid station at main bar. We were both not wasting any time. I did fill my pack up as it was getting low. We were now on our way to ALT 1. We had a few major climbs which seemed to have kicked my butt. I was struggling on these climbs. They just seemed to go on forever. I ran when I could, then I thought I need to eat something, I ate a Honey Stinger Waffle and not long after eating it a girl in pink came running by me and I tucked in behind her and joined the train. I actually enjoyed this train. The girl in pink was holding a nice steady pace and I was right in the middle which forced me mentally to get out of what ever I was in mentally and run. And run I did. I looked down at my watch and were holding 9:30 10:00 minute pace. Pretty good, considering not to long ago I was hiking.
I held onto the girl in pink and our train became a train of 3 as others slowly dropped. When she passed a runner I passed a runner not wanting to lose her. I just kept my eyes down and followed her feet. I just focused on her feet and kept thinking I can't lose her. The three of us talked a bit I told the girl in pink she was doing a great job and we just ran the sweet tacky single track together. She pulled me to ALT aid station where I downed a coke filled my pack with a little water as they were rationing it because they were almost out.
I saw the girl in pink leave and I took off like a bat out of hell. I didn't want to lose her. I caught her again and thanked her and tucked right in step with her. We were on our way to Goat hill. A few other runners also tucked in behind me and the five of us were cruising. I was focused on her feet when all of a sudden at mile 23 my right foot caught something and I was doing a super man with my face and chest almost crashing into the ground. Somehow I managed to stay on my feet. How I don't know. The girl in pink slowed down to check on me I yelled "I am OK." The runners behind probably couldn't believe what almost happened. I was just keeping things interesting for everyone. I knew this section was runnable. Very runnable. The girl in pink did a fantastic job keeping a nice steady pace. We ran most of the hills and were making some great timing. I did fall behind for a bit but I was fueling and I quickly caught back up. We passed a few runners on this section and the miles kept ticking by.
Once we verve off the single track and onto the fire road on our way to Goat hill. I used this as an opportunity to take in some Tylenol, a salt and more fuel. I wanted to be ready to tackle goat hill. And tackle goat hill I did. I powered up it without having to rest. I just kept hiking as quickly as I could. I passed a few runners and just put my head down and kept hiking. As I reached the top I had also reached the marathon point. 26 miles and I was still feeling pretty good even after almost falling flat on my face at mile 23.
At the aid station I downed a coke and was off. I wasn't quit sure why people were changing their shoes because it was only 5 miles to the finish. I took off, I was tearing up the down hill section, I still had my quads. The only problem I had was in the footing. It was really muddy and I could have gone down at any second. One runner heard me approaching and quickly stepped off the trail so I could pass. I am so thankful she did because I don't think I could have stopped in time. Down down I go. Running the adrenaline was pumping my legs were moving as fast as they could go. Climb climb climb keep moving what ever I do keep moving. I saw the grandpa tree and knew 4 more miles to go. I am so close and I can make my goal of 6 hrs. I just know I can!
Down and up, I had forgotten that there is still a bit of climbing involved in this last section. But I kept moving. I tucked in behind some other runners and then they let me pass we were approaching the 49 crossing. I passed them and quickly caught up to another runner. He started cramping and let me pass. Before I left him I offered him some salt with some hesitation on his part. I explained we had at least 2 miles to go with one last major climb. The salt will help. I gave him some and I was off to the crossing. I had my eyes on the prize. The 49 aid station. I thanked the race officials at the crossing and flew into the aid station. I wasn't going to make the same mistake I did at TRT and blow through it. I stopped just long enough to down a coke and then I was off again.
I was only a little under 1.5 to the finish with one final obstacle. The last major climb. I ran what I could and hiked when I needed too. Then ran and repeated this process until I saw the meadow. Once in the meadow I knew it was a short distance. I just had to keep moving when all of a sudden my entire right leg up to my knee was in a mud hole and my right arm up to my elbow was in mud. What the F!#$???!!!!! I just ran into a shoe sucking mud hole. Luckily I still had my shoe on.
I pulled myself out and kept moving. I washed the mud off of my arm. I was thinking I can't cross the finish line looking like this. I know probably not what I should have been thinking but I was. I didn't bother with the mud on my legs I just kept running knowing the prize was near. This finish. I crested the hill and I could see the finish across the way. Two more right turns and I would be there. I hit the home stretch, putting it into another gear. One I didn't know was there. I hit the last turn saw the time and hit another gear. I was going to make it. I crossed in 5:59:03.
I did it I finished, but not only did I finish I finished under my predicted goal time. Wow what a day. I believe that I executed my race plan. I fueled well, when I realized that things were off I fueled some more instead of just carrying on. I was able to recognize and course correct. I hydrated out there I had to fill my pack 2 times and I also took in the right amount of salt. All in all I am very pleased with my results and now I really can't wait to see what the rest of the year has to offer.
Thank you to my awesome Training Team/Coaches Anthony, Kirk, Jenny/Lily my massage therapist for always fixing me and my fellow trail runners and family. I run because you believe in me which makes me believe in myself. Thank you for being so supportive.
Food Intake: 6 Gus the entire day (flask full with some water)
3 PB&J squares
1 Honey Stinger Waffle
5 dixie cups of coke
-2 main bar
-1 Goat Hill
-1 49 crossing
2 Tylenol at the start and 2 more on approach to goat hill (mile 25ish)