Let me start.. WHOSE IDEA WAS THIS..
First things first. I am EXTREMELY (beyond EXCITED!!) happy to announce that she made it home! Need to work on a few things but she is back and better than ever. My butt/sit bones are not excited about getting used to her again, however I AM THRILLED! Especially with fall here. Bring on the colorful sunday rides!
But now onto the race. Woof is all I can say. 5 tiny little women running 100-mi, packed into a Subaru Forester for 24 makes for an interesting time. First, Friday came and I was running around everywhere trying to remember the little essentials.. TP.. bug spray.. food.. a towel and a billion clothes because dangit don’t you know that we’ll be peeing in the woods, PLUS its supposed to rain for 24 hours straight as we’re running up mountains. Why would we expect anything less?!
Disclaimer: I should mention that this was a completely new experience for me, I really ENJOY my sleep and being able to actually ‘run’ my planned runs. The few times I saw Ian (my boss and RD) this week he really tried to put things into perspective for me by telling me the goal is to survive, suck up my pride and remember to have fun (after all shouldn’t it all be about fun!).
Saturday came early as we all carpooled out to Virgil for the Virgil Crest Ultra at 6:30 am with the race starting at 8:00am. Here we all are before we really knew what was coming! Smiling of course because we were excited and adventurous (and very naiive)!
After Alex, Marie and Elizabeth all ran their legs, it was my turn to get off and running the 6.1 miles up Virgil Mountain Summit to the infamous rock pile. Strangely enough, I was really excited to get out and run. This leg was awesome (once I had got my HR and breathing under control), I COMPLETELY sucked up my pride (Thanks Ian!) and ‘hiked’ the steep up portions and then flew down the downhills praying my ankles were still going to be working at the end of the leg (and for the rest of my legs). Now keep in mind, this isn’t just any trail race.. as Ian says it’s “not for sissys,” here is an except from the description of my first leg, “After you pass through the trail intersection at 4.4 miles you’ll enter a short stretch of trail that’s probably the most technical on the course with a maze of tree roots underfoot. The trail descends to the creek, making a sharp right turn, dropping off an embankment to make the creek crossing. Your feet will most likely get wet here.” This is EXTREMELY important to remember for leg #3 which is the same course AT NIGHT. In any rate, I was smiling and having fun on this part just flying through, passing people and of course SMILING. Everyone is so supportive at Ultras and Triathlons..so fun! The last bit of this course is also the same as the Forest Frolic (which was my first trail race in July). So it was nice to know where I was on the course. And yes, my feet did get wet right before the final ascent to the Rock Pile. I remember thinking that I was mildly concerned about how that leg would be when the rain finally reached us (we were fortunate not to have any yet, YIPPIE!).
Here’s me taking off for leg 1! Woot Woot.
Once I finished, Amanda was off doing her rockin’ thing, then back to the beginning with Alex and Marie doing leg #2 then I was up again. BUT while they were running.. I was OBVIOUSLY trying to keep my legs fresh as possible (Thanks paranoid runner mind) so of course I found a nice comfy spot for me to up my legs up (HELLO SARCASM). It actually was really unfomfortable and my back hurt, but anything to make my legs feel fresh before Leg #2 (yes, I was trying anything!). The girls liked saying I was ‘One with Nature’ as I had leaves in my hair and spiders crawling on me.
Moving on.. I’m not going to lie. I was a little nervous for this one. Leg #2 consisted of the dreaded (use big, booming announcing voice) ALPINE LOOP. My crazy boss/RD actually made us run up the Greek Peak Ski Slope… but WAIT… It started to rain. Things were getting interesting. I was trying to stay positive and still ‘have fun’ run/hiking up the mountain and REALLY looking forward to the downhill, keeping an eye out for the markers indicating I was on the right track. THEN I got lost. I ran right by the trail on the access road and easily added extra 1/2 mile before I questioned my turn, saw no one, saw no markers. I stood there waiting for a few minutes (really felt like an eternity) before I back tracked. Then don’t you know it.. two of the 100 milers are just yelling down to me to see if I see any markers (stinky 100 mi people). Of course I was nice and said no, then we found the true marker. At this point I was just down right PISSED (sorry mom, you know how I get) and paranoid I kept making mistakes and getting lost. I just wanted to be done with this leg. Eventually I made it back, felt horrible for my teammates (just because I’m like that) and then tried to focus on getting stuff in my stomach.. because oh yeah, you need to eat during these things.. and not to mention my stomach was SUPERBLY UPSET with me already (thank you bloating and grossness– sorry TMI) but on the plus side, I could still do work while feeling crappy.. (BRING IT ON IRONMAN!).
Elizabeth and Amanda were back up crushing their legs (in the pouring rain now). Once they finished we were half way which was kind of exciting.. we were running way faster than we originally thought and after we saw how many people had dropped out already we just felt like badasses. Then, Alex started loop #2 (shout out to alex who we accidentally left at the aid station for 5 minutes waiting for us to arrive, what a great sport.. and my bad!). While they were all doing their thang (yes, thang), I was trying to recover, get some food (stomach was getting worse) and getting over my bad mood from my F*ck up on Alpine #1. After some self pity and other ridiculous emotions/trying to nap, I realized I needed to snap out, and did so. Then I was having fun again, being giggly and starting to get sleep deprived (which means EVEN more giggles and perhaps some tears from laughing so hard).
Before I knew it, I was up again for leg #3 which was a repeat of leg #1 but in the dark and after the worse of the rain subsided. Remember the really steep uphill? oh, and the ‘really rooted technical section?’ Let’s just say I was surprised I survived. I told myself to just put on leg in front of the other. My feet were beyond soaked and muddy but I just kept trucking along, sliding a lot, trying with every ounce to not fall. Oh and that creek we had to go across.. yeah.. it was to MID CALF and I couldn’t see the bottom. Leg #3 went by pretty fast though despite the fog and my horrible headlamp. There was one point where I was 99.9% sure I was going to get eaten by a bear. Fortunately, I was on a dirt road and REALLY booked it back into the trail (at that point I thought the trail would be better than the road.. not sure why). Then slid through the rooted sections and up the hill to rock pile again, though this time, I yelled for Amanda to make sure she was there (apparently I thought she wouldn’t be, don’t as me why).
Stomach was pretty terrible after leg #3. Kept trying to eat salty things and get fluids in. I was so exhausted at this point while waiting for Alex and Marie to finish legs 4 things started to get funny.. Elizabeth’s Spirit Animals were with us, as well as the other teams pink tales (don’t worry we weren’t driving to the aid stations or anything.. nor was it 2 AM at this point). Woof.
Finally we made our way back to Lifthouse 5, where my fourth and final leg (also repeat leg #2) of the Alpine Loop was. NOW I was definitely past where I should’ve been for the day, meaning, I was grumpy (SO SORRY relay), tired, and seriously just wanted to be in my bed sleeping like the rest of the world. I was on the verge of tears several times from just being downright exhausted. HOWEVER, my relay kept me going and when Marie reached me, I was off up Alpine again, at 3:45 AM, in the pitch black night, on the slippery, muddy ski slope. All I thought was LORD HELP ME. EEEEEK. Then I told myself, it was only 4 miles.. how long could it really take. Let’s just say.. it took 74 minutes. WHOOPS. Thanks ski slope for helping me finish strong. I basically had to hike the whole thing in order to not slip, slide, fall or most importantly break or roll anything, because let’s be serious.. those who know me, know I’m a little bit of a klutz. However, success was mine as I finished without rolling (or breaking) anything! Woo go me.
I’m sad to say I missed the finish of our relay, my stomach was toast and I was downright completely and utterly exhausted. I needed to recover but I’m proud of my relay and the women I had the pleasure of spending those crazy hours with. Unlike my Peasantman half (where I still have the itch to do more), I think ultra running is not my forte. I’ll stick to trail running though. Though, I will say, it was an amazing experience 🙂