As usual, I'm going to be verbose and graphic in my race report. So sit back, relax, and wait before you snack.
My morning started at 0400 with my daughter waking me up after I managed to snag maybe 2 hours of sleep. I had some serious pre-race jitters that would NOT go away. Despite this being a not-so-serious race for me, I still wanted to do 50k if not 40 miles. Turns out I barely reached the marathon distance. Anyway, my daughter woke me up after she had a scary dream. So I laid in bed for another half an hour before my alarm went off and I stumbled into the shower. I got dressed and started to prep for my drive when my son decided it was his turn to wake up. So I got him back into bed before hauling my tired butt out the door.
I made a quick stop at the local Sheetz because I couldn't remember if I packed my gloves. I did so I continued on my merry way. Once I neared town, my coffee started to kick in so I used the bathroom at the Wawa before heading over to the local Panera to wait for them to open. I knew I'd need something solid to eat before my long run and a bagel would be safe. I snagged my bagel and headed down the road to Lake Anna State Park.
I arrived just as they started the check-in for runners. On the drive into the park I noticed a nice little skunk rolling around on the shoulder of the road. It must have been a sign that my day would stink. I parked, checked in, got my bag with shirt and bib, then headed back to my car. I hit the bathroom yet again and began to lay out my crap. Not that kind of crap, my running crap. All the junk that I thought I needed but it turns out I didn't need half of it. Not to fulfill any stereotypes, but I totally felt like a woman going on an overnight trip. I had that much crap packed. Seriously, three pairs of shoes? Who the hell does that?
So, my gear was stashed on my blanket for my own personal aid station and I geared up to start my run. They gathered the runners for the pre-race brief and thankfully they went over the course markings because I was too damn tired to remember what color was for what loop. Hell, I didn't even have a map handy. I have no idea what the hell I was thinking. They pulled the virgin ultra runners and gave them a Hawaiian lei before counting us down to start.
We were off over a short quarter mile or so of pavement up a hill. Like a dumbass, I ran. And kept running. My plan was to run a short loop, three long loops, then another short loop. I stuck to my plan for the first loop and tried to settle into a groove. It was bright enough to see but cloudy enough that I didn't need sunglasses. For some reason I thought it would be sunny but I think I saw a hint of the sun just once. Thankfully the rain held off until the very end of the 8 hours. So the first loop, a short one, was okay. There was a nice downhill, a slog of an uphill, and plenty of twists and turns. We got to the split between short and long loops and I made my turn, ran next to the road a bit, ran through a controlled burn (where a lone, tiny pine tree was standing intact that reminded me of the Charlie Brown Christmas tree), then headed through some decent trail. Then there was a slog down and around and up and through that made you feel like you were running in a freaking washing machine. After that section, you came out onto a fire road of sorts that was decent enough but still had some hills to check your speed. I finished my first loop, yelled out my number and "short" and headed for my personal aid station.
I refilled my bottles, stripped my Under Armour thermal shirt off, slapped on arm sleeves, and went back out, this time for a long loop. The short and long loop have the same start and finish but the long loop adds another 3+ miles (the short loop is 4.7 miles and the long loop is 8 miles). I trucked along on the long loop, through some nice gentle downhills, up some short hills, to the power line section. Here I was greeted with some nice steep ups and downs before heading back into the trees for more single-track trails. Somewhere before the power line I tripped on a root and managed to stay upright. I should have rolled to the ground but instinct took over. And I think that single trip is what cost me my goal. Shortly after I finished the power line section, my right hamstring started to hurt. As I progressed through the run, it continually got worse before the pain began to radiate to my calf and my knee. So even though I didn't make my goal distance of 50k or more, even though I'm not happy with my final results, I'm okay with how I did. I'm still in one piece and I'm not in too much pain the day after.
After my second loop, I topped off again and decided to stick with just short loops for the rest of the race. So I did another short loop and finally saw my wonderful crew, Biddi O. waiting for me. She helped me refill my crap, put some KT tape on my hammy, and without knowing it, kept me going. I was seriously thinking about just callign it quits right then and there. But knowing she would be there waiting for me, I knew I had to keep running. She'd beat my ass for wasting her day and for quitting.
So I headed out for another short loop and Biddi met me for the last mile or so and ran in with me. We repeated the process for yet another short loop, but this being my last one, I had no gas left in the tank and ended up walking nearly all of it. I was in a constant state of change on that last loop. One minute I'd be in the dumps ready to quit and the next minute I'd be ready to go for another one. My mind was not all there as I know I talked to Biddi but don't even know what the hell we talked about.
A few random notes from the race. It was great to see Ally S. , Steve S. , and Andy O. before and during the race. While Steve and Andy certainly outgunned me in the running department and Ally wasn't there to crew for me, they always took the time to give me a cheer when they saw me and ask how I was doing. A class act all the way around. I got much the same vibe from fellow racers as they commented on my shirt, bright orange attire, and even my shoes. In stark contrast was the horse riders out on the trail who took the time to give me the evil eye or make snarky comments about how I should use the bridge for people instead of the water crossing for horses. Thankfully not all the horse riders were this rude. Others were quite nice and two ladies even moved to the muddier portion of the trail and made comments about how awesome we were for running. The trail was muddy as shit (and full of horse shit) but was runnable. After a few laps, you knew where to go to avoid the worst of the mud but after a few laps you didn't really care about getting muddy. The race directors told us to run the first loop in one direction then we could change directions if we wanted to. I didn't change directions as I felt the direction of travel was better (in other words, more downhill than uphill, thus making it easier). I was passed many times and while it wasn't depressing like it usually is, it took a bit of navigational aid to do it safely. Runners would come in either direction and I had to keep a constant eye over my shoulder for faster runners coming by me. I figured it was only right to move out of their way when they came flying by.
Temps were about 35F to 40F. Cloudy and overcast skies. Light sprinkle on my last lap but steady rain didn't start until the last few minutes of the race.
Fluids and Fuel:
Breakfast was a Starbucks Double Espresso and half a bagel. My first lap I ate the second half of the bagel and had a bottle of plain water and a bottle of Hammer Fizz. I also had a bit of Hammer Gel. My second lap I had a bottle of Hammer Fizz, a bottle of plain water, Hammer Gel, and an e-Gel. I ran out of fluids about a mile from the end of the second loop. My third loop I switched to a bottle of Perpeteum mixed with Zico and a bottle of Hammer Fizz. I also tried to squeeze out more Hammer Gel. My fourth lap was another bottle of Perpeteum, this time mixed with Starbucks Double Espresso, and another bottle of Hammer Fizz. My last lap was two bottles of flat soda. The only aid I took from the aid station was three potato chips, a small cup of Coke, and a pirogi (which I didn't eat until I finished running).
Aches and Pains:
The bottom portion of my right hamstring started to hurt during the second loop. It continually got worse as I continued to move. The pain began to spread to the top of my calf and behind my knee. In some of the muddier sections the left side of my knee hurt. The bottoms of my feet hurt but nothing too terrible. My shoulders and the small of my back also began to hurt towards the end.
I wore my iPod for my last two loops. I wore my new pair of Altra Lone Peaks for the entire race (fresh out of the box and no blisters!) even though I brought two other pairs of shoes to wear just in case. The Lone Peaks (which I saw on another runner) performed awesomely. No blisters and only one hot spot (the outside edge of the ball of each foot). The only issue I had with them is the difficulty in attaching gaiters to them. I have an idea on how to fix it though, just haven't tried it yet. They did awesomely in the mud with very little sticking to the sides or bottom. I did manage to kick a few rocks in them but only had one that really hurt. And I learned from my last run and gave them a solid cleaning today. My arm sleeves were the biggest surprise performance. When I packed them I figured I'd never need them but when I stripped my thermal layer off after the first lap they did a great job at keeping me warm but not too warm. I had some very minor chafing with my shorts and thought about putting my RUEZ underwear on under them but every time I got back to the finish, I determined it would just take me too damn long to change clothes. They were nice to put on after I had finished running though. I also wore my Brooks vest for the last two laps. I was starting to get colder as I slowed down and had not planned for that. Nor did I plan for chilly weather when I was done running I needed at least two more layers for after the finish and probably should have swapped out my headband for a winter beanie for the last two laps.
Codename - No Beer For You
The race director said at some point during the day that you needed 31.5 miles to earn a pint glass. Which makes sense, that's pretty much 50k. And if I could have squeezed out another short loop, I would have gotten that glass. And even though I really, really wanted to push myself to the max and get in a 50k, I knew that if I pushed too hard and blew out my hamstring I'd be putting next month's HAT 50k at risk. And I didn't want to do that. That's my next A-race and I need to get some more training in. And not just training in running either. I need to work on my aid station technique. I did pretty well in this race with my longest aid being around 10 minutes (when Biddi taped me up). But my shortest was 2 minutes. And I'd guess my average was 3 or 4 minutes. Pretty good but I can do better. And since the HAT run has some cut-offs, I need to trim every second I can only focus on what matters. So I may not have a glass to put my beer in but I have a keg full of knowledge to use later. Oh, and Biddi did bring a "girlie" beer (Stella) for me and I managed to drink half of it. Still tasted like ass but less-so than the last stuff she shared.
Like a schmuck, I didn't use my watch like I wanted to so my aid station times and loop times bled together a bit.
Loop 1 (short - 4.7 miles) - 1:01:25 (includes some of my aid station time)
Aid Station 1 - 2:33 (includes some of my Lopp 2 time)
Loop 2 (long - 8 miles) - 1:43:36 (includes Aid Station 2 time)
Aid Station 2 - unknown
Loop 3 (short - 4.7 miles) - 1:09
Aid Station 3 - 8:54 (includes Biddi taping my hamstring)
Loop 4 (short - 4.7 miles) - 1:12:03
Aid Station 4 - 1:52
Loop 5 (short - 4.7 miles) - 1:21:24 (the last 4 miles were all walking)
Finish - 6:40:54 (26.8 miles)
PS - If you look at my Loop 5 split (an hour and 20 minutes) and look at when I stopped running (6 hours and 40 minutes), you may wonder why I didn't go back out and walk another short loop. It's because I thought I didn't have enough time. My mind could NOT do math and I thought I only had an hour left. This haunted me for pretty much my entire drive home but I'm over it because I'm still in one piece. And another side note, when I went to bed last night, my mind was still running. Literally. Every single thought I had would go back to me running on the trail. I'd start thinking a sexy woman and poof, I'm running on the trail. I'd start thinking about driving a fast car and poof, I'm running on the trail. I'd start thinking about rescuing somebody from some dire scenario and poof, I'm running on the trail. I could not turn it off, no matter how hard I tried.