As some of you may know I ran a 21 mile race yesterday. There were some ups and downs and I don't just mean the 8 mountain peaks. I will summarize them all for you, but first of all I want to say thank you to all of my friends and family who I knew were thinking of me, and also Kirsten who taped notes to my packets of food, and my Dad and Mary Lou for standing in the rain at an aid station in the middle of no where waiting for me, and Charlies dad, John, for waiting at the near finish and inspiring me to run as hard as I could to the end, even though I wanted to crawl. And now for the run down of the day (warning this post is very long) :
-I woke up at 5:30 and realized it was pouring rain and potentially thundering. I also realized that at 5 am Charlie had started his leg of the race, a 42 or 50 mile race, and was therefore running in the rain, felt sorry for him and wanted to go back to bed. ** Side note: the 42 or 50 mile race that Charlie did was an out and back loop of the course that I only did one way. That meant that he had to start at the finish line and run to the starting line and then back again*
- I ate breakfast (Honey Bunches of Oats, if you really care), and spent 20 minutes contemplating what to wear based on the temperatures and the rain. Filled water bottles and headed to the finish line with my Dad to pick up my number and wait for the bus to take us to the start.
- Bus ride was uneventful. I am shy so I didn't talk to anyone. I just sat and listened to others who had run the race before, and thought to myself; "Self, what the heck are you thinking?"
-Once we got to the start it was mad dash for the woods so everyone could pee. I'll leave you hanging as to what I did, because I am a lady and would never divulge that information on my blog.
-At this point it was raining very hard and so instead of standing around in the rain waiting for 9 o clock (the official time we were supposed to start) the race director just said "Alright start on 3. 1, 2, 3!" And we were off. The first section was all uphill so we all kind of race walked. The rain was really coming down, little did I know the bus ride was the last time I was dry all day.
-Everyone walked up the hills and would kind of gingerly bounce down the hills, and ran on the "flat" sections. The first 5 miles were definitely the most technical/ steepest of the course. At this point I made friends with 2 others, Sarah and Mike, both first timers. The three of us ran together for the next 13 miles. This was a big help. Six sets of eyes instead of 2 prevented us all from getting lost on the trail, falling numerous times, and in my case having 2 other people prevented me from even wanting to cry. It was so nice to have people to talk to, it made the miles really go by quicker.
-I forget where exactly but I did see Charlie pass on his way to the halfway point. He was going pretty fast and was not far behind the other (wicked fast) ultra runners.
- Mile 12 or 13 was the second aid station. The hardest part was that we didn't know exactly where the aid stations were so we kept thinking "maybe around this turn", and then we were disappointed. So by the 15th turn I was putting that though out of my mind until we saw two people in raincoats and I happily exclaimed; "That's my Dad!" And Sarah said "Pretend you're having fun!" because he was taking pictures. I got my water bottles refilled and grabbed some animal crackers and set off walking again, and Dad and Mary Lou walked along with me for a bit. At this point Sarah went on ahead and Mike and I continued on together.
-Not long after the 2nd aid station was what I will now call "the never ending hill." Honestly this hill was over a mile long and made up of all switchbacks. You would think you could see the top, but once you got there it was just a switchback and you would have to go up even more. Mike and I separated at this point. His legs were cramping up and he told me to go ahead without him.
-At the top of the never ending hill I met up with an older man named Richard. He was very slow at the uphills but somehow managed to keep catching up with me on the downhills. He had done the race 4 times before and continuously brought up the fact that the Wapack trail was probably not the smartest choice for someones first trail run, and especially silly for someone who had never run over 13.5 miles (i.e. "Lauren, you're crazy!"). Richard was kind of starting to annoy me, then he farted (nearly on me) while going up a little hill and didn't even apologize. At this point I decided it was time to leave Richard in the dust.
- Running by myself was quite relaxing for a while. Thinking back on it now I don't understand how those 7-8 miles passed by so quickly. This was also the time that I fell down. It all happened very quickly. I just remember being upright and then being in the ground with mud all over my leg and blood coming out of 8 spots on my knee. I would have cried but I could hear someone coming up behind me and decided to get up and keep going. The man who passed me turned out to be the ultra winner. In total he passed me 4 times, which made me feel pretty inadequate, until I realized that he passed other, slower people only twice.
- More switchbacks proceeded to drive me nearly bonkers and also the fact that I could hear the road; which meant the finish line was close, or so I thought. The trail at this point looked like the Forbidden Forest from Harry Potter (I'm a geek I know) and I kept waiting for a giant spider, centaur or Hagrid to come out from behind a tree.
-I had no idea how much longer was left but I knew I wanted to finish in under 6 hours and 30 minutes, so I started running faster than I had been and just crossing my fingers that I wouldn't fall again. Out of no where I saw John, Charlie's dad, and he told me there was less than a mile to go so I began running even faster. I was sure there was no way I would finish in under 6:30 but continued to run at a fast clip. The terrain was much better at this point, a slight downhill with only a few rocks and not nearly as much mud as I had encountered previously. Then out of no where the finish line appeared. I hit the stop button on my watch as I crossed; 6:30:45. Sarah was at the finish line, she congratulated me and for no apparent reason I started to cry. This means that every long race I have run to date I have cried at the finish. I have no idea why, it just happens.
-Soon after finishing I realized how wet and cold I was. John took a picture of me and in the photo my lips were blue and my legs were bright red. I quickly changed into warm dry clothes I had packed and proceeded to wait for Charlie.
-Charlie had told me he would be passing me for the 2nd time somewhere around miles 15-18. However, he never did. I was a little worried but put it out of my mind and just hung out with the other finishers. One man asked me how I felt and I responded; "I hope childbirth isn't any harder than this."
-About 2 hours after I had finished and Charlie still hadn't come in I began to really worry. I spoke with a few people who had run the 50 or 42 and asked them if they had seen Charlie. One man mentioned that he had seen him about 9 miles back walking slowly and he thought that Charlie had hurt his ankle. This wasn't exactly what I wanted to hear. The race director told me he would go out to the last aid station and see if Charlie had checked in.
- At 6 pm the race director called me to say that Charlie had checked in at the last aid station at 5:30. John and I decided to hike up the trail to meet up with Charlie. The whole way up the trail I kept thinking "How did I run down this and not die?!" We went about a mile up and finally saw Charlie. He said that his ankle was really sore and he had been walking for a long time but wanted to finish because he was never running this far ever again. We walked with him down to the finish. The last two people to run the 50 miler passed us on our descent.
- Charlie said that his body is not cut out for an intense run such as a 50 mile trail run and mentioned that he would be better off sticking to 20ish mile races. This was the first race I have even finished and actually wanted to run again. Typically when I finish a race my first words are; "I'm never running again!" But I had so much fun doing this one that I am already trying to recruit people to run it with me next year. Who is with me?
-Today Charlie and I are hobbling around like two 90 year olds.
Did you really read all my mindless rambling? Wow you must really like me. Thanks again to everyone for the support, it means a lot! And I can't wait for next year!