Ok I’ll let you know upfront this is going to be ONE HELL OF A LONG REPORT! Long race=long report lol.
I’ll start off with the night before the race. Amanda (as most of you all know as willamona) had graciously let Ken and I stay at her new apartment for the night before the race and the night after if we needed to. Anyway we get up to her place around 6 chatted for a bit before heading off to the store to finish getting the last minute items for the race. Who knew you needed so much stuff. Leave it to me to leave so much stuff to be done the night before. I think it’s all about trying to keep busy and maybe tire myself out so that I’ll actually fall asleep. Well between not being home, outside noises as Amanda snoring (I was told before my last marathon that she snored, however I didn’t notice it the night before NJ M) and prerace jitters I didn’t get much sleep (dh over estimated on blog) I remember thinking at 1:15 in the am that if I wasn’t going to get any sleep that it may as well be 4 am so we could get up and get ready for the race. I wasn’t happy when I saw 1:15 on the clock.
Ken blogging on the airbed we slept on
Well 4 o’clock rolls around and I was up and thankful about 10-15 minutes later Ken and Amanda got up and our day began. We got to the start of the race as they were saying a prayer and by the time I got to the table to register they were off ( I think they were about 2 minutes late) Got my bib, then realized I didn’t have my mp3 player. Panic set in. Dh and I frantically looked couldn’t find it. Gave in that I would be spending A LOT of quiet time with myself and headed out to the woods to do my business (not that it happened). Amanda and I were off about 9 minutes after the everyone left (well Laurie left a couple minutes ahead of us)
At the start
Leave it to me to head off on the wrong path from the get go. About 50 yards into running I hear Amanda yell, Pam you’re going the wrong way *ooops*. So I get on the right path and off we go. The beginning of the path was very narrow and a bit overgrown and I was thinking WOW am I going to have cut through bush sometime soon? Wasn’t long before we ran into our first obstacle. It was a bridge (not much of one). It was rather decayed and had lots of room between each plank for a foot to get stuck in. So first walking break. After crossing the bridge I ran a few steps then realized that Amanda wasn’t with me. I looked back and one look at her face made me realize that I needed to go back and help her across. Turns out she has a MAJOR fear of heights. Well we got over the bridge and started running and wasn’t long before a fellow on a bike caught up to us. His name was Mike and he had originally planned on running the race, however he has major knee issue’s so instead he was on his bike and planned on running some. Well he passed us but it wasn’t long before we caught up to him. Turns out that the washed up part of the trail we were told about came around 2.5 miles in and Washout really meant WASHED OUT! He hid his bike and managed to cross, I did and then Amanda did. Not easy, but hey what part of 50 miles is easy? We started running and wasn’t long before in front going at an easy pace and Amanda and Mike were behind running an even easier pace. Amanda kept yelling that I needed to slow down (I did the first time) however my HR was good at the pace I had been doing so I kept it up. Wasn’t long before I no longer heard Mike or Amanda. I figured they were having a good conversation and that Amanda would catch up and then pass me when she was ready. About 4 miles I met Matt (a volunteer) who let me know I needed to run up the road and cross the street and where the trail would be. Easy. Later, not paying attention to where I was at when the path changed would catch up to me)
Mile 6 came along and it a table with a igloo water cool was all that was there. Ken was supposed to meet me there however turned out he got lost and didn’t make it. I took my first gel and S-cap and headed off. Around mile 9-9 ½ I was surprised to find myself coming across a sexy bald man running towards me. WE did the whole run with arms outstretched to each other than me moving to the left so that we missed (I’m cheesy like that). There was Ken. Talk about SURPRISE! We ran about a half mile to were the car was parked. Thankfully he was there cause if not I would have made a wrong move on the trail. There was a dirt road that went the opposite direction and going forward DIDN”T look right. However it was the way to go. Dh walked with me since it was a “significant” hill that had A LOT of rocks in loose dirt. One wrong move and I would have come down sliding on my ass. He walked with me up to the top of the hill. We sayed our good byes. He planned on staying there since there were a few racers behind me so that he could direct them as he had me and several others before. It was around mile 11 or so when I first started seeing people on their way back. We all exchanged the “normal” looking good, looking strong etc . Around mile 11.5 I think I saw the first female on her way down. Later I would find out that she was out to do 100 but stopped at 50 (the guy she was with had dropped after the 25 mile mark) not long after I found myself behind 2 guys. I didn’t expect to pass anyone let alone 2. They never did pass me back. The turn around was a pleasant sight. They checked me in, I found my bag and saw a gentleman there that had a NJ marathon Hat. I asked him if he knew a woman named Michelle. Turns out he did. Turns out it was Tom. A guy that at my last Ultra any older gentleman (I think there were 2) that I saw whering a NJ finisher hat I’d ask if their name was Tom. Well we chatted a bit and we would ran close to 2.5 miles together. I stopped to get my Polar Watch from Dh (Tom kept going) since his 305 froze at like mile 11 or so. He took a few pictures of me (lounging in a chair go figure) and after changing watches I was off.
Me goofing around at the 15 mile mark
Only thing worth noting between this point and the half way mark was that I ended up lost for about 10 minutes. I hadn’t paid attention to where I had encountered Matt who was directing us and failed to see that I to pass over the river before I crossed the street. So when I was coming onto the road I saw a fellow racer that was on the dirt side (tiny path off the road) and figured he must of just came out from the trail. After running two paths a few times each and not recognizing anything and heading out to the street it dawned on me that I must of not run far enough. Sure enough that was the case. I didn’t make that mistake again.
By the 25 mile mark my feet were aching really bad. NB 904’s just aren’t cut out to deal with all the rocks that I ran over throughout the day. It was starting to feel like the rocks were going to go through the sole’s of my shoe’s and enter my feet. I also can’t count how many times I turned my left ankle. Ken was waiting at the half way mark, chair set up. First thing he said was what can I do for you. POTATO”S and 205 please I said as I sat down. As soon as he handed me my garmin I turned it on and started it. Didn’t matter that I was sitting on my ass, the time would still count at the end. I finally met Carl A who is one of the 3 race directors (Matt who I mentioned earlier is the second one the third I met at the end who’s name is David) I told Ken that I would definitely be changing shoe’s but wasn’t sure when. My other pair that I brought were pretty dead, however I figured I could get a few miles in them. The plan was that Ken would be where he was earlier (would be around 35 mile mark) and that I could change then or when I came back around after the turnaround.
Me chilling out
After chatting for a few I headed off. About a mile or so after the turn around I ran into Amanda. I noticed that she had dirt all over her. Turns out she had taken a spill earlier, but luckily was with Mike at the time (though she acted as if it was nothing) I asked if she needed help with the bridge, that it would be no problem for me to run back with her. However she felt that she really needed to try and do it herself. I told her that Ken should still be there and if she needed anything to feel free and ask him. And off I went.
I have to say I really enjoyed listening to the sounds of nature. I heard LOTS of bird calls, saw 3 deer, many red lizards and lots of rustling in the bushes which made me think of bears . I mean we were in bear country and all (was reminded of that earlier in the day) Well I reached the 35 mile mark and asked for new shoes. I changed shoes and head bandana, ate some banana’s drank some water and chatted with Ken for a few then headed up the gorge and on my way. It was nice to see Matt at the turn around (always nice to see a smiling face) we chatted a bit, had a gel and some pretzels and back on the trail I went. Now everytime Ken took pictures of me I wasn’t running. In fact when I was running down the hill to where Ken was I shouted out HERE I COME. Well he didn’t take that as get the camera it was more like are you all right? Well I shouted HERE I COME when running down the gourge and low and behold not only was Ken there, but Amanda (I was getting concerned about her since I hadn’t seen her yet) and a woman named Joan who was all bloody, but bandaged up. Turns out Ken was “unofficial” first aid support. I asked Amanda how she was doing and she said that she was looking at DNF and having Ken give her a ride back to the start. We talked a bit. Whether she would be able to get to the turn around and get back before dark, and figured it was probably for the best if she didn’t try. Amanda’s eye sight isn’t the best during daylight hours and with all the rocks as well as the washed out part and bridge would really need good sight (even with headlamp) good concentration (something that doesn’t come easy when tired and having already ran 35 miles) etc etc. I saw tears start to fall and all I could do was hug her and tell her that 35 is nothing to sneeze about and how under better circumstances she would have no problem getting the 50 in. I felt so bad though she kept reassuring me that it was fine. I still know there was disappointment in there.
The one picture he caught of me running
Me and Amanda at my 40 mile mark
I asked Ken if he was still planning on running the last 5 or so miles with me and the answer was yes, so off I ran and Ken took Joan and Amanda back to the start. The shoe’s I had changed into were doing their part as far as stability however my feet felt like they were swimming in them. I got to a steep downhill and was running down when I felt the pain that is usually a sign that you’ve damaged a toenail. A toe on my right foot was NOT happy. That had me hobbling around for a bit. I had decided who knows when that when I came upon a part of the trail that had nothing but sharp rocks that I would take walk breaks. SO I started doing the run/walk thing. For the most part I was still feeling pretty good. My left knee started to cry at times and when that happened I would take a break from running for a few then get back when I could. I kept doing that. I ran into Ken around 45.5 miles and I was running at the time but decided to take a walk break. We chatted and I thanked him for all the support for Amanda and I as well as the other racers. We started back up and it wasn’t long before Ken told me I was going too fast. He said I know you’re tired and can’t focus too well, but you need to slow down. Well I did slow down for the few walk breaks. I know between mile 24-25 that I was running at a sub 9 for a good part of it (only walked during the narrow part that was uneven and had lots of rocks) Anyway when I we got to the bridge a huge grin came onto my face. I knew we weren’t far and that I would have no problem sprinting into the finish with a HUGE grin on my face. I sure hope the picture they took captured it! They handed me my engraved spike and a shirt (totally didn’t expect the shirt) and said congrats.
I am VERY HAPPY with how things turned out. I went in with a goal to beat 13 hours and HOPING to get a sub 12 hour in. Now I started around 9 minutes later than the start though I will be counting those minutes in my time. HOWEVER if I knew that all I needed to do was take about 6 minutes off to make my “unofficial” time to be under 11 hours I WOULD have done it! Oh well there is always next year. I don’t think I’ll have any marathon plans next year so maybe I’ll focus on this 50 (or who knows maybe doing the 100) next year. We shall see.
Now I owe SO MUCH thanks to my DEAR HUSBAND for all the support that he has given me up to the point and during the point though I think he deserves his own post. He ended up almost being like an “unofficial” aid supporter for everyone and anyone who needed anything.
Without Amanda telling me about this race in the first place, who knows I may still be a marathoner , not an Ultra marathoner.
The race directors did an AWESOME job setting up this race. I also think they must have a line with mother nature cause the weather for this time of year couldn’t of been better (today were having a pretty bad thunderstorm)
If you’ve read this far THANK YOU. If not I don’t blame ya since it’s a sleeper.
P.S more pictures to come