Big Turtle 50 Miler Race Recap
I spent some time figuring out how I would be a good pacer while also running the race. I didn't really know Rick, but I had been following his training. I planned to run the first hour or so with him so I could get a feel for his pace and style, and then meet up with him at mile 33 to stay with him the rest of the race. I always like to have a few miles to myself on a long run. Gives me time to think.
|Laying out clothes and gear before packing the suitcase.|
|Hammock all set and cozy.|
|Rick and me in the gym before the start.|
I felt good. Really good. There were lots of hills which we hiked as planned. Rick kept asking me to slow down. We came into the first aid station under our goal pace, which I expected the first few aid stations. I took off my thin jacket as it warmed up, and then my wool Icebreaker shirt a bit later. I stayed with Rick, and he said he appreciated it. The pace was easy and we could pick it up later if we wanted. We chatted and got to know each other. We chatted with other runners too. Around 13-14 miles, we had to wait in line at a bridge because you could only cross one at a time, you had to walk, and there were 50k runners coming back too. We grabbed a selfie while waiting.
|Waiting in line at the awesome bridge "one at a time"|
|In line at the bridge|
|Rick, hiking up a hill.|
I started turning my thoughts to how I would run the second half. I had fire in my legs, but had already covered 25 miles, and the stop and go slow walking wasn't giving me a good feel for what I might be capable of. We finally arrived at the next aid station, 25ish miles in. I had been out of water for a few miles and I was hot, so I knew I needed to hydrate well before leaving the aid station, refill, and then make sure I had enough fuel for the next 8 mile section. I made sure Rick was OK, chatted with the other runners there, heard the volunteers say that there were only 3 more runners left to come into this aid station. As always, the volunteers were attentive and helpful. This was my longest aid station stop, probably about 4 minutes. We were almost 7.5 hours into the race which had a 15 hour cutoff. I knew I could make up some time but was surprised at how far back I was.
I took off as soon as I could. My goal was to encourage those last 3 runners as I passed them, and then see how many runners I could pass while still being smart about my pace. I paid attention to my breathing and how my heart rate felt, and power hiked up the hills. I felt strong. I passed a lot of runners. At least one every mile. I asked each of them how they were doing, and a few times stopped to walk with one and chatted a bit. I accidentally scared a few too. Oops.
Before I knew it I was already back at the bridge. Good time to fuel. This time I could take my time and get a picture. Crazy bridge! I can't imagine what it's like when it's wet! I realized that I had completely forgot about my dropbag at 35 miles. Haha.
|Ready to cross the bridge on the way back; 13-14 miles left to go.|
|A selfie while crossing the bridge. You can see the dried salt on the side of my face.|
I decided to not push myself. I would just take it slow for a bit, keep my heartrate low, and just be there in the moment, stripped down to my core, raw. This is a moment when your walls are down and you're forced to really feel. It's followed by the moment you have to face putting yourself back together. Sometimes there are deep thoughts. Sometimes mere strategy. I focused on the task at hand: relentless forward motion. I thought of my friend who says this, the same friend who texted me at the start line and reminded me to have patience. I remembered that I had treats. I got out the sour patch kids and ate one. Yuck. I couldn't even stand it in my mouth. I drank more water, took some Base salt. I thought of Jeanette's reminder to smile, and I smiled. And there I was.
By 40.5 miles, I was out of the darkness of the low point. I was thrilled. I knew the next section was mostly dirt roads and the easiest section of the race. I continued to walk up the hills but could pick up my pace otherwise, and managed some faster-for-me miles. My contacts were starting to bother me and my allergy meds had worn off too. I had a hotspot feeling on my left heel, especially noticeable while I was going uphill. (I had started to notice it around 34 miles and decided not to bother with it while it was still just a minor hotspot annoyance.) I had been watching the time and I was ahead of my original pace plan which meant I had made up about 45 minutes so far this second half. I felt happy. I kept passing runners and we encouraged each other. I helped a runner who was lost, and eventually passed him.
I got to the final aid station and felt really good. 5ish miles to go. I refilled my water, grabbed a few pickles, chatted with the volunteers and their cute kids who were playing in the dirt and having a blast and cheering on the runners, too. It was an awesome vibe. I checked the time and I was back to being ahead of my predicted times and wondered if I could finish before sunset. Maybe even not take out the headlamp I had borrowed...
|The sunset was beautiful but photos couldn't capture how the sky looked like it was on fire.|
I was too tired to think though. I knew I needed food but couldn't execute. I sat down for a few minutes trying to figure out how to function. I texted the people who had asked for updates, to let them know I had finished. Rick came to check on me and I declined the invite to dinner because I was too tired to socialize and also still had a 2 hour drive ahead of me. I grabbed a bag of Doritos and decided to go wash my face. Race Director Mike checked on me, wanted to make sure I was OK. So thoughtful! Another finisher was in the bathroom, raving about the shower, which I was going to skip but she kept going on and on about it and finally convinced me. I walked the long walk to the car to get my stuff and RD Brandy ran after me to check on me. I was starting to feel less awful, but didn't want to ask her to make me a sandwich, since she surely had better things to do. Maybe I could make a sandwich after the shower. I was touched by how thoughtful Mike and Brandy were being. They knew I wouldn't have anyone at the finish line and genuinely care about their runners.
The shower was indeed incredible. Hot water at high pressure. I didn't even care that I forgot to get my soap out of the car. I got dressed and decided to get on the road right away. I owe special thanks to the friends who checked in on me during the day and then on the drive. I pulled over to sleep for awhile, and then ate some McDonald's and got back on the road. Extra thanks to the friend who stayed up really late texting me to ensure my safe travels home.
I was tired the next day but had very little to complain about besides a nasty sunburn on my neck and shoulders and a toenail that will surely not survive until the next race. My quads were a tiny bit sore, but my joints were all fine and I felt good. I biked on Monday and then ran again by Wednesday and I'm back to training for the next race: Dark Sky 50 Miler on 5/12!