I am an Ultra marathoner..... warning: this is a really long post .....also, not sure why, but blogger wont publish this post with my spaces for paragraphs. ugh. ~I have known for 5 years that I would try not just any ultra, but the 50 mile distance. I kept telling myself..... "When your kids get bigger and you have more time to dedicate". Well a month ago I got the Ultra bug big time. I was training for my first trail marathon, and the thought popped into my head that I should do the Buffalo 50 mile Ultra run on March 26Th with my sister Maria. This was her 3rd year and I knew she would help me out along the way and keep me mentally focused as much as possible. ~Race morning: We got to the start line with only about 10 min to get signed in, put our drop bags where they needed to go, fill our water, and take one last potty break. Turned out to be perfect timing... no waiting around in the cold. There were about 100 runners doing the 50 mile distance. (The 25K and the 50k started 2 hours later, and the 100 mile started the afternoon before) After about 1/4 of a mile, it's already time to hike the first hill. Using flashlights and headlamps we made our way to the top. We were able to run again. The entire day was a run, run, run.... recover.... run, run, run..... recover. This is to ensure you will still have energy the last 5 hours of the day. Of course we hiked/walked up every hill, to save energy. ~At mile 14, (first drop bag) Maria and I shed our warm(er) clothes and ate a few crackers, I also filled my water back up. We headed back down toward the parking lot, (start/finish line) where at mile 19 was another aid station. (pic below) Then we made our way along the fence line, which going this direction is uphill. We walked. Then we had to go down a steep section, make our way on an small out n back section. When we got to the turn around, (mile 21ish) I stopped and had my sister Frances bandage a blister. I also got to talk on the phone with my husband. (He and my daughters had to stay back in Kentucky) It was such a mental boost to talk to him and hear his voice. This is where the longest stretch of out n back starts. This is also where the race veterans say the race really starts. Their reasoning is because there are very few hills, (so not many excused walk breaks) If I am working the numbers correct in my head, this next section is a 10 mile out and then 10 mile back. ~Back track a few miles.... Maria started having stomach issues at mile 17ish... by mile 24 she wasn't able to get any GU or any form of nutrition down. Just the thought was causing her to dry heave. She decided to walk it out for a while. The bottoms of my feet were on fire and walking seemed to enhance the burn/pain. I decided to run ahead, knowing there was an aid station at mile 27.8ish ..... Lower Frary aid station: This is where Maria's husband, Jason was going to jump into the race and pace her. My twin sister Frances was jumping in to run with me to the finish. When I got to the aid station, my not-so trusty GPS watch had died. geesh. I was really annoyed. I changed my socks, drank some Mt Dew, and ate some crackers. By the time I was ready to head out, Maria came into view. I decided to wait and see what she was going to do. She was so sick to her stomach, and couldn't get any nutrition in, and felt it was best to drop from the race. I was very concerned for her, and also wondered how I was going to finish the next 22.2 miles without my "coach" by my side. ~I had Frances with me, and she was very cheerful and had a lot of spunk and energy. It felt nice to have her with me. I wasn't real talkative, but still felt pretty good. The 5ish mile stretch to the turn around spot, and next aid station felt looooong and daunting. I felt like I was waiting for and starring at paint to dry. It felt like I was never going to get there. Obviously we made it.... Mile 32ish- Ate a small piece of peanut butter and jelly sandwich, ate a few crackers, more mt Dew. I stopped to pee ON A REAL TOILET.... I also text Greg and let him know what mile and that I was feeling good. Off again we go. I was happy to be headed BACK from where I came, knowing this meant I was getting closer to the finish line. ~At mile 36 I kind of lost it. I started to walk and cried.... crocodile tears. I started wondering how in the world I was going to be able to continue on for another 14 miles. My pity party only lasted about 3 min and then I was good, and off we ran. Made it back to the Lower Frary aid station, where Maria and Jason were waiting for us. They grabbed my pack, filled up my water, got me some warm broth to sip on, and helped me change my shoes. It felt so good to be in fresh shoes. I was a little worried about not running the last 12 miles in trail shoes, but the trail from there on out was great. No problems. ~Mile 39ish (pic below) We had to detour off the trail to get away from the wild buffalo. I also found a second wind here... ran a great pace for the next few miles.... Feeling great, we came to the 44 mile aid station. Again, ate a few crackers, and drank Mt Dew... (I also had been snacking on trail mix through out the day) This is where we had to hike a steep uphill. Half way through the hill we came upon a paved road, where Maria and Jason were parked. I needed to fix up that first blister, plus a new one. (pic below) Finished up and off we went. The last 3 miles or so are out on the north/western peak of the island. This is where it gets pretty technical. There were so many rocks, and BOULDERS. I am not sure how anyone could run through this section. My right hip flexor started screaming at me at mile 45, so each time I lifted my legs up to step over the rocks, it was painful. We did a lot of walking/hiking through this sections, but I was determined and still tried to run any flat, clear section, even if just for 15 seconds. ~We made our way out of the rocks, and I could see the finish line.... about 2 miles. I was really feeling exhausted and spent. I was doing a lot more walking then running. I had about 3/4 of a mile to go and my stomach decided to turn and make me queasy. I had to walk it out. Once we got about half a mile to the finish, I was determined to run the rest of the way. I did. Frances dropped to the side where Maria and Jason were cheering me on, (just before I turned the corner) and I ran the last 1/4 mile into the finish alone. Maria, Jason and Frances were at the finish line snapping pictures and cheering for me.... ~I crossed that finish line in 11:04:36.... and I cried my eyes out. (I am crying while typing this, just reliving the memory.) Now after reading my horrendous version of my 50 mile adventure, y'all deserve some pictures to look at..... Hope you enjoy them, I sure do. ~This is Maria and I the day before the race. We went out to the Island so she could drive me around and let me get a feel for what the course was like. I am so happy we did. It helped me feel a little more at ease going into race morning. In the 1-2 short hours we were out there, we saw tons of wild Buffalo, several Antelope and 2 coyotes. Awesome. Here is my finishers medal.... a mug. I think I will keep it out for everyone to see... at least for a little while.
That is part of Antelope Island where the race is held. We are driving on the Causeway that was built to be able to drive out. This was the day before the race. That snow was dumped earlier that morning.Even though this was the absolute hardest thing I have ever done, I can't wait to do another one. Next time I wont take so long at the aid stations, and I will actually train for it. I will also plan so that I don't have to travel half way across the country the day after the race. I had the time of my life and to be able to experience the entire weekend with 2 of my sisters was a dream.
The hill behind us is called "Elephant Head". They say if you look at it right, it looks like an elephant is laying down with it's trunk stretched out in front. This section is the first 14 miles or so.... There is lots of hiking through here because there is so much uphill.... I am sure the lead guys and girls run it all, but we tried to conserve out energy by walking/hiking up all the hills.
This is mile 19.... we had just come off of Elephant head and we were back at the parking lot where the race started. This is when we saw Frances, and Jason for the first time. It was so refreshing to see their faces. I ate a small piece of banana, some Cheese nips and some Mountain Dew at this aid station.... along with a Roctane (gu).
I took my trusty old friends "Roctane" every hour. I also took 2 salt tablets each hour. When my hands were so puffy and swollen by mile 16, I had to take my wedding ring off. I also decided to cut back to 1 salt tablet by mile 27.
(Mile 39) Those Wild Buffalo were on the trail. We had to detour up into the weeds and shrubs, to stay clear of them. We had to do this three times during the day. These suckers are HUGE. I found my second wind about here.... I was ran 9:45-10:15's for the next 4-5 miles.
Pushing on.... Janice and Frances... the twinners.
(Mile 44).... This was in the middle of a huge hill we had to hike up. In the next picture, I am having my blisters fixed up.
Finish line... here I come..... I cried my eyes out after finishing. I had no idea it would be such an emotional experience. The first thing I said to my sisters and my brother in law was "That was the hardest thing I have ever done"..... that includes giving birth to 2 babies.