We were up and ready early in the morning.
I was still suffering from a major cases of nerves but I was eager to get the race started knowing that once I was running things would settle down.
We didn't have any trouble finding our way to the race start. I got registered (you did that race morning) and could have made the 7a.m. earlybird start up couldn't find hubbs, who was managing the kiddos to let him know I could head out early. So I waited with the family, visited the potty a few times and generally just dealt with second guessing my clothes, shoes, fuel, screws in the shoes....
Finally it was time to get out there and line up with loads of other crazies!
It looks like I was feeling very confident.
As the race started I realized I didn't know the proper way to pass someone on a single track. I struggled with finding a way to pass with so many runners trying to fit into the tiny trail. I will remember this for my next trail race; start at the front of the pack!
I wanted to try and take pictures throughout the race however the footing was so bad the first, hummm how many miles? With no mile markers it was difficult to judge distance at all and to be honest the footing was bad almost the entire race (whether it was due to ice/snow or mud/water). At least the first 7+ miles were serious snow/ice with challenging footing. Once I was in a safer section I snapped this shot to show a little of the snow. This was at least a runnable amount of snow but it was frozen solid making footing very unevening and often ankle turning. I saw many runners who must have not wore screws or cleats of some kind stumble and fall.
After about 45+ minutes of running we came to our first 'real' stream crossing. I could hear the runners yelling as they hit the cold water so I knew we were getting close long before we got there.
I was not sure I wanted to go into the water! BUT after I did it I was amazed at how good it felt on my feet. The water didn't make me cold at all and my feet and toes didn't seem to mind being wet.
This was one of two serious water crossings and the first of many times my feet would be soaking wet.
The trails continued to be a mix of snow, ice, mud, water and some runnable sections for the next 6+ miles. This is a view back at the aid stattion at mile 11~. There were so many amazing volunteers helping at aid stations, flagging road crossings and keeping us all encouraged along the way.
After this point there were aid stations about every 4-/+ miles along the way well stocked with all kinds of goodies! I even drank a little bit of regular soda at one station!
When I left this aid station I finally started running on my own. Prior to this point I had been afraid of being alone on the trail as the pack had thinned out. Worrying that I might get lost by missing one of the blue blazes that marked the way.
The next aid station was about mile15+ at that point each runner had to decide if they were going for the 50k or running the marathon. The choice came easily I was feeling so great at this point! The extra distance was ran around a beautiful lake. I knew from the course discription that there were bathrooms at the park/playground somewhere near the lake and I knew I would have to use them! Ahh, mother nature.
The bathroom detour cost me about 10 minutes and the distraction of getting toasty warm in the bathhouse and then having to go back out in the cold.
But it put a smile on my face!
The trails had many large trees down blocking the path. Some had been cut allowing us to run through them others we had to climb over or bushwack to get around.
The hills on the course were challenging over such a distance but the scenery helped to keep my mind off the burning in my legs. This race was so amazing. The trails were breathtaking!
As challengening as the course was in places there were also places like this one that were open and sunning and finally for a brief moment running was easy!
Every so often along the race there were signs like this one about Goldfish to encourage us along the way.
Gotta love volunteers!
With about 4 miles to go, I had fallen in with another runner. We traded leading several times. We chatted when the trial would allow us to be close enough to hear one another since we rarely could be side by side. As the other runner took the lead and we chatted we missed a turn. We stayed on the trail BUT the course didn't. There was one other runner ahead of us who we quickly caught up to since she was having to bushwack her way through the trail. We talked about how there were no "ribbons" tied to trees and the trail hadn't been opened only to find out that we had gone the wrong way, slopped through extra water and mud, fought loads of thorns and created extra distance but we now back on the course!
And finally there was my family cheering for me as I can to the finish strech after what turned out to be 33+ miles! I felt amazing! Still with a smile on my face.
At the finish! My first Ultra completed!
There was a great BBQ picnic after the race for runners and family.
I am so proud of my accomplishment. I just can't explain the feeling of joy having just spent those hours playing my the woods, getting covered with mud and splashing through the creek a few times.
Thank you feet for carrying me through.
The day was not over after the race. Our family was headed farther south to see a few houses on Sunday so that meant about 2 hours in a car before I got to finally get a shower. Gross! But I didn't want the day or the high to end!
Thanks for all the encouragement and support leading up to my lastest adventure.
I honestly thought about many of you along my journey and I can't wait to take you along for the next one.