Sitting down to write my first race recap of the season. It’s a pretty awesome feeling. I haven’t truly raced since December with World’s Toughest Mudder and that will forever go down as my first DNF in my adult racing career. I am sure it will not be the last. However, this one will not go down as a DNF in fact this was a great finish for me. Last fall I had signed up for the Peak Ultra 50 miler, ready to take on that new distance, however as the date neared that distance was not realistic so I dropped down to the 30 miler something I knew I could handle. My stress level dropped this past week it didn’t really cross my mind I had an ultra on Saturday.
Friday afternoon it finally hit, I went to the General Store in Pittsfield and picked up my race packet. In the packet was my bib number (14) my Peak Races t-shirt and a beanie. The 100+ milers got cool Ibex pullovers for those interested in swag. I went down to the camp fire got to see my friends still in the 500 and hang with many from past races. To think this time last year I showed up at a race knowing no one. A year later I have learned how small the race community really is.
The alarm went off at 4:45am time for a quick shower to wake-up then headed over to the farm. It was a brisk morning barely above freezing, frost had covered most of the ground overnight. I drove the familiar drive parked my car and grabbed my pack. I was going to run with what I needed as I knew these trails can be brutal in Pittsfield. As the morning mist was lifting our 5:30am meeting started. More and more familiar faces filled the area. I had been looking forward to seeing many friends. As we toed the starting line casual conversations abound. The start of an ultra is unlike any other race. No crazy warm-ups or jumping around. Your have miles and miles to get your feet under you.
Andy counted down and we were off, straight up the hill next to Amee Farm and I was off on my quest to finish my second ultra. Early on I hooked up with a pack of friends, Eric, Lisa, Steph, and Dan. We chatted and bantered back and forth. Lisa and I stuck together for the first 20 miles. Yes Steph did run with fairy wings on for many many miles in the woods of Vermont, she was given them at an aid station along with food. The main aid station was named ABBA as that is the music that’s played during the race. Like I said only at ultras do you have so much fun running for hours and hours. The course consisted mostly of trails and class four roads, however some steep bushwhacking was thrown in just for fun. As we climbed up and down mountains the conversation lifted us through. Next thing I knew I was turning off to finish my race and she was off to finish her 50 miler.
Then it was me, myself, and I for nearly 12 miles, as you learn in ultra running many races have an extra mile or two. It’s like a bonus at the end. The tone of the race changes the minute you are alone. It is you and your thoughts for literally hours. I had some ups and had some serious downs in the last couple of miles. You reach a point where your body aches (for me my hips) and you feel like your feet are lead. Somehow you just keep moving, you find the fun in it all. For me this time it was singing the song that never ends in my head over and over. I was so happy I had headed out on the trails and paced Joel and Michelle the weekend before so I knew what lay ahead over those last couple miles. In the last two hours of my race I was going from a jog to a hike hitting my low point between mile 26-27. It was funny however the first six hours of the run literally felt like a short distance and time. I was thinking I hadn’t been out very long, I had to look at my watch to realize it had been hours. The weather was perfect, sunny, slight breeze, and temps in the low 70′s.
The last two miles of a race are always the toughest on a course and this one was particularly true Matt the course designer (and mastermind behind Green Mountain Trails) needed to add some more distance to the course so the “trail” went along side the river bank for about a mile. When I say trail I use the term rather loosely, Matt created it by placing markers along the river bank and over the course of a week a pseudo trail formed. I slowly made my way along, feeling the blisters growing massive under my toes. Note to self my X-Talon 212′s are fantastic for hour or two runs but not 8 hour runs.
As I crossed the bridge to head back to Amee Farm, it didn’t matter the time it took me a sense of accomplishment came over me. Sure I had done AN ultra before but only one. This was my second one, the first wasn’t a fluke. Racing time matters so much people talk about PR’s, but it all melted away and I was just excited to have finished it. As I crossed the line and was handed a medal I felt accomplished. It felt great. No obstacles on this course other than some branches and your own mind. In the end I spent almost four hours alone in my own head, no music, no conversations, just me, myself and I out on a run. My final time 8:10:21, final distance 31.65 miles, total elevation loss/gain 12,500 ft. I was the 3rd woman to finish the 30 and 7th including all the guys. A great way to start the race season.
CONGRATULATIONS AND THANKS
A race is neither won or lost alone. This race I need to thank Lisa Madden, she and I spent hours on the trail catching up and chit chatting away. The miles melted as we caught up. Thanks Lisa for making the race memorable. Steph you running in the fairy wings was a riot!
Finally, I have to say congratulations to my friend Michelle Roy who spent 10 days on the Green Mountain Trails running the same ten mile loop. Michelle was on a quest to reach 400, she battled tough conditions and circumstances. In the end she ran 370 miles. I was honored to get to do a memorable lap in flip flops with her. Watching her finish on Sunday morning was inspiring and she and actually Lisa are two women I look up to which made it all the more special I got to spend time with both. I was also able to witness the first 500 miler finishers. Willy is truly an animal 8 days 8 hours and 20 minute he traveled 500 miles on the trail.
Thanks to Matt who works tirelessly on the trails day in and day out so we might all enjoy them. Thank you Matt for all your hard work. Finally congrats to Dirt In Your Skirt fan Jane Coffey, who completed her first ultra this past weekend! She sported her Dirt In Your Skirt patch the whole way. And finally thanks to all my friends who let me “borrow” their pictures for this post.
Congrats to all that finished or even showed up and went beyond their limits this past weekend. Peak Races inspires us all to go a little bit further and try a little bit harder. Thanks finally to Andy Weinburg for a great race! I loved getting to help out and watch the other finish Saturday afternoon and Sunday during the day.
Now it’s your turn to Go Outside. Get Dirty and Inspire Yourself!