“What are you doing finishing so fast? We didn’t even have time to make it over to the fence to cheer for you.”
Those were the words uttered in joking anger at me after meeting back up with Col. Cupcake, Speet and Steve after finishing Kal-Haven. I wondered why they weren’t along the fence with the rest of the spectators cheering and truth be told I surprised myself with my sub 6 finish after stressing all week about the 7 hour cut-off. But, who starts a RR off with the finish? Ha! Apparently me, but the finish really isn’t my important takeaway from this race, so it seems fitting.
The weekend began with a vacation day on Friday. I slept in a bit and then it was time to bake some muffins for my host and hostess of the weekend, who were kind enough to put up with me and my extremely talkative pup. Thanks again! We eventually got on the road and made it into town only a little late for dinner and packet pickup. Post dinner I settled in and prepared myself for the following day by checking to be sure that I actually had remembered to pack everything (no missing sports bra this time). Deciding what to wear was a major concern of mine. 37 at the start with a high of 61–too warm for tights (chose shorts and CEP socks), but still chilly enough I wanted my thermal long sleeve top. Usually, I find it unnecessary to have a drop bag for a 50K, but for this race I was more than happy to fill two bags. One with a lighter long sleeve (never changed into it) and some anti-chafing wipes and the other with a short sleeve shirt, arm sleeves and anti-chafing wipes (changed shirts, no sleeves). As it turned out the drop bags were very useful for removing layers.
Race start-8AM and at 7:45 I realize I never filled my water bottle. Steve gave me the rest of his bottle of water which got me started. I get in the PoP line and barely make it to the start before the gun goes off. Quick wave to Col. Cupcake and Speet and off I go. Then I realize what an idiot I am. I never actually tied my shoes normally and they were flopping around, so a half mile in I stopped at a bench to tie them and letting the entire field pass me by. This was what I thought was the beginning of my demise. Knowing me I would try to pick up the pace and make up for lost time in the next two miles. And that is exactly what I did. . . dumb, dumb, dumb. . . or was it? I’ll blame the music on my iPod (which I put on since I figured I’d be lonely after the whole field took off while I was tying my shoes), but mostly I was feeling great. Of course, mile 1-5 of 33.5 I should be feeling great, though it’s no time to be “racing” at 9:30s.
Luckily, I ended up running stride for stride with a lady and a guy (no clue their names, I never ask) and we chatted and they “slowed” me up a bit. I took out the earbuds and enjoyed the company. The miles were ticking off quickly and I was happy it was such a beautiful sunshiny day. Eventually, the lady dropped back, I stopped for a potty break and then lost the guy. I knew I was getting close to meeting up with Speet and the Col. so I just enjoyed the nature noises and smells. All smiles and still ticking off the miles. At 13ish I ditched my hat and gloves at my drop bag and decided against switching shirts as the breeze was still a bit chilly.
About mile 16ish, there was Speet and the Col. and I was so happy to see them. No matter the race distance, this mile marker seems to be my nemesis. They told me Steve was running really well and had them running 8:20s. I promised them I wouldn’t be doing that, so they could cool down with some 10:20s before finishing up their mileage for the day. Grateful for the company, I was escorted right through the halfway point. So many people cheering and so much going on that I was a bit overwhelmed after the serene quiet I’d had over the first half of the race.
Once I hit the trail, I put the earbuds back in. Grateful for the beat of the music to keep my feet moving and to drown out the relay runners as their footsteps approached me from behind. I’ve found that unless I am chatting with fellow runners or on a single track (this was a wide rail trail), my music keeps my body and brain happy. So many happy moments associated with the songs on my iPod. I just chugged right along. Sipping Tailwind (seriously, is this stuff magic powder?) and thanking volunteers. Lots of time to think over the second half. I honestly don’t think I was ever so happy in a race as I was over the entire way of the course. Life is good right now and if I could bottle up this feeling and sell it, I totally would.
Around 23ish, I came upon my last drop bag. The breeze was still a bit chilly, but the temps were climbing. With 10 more miles to go, I decided to change into my short sleeve shirt and keep my ear warmer on (cold wind makes my ears hurt). I figured if I was a little chilly it would keep me moving faster to stay warm. Well, it worked out great. Soon I was crossing the marathon mark, next the 50K mark (PR btw) and then before I knew it, I could hear the announcer calling out the finishers. This was a bit deceiving though because it was a bit further away than it seemed. I began to pick up the pace and out came the earbuds. I love to hear the crowds at the finish. Up ahead was a guy and a lady, both running with puppies. I targeted them and tried to gain ground. Just before the turn into the park I made my way past both the people and the pups. Now I realized this was a hill and it felt as if it would never end. The only substantial elevation on the course and it was right at the end. Ugh! I maintained my pace and pushed to the finish! I looked at the clock and was in utter shock… 5:51:xx!!! 55th/133 overall!!! (I had forgotten to turn auto-pause off, so I really wasn’t sure of the actual time)