Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Peaks Ultra Race!

Oh my god. The day of my race finally came. What a long 7 months of waiting, decisions, training...and parenting and working in between.

Here is a quick recap of what got me motivated to do a 30 mile trail run before I give you a run down of the day.

Last November, Peaks Ultra race director, Andy Weinberg, finished a triple iron man race (7.1 mile swim, 340 mile bike, 78.7 mile run. I know! Amazing!) which inspired me to step it up a few notches and sign up for a 50k race that he puts on every year. Last year, I completed a 10 mile fun run that Andy put on. I had just started running a few months before that so I thought it was monumental that I just run up a mountain and down in 2 hours. So, in November, with a long winter approaching, I decided I needed a goal to get me through. Time to train for a long distance trail race.

I started training in early January, but soon realized that the schedule was overwhelming. I had no time to really prep so I got discouraged and stopped for a couple weeks. I decided to just do another 10 miler. Boring. I already knew I could to that so why bother. Then, I decided maybe 15 miles. Boring. Then, I thought 20 miles. Ok, that sounded good. I trained based on that and then in March, I emailed Andy to touch base and BOOM he said he just opened up the 30 miler race! "WHAT? I have 5 weeks until race day...can I do this?" "You can do it and I will help you." I accepted. Game on! So, I had to push it up a few notches. I completed some long runs...15 and 18 miles and that was all the time I had to prepare. Let's do it!

May 11....pre-race dinner and bib pick up at the Amee Farm with my friend Karyn! I got to meet some of the runners and got to meet one of the 500 mile racers, Mark. He was just coming in from his 450th mile, in which he started racing 8 days before. What an inspiration to meet him the night before my race. He shared dinner with us and told us how he was doing and then broke off to get some rest before he had to finish the last 50 miles. Wow. The weather was beautiful, lots of runners were arriving and chatting and I was feeling the groove and excitement!!

All smiles at the pre-race dinner at the Amee Farm.
Mark, 500 miler, just coming from his 45th mile 450.
I stayed at Karyn and Jon's house in Bethel that night so we would only have a 15 minute drive on Saturday morning. Good call, because I would have had to get up at 3am to get down there. Karyn and I got our gear together for the drop bag and our running packs and went to sleep around 8:30pm....morning was going to come quickly!

May 12...Race day!! I woke up at 3:50am, mostly because I was jazzed and also because I knew I needed to eat and start hydrating. The race was in 3 hours! I was so excited and nervous. I could  not wait to get on the road to the Amee Farm. It was 32 degrees out and sunny...just what I had ordered! A nice cold morning to get us going....keep the sweating down to 5 hours instead of 10.

We had a pre-race meeting at 5:30am led by Andy. He told us about the course, the aid stations, etc, and got us even more excited! There was a big bonfire since it was so cold so those of us with shorts headed over to it and huddled.

Pre-race meeting by Andy at 5:30am.
Cold out!
T minus 15 minutes!
Countdown...3...2....1....go! Game on! The first couple miles were on a dirt road and then we hit the Contest Trail, a beautiful mountain bike trail on US Forest Service land. It was nice to finally see this trail since Seth has maintained it over the years as a employee of the USFS. I think this was my favorite part of trail system for the day. Amazing views and beautiful single track. The weather was still very chilly and refreshing and we were in the shade for a couple hours so our energy was not zapped to early.

here we go! 

At the mile 7 aid station (our first of the day), Andy decided to put us through a delightful straight-up-the-mountain bushwack. It was a mile round trip but it was a doozy! At this point the sun was coming out and we started to heat up. After getting back down, we hit the road for a 4 mile jaunt to the Mile 12 aid station where our drop bag was. The Abba Aid Station....lots of disco music and colored wigs and good humor. Karyn and I got some food when we got there and quickly headed out for the next 6 miles of the course....Hayes Brook Mountain Bike loop. We saw Andy along the way...he was driving and he stopped and said "You are almost half way done! Free entry into the 50 miler next year ladies!" Hey, shut up, Andy!! Ha....we laughed. So, this was a tough uphill for me. Karyn is a super hero on the uphills so I just took my time. By the time I got to the top, my stomach was feeling a little off so I rested and ate something and then I was good to go for the downhill! I love running the downhills. I cruised down to the beautiful brook and we were back on to the woods road again, heading back to the Abba Aid Station.

Bush wack!
18 miles done! 13 to go!
When we got there, we had done 18 miles! I was feeling really good! I changed my sneakers and socks since it had been so muddy in hopes to not get gnarly blisters, filled up our water and food and headed out for the final 13 miles. We ran back to the Amee Farm for 3 miles and then headed out for the final 10 mile loop. Karyn and I were psyched because we had been down there training on the course 4 times in the past 5 weeks so we knew what the trails would be. Alright!! This is going to be a piece of cake!!


Andy sent us pretty much straight up the mountain.

Holy shit. I cursed his name a few times (sorry, Andy! Hope your ears weren't burning! I am sure I was not the only one cursing your name!). Then we hit this new trail that Matt Baatz, trail extraordinaire, built. What a beautiful trail! It was my favorite part of the last 10 miles. Beautiful side hilling. We got to the top FINALLY, took a quick break to fill up our water, talked to a woman who was doing the 150 mile race (running that loop 15 times!), took some pictures, and said "ok, 7 or 8 miles to go!"  This will be a piece of cake.


23 miles done! 8 to go!
View at the top of the final mountain. Down to the finish line!

They took us all over the place, down steeps, back around to the top again, down down down down....then as we are approaching the river, which was near the farm and starting line, the trail starts going AWAY from the farm. HEY. What the hell is going on, here! All of a sudden, we are doing this bushwack along the river...walking in the rocky river bed. My right IT band was starting to scream at me when I attempted to run so I walked. More cursing of Andy occurred. Then, we finally saw the makeshift I Beam bridge that crossed the river. YES!! We were almost back at the beginning!! Karyn I decided just to walk through the river. It was so cold and refreshing on our tired legs. After that, we walked back the last 1/4 mile to the starting line. We had done it! 10 hours and 50 minutes! I saw Andy and he gave me a big hug and said "you have a year to get ready for the 50 miler!" I told him to leave me alone! All in good fun, of course. I saw Margaret "Dirt in Your Skirt" Schlachter and she gave me a congrats, as well as Matt Baatz, trail master. I was feeling so good! I chowed on a burger and a bunch of corn on the cob, called Seth and my parents, and  reveled in the euphoria of what I had just accomplished.

We just ran 31 miles! What a day!
Shoes and socks that got me through the day!
Only 1 blister!
Map of the course
Andy and I at the end of the race.
Thanks for a great day, Andy!

Big thanks to Seth and Aida for giving me the space and time to train for this the past several months. And, thanks to Karyn for training with me and sticking with me throughout the day since she could have been so far ahead of me doing her own race. Thanks to Andy, again, for the inspiration!!! And, thanks to my friend Deanna Stoppler for inspiring me to run two years ago. Running has changed my life, Deanna!

50 miler next year? Totes!!!

P.S. This song was in my head ALL DAY. My day was full of using the word fuck so this was appropriate. Beasties!

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