Friday afternoon I left work early and went home to hurry and pack for the big race. I had no idea what to bring so I brought everything: windbreaker jacket, heavier running jacket, windbreaker pants, tights, thick gloves, little gloves, mofia face mask, ear-warmer headband, trail shoes, two pairs of socks, running spandex shirt, cotton longsleeve shirt, cotton t-shirt, etc. You never want to show up for the race and realize that you forgot something to wear or regret not having brought an item.
Chris was pretty proud that he had just bought his chains for his shoes to run in the snow, "just in case". He liked to brag about them. :)
We left about 2:30pm and headed towards OH, arriving around 8pm. We searched all around to accommodate Chris's vegan needs and ended up at the yummy Qdoba. Since I already had eaten a ton of junk food in the car (as was needed) I was not too hungry- yet I still bought and ate a huge steak burrito. As Chris said, all of the calories will help for the race...if it digests, of course.
We went back to the hotel and I hit the hay around 9:30pm and Chris around 10:30. Neither of us slept very well and we woke up before our four alarm clocks went off- around 4:20am.
I didn't feel like bringing a cooler to take some breakfast food for the race- so the day before I went searching for food at a gas station. I found this nasty looking huge protein bar- 32 grams of protein!!!! That's sick. I knew it'd taste gross but at least I'd have some protein in me. That morning I opening it up, and yes, it was nasty. I ate a little over half of it.
We headed off to the race site, about 10 minutes away. Once we entered the building where everyone was meeting, my main concern was when I'd receive my "hunter green knit stylish Brooks warm-up jacket" that they advertised, and what did it look like. Haha. Unfortunately I'd have to wait until after the race to get it.
It was medium-cold outside. I decided to wear a baseball cap, my heavier running jacket, tights, and windbreaker pants. It's so hard to tell what you'll be comfortable in.
The course consisted of what was to be a five mile loop- and what was to be an eight mile loop. I heard through the grapevine that in the original course, there was a river crossing. This year the river was pretty icy so they cut that portion out of it. Some said that was about a half-mile cut. Most people wouldn't even care about that difference, but it does bug me. Instead of running a 31 mile race, we probably ran anywhere from 28-29 miles. Even though that is still a lot, it's going to mess me up with future 50Ks. I'm going to think "Why is my time sooo much slower than the Buckeye 50K run?"-assuming it's the same distance. Oh well! I'll get over it.
The marathoners/50Kers started on the five mile loop and the half-marathoners on the eight mile loop. The course was beautiful in the dark. You could see the huge white ski slopes to the left and then the light orange color from the sun over the trees.
From the very first mile on, I felt great. The five mile loop was not at all what I expected it to be. Thankfully it was a lot easier. On the drive up to OH, Chris and I kept seeing these huge hills and trees and were scared that this race would kick us in the butt. Although there were some big stairs and hills, there weren't too many and they were definitely doable.
After the five miles, I stripped off my gloves and windbreaker pants and headed towards the eight mile loop. On the very first portion of this loop, there is a big hill you have to walk up. It was great coming back down it though, super fast. The hills weren't too big on this course either. There's a section of it where you're inbetween millions of pine trees, literally jumping over millions of roots all over on the ground. I really enjoyed that part and thought it was fun and pretty, but Chris hurt his ankle on that section. Luckily I didn't get hurt!
I kept feeling great during these 13 miles too. I was scared because in the past two 50Ks, the first ten miles were always great and then I sucked on the last 20. I didn't know if I should force myself to go slower to be safe, or keep on truckin. I decided to keep pushing on.
I ran by myself for the most part- but I kept catching up/passing a few people who I'd talk to a lot so it was nice. I ran with my MP3 player the whole time and it really helped- except for the fact that it went through two batteries and couldn't keep me going for the entire race.
After I finished running the second five mile loop, this tiny little guy said with an accent "first woman" and I was confused...then he said "you think you first woman?" and I was totally shocked he'd even ask me that. There was no way I thought I'd be the first woman to finish because I had seen a small group of fast runners, men and women, ahead of me beforehand. I told him "No" and thought nothing more of it.
However as I finished the second eight mile loop, a female runner said to me "you're the first woman that I've seen go down so far" and that got me excited. Although there weren't too many females running the 50K, that'd be nuts to be the first woman to finish. So I kept on trucking, still feeling great, and headed for the third and final five mile loop.
At this point I am thinking that all of the females are way behind me, and if I want to run a little slower because I'm tired, I can. The stairs on this last loop killed me and I could barely lift up my thigh and walk up them. I don't mind though, because I think I'm alone. When I went to the last aid station, ready to finish the last 2.5 miles, another guy told me I was the first woman so far.
Literally 20 seconds later as I was heading down back towards home, around mile 27, I see a random female out of nowhere!!! It totally shocked me- she was right on my tail! I got so scared and started pushing it so fast. Luckily I was able to run downhill and fly down the trail- but I knew that this woman was a super fast runner.
My problem over the past few years has always been the mental battle to continue running or to quit or slow down. After the course flattened out and I couldn't speed downhill anymore, I got so nervous that she would catch me. Right then I gave up. I slowed way down and said "Screw it- I'm going to let her finish first". I hated the pressure of forcing myself to keep running fast and of trying to beat her.
She passed me and surprisingly asked me if I was okay, and then kept on going. I was disappointed but it was my own fault. I didn't push it in the end, and I was walking too much earlier because I thought I had it in the bag.
I ended up finsihing the race at 5:32, the second female to cross, and she (Kim) finished at 5:30. It was a PR for me- but then I have to say that it wasn't the whole 31 miles. :)
Kim and I met each other and talked about the race. I heard that she has won 100-mile races before. Holy Cow- she's out of my league! I guess she was the first female for last year's race too, and finished in 5:20. She also said that she ran the first 13 miles with her TEN YEAR OLD son...which is probably why I was ahead of her in the first place.
It turns out we're both running the 60K Land Between the Lakes race in KY. On for more competition. It's fun getting to see more people at different races and I really like the socail aspect of running.
Overall, the race was awesome and I was happy with my time. Thankfully Chris also had an awesome run and he PR'd around 5:59 or something.
This same race has a summer 50K also. I hear the course is much more difficult but very fun. It'd be fun to run this race again, but we'll have to check the schedule.