When we left off, I was almost 27 miles into AR50, had a new pair of shoes and socks on, and had just picked up my first pacer Jojo. We were heading off into the trails, which I was very much looking forward to after over 20 miles of pavement.
It was so nice to have a friend with me at this point. I had so much to say! Those quick stops where I got a minute to chat with my crew weren’t enough to tell the whole story with what was going on. I told Jojo about my day so far and she told me about how the crewing had been going. She also told me a lot of nice things about how I looked so strong and not like I had run over a marathon already which I appreciated. I felt really good at this point, but it was nice to hear that my outside reflected my inside.
We got on the wonderful trails and took turns leading on the single track portions. Sometimes it was nice to have her lead and to just follow along and sometimes it was nice to take the lead. It mixes up where your focus is when you are in front and back and it was nice to keep that changing. She was constantly checking in with me, taking pictures and just keeping me entertained. I was offering her some tidbits that I had learned that day already for her to take into her race first 50 miler the next week.
Around mile 30 I told her that I felt way better at this point than I had at Way Too Cool and I felt good at that race! I felt very in control, very happy and pretty energetic for already running for over 5 hours. Just after mile 31 we came into an aid station and my crew was there waiting for us yet again!
Real foods still weren’t doing the trick for me, but I continued to force eat Shot Bloks as often as I could and use the aid stations to eat a potato, organges, and drink a cup of soda. I was religiously taking salt caps every hour throughout the race and drinking water from my pack. It all seemed to be doing the trick and my stomach wasn’t hurting anymore.
Most importantly, I still had a huge smile plastered on my face and was having the time of my life.
Jojo and I continued on our way, back out on the trails. Little did I know that we were entering the section the locals like to call “the meat grinder” which I was told strategically after the race. There were some tough technical, rocky sections that had some big step ups and downs which did not feel that great when you already had over 30 miles on your legs. But it didn’t phase me, I was still feeling strong and enjoying the beautiful scenery. I was really glad that I had waited to see the course until race day.
As we passed mile 33, I said this is my longest run ever! And I was still so surprised with how well my legs were feeling. There were a couple more aid stations between 31 and 40 that crews weren’t allowed to go to, but I continued with what I had been doing at the previous ones. It seemed like every time I would start to get tired, an aid station would be around the corner which would give me a quick chance to rest and get some fuel in and I would immediately feel better.
As we approached mile 40, I just couldn’t believe I was already there! I only had a mile left with Jojo before I picked up Chris and headed out for the final part of my race. I couldn’t get over how strong I was feeling, how happy I was and fast the race was flying by. I told Jojo THIS feeling is exactly why her and I trained like we did even when I heard I didn’t need to be running so much. We put in a lot of miles, a lot of big back to back weekends, and I was at mile 40 feeling great. It was a pretty awesome feeling I must say. I told Jojo that even if I crashed and burned hard those last 10 miles, that I would be so proud of how great I felt and how I paced the race so far.
We made the entrance into Horseshoe Bar where I would see my crew for the last time before the finish, say bye to Jojo and pick up Chris. I fueled up again taking advantage of the great aid stations with some more soda and oranges, and off I went with Chris!
We started talking right away and I told him how good I was feeling. Along with the tips I mentioned in part 1 that Andee gave me, she also said if you feel good at mile 40 that is where you start pushing. I remember reading that and thinking that was the most ridiculous thing I had heard – feeling good at mile 40? Hah. Well there I was, feeling good at mile 40.
We were running right away and had some people following us too. I would run up all the little hills and was pushing myself a little harder here. Chris asked if I had seen the clock when I came in, knowing that my A goal was a sub 10. I said I had and that I knew it would be close, but I wasn’t worried about it. I just wanted to finish strong.
The trails were so beautiful out in this section and it was fun to be sharing these moments with Chris. He was impressed with how well I was running, I think he had expected much worse. Around mile 45 I started getting tired and had to take some breaks, but every time I would start running again.
The miles clicked by and I knew we were getting close to the massive climb to the finish line. Then we turned the corner and it pretty much smacks you in the face. I had to walk a lot of mile 47, it was so steep and my legs were just too tired to run up, plus I don’t think my “run” was any faster. It switches from gravel to pavement somewhere in the last 2 miles and Chris was trying to get me to run more. He would tell me to just run to the fence or run to that sign. So I listened and started running. I was just ready to be done!
ran shuffled most of the last 2 miles following Chris along. At mile 49 he asked me if I wanted to turn around and run back to the start (insinuating a 100 mile race). I laughed. The closer we got, the more people were around cheering us on and the more I could taste the finish line. Pretty soon I could hear the announcer and I just kept on running.
There was a tiny steep little hill to get up onto the main part of the road and I charged up that thing, or at least I felt like it was a charge. I asked Chris “where is the finish line?!” and then saw I had to turn right, then right again and I would be in the finish shoot.
Chris split off as I made turned right the second time and I saw some SFM and Inside Trail friends. I was fighting back tears and couldn’t wipe the smile off my face.
I was the happiest runner in all the world at that moment.
(source for both)
As I continued running down the shoot I looked up and saw my friends screaming for me, I was so excited to see them and could not stop smiling.
I made the final baby turn and there it was, what I had been running for over 10 hours for. I had done it.
10 hours, 17 minutes and 9 seconds later, I had covered 50 miles.
I was handed my finisher’s jacket and Chris was right there when I looked up. The tears started running and I was a very happy girl.
We hung out in the finisher’s village, meeting up with friends, telling stories from the day and just enjoying it all as I sat there beaming. I couldn’t believe it was over and that it had gone so well. Sure I could have done without my stomach being mad, but really, it couldn’t have been a more perfect day. I couldn’t have asked for a better first 50 miler.
I have always heard and even said the phrase “the race is just the victory lap from all the training” and this time I truly, 100% believe that.
My crew and pacers were incredible and this day wouldn’t have been half as amazing without them. They are the best.
On our way home, I got on twitter, email and facebook and I was blown away by all the support I had been getting all day. I don’t have enough thank you’s, but thank you. Thank you for reading, your cheering for me, for supporting me and inspiring me every single day.
When I started this journey to my first 50 miler, I really had no idea what it was going to mean, how I would feel or what I would think of it all. What I know now is this was by far the best thing I have done yet and I feel like I can accomplish anything.