For me, my fifty miler was an awesome experience.
It started in November, when I called my mom and asked her if she would want to support me during the race and she said "sure". I was super-excited to share my experience with her. Not many in my family know what racing is like, and certainly not the life of ultra-running.
Now, mom was probably thinking she would drop me off somewhere in the woods to go running and come back at the end of the day, but I had bigger plans for her (ie, I needed her support more than that). First, she helped me prepare for the race.
Moms are awesome.
We went to the hotel, got everything organized and hit the hay pretty early. With a 6 am start, that meant that we would be up at 4:30 am (2:30 am MST-- which my body was still on, ugh!)
The race itself was 4 loops. One 5-mile loop followed by 3 identical 15-mile loops. All the loops came back to the start/finish area where mom (and all my stuff) would be. That made things a lot easier.
It was actually really cool to run through the forest before sunrise. I had a headlamp and I mostly just followed the people in front of me, but there were some times when I was alone on the trail. At those times, I had to navigate the course that was marked by glow sticks. It was fun to look for and run towards the glow sticks and made me feel like I was at summer camp on some crazy scavenger hunt.
The other real cool thing about this hour was the sky. If you stopped and looked up (which, yes, I did), you could see the moon through a real cool foggy haze. As the sun came up, the scenery only got more beautiful.
At mile 5, I found myself back to the start where mom was waiting. I traded her my headlamp for my visor, grabbed some G2 and hand bottle and I was off on my first 15-mile loop.
The second loop for me was all about checking out the terrain and seeing what I would be running through for the rest of the day. And, it was all quite beautiful.
I finished the second loop feeling good. Mom was ready for me, refilled my waterpack and sent me on my way.
The third loop, I was ready to slow down, but just kept plugging along at my happy pace which wasn't any slower. I hit the 25 mile mark and was excited to be halfway. I was on my way to completing the third loop. I kept plugging along. I was super-charged to hit the 30-mile mark/aid-station. I thought that was all I needed to get me to the end of the third lap, but somewhere right after that aid station, my nutrition went south... and so did my energy. Mile 31-34 were probably the low point of my run, but I knew I needed to pull out of it.
I completed the third loop in need of more repair than the first two loops. Did a quick wardrobe change, including washing my feet, re-applying moleskin and new socks (ahhh!). Warned my mom that the final loop might take 4 hours and I was off.
Amazingly, I felt good! I rambled through the forest, surprised at my new found energy. I took in the scenery, it was probably the prettiest part of the loop, but unfortunately, I didn't capture much of it on my camera because the ground was so filled with roots, I didn't trust myself to run and take pictures or video.
I got to the first aid station and took in some food, cola and refilled my water pack. (By this time, it was quite hot and humid, so I was refilling my waterpack at every aid station-- and sometimes depleting it between the aid stations. That's 70 ozs/3-5 miles. Unfortunately, I sweat A LOT.)
Again, shortly after that aid station, I lost some energy. And the run/walking started. I got really frustrated with myself because I felt like I could run, but my body just wouldn't let me. I did some self-talking and came to the conclusion that, since I was still running at a pretty good pace, I thought it might net a faster time if I ran/walked than running at a slower pace.
At this point, too, a woman (Becki) happened upon me that seemed to be in the same state I was in. I asked her what her goal was and that is how the friendship started. We continued on together, chatting, running and walking when we needed to (the uphills). At one point, she was out of water and I gave it to her. At another point, my stomach was really irritated and she handed me some Pepto. Somewhere between miles 42-45, we were chatting so much, we lost the trail and kept running (oops- what's another 1/2 mile when you are running 50?) Anyways, we really became quite a team, motivating each other to run and supporting one another emotionally, physically, everything. It was something totally unexpected and it was awesome.
We got all the way to mile 48.5/49 and came across Brian, one of Becki's friends who had come to cheer her on at the end. Brian had walked down the trail to find her and found "us". He was cool, full of encouragement and ready to do the last stint with us. When we got up to the finish (FINALLY) Becki and I crossed together. And WE WERE DONE!
50 Miles (+ some) took us 9 hours and 59 minutes. We ended up being 1st in age group (tie) and 5th woman overall (tie).
And here is my video of the day. ENJOY!