So, I was writing this in my head as I made multiple laps around Crissy Field - of course, now that I sit down to write it, I can't really remember what I wanted to say...
Let's start with the race itself and how I got there. After the stomach issues at North Face, I needed to find another race to get in 50 miles prior to the Umstead 100 in March. Googling local races, I found out that coastal trails had a twenty four hour race from New Year's Eve to New Year's Day - laps around Crissy field....not my idea thought on how to spend New Year's, but it seemed easy enough.
The race was set up like your typical ultra....show up, get your bib and t-shirt, run the race. This was a little different, since it consisted of one mile laps, there was a kind of camp set-up....start/finish, aid station, and tents....a bunch of the people brought tents for resting/hanging out. There were others who brought chairs and coolers, and were set up for an all day group event. I set my bags down and made the decision to leave my pack with them, why carry it if I would literally pass by it every lap.
We ran in some serious wind for the first three hours....it wasn't too bad on the stretch by the street, but the stretch by the bay was brutal. However, the other runners were nice, sharing stories of races past and advice. I decided to pick up my shuffle around lap three...I had twelve hours of serial podcasts that would keep me busy....unfortunately, they didn't download for some reason. So, I had a two hour loop of music that I hadnt listened to in ages...a close second, I guess.
Sometime around lap three or four, I heard someone calling my name. I looked up to see my friend, Zena, from bootcamp. She was there to do a few laps with her friend doing the six hour. It was great to see her at the start for a couple of laps, and then out on the course at one point.
I easily made my way through the first fifteen or so miles, felt good and made sure to stop and eat every five miles or so. The course had two paths by the aid station, and the veer right to the aid station was called 'pit'. I thought that was cool. I had a good plan going thanks to some strategically placed cone markers....run parts of the pavement stretch (though, this stopped at mile 15 due to the tough terrain), run the first curve to the first cone marker, walk to the next cone, then run the next two....repeat to the aid station.
I stopped at some point to find out why my toe was hurting...turns out there was no reason for it, but I did find a blister on a different toe to wrap. Hopefully I dont lose a toenail in the near future. By the time I hit 25, I was ready for some fresh clothes....I had dressed warmly for the morning chill, but was now sweaty and not warming up.
By the time I hit mile 30, I was far more sore than I wanted to be for only being at 30 miles. I was also bored and getting tired of laps. It was pretty bleak until about mile 35, where I think the Advil kicked in. However, my friend Joseph came down to say hello and do a couple of laps with me. It was great to catch up and have some company to pass the time. He also said something about the messages people had sent via email. I hadn't gotten any, so I assumed I didn't have any yet. He said that he had sent one...and that people on Facebook had mentioned they were sending them too. I was surprised no one from the race had mentioned where to find them, but after stopping and asking, I was directed to a filing box holding messages. And I had a bunch - very thankful for all of the hellos from friends and family. A friend and some nice messages, great way to get through some tough miles.
Once I hit 35, I started to feel pretty good again. Still sore, but I was able to take up my running plan again on the trail pieces of the course. Loved getting the sudden burst of energy....it really made miles 35 to about 42 pretty bearable. I checked my messages again and had a bunch more...many thanks - those made my run :). I talked to the guy about the 100 miler I had planned and he asked why I wasn't doing coastal's....haha...maybe next year. It might be fun to volunteer at this year though or get in another 50. Somewhere in there the aid station had pizza...nothing like walking a mile and munching on a slice of cheese and pepperoni. haha...
At 42, I was pretty much done...I hit 12 hours right around that point, despite having been shooting to get the full 50 in 12. Stupid miles 30-35 or whatever they were. I had been ahead of pace until then, but good learnings for next time. Hopefully that will still be ok for the 100 miler. I was also getting cold, despite having on one of my everest wool tops and hood. It was warm when I was walking, but the clothes underneath not so much after sweating. I told myself I needed to get to 50 before I stopped again....it would be a great reward in a couple of laps....clean clothes, bathroom stop, aid station break.
A lot of people seemed to disappear at this point...either to tents or cars or where ever to rest. But, I was going to get my 50. I ran into a guy dressed in flame print shorts and a shirt, who told me he was facing his feet forward, because one day, they would all be pointing towards the sky....well, that was one way to look at it. haha. I did various parts of 47-49 with a guy visiting from Dallas, specifically for the New Year's race. He had accepted the fact that he was going to walk the rest of the night, and had changed into hiking boots. My right knee had been pretty sore since about 45, so hiking boots seemed like they would have been a good call at that point. I was thankful for the company, as I was also really bored....give me the hills in the headlands any day.....
I finally got to my last lap, and I had originally planned on changing some, eating some, maybe having some soup, maybe a rest in the car, and coming back out for some more laps. But, I think on some level, I knew I was done. I bid farewell to the pavement that was destroying my shins, to the slight hill on the first curve, the deep sand right before the first curve, and the sharp turn to the timing mat. I stopped to snap a photo of my garmin once it hit 50....on the back straight-away that had been insanely windy during the early part of the race.
I crossed the lap mat post-50 miles and hobbled over to the aid station, desperate for some soup. Somehow, I managed to hit it just as they ran out and they were making more. Ugh...how do you run out of soup? I wanted to stop and get any additional messages that had been sent, but I was so cold and sore and desperate for a few minutes of warmth and dry clothes, so I hobbled over to my stuff, grabbed it, and began a treacherous walk through the grass to my car. In reality, it was probably 100 feet, but it was grass and not flat, and wow did my knee hurt. I did notice multiple people sleeping in their cars as I passed by....I apologize for the headlamp I probably flashed directly at them....
Once I got in the car, I realized how cold I was and how sore my knee really was. I wasnt sure what was worse, trying to stop shaking or having to push the seat in my car back and pull my leg in with hands because my knee wouldnt bend. Once I got a better look at it, I realized it was swollen, and there was a weird swelling just above my knee on the side of my quad. Gross....did I break my leg and miss it? #ultrarunnerproblems. At that point, I realized two things: one, I really didnt feel good and two, I was done for the night. I opened the car door to get some air....to think a few minutes ago all I wanted was some heat. Once I felt a little better, I pulled off my timing chip, put my headlamp back on and hobbled over to camp. I asked the race director if I should give it to him and he pointed me in the direction of the check-in tent. He asked if I was done, and I told him I got to the 50 I wanted and my knee was shot, he congratulated me on the 50 and wished me a happy new year.
I hobbled over to the check-in tent where she took my chip and gave me a medal. It would have been fun to make it to midnight, to share champagne with my fellow 24 hour runners, and to walk through the night with the people I'd me throughout the day. However, there is something to say for knowing when it's time to be done.
After turning everything in, I hobbled back over to the car where I proceeded to wait until I stopped shaking and was able to drive home. Luckily, traffic was minimal and I got home pretty quickly. It took me at least ten minutes to gather the strength to get out of my car....of course in that time, I found the slug that hitched a ride to the car on my bag. Awesome.
Somehow, I got up the stairs to my apartment - perhaps the adrenaline was still flowing. Once Brian greeted me at the door with some wine and I sat down at the kitchen table, trying to get up was a different story. Literally hanging on to walls to get to the stairs and then using the railing to climb up the stairs.....I have no idea how I managed to shower and get back downstairs without falling and breaking something. Super thankful for grubhub and their ability to let me order Sparky's on my phone and have it delivered to my house.
After a brief New Year's celebration and my Sparky's dinner, I was ready to call it a night. Another race in the books. 50 mile distance achieved. Kudos to Wendell and Coastal Trails for putting on another great race. And, what did I learn? There are a lot of long runs in my future....double days are one thing, but I really need to work on staying stronger longer....pushing that wall out from now mile 30. And, while this race was an experience, the ultras in the headlands were much more fun....so I see more of those in my future too :).
so, thats it for now....over and out for now. hopefully a new years/2015 entry coming soon :).