The Iroquois Trail 50 Miler on Saturday was full of ups and downs, and a little bit in between - I'm talking more about my state than the hills, though it was pretty much the same for the terrain.
The morning started off chilly - I wore a long sleeved shirt, gloves, and running skirt at the start. I immediately began having challenges with my fuel belt -- apparently, I had lost weight since the VT100 and the stupid belt wouldn't tighten enough so it jostled for the next 50 miles, which was rather annoying. I started the race out full of energy and excited to spend the day running 50 miles. My goal was to PR in a 50, to run sub 11:00, ideally 10:30, but I wasn't sure how difficult the course would be.
Overall, I liked the course. Ups, downs, outs, backs. Nothing too crazy, nothing too insane. My major problem with the course is that it was not always well-marked; I had to stop several times to try to figure out where to go next, and even lost about 10 minutes when I ran in the wrong direction after a poorly-marked switchback.
Around mile 10, I had some "female trouble" and ended up wasting 5 minutes in a stupid portapotty. I took off quickly, only to encounter the shoelaces from hell. (Why were my shoelaces fine on various trail runs, including a 10 hour training run, but I run a race and they can't seem to stay in a knot?) After retying them ten times (I counted), I asked an aid station for help and they duct taped them shut. The volunteers were fabulous (as they often are).
Due to my shoelace issues, I ended up losing the group I was running with so I was alone, which wasn't so bad. Plenty of time to enjoy the scenery, chat with new people, think. I'm going through some pretty strong changes and rethinking, and this was a great to do so. I found I zoned out a bunch of times, moving my feet while passing the trees, up and down, really enjoying the day.
A while back, my friend Brad said the reason he liked ultrarunning was "because you get the highest of highs and lowest of lows." I truly felt that; I had insanely high runner's high, and completely bottomed out at other points. Ultrarunning is SO intense.
I was feeling hopeful about the race as I plugged along, and at mile 41, I ended up going the wrong way around a switchback, and running back in the direction I came. (Where to go after the switchback was not marked well and I went in a circle before going back on the same trail - I was not aware of it.) When a fellow runner informed me of this, I told him it was impossible, then sat on the ground about to cry. I got up and was really angry and he kept laughing.
"Don't laugh, it's not funny!"
"I'm not laughing at you, I'm laughing with you."
"I'm not laughing at all! I'm crying!"
"What do you need? Food? Water? Have you been eating and drinking enough?"
This is what I love about ultrarunning; I bite someone's head off and they offer to help. Later, I thoroughly apologized but part of why I was so desperate to get to the aid station was that I inadvertently didn't take all of my endurolytes and was severely electrolyte-deficient (and felt it). When Leo heard of my predicament, he immediately gave me three from his stash, which helped perk me up. We ran together the next five miles or so, and he really helped me. Not only that, but he was fascinating; we talked about Beat writers, fiction writers, love, life, philosophy, and more. He was a really amazing individual.
I started crashing a bit, and let Leo go ahead of me. To sustain myself, I ate more peanut M&Ms and pretzels, and sang Madonna songs in my head.
From mile 47-49.7 (or something like that), it's all insanely downhill. Insanely. I pushed it hard, and was pleased (though my quads are still hating me).
I finished with a huge smile on my face, but almost about to cry. I knew how hard I had persevered, struggled -- with shoelaces untying and portapotties and getting lost and not enough electrolytes and falling straight on my butt -- but I still did it. Sustained by strawberry banana gu, pretzels and peanut M&Ms, I pushed myself - and felt rewarded. (I also rewarded myself later with an amazing meal at nearby Moosewood Restaurant!)
Next up is the Dick Collins 50 Miler! I can't wait!