Why do I torture myself to the point of delirium, tears, and pain? Well, it's fun...sometimes.
I've run the course of the Febapple 50k before (South Mountain Reservation 100k, Mayapple 50k), and enjoyed it. This time was a completely different animal; the course was completely covered in snow, ice, extremely cold puddles, mud. It was a miserable, tough, life-affirming place to run.
We started at 7a.m., and the trail was immediately treacherous. Lots of ice, snow. Peter and I had drilled screws in our trail sneakers the night before so we def had more traction, but it was rather slippery. I tried to avoid the ice (and at one point, was crawling on my knees after the woman in front of me fell - and later told me she thinks she broke her wrist, but was still running because, you know, you don't need your hand to run - as she pointed out, and I admit I would have done the same thing!). By avoiding the ice, I ended up discovering some lovely puddles - it looked like leaves but really was melted snow aka stream bed. Horribly cold! My feet were soaked about five minutes in.
My right hamstring had been sore all week, and I had skipped two runs to let it rest - in the beginning, it was really sore on all the uphills, so I took it easy. However, it warmed up by mile 6 and was nothing to worry about.
The ice scared me. I took it easy, ran with a few people.
A bunch of us got off course after the first aid station and did this big extra loop. We couldn't figure out what we did exactly, and ended up lost. Mishka and a bunch of others decided to run back to the aid station, while I put my trust in two girls, Melanie and Jessamyn, who I ended up running with the rest of the race.
We were all elated to have found our way back to the start, and at mile 10ish, were all feeling good. Food! Pretzels! M&Ms! Strawberries! Heavenly!
We took off again, noticing that a bunch of folks were dropping out. It was tough - so much tougher than without snow (because normally, it's not an easy course, but the snow/ice/puddles/mud made it just ridiculous!).
The second loop wasn't as bad - a lot less ice and wet puddles and a lot more runnable portions. Pretty fields, too. And the aid station - I discovered a combination of potato chips and gummy bears in your mouth at the same time was pure heaven. Mishka understands - he discovered gummy bears, goldfish crackers, and jelly belly jelly beans. Mmmm the scary running snacks we devour with pure hunger and passion!
The third loop started out good - a lot of the snow had melted, so it was heaps easier. But there was a lot more water, and it was a lot colder. And we were tired and slower, thus, feeling the cold more as our bodies weren't working as hard. I began having a meltdown I mostly hid, trying not to cry, as I couldn't feel my feet and everything, especially my lower shins. Were my feet ice blocks? I was delirious, I wasn't consuming enough calories (I was too cold to take off my gloves and initiate the fumbling, difficult process of locating, opening, and eating food.), and was also seriously dehydrated. I was becoming delirious. I couldn't see this right, my mind was cloudy and all over the place, I was tripping on my own two ice block feet. I felt like I was on drugs or drunk or something, on something that hadn't yet been discovered. It was a little scary. I knew I needed to eat, drink, but all I wanted to do was finish, and cry until then.
Melanie and Jessamyn helped me; they were struggling too. Sometimes I wanted to speed up, other times I wanted to crash. We ended up talking quite a bit, mostly about running, but also about our first kiss (the convo topic I pull out during ultras when desperately need to distract myself).
It was hard to see the bright light of why I was doing this; it was cold and my feet were numb (Still are numb, in fact.) and my shins hurt and was this increasing my mileage too much and was I going to hurt myself?
But wow, a week after running 50miles, after taking things a little too easy for a little too long, and I'm finishing a 50k in snow, ice, wet puddles, and cold (four things I loathe) - well, I impress myself. That's more than just a little hardcore!
Now if only I could get feeling back in my toes, and my shins stopped screaming with each step, I'd be ecstatic!