I'm still riding on the endorphins from yesterday! I was first woman, sixth overall, in yesterday's JW Corbett 50 Miler. It was tough, it was pretty, it was fun, I had a blast!
I am always looking for good races near Gram's so I have a double excuse to head down to Florida. Originally scheduled to be help in a park infested with alligators, I was rather glad when it got moved b/c the other park was entire under water. This park, only some of it.
It was four washing machine loops of 12.5 miles (My GPS read more than 12.5 miles, but what fun is an ultra if it's exactly measured correctly?).
The first part (or last part, depending which loop you were on) was flat, 7 miles-ish, along the levee, completely exposed. It was very pretty, but when you're in pain, pretty only gets you so far. "Those flowers are lovely, but oh my god, my toenails are killing me!"
Then you head into "Jurassic Park" where there were technical, single track trails, and TONS of swamps. I mean, running through water that was at least ankle-high and sometimes as much as mid-thigh. Yum. I tried not to think about snakes and alligators and when it got too lonely in there, I'd talk to scare away the beasts. Many parts of the swamp were impossible to run in because of floating logs and other debris. My friend Jessica who I ran the first loop with (and who had also paced me at Cajun Coyote 100 Miler) smashed her shin really hard in the swamp and ended up limping to an early finish. The last loop, this section was especially difficult because I was so tired I could barely lift my legs and kept smashing my sore toes and sore toenails into logs and other things. Ow. Also, because of running through so much sand (which was on the bottom of the swamps) and mud, I literally had to stop each loop, remove my socks, turn them inside out and dump the sand/mud combo out, remove my shoe insoles, scrape them as clean as I could get them, then scoop out any remnants out of my sneakers. This didn't always work as good and the sand/mud buildup would chill just below the pad of my feet and became very painful. Tears-in-my-eyes-painful. And yes, people, I was wearing gaiters. It was that bad.
Finally, the last section was again along the levee, on the other side, with a small bridge-crossing back to the start. And then you went back out the other way.
The aid stations had some of the friendliest, funniest volunteers I've met at any ultra. They insisted upon taking some of the most unflattering photos known to humankind, gave me cups of delicious gatorade, teased me, laughed. I told one of the volunteers I lost my toenail and he promised to keep an eye out for it. When I saw him a little later, he yelled at me across the levee, "I've been looking for that toenail, but I still can't find it!"
I started my race out at a decent clip, sub-9:30 miles, which doesn't sound too fast to a lot of my friends, but for an ultra, that's fairly good. Jessica and I chatted, laughed, told stories about our Burns, what happened in our lives. We suffered through the swamp for the first time together - I loved it, and used the opportunity to pass a lot of people. Some people can't seem to run in a swamp, for whatever reason. Hmmmm. Anyway, maybe it's the fact that my first ultra had abt 4-5 miles of brook running (though that was heaps harder, but I had a blast in this section, until the last loop, when my toes and toenails started mutinying.
After the first loop, Jessica and I separated, and I primarily ran alone the rest of the race. No worries, I had plenty going on in my head to amuse me.
Aid station stops were kept brief, water filled up, a cup of gatorade, maybe a handful of pretzels. I ate mainly gels - lots and lots of gels.
I felt better than I had and when I realized I was in first place, I pushed it. I haven't won races very often, but oh, how I wanted this. How I wanted to win. My mantra was, "The faster you run, the sooner the pain is done" (adding that pain b/c OW, but also was "First place." It's weird, it's not like I got a prize or anything....but I still felt the need to get this. It wasn't like I was mean competitive, I was still talking and chilling and having fun. It just gave me a push. And people in the swamp were so nice, "You're in first place." I responded, "Yeah but I'm WET." "And I'm muddy." It was a lot of fun.
I had so much fun at the race - the people, the pretty trails, the palms, the water...and after, chilling, exchanging the ultra goss, talking with a guy who ran his first 50k (but had only ran 6 miles before that!), I knew that I'd be back.