I signed up for this race early, in May, and have been training for this race since then. It was my final, end of the year, ultimate race. Race weekend quickly arrived and I wasn't sure if I felt ready or not! I met Carrie and Jay and we began the 10 hour drive down to Virginia. After a long day in the car we made it in the nick of time for the pre-race dinner and briefing. Once there my nerves really started acting up! I definitely had the pre-race jitters! I sat listening to Clark review race information and all I could think about was how horrible the next day would be! I was so nervous about cut offs, snow, climbs, the distance and how the hell I would be able to finish! What had I signed up for??!!
We made it to the hotel, quickly put our things together and went to bed. Without much sleep the alarm clock finally went off at an early 4am. We made it onto the bus that would take us to the start at 5am and made it to the start by 6. Whew, I was SO nervous at this point, couldn't eat, couldn't drink, just wanted to start and get going.
Bimbler's toe star
Finally made it over to the start and we quickly began! The race started in the dark, you could just see headlamps leading up the paved road and back behind. Finally we dipped into the trails about a mile or so in and began the day-long adventure! I knew I would have to be quicker than normal in the beginning if I wanted to meet the cutoffs so I tried to stay faster than normal. Eventually the sun began to rise, we put away the headlamps and enjoyed the BEAUTIFUL sunrise over the Virginia mountains. The silhouettes were absolutely stunning.
Runners were starting to spread out more and more but I was constantly with someone or at least in sight of someone. One good thing about huge races is you never have to run alone! All I could think was CUTOFFS so I was anxious to see how my pace was when I hit the second aid station. I realized I was just on pace to finish in 12 hours, oh no! I wanted to be faster than that! I decided I needed to push it into gear a little more and really hope that it would last me until the finish. After that, I constantly broke up the race by each aid station. Just focusing on each section. instead of the entire race. After going through a few more aid stations, I was finally about 30 minutes ahead of cutoffs. I knew then I could relax... a little. The last climb to the halfway point was tough! It felt like the climb never ended, I tried to walk a while, then jog 20 yards, and alternate until I made it to the top. Then someone told me the climb after the halfway was even worse! And that there were many more the second half of the race! I was already getting tired, I couldn't even imagine running a faster second half if it was harder than the first!
I made it to the halfway aid station (mi 26ish) at exactly 5 1/2 hours, I was about thirty minutes ahead of cutoff and was feeling pretty good, I didn't take much time, just wanted to get the upcoming climb done and over with. I met up with several people and managed to chat my way through several tough miles.
Then came the infamous LOOP! This is where things got interesting! I had heard there was snow the second half of the race, but the loop was SO SNOWY! There was about a foot of snow the entire 6 mile loop. It was tough, slow going- felt like I was constantly slipping and sliding- Yacktracks would have been perfect to have. There was a half mile out and back in the middle of the loop up to the top of Mt Pleasant. The out and back was tough! Runners were coming towards you fast and it was hard to get out of the way in all the snow. But the trip was totally worth it for the views from the top- I probably spent too much time up there, but oh well! It was beautiful!
Beginning of the loop
View from top of Mt Pleasant
I knew I was way slower than I should have on the loop and that I would have lost a lot of time. I was worried about where I would be in regards to cut offs. I made it into the aid station and realized now I was only 10 minutes ahead of cutoff. Shit. I have to book it for the last 10 miles to be able to make it under 12 hours. I heard from a few people that they pushed the finish cutoff (12 hours) by thirty minutes. So I knew I would make it in 12:30, but REALLY wanted it in under 12! I just hoped we were done with the climbs and snow.
But it wouldn't be a crazy race if there weren't more climbs or snow! :) We went up another few climbs on fire roads, walking and jogging my way through it. Then hit another aid station- I was only 5 minutes ahead of cutoff now, telling myself to keep moving, don't waste time, pain is only temporary, etc, etc.
There was another section of single track in the snow with a few small climbs (that felt huge!), this section was really slow and a low point for me. I knew I had less than 6 miles or so but it felt like forever. Finally I made it to the last aid station!!! I had been looking forward to this point for the last 15 miles. I knew the last bit was all downhill fire roads- MY FAVORITE!!!! I knew I could fly on this section, and I did! I gave it all I got and tried to enjoy the last few miles of my first 50 mile race. I was so proud of myself at this point and was so happy that I was going to be able to finish in under 12 hours!!!
Made it into the finish line at 11:52!!!! I was tired, happy, proud, exhausted, sore, relieved and uncomfortable but I was done!!!! First 50 mile race is in the books and now I'm ready for my next adventure!
MMTR is a great race- hard but great and so well put on. The people were wonderful, aid stations stocked, views beautiful and trails lovely. People ask why the hell I would run 50 miles, I'm never quite sure what to tell them, but I know when I was done I was happier than I have been in a long time! Now the question is... do I sign up for a 100 miler now??!!??!!
Ironhorse award- most reps of bench press after the race
Was able to put my sticker on!!!!