My parents flew out before the race- they have run ultras for years and have countless 100's under their belt- I knew they would be the perfect crew!!! We got into Woodstock a couple days before to hang out and tour VT a bit. Had a great time with the parents around town. We checked into the race Friday morning to weigh in and get blood pressure checked- everything looked good! We spent the rest of the day hanging out and napping before the race briefing at 4pm.
Everyone's drop bags for the race
I camped at the starting line with many other runners Friday night, that way I can roll out of bed and walk to the start. I tried going to bed in the tent around 8:30 but couldn't get much sleep. The biggest thunderstorm I've ever witnessed went on Friday night from about 10pm-2am. BRIGHT lightning and LOUD thunder kept me up most of the night. Finally it was 3am and I could get up and get the race started. I got my things together, and headed to the start for some coffee and meet up with everyone. I surprisingly wasn't nervous- I just felt so excitement for what I was about to partake in! I don't remember a race that I haven't been nervous!!! We were about to toe the starting line and all of a sudden there were beautiful fireworks from the nearby hills!! What a perfect way to start the day!!!
I started at a slow pace, and then tried to go even slower- I knew I had a long day a head of me. I met several women in the beginning and had a great time chatting and getting to know my fellow runners. Met several that were back to avenge their DNFs from past years. About 5 hours in I made it to Pretty House at mi 22 where I met my parents and Thomas for the first time. It was so nice to see them! I knew then that I was so lucky to have people to look forward to for each handler aid station. I knew that would help me get through the race.
I just keep running, chatting, enjoying the scenery and the miles went pretty quickly. I tried to maintain my eating and drinking, knowing that I wouldn't want to later on. I met so many great people and really enjoyed the company of everyone. There were lots of hills- mostly shortish hills, downhills, flat, repeat. Soon I was in Camp 10 Bear at 47 miles- almost half way! I remember seeing that after this aid station there was a big climb! AGH! And boy were they right!!
Soon we saw a 50 mile sign, I knew the rest of the way would be uncharted territory for me... I have never run more that 50 miles, or more than 12 hours so I was anxious to see how my body (and mind!!) would be for the rest of the race. The second half of the race was similar to the first, except hills were much longer!!! Long climbs up, long climbs down, then short flat sections. This really started to tear down my quads and feet. There was a long hill, about 2 miles and it really got me down, then all of a sudden I saw my dad, Thomas, and Phil! YAY! An aid station! (Seven Sees I believe, mi 59) That helped a ton, and by the time I left the aid station I was happy and smiling :)
More ups, downs and again, I got to a low spot by the time I got to Camp 10 Bear at mile 70- all I could think was, "I am starting to be sore, how the hell am I going to do another 30 miles!??!" (especially because everyone had been saying the last 30 is the hardest- how could it get any harder?!?!) Thank goodness my dad picked me up here. At the aid station, I basically flew past my crew because I was so mad/sad/tired/sore and in such a bad place mentally. At the next aid station I had to apologize because I knew they were out there waiting for hours and I just blew them off. With my dad, time went a bit faster, but I was really starting to hurt- quads and soles of the feet the worst. And I felt like the hills were just getting steeper and longer!! Or maybe that was because I had been running for 17 hours already...
Still happy at mile 62, heading into the night...
The last 30 miles were a blur of silent (and some non-silent) curses, moaning/groaning, with a bit of chatting thrown in once a while when I could get the energy to say anything. My dad was great- always talking and keeping me upbeat, telling me I was doing great and pushing me to always keep moving. At one point I looked at my watch and couldn't believe I had actually been out there running for 20 hours already!! WOW!!! And then I realized I still had several more to go... oh jeez! By the time I hit Bills, mi 89 around 23 hours in, I just wanted to be done. I weighed in 6 lbs heavier than when I started and the medical staff looked concerned, but they let me go. I ended up leaving before Thomas and my dad. I just started walking and told them to catch up- I was on a mission to finish!! I knew by that point that I WAS going to finish and it was just a matter of how much pain and how much time it would take to get me there. I knew if I kept moving I would make it. They were both great pushing me and telling me how awesome I was doing. Finally we passed Pollys, the last manned aid station! Only 4 more miles! I wanted to get under 27 hours so bad, I had an hour and a half to do 4 miles so I PUSHED it!! I tried to run as far as possible, then walk, then run again (it was more of a shuffle, def not a run!!) We saw sunrise coming up over the mountains at one point- it was beautiful! I wanted to stay and watch but knew I had a goal :)
FINALLY the finish line!!!!!!!! I made it across at 26:38! Under my original goal of 28hrs. Wow, I was hurting, tired and so emotionally drained. It was the hardest race of my life, but probably the most rewarding. I could not have done it without my awesome parents and boyfriend helping me for the past 8 months and pushing me along during the race.
FINISH LINE!!... with a bit of a run :)
Best pacers a girl could ask for
Still doing ok in the medical tent-- don't worry, just icing my knee
The race was wonderful, beautiful views, not much technical trail, great aid stations (although they ran out of water at a couple of the beginning unmanned aid stations), great runners and volunteers and an overall great day! I'm already starting to forget the bad and just remember the good. Now I need to find a new goal, will it be another 100?? Probably....