Heat and mud were the story of this race. Temperatures would reach 92 degrees and combined with the humidity, would claim several accomplished runners by the end of the day.
My day started at 3AM. I woke up and gathered all of my gear and loaded it up into the car. I had my pit crew with me for this one, my fiance Chelsea and my friend Mark. Mark was going to be my pacer for the last 18 miles of the course. The course is a 10K loop with one aid station at the half-way point and another fully stocked aid station at the start/finish.
The race began at 6AM with the sun providing just enough light to see the trail. There were 38 of us in the 50 mile race with a few relay teams sprinkled in. I was expecting the trail to be a little muddy but was not prepared for the swampy bog I was about to encounter.
Things didn’t start off well. From the sound of the starting horn was had some right heel pain and some toe pain. which eventually subsided after the first mile or so. As the front pack winded our way down the muddy trail I stepped in a huge mud hole. Not even one lap in and I already have soggy muddy feet. Great.
Continuing on, the trail had some steep twisting downhill section which were pretty technical in spots given all the mud. I could feel the outside of my right knee already starting to give me a twinge of pain. I tried to push through it and continued on, passing a few people and eventually coming out over a grassy park field. As I cross the start/finish line for the first time I realized I was in first place! One loop down and seven to go, no problem I got this. Lap two was more of the same. A muddy soggy mess. I was a few minutes slower on lap two and had dropped back to second place. My knee was starting to get really annoying but all-in-all i was feeling good.
As lap 3 started the sun was making itself known. I had been taking salt pills every half hour but I could tell I needed more. I get this light-headed nauseated feeling when my salt gets low. I am a super salty sweater too and have had a bad scare with hyponatremia in the past so I wanted to make sure I kept up on the salt. I must not have been doing a good job though because I got lost on lap three. The heat and lack of salt caused me to lose my concentration. I missed a left turn and took a .7 mile detour! What a demoralizing moment. I had no idea what place I was in. My pit crew tried their best to bring my spirits up but I was pretty upset with myself.
Lap 4 was where doubt began to creep in. My knee was really starting to hurt me and I wasn’t crashing down the hills as fast. I was worried it was going to hold me back from finishing. I knew that if I could just get to lap 6 Mark would start running with me and hopefully distract me from the constant pain. As lap 5 began and came to a close I was starting to feel the effects of the heat and the humidity. I was sweating profusely, taking 4-5 salt pills per lap. I was nauseous and nothing looked good to eat or drink. I kept pushing myself just trying to hang on. I was walking more now, up even the smallest of hills and through all the muddy sections.
Lap 6 and I’ve got Mark now. I took a little longer at the start/finish to change shoes and socks and what an amazing difference it made. My moral was better now and we took off. Lap 6 was a breeze and lap 7 began. The heat was out of control. As we got to the half-way aid station I was really feeling bad. All the other racers were too. An ambulance pulled up while I was refilling my bottles and took someone away for heat exhaustion and another woman was sitting down waiting for a ride back to the start because heat and dehydration.
Looking at them I knew I was feeling the same way but I just don’t have the quit in me. The women at the aid station doused me with ice water and shoved ice down my back and in my headband. Leaving the aid station feeling refreshed and cooled off I got a second wind. I was just overheated and I knew that if I just kept myself cool I could finish this thing. A quick stop for more ice fluid and nutrition at the start/finish and I was off again. The final lap! I was feeling good and was running more now, passing people left and right.
As I crossed the finish line in 4th place I felt amazing. My first 50 mile race. What a great feeling of accomplishment. I couldn’t have done it without Mark and Chelsea. Officially I ran 52.3 miles, my longest ever. Mark ran his longest as well, at 19.2 miles. He did a great job pacing me, keeping me motivated and helping me out at the aid stations.
It was an amazing day with all the ups and downs you’d expect. Out of the 38 people that started the race only 12 finished. The heat and the technical muddy course were too much to handle for over half of the field. The race was very well-organized, and the volunteers were the best I’ve ever seen in any race or even Ironman. Thank you to everyone for being out there.
Now for some much needed rest and foam rolling!