I was so ready.
I was so emotionally prepared for this one.
I maybe wasn’t physically prepared.
But I was fully mentally and emotionally prepared. For Terrapin 50k.
I’d read through all the emails. And watched Zealand’s race briefing videos.
I’d even reviewed the course.
Not, like, reviewed the course. Not, like, a map or anything. Because that would’ve just been pointless.
But I looked at an elevation profile.
And here’s what my brain said about that.
Huh. Ok. So most of the climbing is in the first half of the race. The second half will be easy.
And then I compared it to the Holiday Lake virtual we did two weeks ago.
And my brain said.
Oh yeah. Day Creek was way harder than what this will be.
GJB and BB picked me up. From my apartment building. And there is no clear signage on this place. And it’s hard to explain…it’s hard for me to explain to people how to get to me.
So I had to run about half a mile around the building. Carrying all of my stuff. And climb a pretty significant hill. To get to them.
We call that a pre-ultra.
And on the way in. We’re talking about views. And I mention that Zealand said there’s a segment of the course where you can shoot off. If you want to. To see this one view. And that I might do that…
“No, Sunshine. We will take you there someday. Today you stay on course.”
It’s good I have people to save me from myself.
And it was 29 degrees at the start.
And I didn’t want to get out of the car.
I certainly didn’t want to get out and stand around for 30 minutes before actually getting started.
But here’s the beauty of Covid times.
We had a flexible start this year. Just get out of your car and start. Anytime between 7-7:30.
I want all races to be this from now on.
So off we went.
And we were all wearing the bracelets BB made us at work.
That is the key to a solid ultra.
Keep your heart rate low and your spirits high.
So we were doing that.
And just moving along and enjoying each other’s company.
Until we all had to pee.
And. Ok. When I have to pee. Which is just about always. It’s never a quick pee. I have to pee a lot.
So when I came out of the woods. Everyone was gone.
GJB explained it to another runner who apparently expressed concerned that they were just leaving me there.
“She has a large tank and low psi.”
But it was fine. Because I enjoyed having this race all to myself.
Climbed up up up for the first four miles. Then a long downhill. For 5 1/2 miles. And it was on road. Which is usually awful. Especially in trail shoes.
But I wasn’t exhausting my legs maneuvering rocks and roots. So I was pretty happy.
Because I really had this picture in my head that this is what this race would be. Long ups. Longer downs. Not super technical. Easy peasy.
And my dumbass starts doing math in my brain. Trying to figure out how fast I can finish this course.
Certainly sub-eight. Probably 7 1/2. Plenty of time to enjoy a few beers before we head home.
So I was still feeling pretty content when I rolled into the Blue Ridge Trail Runners aid station. That was covered with bacon and pierogis and grilled cheese.
Then the next climb. Which I thought was only five miles. Because when I studied the elevation profile. I was distracted by the aid stations. And I saw 16.4. And my brain completely erased the section after it that didn’t have a number at the top.
And I chatted a bit with J-Pete. And met Holiday Lake Brenton IRL.
And this part of the course has an out and back to this aid station. And I was feeling wayyyy too confident. So after a few minutes of nesting. I finally said. And I quote. “Let me go knock this part out real quick so I can come back and get some grilled cheese.”
And dear God in heaven.
I was not ready. For what this out and back actually was.
Another. I don’t know. Three miles? Of climbing. And I had this one chick behind me. And a few miles in she stops. And says she doesn’t know. If this is right. Because where are all the people?
It’s a loop. They’re all in front of us.
“Oh. So does that mean we’re last?”
And I processed that for a bit. Because I’ve never been Dead Fucking Last in a race before. But she was right. There was NO ONE out there with us.
And right around mile 18 or 19. Is when my body starts to break down.
I just cannot seem to break through that particular wall.
So by the time I got back to Blue Ridge Trail Runners aid station. I was in survival mode.
Y’all got any of them grilled cheeses?
And where the hell do I go now?
And J-Pete pointed up another mountain.
And asked if I needed water. Because the next aid station was four miles out.
No. I will survive on what I have. I do not need any extra weight climbing up that.
And I got a few feet in. And I had to stop. So I could eat my sammich. And breath some oxygen. And curse Zealand.
My God, Zealand! Why?!?
The fuck is wrong with this man?
And I slowly. Painfully. Begrudgingly. Climb up.
And pass a dude at the top who says, “Gee I hope there’s more climbing.”
And I find a few more dudes.
And we all just kind of took turns complaining about this course.
And we were finally headed back down. After just climbing all fucking morning.
But we couldn’t even enjoy that. Because holy technical terrain. The rocks. Just so many rocks.
And when you get to the end of this. Zealand makes you run 8,000 meters out. (I know what that means because I coach Cross Country now. And one of my ninth graders explained meters to me.) Just so you can check in. And run. No. Crawl 8,000 meters back up again.
But they had Pepsi at the check in station. And oh sweet elixir of life. I’m certain I would still be passed out on the side of that mountain somewhere had it not been for that Pepsi.
And I left all the dudes there. Nesting. And headed back out. For the final 5.5 miles. Because I needed the boxed lunch that was waiting at the finish line.
And here’s where my runner’s brain starts to screw with me.
Because 5.5 miles is nothing. I mean, it’s not nothing. No amount of mileage is nothing.
But I am fully capable of running 5.5 miles. Fairly easily. Not fast, mind you. But easily. Without dying.
So at 25.6 miles into a race. I see 5.5 miles left. And think. Psht. Easy. I can do 5.5 more miles no problem. I’m almost done.
But there really does have to be a limit to that thought. Like, there has to be a number at which your body can’t go another 5.5 miles.
I’m petty sure for mine, that number is 25.7.
Because my body.
Nausea. Nausea had started.
Blisters. On the bottoms of my feet. So every step felt like glass shards tearing through my skin.
Left hip flexor decided to boycott the rest of the race.
And. Ok. So I have ovarian cysts. That is a thing I have. So every few months or so. My body starts to just stab at my ovaries. Repeatedly. For a day or two. Yesterday was that day. Just constant knifing to my left ovary. The whole way down the mountain.
But I finally got to the last stretch. So I could see the finish line. And two rambunctious lab puppies ran me in.
And my people were there. At the finish line. Cheering for me.
And that’s a special feeling.
Because it meant my slow ass still had a ride home.
And there was Zealand. At the finish.
Dude. I don’t know who hurt you. But that course is a cry for help.
Now where is my food and beer?
And they wouldn’t even let me enjoy my food. Or have any beer. Before taking the group finish photo.
BB made me drink water. Whatever.
And she had a sub seven finish. And I just don’t know…like, how?
Because I don’t know my official finish time. I don’t even feel compelled to look. But Strava says somewhere around 8 1/2 hours.
So I’ve got four weeks until Blue Ridge Full. And five weeks until Promiseland 50k.
And I’m legit nervous.
I’m never nervous.
I am never ever nervous about running.
But Promiseland got me shook.
So if you need me. Ima be over here reading about ultra training.
And googling therapy options for Zealand. We need to get that man some counseling.