When reading the name of this run you think ” this sounds fun”, and it is. It is also hard, rocky, and covered in leaves. This was my first ultra run, and man did I pick it. If there was one thing I could say, it would be that I grew in my mental strength.
So I will lay out all the details for you. Live my experience. Breath in my pain, because there was pain.
We walked out of the lodge to meet up with a handful of runners to go over the trail. It was cold and foggy out, which beats raining and freezing. We lined up at the start. I had some seriously amped up feelings pulsing though my body.
The one thing I knew I couldn’t do was to head out fast. We had 34ish miles to run (turned out it was closer to 36, but who’s counting) I couldn’t waste any energy. There was 2.5 miles of road, which was actually very beautiful.
When we hit the trail, Josh turned his ankle pretty good, but powered through and kept running. At this point the leaves were not so bad. We weaved through the trees and watched out for rocks and roots (there were plenty of those).
The second aid station was at the bottom of a steep hill-side. I was able to practice some switch backs. At the bottom was a rope to help you down a steep section. We touched a picnic table and headed back up the rope. Through all of this there was only one bad thing, my glasses. They kept fogging up, and not just a little, the whole lens. I had to keep taking them off to see. Once we were away from the water they were okay.
The woods were beautiful. I could imagine what it would look like in the spring and summer with all the new growth and greenery. For miles we just tromped through the woods trying not to trip and fall. There were a couple of times that we passed runners running the opposite direction as us. It was confusing for a moment, until one of them said they had missed the turn off to the aid station. Josh and I looked at each other, eyebrows raised. I knew we were thinking of the same thing,” that sucks”.
Leaves, leaves, leaves. So may leaves. There were points when they came above my ankles. I felt like I was sliding through them. The trail was marked pretty well, which is a good thing, there were a few times I had to stop because I couldn’t see the trail and had to look around for the blazes and flags.
As we ran along the trail started to become steeper and steeper. There were big slabs of rock. I thought that maybe I should have practiced my rock climbing. By the time we reached the top my thigh muscles were blowing up, but I felt good. It is always good to reach the top of a climb, because it’s all down hill from there.
At about mile 25 my legs were feeling a bit like jelly. They were ready to be done. Josh and I just kept running.
At about mile 30 we hadn’t seen anybody in a while. Out of no were I hear someone behind us. I look back and it is a runner with poles. We had seen him a few times throughout the run. Something came over me. We can call it my “fuck no” spirit. My legs got a second wind and I knew I wasn’t going to let this guy pass me, not with poles. We left him in the dust. I was feeling good, plus we were so close to being done.
When we hit the road, we had 2ish miles back to the finish. I will say that was the hardest part of the race. My legs kept telling me no pavement. Small shock waves would travel up my legs, but we pushed through, and on the last leg when I could see the finish, relief filled my body. I was done
Running through the finish was the best feeling I have ever felt (looking forward to more of those feelings). I had completed my first ultra and nobody can take that from me. -SH