Friday evening when we arrived in Springfield it was breezy and cool but Saturday morning it was warm, humid and not so breezy~
We knew going into the race that it was going to be a very warm day but the high humidity was a very unwelcome addition!
We got to the Race early, did the usual business and then met up for some group photos. There we quite a few Maniacs and other assorted friends at the race.
My goal going into the race was a 50K PR. I felt pretty good when we first started, and probably went out a bit too fast but it felt good and I ended up running with a group of Maniacs for a few miles which helped those miles go by faster and actually kept me from going out even faster. It didn't take long for the humidity to really start having an effect, I was sweating buckets, I had worn a hat in case of rain or sunshine, but it never rained and stayed mostly cloudy the whole race and that stupid hat was killing me!! I was also kind of stressing about Arland and Johnathan I thought they were ahead of me and I was anxious to catch up to them so I could yell at them for going out too fast! They were doing 50 miles and had planned a 11-12 minute pace. Luckily I caught up with a friend who let me know they were behind me and then a mile or so later there they were. By mile 6 I was already starting to feel blah, and was starting to take walk breaks, I was kind of worried that it was hitting me so early but then I remembered that I had a very light breakfast and I hadn't taken in any nutrition yet. I took my first gel at about 6.5 miles, and almost immediately felt better. The aid stations at this race were pretty far apart and not very well stocked or manned. I am SO glad I had my hand held water bottle and Sparkle Skirt with all the storage, I really didn't need anything from them other than water.
The Trail itself was really nice, no tree roots, stumps, or big rocks but I really wish I had purchased some Gaitors, I bet I had to stop over 20 times to empty the rocks and gravel from my shoes. We also had lots of tree cover but it was kind of boring! I was by myself which was fine but the last few miles before the turn around it was lonely with only one white shirt way ahead of me, I knew a couple of my friends were behind me but I don't look back when I'm running.
Finally the turn around!! There was an aid station about .4 before the turn around and the white shirt was there, I didn't realize how close we were to turning around or I would have skipped it the first time.. anyway after turning around when I got back to the aid station the white shirt guy was still standing there. He said I think we are the last 2 50K'rs and seemed a little disturbed by it. I said that's OK, there are plenty of 50-milers out there! I was set to continue on but he told me he was having a lot of IT band pain and asked if I was a good nurse?? UM NO, but ok I'll help you tie your sweaty gross bandanna around your sweaty knee. I felt like he really just didn't want me to get ahead of him! Once we get his knee stabilized we start back down the trail, but in the meantime my friend Mark Cato had made the turn around. I was about to keep going but knew that Mark was going to be by himself and I made the decision to turn around and go back to the aid station and finish the race with him. At that point I really was more interested in sharing the experience with a friend than I was a PR. Mark had been planning on doing the 50miler with Andi but was having hamstring issues, I know he would have been fine without me but I would have worried about him all day so why not just stay with him. I still had a lot of run left in me but Mark's leg would cramp if we tried to run for too long, so we ran when we could and otherwise just walked and tried to enjoy the day.
I guess we were at about mile 20 when we turn around and see LT flying towards us, she just looked like she was floating on air but she had a few choice words as she ran by! LOL she was not enjoying the course at all and didn't have anyone to run with.
The next 50 miler didn't pass us until almost an hour later and it was another female.. woo hoo Girls ROCK! and she was in her late 40's!
When the first male 50miler passed us Mark informed him he was the first male and 3rd overall, he said " yeah, those two women are insane" We got a pretty good laugh over that!
The rest of the race was pretty uneventful, it seemed like it was taking FOREVER and then when I realized that because of the Auto Pause that was activated (not by me) on my new Garmin the time I had was not correct AARGH! Because of the 20+ stops to empty rocks and stops at aid stations we were almost an hour off.
That was annoying but the big black snack with the raised head was terrifying!! I saw something out of the corner of my eye and there he was right by my foot with his head raised...needless to say I screamed and started running like my pants were on fire! Poor Mark he didn't know at first what was going on with me but then saw Big Black himself. After running what felt like a safe distance we stopped and turned around, this was actually when we saw the second female, we waited to warn her about the snake but it crossed the trail before she got to it. She of course was all oh snakes don't bother me, and I think she even said snakes are people too?? she must have been delirious or maybe I was?
FINALLY we are approaching the finish line, it was a little anti climatic since there was no one there except for the race director and the race timer. Oh I think there might have been a few others who were waiting for their 50mile friends but they didn't care about us! We were both pretty shocked when we saw the clock said 8:05 because of Garmin issues we really didn't know what our time was. Immediately the RD tells us, "oh we will have to mail you your medals we ran out." BUT after asking me my age group he informed me I was 3rd place in 50-59!! It pays to do the race that doesn't have as many runners! Most had done the Marathon :)
We were so hot and sweaty and dirty and gross! I knew it was going to be a couple of hours before Arland was done but I had no idea how to get back to our Hotel. Mark or should I say Superman to the Rescue. His hotel was only 5 miles from the race so I went with him to his Hotel and was able to shower and change clothes.
When we got back to the race LT, Lia M. the Ho's and Joshua were back after taking their own showers, napping cleaning up etc.
Mark set up at the finish line, he had chairs and had bought chocolate mile the perfect recovery drink to give to all our 50-mile finishers. Arland called when he was about 10 miles out.
We got to see Stacy Shaver and Cliff Ferren finish and then we hopped in the HO's van and drove to the 5 mile or in this case the 45 mile aid station. The aid station had long been abandoned so we took it over, and were able to help out quite a few runners. The first of our remaining group to make it through was Jonathan, he was a little delirious but could still actually run a little bit! It seemed like forever but finally we see Andi, but I start to freak out a little bit because the last time I spoke to Arland they were together. She reassured me that Arland wasn't too far behind. Finally there he is, and he was definitely looking kind of scary, big scary eyes, goose bumps etc. but after a little bit of beer and a few chips he said he was fine. Our beautiful friend Lia M. who had run the 50K decided she would stay with Arland, which was a huge relief for me because I just couldn't. They got back on the trail and we jumped in the van stalked them the rest of the race, there were lot's of road/trail intersections so we were able to park get out, yell, offer more beer etc.
Have to give a big thanks and shout out to Maniac and friend Chris Revoir he was a volunteer at this race and although the Race Director pretty much sucked Chris was great! The 50-miler had a 12 hour cut off and Andi, Arland and Pink were not going to make it, but Chris assured me that they would keep the finish line open and they would get official finish time. The Race timing guy was long gone, which is a whole other bag of worms! But at least the RD did stay and kept track of everyone's time by hand. They actually stopped the timing clock at 8:00hrs which caused a big uproar!
The best part of the whole weekend was seeing Arland finish his first 50-mile race and then celebrating afterwards with our fantastic group of friends!
Oh and Leah, yeah she won, and she is now the 4th fastest American female 50-miler.