Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Pumpkin Holler 100 mile-Rising from the Dead!

Me, Steve and Mark

Pumpkin Holler Hunnerd- Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Race held in the 17,000 acre J.T. Nickels Preserve in the Ozarks.

My garmin registered Elevation Gain 15,221/Elevation loss 15,213. According to Ultrarunning magazine that would be on the low end of 4 for terrain.  4=very hilly, total climb between 150-250 feet per mile (7,500-12,500 feet in 50 miles)  Surface- my opinion is it was a 3. Ultrarunning magazines definition of 3=trail or dirt road with some rocks, root, and/or ruts.  My garmin registered 102.53 total miles.

Crew Chief Royal (My hubby) and me
 Me and the Pumpkin crew headed south Thursday morning for Pumpkin Holler Hunnerd! My Brave crew chief Royal drove. Our friends Steve Conn and Mark Francis came along to crew and each run a 50k. We enjoyed the "road trip" down, taking time for plenty of stops to take cheesy pictures of ourselves! I was feeling rested and ready to tackle another 100 miler. 

Pumpkin Holler was my first try at a little faster hundred. Usually the goal is to finish under the cut-off. This time I wanted to kick it up a little. My training this year has been insanely great! Simply because of my running coach Cari Setzler (the "Boss"). She has been training me since last year. She has gotten my mileage higher with plenty of quality speed work.  I've been healthy and fast all year long, a few PR's...and not even the slightest nagging injury.


Me, Steve Conn, and Mark Francis- Ready for take off
I wasn't sure what my "comfortable" 100 mile pace would be. The last time I tapered was in June for Kettle 100k.  Every run I have done in the last 4 months has been on tired legs. So even when I've been running in my "easy" heart rate, I've felt fatigued. I couldn't remember what it felt like to run feeling rested. The "Boss" gives me my weekly training schedule and I just simply do what she says. If she says run tempo pace...that's what I do, hill repeats....done...easy pace...okay. I just knocked off one work out after another, 7 days a week. It was an aggressive schedule. I enjoy training hard, and was looking forward to the reward of my efforts. 

Pre Race Meeting-

I found it strange that couple of days before the race I got an e-mail from the Race Director. In all capital letters it read, "THIS IS NOT A FLAT COURSE." I had read the website quite a few times and was under the impression the course was fairly flat. I went to the website and sure enough, it said no where that it was flat. I thought to myself, "how could I have read the course description wrong?"  No big deal, I'm a strong hill runner and whatever the course was, I was fit and ready!

The Race directors introduced themselves and the first thing they said was, "We would like to apologize for saying this course is fairly flat, we have changed the wording on the website" They told a cute story about how they came out and drove the course and it didn't seem very hilly, came back... drove it again, and thought, huh...I guess this is fairly hilly...came back a third time and thought, oh dear.... this is a very hilly course! They also told us they always like to give their runners a little something extra- so the 100 mile course was going to be 101.3 miles.

We would start the race on an out and back that measured 8 miles, then we would do a 31.1 mile loop three times. This was all on gravel, lightly traveled park roads. Whenever the course had an out and back they had timing mats. I appreciated that they did this. You like to think everyone is honest, but unfortunately I've seen, it doesn't always work out that way.

Morning sunshine on the river

Race morning I was calm and ready to race. I wanted to run this race as perfectly as I could. I was wearing my heart rate monitor and planned to keep my heart rate as low as possible. I had no intention of running for pace, it was whatever my body was truly comfortable doing, 100 miles is a long way. I wore a Nathan hydration pack that I would keep full of water, then I would refuel with a glass of Perpetuem at the aid a variety of foods. It was in the 50's at the race start but the temperature was going to quickly rise to the mid 80's with full sunshine.

5...4...3...2...1...BANG...the race is on! I decided to wear my headphones for the first lap. With headphones on you risk running to fast, but I felt I was smart enough to resist the urge to get carried away in the music. I ran along, enjoyed my music, and concentrated on staying extremely comfortable. I could have ran faster and still been in my "easy" zone, but the pace I was running was already at a fast 100 mile finish pace. I cruised through the first 8 miles easily and was back at the start.
I had done a great job drinking my water, I filled my pack again. Drank a glass of perpetuem, grabbed a little food and took off for my first 50k loop with my music still on. I ran across the bridge that was near the start/finish. Nice and easy pace. I knew I had a long day and night ahead of me. I ran patiently leaving myself as fresh as possible to be able to run through out the night. 

The course was hilly gravel roads with quite a few rocks. I'm glad I decided to wear my Inov-8 RocLite 268 trail shoes. The soles of the shoes gave me a lot of protection from the rocks as I ran across them. Plus, I appreciated the toe protection since I kicked quite a few big rocks. I lubed my feet with body glide and wore my shoes with Injinji socks and no gaiters. I personally think the trail shoes do their job of keeping rocks out of my shoes.

I had no problem running the hills. I run hilly trails nearly every day. Even though the course was hilly, I found it easier than trail hills. My legs were strong and fresh! I was just floating through the course. I was slowly passing people through out the first lap. It was incredibly comfortable. I couldn't imagine getting tired at the pace I was running. I was absolutely LOVING this run!!!!

I picked up my first pacer Mark at mile 39.58. Him and Steve had both signed up for the 50k, that way they could get a finishers medal and a t-shirt. I had to laugh when they were asking the Race director if they could start their 50k when they started pacing me. The RD said, "that is fine, I'll start your 50k time when you start the race, but you will not be eligible to be overall winner of the race". How funny the RD thought I might just be running fast enough for them to finish faster than any other 50k runner.

Mark and I had a blast running together! We are both M.U.D.D. club runners but we haven't run a lot together. This was great because all our stories were new to each other, we chatted non stop!  During long distance runs conversations can get really deep and personal. In a 31 mile run you can feel like you have a friend that you have talked to every day for years. I love that! I can't express how important Mark was to my experience.

 My legs were still feeling fresh this lap but I was starting to eat a lot of TUMS. The dreaded digestion problems were sneaking up on me. I was trying to keep drinking and fueling myself but it was getting more and more difficult.

I picked up Steve for my final lap. I'm comfortable with Steve. We have run quite a few training miles together. I trusted him completely to do the best he could to help me be my best. I am very confident of what I'm suppose to do at a race. I don't let people push me into doing things that I know from experience are not good for me. I told Steve from the start that I always lead. I know how to pace myself. This is how we ran for approximently 10 miles of the course.

That's when my stomach issues were getting  bad. I wanted to mentally make myself run. Mentally I knew my legs felt great. But my stomach, chest, face, throat, were achy, sick and nausous. My body was completely drained of energy from not being able to keep water or food down. I trudged along with Steve just a few feet in front of me. He kept me moving a tiny bit faster than I wanted to go. Our next aid station was taking forever to get to. I wanted to throw up more but just couldn't. We kept moving forward till finally we saw the station.

Royal and Mark came up to me and I immediatly started violently puking. It was zapping every bit of energy out of me. It was a burning vomit that made everything in my body hurt. I tried to look at my crew and appear ok, but I knew my eyes were glazed and I was unable to focus. They had to catch me from falling as I tried to stay upright. Royal asked me if I wanted to sit down. I said, "No, I can't sit down, that's death in a hundred". The problem was I couldn't stay standing. I had to get water and nutrition in me. Royal changed my shirt, sat me in the chair and covered me with a blanket. He massage my calves, knees and ankles to keep my blood flowing. It was freezing in the chair. Steve held my head so I could take a little nap. Mark brought me a couple of advil and I washed them down with Starbucks expresso double shot. I had to get moving, my break was over. I left that aid station One hour after I had come into it. 4 women had passed me and looked at me with pity as they ran by.

I could barely stand up. My legs were frozen after sitting for that long. I shuffled one foot in front of the other and took off up the hill with Steve. I could see by the look on the aid station captain that he was worried. He knew Royal had a car, and Steve had a phone with him. He told Royal if I had problems they could drive out on the course and get me.

It was so cold I had to move along just to stay warm. I would shuffle as long as I could then walk. Steve was encouraging saying, "great, you made it a mile that time". We arrived at the next aid station. Royal and Mark were still sitting in the truck. The way I looked the last time they saw me they didn't expect me so quickly. This station had hot chicken noodle soup. I still wasn't hungry but was trying my best to drink as much as I could. They poured me a big cup and I stood there and drank it slowly. I joked about never running another 100 while at the same time saying what I needed to remember to bring with me at my next one. I finished my soup and was on my way. The station crew said, "it's only 13 miles to the finish, just an easy Tuesday night run".

Steve and I walked off. We were about 1 minute away and I realized I was feeling good. I looked at my watch and thought I must have accidently stopped it and told Steve. Steve said, "no that is correct" his was the same. I could actually still finish this race in a good PR time. Steve made the logical suggestion, "We should run sub 10 minute miles from here to the finish line". I said, "Let's do it!!! Let's kick some pumpkin a$$!" It was time to put on my music and open up a little can of whoop a$$ on the Pumpkin Holler!.

I was totally pumped! We took off running! Steve went just a little ahead of me. He started us off at about a 10 minute pace then pushed it just a little past that. We were barreling up hills, knocking off one mile after another. I felt Freaking Awesome!!! My music was jamming, I tried to sing but I hardly know any words to my songs. I bopped my head to the tunes and played the air guitar as we picked off the miles. Yeah Baby...bringing it home!!!

We came to the last station we would see Royal and Mark. I yelled my race number to the station, "20 in and 20 out! I'm not stopping till the finish line!" My hydration pack was full of water and we were booking along feeling great! Royal and Mark didn't know what the heck had just happened. Royal yelled to me "be careful."

We cruised along at sub 10 minutes miles and started picking off one runner after another. I passed every women back that had passed me during my break down. Catching people was great motivation to keep moving. Although it really wasn't that hard. My legs felt great, my breathing was great! I just figured I would run a little half marathon to the finish line. This was fun! I love it!!!!

About 9 miles in to our "speed trip" my stomach was getting upset again. I had gotten a lead on all the women that I could. The next women in front of me was Debbie Leftwich and I doubted I would be able to catch her. She's a very talented and ultra experienced 100 mile runner. I was sure she would be running strong to the finish. So I started doing more of a run walk to the finish. I was still ridding my body of stomach upset. But it wasn't as violent as the middle of the night break down. At this point I was able to drink and even ate a package of honey stinger chews during our "speed trip".

We were less than 1/2 of a mile to the finish line when I turned around and saw a women running behind me. I took off in my best end of a 100 mile sprint, she didn't even try to catch me. She had seen me barrel past her earlier, so she knew I could pull out the speed when needed. I stayed into it all the way to the finish line. I finished in 24:48! For a 100 mile PR...I beat my best time by a whopping 3 hours!!!!!! I was 4th overall female and 13th overall finisher. Woo Hoo!!!! Pumpkin Holler!!!!!

My husband was a wonderful crew chief. Everyone that has been at races with us knows how well he takes care of me. Mark and Steve were amazing! Thank you so much guys! The aid stations were well stocked with great food. My favorite had to be the Mad Dog Station. The station captian (a dude Martha Stewart)  had baked these delicious ginger cookies shaped like a dog biscuit! He even stamped each cookie with a  stamp that he made. Each cookie read Mad Dog on them. He made so many that they never ran out.  I was filling my pockets with them at each stop.  Really fun! The course was country beautiful, with bluffs, barns, Long horn cows, horses, snakes, adorable houses, friendly people....I could go on and on!  Thank you Pumpkin Holler for an incredible race!!!!

Sitting on couch the day after the race enjoying the view- totally worth it!!!
    You can see my feet looked great after the race. My Inov-8 Roclite 268's were the perfect choice!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Kettle Moraine 100k- June 4, 2011

Chuck, and me ready to go! I've learned a lot from him and appreciated him doing a bunch of training miles with me. On one of my training runs with Chuck we did 4 hours on the hilliest part of Kettle. Chuck is faster than me. My training schedule called for me to speed up to "marathon" effort pace. We were almost back to our finish and I'm dying, Chuck just casually says, "I'll race ya to the finish!" you know, I kind of wanted to kick him!

Preparing for Kettle 100k

Kettle Moraine 100k, my first goal race of the year! I decided I needed to make some changes to my training in preparation for this race. First step, good training plan. I started by backing off doing races last year around November and replace it with quality training runs. I felt I needed to have months of consistent high mileage, work on a smart race fueling, pacing, and speed work. I hired Cari Setzler from Running Depot in Crystal Lake to write my training schedule and coach me.

Soon she had my mileage high and with no little injuries going on. She had me running 7 days a week, many times twice a day. Plus she added extra core work to my schedule. (This was a huge benefit) It was challenging working 40 hours a week, taking care of two kids and coaching 2 nights a week -on top of a high mileage training plan. But I was completely focused on getting myself ultra fit. I never felt overwhelmed because this was something I wanted to do. I soon learned how to manage my time better. Many times I was starting my second run of the day at 10:30 pm, then I would get up early the next morning and run again. I got completely comfortable with this. I knew the training was working. I ran Winona Lake 50 as a training run without tapering, and it actually felt kind of easy. I was able to keep a faster pace at Winona 50 than my Kettle 100k goal pace was. This was a good sign.

I had my goal pace in mind but I know weather plays such a huge factor in what we are going to be able to do on race day. I also know everyone has to deal with that weather, heat or rain- so we just have to come in to the race at our own personal best fitness level- then do what we have trained to do. With my race pace goals I thought I would have a good shot at a top five finish, but my main goal was win 1st overall Master Female.

Tasha, me and Royal Hartwig
Tom Wilson- my pacer from my first 100 mile race JJ100

Me and my friend Tom Wilson. He paced me to my first 100 mile finish at JJ100. I was so happy to see him! He is a strong runner that has finished many of the toughest 100 mile races in the country. I greatly admire him. THE DAY BEGINS....

Kettle Moraine 100 mile/100k Starting line
I was as prepared as I could be. The weather at the start of the race (6am) was already 73 with very high humidity. The temperatures would rise to the mid 90s before the day was over. I knew any tiny nutritional, pacing, or hydrating mistakes would cost me big on a day like this. I just needed to keep my head on straight, remember to drink, eat and take salt. Plus keep a close eye on my heart rate so I knew I wasn't using to much effort early on.

I started middle of the pack. I wanted to start slow and ease in to it. It was the first time I had tapered all year, It was so odd running on fresh legs. I had to be careful not to go to fast. The course starts out on the Nordic loop. I kept my heart rate low and was running just a little faster than my overall goal pace. This was good. My race plan was to keep the same pace through out.

When I finished the Nordic Loop my shorts were sopping wet from sweat. This was the first time all year that had happened to me. I didn't feel especially hot, but I figured I better be extra careful hydrating because I was losing a ton of water. I had a great crew, my sweet 11 year old daughter and my wonderful husband Royal. They would help me remember to do everything I needed to take care of myself today.

I was cruising through the hills and rocky trails having no problem keeping pace. I had practiced many times the months prior to the race on these same trails with many different shoes. I eventually decided my Inov-8 FlyRoc 310's were the perfect shoes for this course. They are very helpful on the rocky sections. I was running and feeling very comfortable. Drinking 2 bottles between each aid station and taking my salt every half hour. I was getting my calories from Hammer Perpetuem, Lemon Sublime Gu's and Honey Stinger Waffles. My goal calorie intake was 300 calories per hour. I was using Hammer Endurolytes for salt. One on every half hour and 2 on every hour. If I was feeling funny, I would add an extra salt or Gu. I was also careful to slow my pace after eating to keep my stomach digesting my calories. I was feeling good and hopeful the heat was not going to kill my goal pace.

Then the open fields came. Very soon in to the open fields I realized keeping my goal pace would hurt me. I did not realize it was in the 90s with almost 100 % humidity already. I just knew keeping the pace I had practiced a million times was not going to be possible for me today. I couldn't understand why. I had run so many miles on very tired legs and could always keep pace. Today I was tapered and 16 miles in to the race. I made a very smart decision at this time. Don't watch my pace, just move forward at a pace I felt I could keep in this weather for the remainder of the race. I was still keeping an eye on my heart rate, not letting it get out of the comfortable area. I ran the entire open meadows at a conservative pace.

The killer open fields!

After leaving the open meadows the course heads up to Scumpernong. Part of the way is easy Pine forest trails and part of it is fairly challenging hills, all wooded. I was more tired than I thought I would be at this point. During my vision of how the race would go, I thought I would get to the 50k mark feeling fresh. I had done so many long training runs on this course. I knew my body but today was brutally hot and humid, the first of the year. What I had practiced was not going to work today. This just meant I had to dig deep early.

I got to the 50k mark and saw so many of my friends and family. It was great seeing everyone! I smiled, gave high fives, and lied to everyone about how great I felt. Then I turned around to go run the same 50k back. The good thing about the turn around was getting to see all my friends on the ways back. Seeing them was uplifting every time!

When I got to the next aid station my husband gave me my Ipod. This was a HUGE help. I cranked my music high and was feeling great. Suddenly I was running through the trails quickly and keeping my heart rate low. I blew by a few women at this point...Woo Hoo!!!! One of them was the only Master female that had been in front of me. Yee Haw!!!! I was feeling freakin Awesome!

That lasted until I hit the open fields again. It was hot, I was tired, but this was my race! PUSH... PUSH... PUSH.... I had blown by those women so quickly I knew if I was able to run that open field the entire way, I would get a good lead on them. I know my training kept me going, the meadows were brutal. I was prepared for them mentally and physically and I was able to run them on the way out AND the way back in!!!! Yeah baby!!!

My 11 year old daughter Tasha was at every aid station. When I came in she would give me ice, fill my water bottle. She would encourage me "your doing great Mom, your 1st Master Female and 4th overall ". I wanted her to see me work hard. I wanted her to know it wasn't easy for me. She had her big 5k the next morning that she had been training for. I wanted her to be inspired by my performance. I wanted her to learn from me and show up motivated at her race the next day - to do her personal best! I was planning to show her how to dig deep and gut it to the finish line!

My Mom and Son were driving up to see me cross the finish line. For some reason my Mom worries about me running long distance. She has not been to one of my races yet. I kept thinking I should tell my husband to call her and tell her not to come up. I was pretty sure I would collapse when I crossed the finish line, and I didn't want to worry her. But every time I got to an aid station I was more focused on refueling and would forget to tell him.

I arrived to my final 7.5 miles. Bluff aid station. I hadn't thought there would be a chance in the world I may need a headlamp here, but since the heat had slowed my pace I needed to grab a headlamp. The good thing was now I was able to have my husband run with me. I had originally thought I would come in to early to be allowed a pacer.

I asked my husband, Royal Hartwig, if he could set my Ipod to play Rhianna over and over again. He did and for the next 7.5 miles I blasted her song S & M while singing loud. Okay, now you have to picture this...44 year old white women, that is tone deaf and knows about every third word to the song- running through the forest, singing risky lyrics at the top of her lungs. Normally I would be way to self consious to do something like this, but this was what was getting me to the finish line! I had to keep running because I didn't want any women to catch me now!

My husband says I was keeping a great pace. It was hard. I never gave up the entire day. I ran flats and downhills and walked the big hills. We almost made it in before dark. Soon I was to the markers counting down to the finish line, 5 miles, 4, 3, 2, 1 !!!! Then just as I passed the one mile mark I saw this tiny little girl in a blue Team Inov-8 shirt standing in the middle of the trail. I said "Tasha?" She says Mommy!!!! I was so happy, I hugged her and we started sprinting to the finish line! I finished in 15:11 as 4th overall female and 1st Master Female!!!! The next morning Tasha got up and ran a super fast 5k. She was pushing so hard to the finish line. She said it was the most focused she has ever been in her entire life. She said she could not hear anything around her and she felt like she was floating! She kicked some major booty!!!! Honestly, that was my biggest victory! I'm so proud of Tasha!

I was so tired at the end of race I sat down with my Award. I wish I would have thought to get a picture with my husband and daughter at the finish line. My daughter told me after the race, "I think I'll wait a little while to start running Ultras because if I start to early I will run out of places to put all my trophies".
Here you can see Tasha focused on the finish line... Then totally tired just after she crosses.... Then Tasha and Brandi raise their hands in Victory knowing Tasha had just gave the race everything she had! Tasha is so happy with herself! What a fantastic accomplishment!!! Thank you Brandi for being Tasha's Running Buddy!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Winona Lake 50 mile, Indiana

I had some qualms about running Winona Lake 50 mile. I had heard from a couple of very accomplished runners that it was a dangerous course. They said it was nothing but roots, rocks, mud and tons of switchbacks. They did not like it at all, and warned me to be careful. It was a 10+ mile loop course, the 50 mile race would actually be 51 miles. The race started at 2:45pm so finishing would be after dark. I always struggle to see in the dark and was a little scared about doing it on a technical course. Looking at last years results I saw it took Connie Gardener 9:19 to finish, which made me think it would be fairly challenging.

I had not raced anything yet this year and it was time to do a 50 miler. Winona Lake 50 was offering 125.00 for first female, 75.00 for second, and 50.00 for third. I felt I was running very well and might have a shot. I figured I would just forget about my fears for the course and go for it.

Race morning I tried to sleep in as long as possible but my internal clock had me up at 7am. I rested in bed as long as I could then got up and went for breakfast at Bob Evans. I ate 2 biscuits and drank a bunch of coffee. Then drove to the race start.

Planet Adventure was putting on the Winona Lake Ultra. It was part of a weekend of overall fitness. They had several Mountain bike races going on before the ultra started. The Village of Winona Lake was charming. It had a bunch of cute shops along the Lake. I thought I would like to stop after the race for some ice-cream at the Hoosier Mamma Ice Cream parlor. Too bad I would be finishing in the middle of the night.

Driving into the park I was very excited. The trails looked awesome! I was very impressed by the mountain bikers. I’m just amazed they are able to maneuver on those bikes through the tough trails. I have a lot of respect for the mountain bikers as athletes.

The park was only a couple miles from my hotel room so I went back to rest until the race began. I had my clothes laid out and my race fuel ready. The course had aid stations at mile 3.2, 5.4 and 6.8 then back at the start -finish line you passed on each loop. I had Cliff bars, Caffe Latte Perpetuem, Edurolytes and mint chocolate Gu’s.

It was our first HOT day of the year, over 70. Which I knew would feel really warm. I put on my sports bra and shorts to start the race. I had a lightweight-racing Tee to wear at night. I wore my Inov-8 Roclite 268s. I arrived at the race start about 1:30. The large parking lot was full of cars and people. The music was cranking to some great 80’s tunes, it was a very exciting atmosphere. The RD said over the loud speaker, “ a prize for the first person to come up tell me who sings this song” My friend won that race…it was Quiet Riot. He won a water bottle.

Soon the Race Director called us all to the start line. It was a pretty good crowd of people. They had a few races going on 10, 30 and 50 milers plus relay teams. He was sending us off staggered with the 50 milers going last. I would say about 30 of us were left when the 50-mile race started.

We all took off…my goal was to not go out to fast. I knew the heat was going to get to us, especially since we were starting at the hottest time of the day. I had two females in front of me from the start. I thought back to my run with Sarah Jurgaitis the weekend before, she had said “ I like to start out slow and gradually get faster and faster” I kept that wisdom in my thoughts as I let the them pull away from me.

I totally enjoyed the course. I found the switch backs a blast, I’ve never seen so many. Tons of roots! But I liked those too. It had lots of fun hills and some open grassy areas. It was a beautiful scenic course that was impossible to get bored on! You had to constantly think about your footing and I completely loved all the little twist and turns.

I love running downhill. I’m fearless and can fly down a technical hill with out putting forth much energy. One of the fun ones on this course was called “Dead mans Curve” I didn’t see the WARNING sign and came flying down this root filled steep down hill when the trail just seamed to disappear…ugh… luckily I spotted the very sharp right turn just in time, and missed running over the edge to a big drop off. Woo! Hoo!!!…I was loving this course!

Before I knew it I was finished with loop one in 1:52:41. That was a little faster than I thought it would be but my heart rate was low for the entire loop so I felt I wasn’t running to fast. I still decided I should slow down a bit for the next loop. I wanted to run an even paced race and I didn’t have intentions of running a sub 10-hour race on this course. Logically I thought, I better save my energy and slow it down.

My next loop went great. I made an effort to slow down. I have to admit, a small voice in my head was also telling me to stay fast because when the sun went down I was going to slow down from not being able to see well. At the mile 5.4 (of the second 10 mile loop) aid station I saw the 1st place female. She was at mile 6.8 (or 16.8). We shared an aid station at this point. She looked like the heat was getting to her. I figured I would catch her because I was feeling freaking AWESOME! I ended up passing her before the end of that lap. I finished that lap with a time of 2:00:01.

I grabbed my headlamp and fuel needs to head out for my 3rd lap. The start-finish line had music cranking and I was feeling insanely great! I was 100% confident I could have held that pace for the next three laps if it was daylight. This made me feel really good about my training. Since it was going to get dark on this lap though I knew I would slow down, but from darkness, not fatigue. I finished the 3rd lap with a time of 2:09:21.

I headed out on my 4th lap in the pitch dark. I was very careful to pick my feet up. I had to slow down considerably. Some of the hills I could run up and down during the day I walked at night. With an abundance of roots and tree stumps in the middle of the trail I wasn’t going to take any chances on falling. I was thinking about Connie Gardener on this lap. I was running by myself and feeling strong. I pictured her on the same course one year earlier and I felt as strong as her. I was on cruise control gliding through the trails at night. Enjoying the wonderful sounds of the night. Before I knew it I was done with that lap in 2:17:25.

I had no fatigue. I was so comfortable it was insane. I had fueled the entire race on perpetuem and Gu’s. I took 2 Endurolytes every 5 miles. I filled my water bottle, grabbed my fuel and left for my 5th and final lap. I had lapped the 2nd place female earlier so I knew I shouldn't have to worry about getting passed. I just put it into cruise control and ran the course as it directed me to do. Run the flats, walk the steep hills, be careful through the technical areas. I clipped through the trails feeling strong and happy. The miles continued to fly by until I was already at the finish line. I heard my friends yell, “Come on girl, run it in, your almost done!” I kicked it into high gear and came running into the finish line! The race director handed me my 1st place trophy and check. They congratulated me on a very even paced race. I was so happy to find out my last lap was the same as my 4th…BAM!!! Training was working! I’m really psyched for my next race! Kettle 100K baby!!!!!

Side note- It took me 4 nights of sleeping after the race to not dream about running on a root filled trail! I kept waking myself up in a sudden jerk thinking I was falling! During the actual race I hit my toes a few times but I did not fall once!

Race morning when I went out to check out the course we saw a 5k along the lake getting ready to start. They had a registration table set up and not a huge crowd. I joked with my friend we should stop because we might have a shot at winning our Age Group. We still had time to rest up then run the 50 tonight. Great idea but I didn’t figure my running Coach would be impressed with my thought process.