“Pushing your body past what you thought it was capable of is easy; the hard part is pushing yourself even further… past what your mind wants to let you. That’s what ultrarunning is all about; introducing you to a self you’ve never known.”
That’s me up there crossing the 50 mile finish line after 9 hours and 24 minutes of running on the PCT. I’m not going to tell you that it was easy or that I would recommend it for just anyone. I’m not going to tell you that I enjoyed every second of it or that I hated it. But I will break down the day for you in the most honest way possible: it was tough but I was just a little bit tougher.
Here were my goals for the day:
Be light on your feet. Choose your path wisely. When you trip, roll with it. Relax in the midst of effort. Concentration does not mean tension. Dress the part. Ask questions. GO YOUR OWN PACE. If others need to pass, they will. Make adjustments to remain balanced. Pack smart. Have options. Refuel before you are empty. Finish a better woman for having made the adventure.
We started the day at 4 am, packing up the car and getting on the road for a 6:30 race start. Being my first 50 miler, I was surprisingly calm. When I first began running trails I had to realize that my sense of time had to change, and like in life, I had to accept that worthwhile things can take a long time. It was certainly going to be a long day.
The course was an out and back 28 total and another out and back 22 total. Aid stations were set every 5-6 miles stocked with Gu’s, s-caps, pb&j, chips, coke, gummy bears. You name it, it was probably there. My first 25 miles were relatively quick. I met some great people on the trail that carried me at a solid pace, but I backed down when I realized that 5th female was probably jumping the gun a little. (Who was I kidding? I NEEDED to slow it down!)
I would say miles 25-35 were the most difficult for me. I coasted into the start/finish 28 mile station and John greeted me with my electrolytes and a big grin. (How could that adorable face not have cheered me up!) The 2nd half of the race was the meaty part, extreme elevation gains and drops made it difficult to keep a steady pace. I walked the ups and ran the downs. I was tired. When I reached the 39 mile turnaround I made a decision to let my mind wander a little. The next thing I knew I had 5.5 miles until the finish. My Garmin was dying but I caught myself checking it anyways, not because I wanted to see how much further I had to go, but because I wondered how much time I had left to enjoy. Those last few miles were a victory lap for me. A pat on the back for getting up at 4:30am every day to run in the pouring rain, to miss dinners and fun weekends because mine were spent on the trails, to squeeze in mileage whenever I could so that I could teach spin classes, hike mountains, and still have a life, and to feel fresh and light on my feet after 47 miles of running. I wanted to enjoy every last step. My legs felt strong. My feet weren’t achy. My quads didn’t hurt. I can’t really compare those last few miles to anything– it was a very emotional (evidence above) and a very proud experience for me.
I crossed the finish line 3/18 in my age group, 7/48 female, and 50/127 overall with plenty left in my legs. 9 hours and 24 glorious minutes to run 50 miles. I would do it all again in a heartbeat…
and I definitely will. Love to all of you for your unbelievable support!!! I think I’ll take it easy this week 🙂