We were off. The first part of the race was a two mile out and back and then we would start the GIANT out and back. This would pay off at the turn around because we would be over half way when we got there. But for now, I had four miles to get through and the monumental task of trying to calm myself down. Thankfully I had the company of a best friend and partner in crime to keep me in line (no need to sprint, we got all day to get this thing done).
As we tried to settle into a comfortable race, we took in our first food at about six miles. I had broken the race down into 9 aid stations and roughly 8 "eats" (nutrition breaks). This made more sense than trying to take in the whole 50 miles to go "thing". I still couldn't settle my nerves and started to worry about how long this day would be. I kept thinking...
What am I doing?
This is going to take forever.
Am I even equipped to handle this?
Well, I told everyone I was going to do it, so I should at least get past ten miles...
My quad pain had let up but I was getting random new cramps and muscle tightness all over. Looking back, this was probably due to my pre hydrating fail, but it also did not help my race nerves that would not let up.
The first aid station was water only and unmanned. We cruised through it happily thinking, 8 aid stations to go! The next aid station gave us a potty break (with toilets and toilet paper, a luxury that we did not always have), a quick hello from Christy's husband who was crewing for her (and thankfully cheering for me too). And we were off. No need to fill up my Camelbak because two liters will last me plenty of time. Right? Right? Wrong.
To break up this five mile panic attack and break down the miles, I started to run for .4 miles, walk for .1, ask Christy for a sip of Gatorade. Run, walk, sip... It passed the miles and gave us both something to focus on. I was so grateful to see the aid station and got my Camelbak filled to the brim with water. The volunteers were lovely. Asking to help and reminding me to take some electrolytes. We were off again, one unmanned aid station and 9ish miles to the turnaround. Onward!
THEY HAVE TACOS!
I'm not a good eater when I run and tacos sounded so gross, but the other runners were so dang excited about it that you couldn't help but laugh a little. And we could use a laugh.
Now how cool is that? When do you get a pep talk mid race from a legend in your sport? And really, I was on a trail with one of my best friends and we had less than 10 miles to go to finish one of the craziest things I've ever attempted.... When did this become my life?
I'm sure that as the days wear on I'll romanticize this race day into some magical super fun thing. In a few months, David Horton will be riding a unicorn as he tells us this too shall pass, and I'll forget all about the pain and the tears and the frustration. But those were what my race really was. It was hard. And I had more not fun than I had fun. I think it would have been a bad day for a ten mile run, instead I did 50. And I'm damn proud of that. Could I have done it that day without Christy? No. Even though we weren't talking to each other every step of the way, I felt better having her there. I kept myself together because she was there.
So am I glad I did it? You bet. It was a heck of an experience and I have so much to learn from it. The Epic Ultra crew and Eric Steele put on a great event. Am I going to do another fifty miler?
NOT ANYTIME SOON!
For now, I'll do some relaxed running, enjoy having toilet paper, and take some time to take it in. When I turned my phone off airplane mode after the race I was overwhelmed by the social media support and cheers from friends. My running community is amazing and I was (and continue to be) touched that any of them even knew what I was up to. It was a big day. And I'm so grateful I got to share it with people I care about.
Read Christy's post race blog here:
Find out more about the Prairie Spirit 50/100 miler here: