You all know how long my marathon and 50K race reports are . . . well considering I ran 50 miles yesterday, you can guarantee this one is going to be rather lengthy. I think I earned it though right? Plus, I have lots of photos to highlight the journey. Typical trailmomma.
First up . .. race scwhag! It is pretty well known to anyone who knows about the American River 50 Miler that the "finisher's jacket" is the big deal. You only get one if you finish. If you don't finish you are left with the packet pick up race schwag:
Which by the way, I have to say was a little disappointing. The race t-shirt was um, rather weak in my opinion but that only fueled my desire to finish and get that jacket!
Friday I left work early (and it was a busy day) and headed to packet pick up. Chatted it up with Wonder Woman and Captain Kirk and even met a trailmomma fan! I'll call her Fleet Feet Girl and you'll see her again later! :-)
My crew chief Jersey Girl showed up later that day to pick up all my necessary aid-station items (trail shoes, socks, change of shirt etc). She rocks. She had a sick baby with her and yet still found the time to swing by easing my thoughts about Saturday's race.
I ate dinner, played with the Peanut and went to bed at 7pm. I was exhausted. I woke up at 1:00 am with a few aches and pains and then eventually woke up for good at 4 am and had to take some Tylenol. Let's just say that sometimes men have it a lot easier than women for many reasons, not just the "peeing standing up" thing.
Around 5:15 Miss P showed up at my door and we left for the start. My house is about a mile from the AR50 start. So actually, you can say that Miss P and I did 51 miles on Saturday! Upon arriving at the start I quickly found these two:
Coach Nikon and Captain Kirk ready for business!
Yes, it was pitch black at the start but oddly, it was not cold at all! I was shocked. I had my arm warmers and gloves but I tossed my gloves and only wore my arm warmers for the first few miles before handing them off later at mile 10. It was perfect running weather throughout the entire day. The weather gods were definitely shining on us yesterday.
My team was just chatting away when all of a sudden we hear a horn! Ooops I guess the race has started! So off we went. For those of you who know nothing about AR50, the first 27 miles are on pavement, actually bike trail surface with maybe 4 miles of trails thrown in the middle before you're dumped back onto the bike trail pavement. Beal's Point is the 27 mile aid-station and where the race changes from road surface to tough technical trails all the way to Auburn.
We had been told over and over again to take the first 27 miles easy including as many walk breaks as we can and to really pay attention to fueling in this portion so we have enough steam to get us to the finish later. My plan was to run for 20 minutes and walk for 5 minutes. However, upon starting I just could not bring myself to walk. Everyone around me was running! I really didn't start my plan until Mile 5. I stopped at that aid-station to remove a pebble from my shoe and walked through it drinking water. I walked for maybe 2 minutes and continued that 2 minute walk method until about 13 miles.
Mile 10 however was William Pond Park and where Fleet Feet was the sponsored aid-station. Here I tossed my arm warmers and picked up some Luna Moons from Wonder Woman (Thank you!). Unfortunately, here is also where I was surprised to see that Coach Nikon had dropped. I didn't even recognize him when he was talking to me and it really made me very sad to see that he had dropped out of the race and was in pain. He has been battling some pretty awful and serious hip pains lately. He made the right decision. He had told us if you have an injury, don't ruin your running career by trying to finish this race. Still, it made me very sad to see him and I think I even hugged him! However, his drop turned out to be a huge part of my success I think. Coach Nikon and his wife Lily continuously popped up in various locations throughout the race to cheer us on and check in with us. It really made my day so much better having him pop out like that. I felt like I had my own personal coach supporting me the entire way.
It also made my day when I reached the Fleet Feet aid-station to hear "TRAILMOMMA!"
Fleet Feet Girl . . . one of my fans! ha
Fleet Feet Girl was awesome. I met her for the first time on Friday at packet pick up and she was great. She's a big fan of our team! So nice to see you Fleet Feet Girl!
That was my view basically for the rest of the way until we reached Hazel Bridge where across the river I could see the line of runners climbing up the bluffs on the trails. Nimbus Overlook was the next aid-station at 18.1 miles and from 18.1 to about 22.4 we were running on trails. Beautiful trails. Take a look:
What a view huh?
It was a nice break from the road but it involved a steep downhill. Oddly I noticed my knee was not hurting. I wasn't flying down it but I wasn't walking either. Nice!
The trail dumps you out onto the bike trail again for a short way and then you run on a fire-road that leads to more trails. When I came out of the trails I saw this woman:
Actually I had no idea she was cheering for me until I almost ran past her! There was a woman running next to me with one leg. Yes, one leg and I thought she was cheering for her! Then I read the sign! Doh! That awesome person is Mommy Beth! She is part of an awesome group of mommy friends that I have in my life. All the mommies live all across the country and they mailed to Mommy Beth invidual signs that she put together into one giant sign for me! How amazingly awesome is that!? I have the best friends ever!
After seeing Mommy Beth I arrived at the Negro Bar aid-station (Mile 22.4) whose theme was "super heros" and here I saw the Trail Turtles (Pam and Shannon)! They are so awesome. Shannon had a gift for me too!
PayDay bars in a baggy! Sweet!
Again, awesome awesome support. I left feeling happy, healthy and strong. I honestly felt like I was out for regular long run. I think part of this was the fact I run better on roads.
From this point on I knew my next aid-station was Beal's Point (mile 27) and that was where my entire family and crew were waiting for me. I could barely wait to get there and see them!
Along the way I chatted with a few runners and even saw the Easter Bunny!
That little guy made me laugh and I had to bend down to take his photo. Another runner noticed and was quite impressed I was able to squat. It didn't even occur to me that I was squatting and that it was super easy too. The legs were feeling great!
An Ultra is considered any distance beyond the 26.2 marathon. I've already run 31 miles at Way Too Cool and that was a huge accomplishment for me. During Saturday's race there wasn't much hoopla either when you reach 26.2. Only this:
Not far beyond that I saw the big long hill that would lead me to Beal's Point and my family. Everyone else was walking up the hill (as you usually do in long distances like this) but not me, I saw the hill and took off in a sprint. I wanted to be at the top so bad!
I reached Beal's and ran through a little blow up arch thingy that had a chip mat to mark that I had arrived. My crew and family were on the far side so I had to run the perimeter of the parking lot and I saw Coach Nikon again! I told him my family was farther down.
Here I come and Miss P is on the left! So excited to see my Vans, Peanut and friends!
The Peanut and George quickly jumped into my arms.
Coach Nikon even changed my socks & shoes for me!
Vans charged my Garmin for me!
My awesome crew loaded me up!
A quick family photo . . .
And back on the trail I go with Jersey Girl!
I also stopped and used the rest room here as well. The luxury of having a real toilet with toilet paper did not go unused by me. However, I will note, that was the only time throughout the entire day that I peed. Not good. My hydration pack was empty upon arriving at Beals (and at the finish) so I was definitely drinking and hydrating. Maybe I was sweating it all out? I wasn't swollen or puffy. Just never had to pee!
From Beal's Point on you run on trails. I was picking up my pacer, Big D at Granite Bay which was 5 miles (almost 6) from when I left my crew. Those 5 miles were probably my hardest. I was alone, and realizing how tired I was and since I was on trails, there were some ups and downs and here my knee started to hurt. I had taken 2 Tylenol earlier and was trying to calculate when I took them last so I can figure out my next move. I figured I would wait until I got to Big D to figure it out.
I ran/walked these 5 miles. But soon I found Big D. I heard "there's my girl!" and she came running up to me to see what I needed. I am so happy I made the decision to have a pacer for the last 18 miles and even happier I chose Big D. I was so done with my ipod at this point and having a human remind me to eat and drink was key. I met up with Big D and explained how my knee was just starting to hurt. It was a 5 out of 10 on the pain scale but I knew that feeling and it would only get worse. I made the decision to eat a bunch of potatoes at this aid-station and then take the one pill of 800 mg of motrin I had in my pack. Motrin is notorious for destroying my stomach but I figured it was worth the risk right now. Best decision I ever made. The pain instantly went away within 20 minutes and I ran without ANY pain in my knee from this point forward. HUGE I tell you because we were just approaching some really technical sections that sometimes leaves you almost on your hands and knees climbing up up up and then down down down.
Big D and I ran a lot and walked very little. Some spots I was just too tired and walked but eventually I would get into a rhythm and just motor. We were usually stuck behind someone running slower than I would have if I had been leading but I think that helped conserve some energy. We passed a few more aid-stations and I would drink their water saving my pack and eat what I could, usually potatoes. My appetite was slowly starting to go away.
Eventually we hit the Rattlesnake aid-station at 40.94! The realization that I had about 9 miles left hit me like a ton of bricks. I think I told Big D "holy crap! we have less than 10 to go!" Rattlesnake was a much bigger aid-station then I had anticipated. Not sure what I pictured but I didn't picture it to be THIS big and I really didn't expect to see Vans, the Peanut and Coach Nikon!!!! What a surprise!!!!
Coming down the trail.
My face says it all. Just no appetite.
Finally found something!
The Peanut however, did not make it.
A little ice & Ensure and I was ready to go!
What a boost to see them all. That pepped me up enough to get to the next aid-station which was Manhattan Bar which was about 3 miles from here. My mantra was "aid-station to aid-station." When we reached Manhattan Bar I decided to try a Coke. Coach Nikon had said that sometimes it gives you a big boost. I was worried about my tummy not liking it but I had some Coke and some potato chips and I guess it must have worked because Big D and I motored through these next trails. We hopped on the tail of some guys in front of us and just followed their (speedy) pace. I was feeling okay. Tummy was saying hello but only slightly. I knew from this point on, the next aid-station was Last Gasp at mile 47.56 and that was on the final "Damn Hill" portion. I kept thinking to myself, if we can just get to that hill (which by the way is 3 miles completely straight up) I knew I would be okay. I can walk 3 miles if I had to.
I did it. I made it mile 47!
The aid-station wasn't much past this and here I downed 2 cokes to get me up that hill. Big D and I just started power walking when I could. Occasionally we'd pick a marker and just shuffle to it. Stop, power walk and then pick another marker and shuffle to that. We chatted to kill the time. I saw, or rather I HEARD Coach Nikon up the hill telling me to "stop chit chatting and to run" he was taking pictures and wanted some action shots! ha It was great seeing him there. He told us we were super close. After we passed him, I could see the balloons up on the cliff which really did mean we were super close.
The finish requires you to run up this short steep hill. I ran up most of it but the crest I had to walk. I was sucking some wind. But it dumps you out onto the street and onto a sidewalk where you run the entire perimeter of the Auburn Damn Overlook parking lot and everyone, I mean everyone is cheering for you and telling you congratulations. At this point, at least for me, all pain, tiredness, weakness went away. I was on adrenaline and just started running hard!
Here I come!
The Peanut watching me finish!
My official time was 10:26:04. I really did not think I would finish in under 11 hours based on all my aches and pains during training. Do you know what is even better? My entire group finished! Everyone in my group who ran finished!! I am so unbelievably proud of everyone! We had the best training, the best team and the best coaches! What a day!!!
I got my jacket! And blogged about it!
The Peanut made me my own sign!
Big D my awesome pacer!
Jersey Girl my awesome Crew Chief
Spy Girl my awesome friend
My awesome Peanut
My awesome Vans. He was the best supporter, husband, photographer
and friend a girl could ask for.
I am recovering now. My appetite is not back yet although I have no doubts it will be. My group is scheduled to meet again on Wednesday for a post race party. I cannot wait to hear everyone's stories and experiences. I cannot thank my friends and family enough for all they did and have done for me. They are the ones who got me through yesterday. I can finally check off "run the American River 50 Miler" off my bucket list!
If you came by my house yesterday evening, this is how you would have found me. Ice baths are great!
Thank you all who read this entire race report. I am still on a high and still in awe that I ran to Auburn. I rarely drive 50 miles let alone run it! I just want to run hobble up to every person I see and tell them, however, I think it quite obvious if you see me walking! :-) ~ trailmomma
PS: I want to really thank my entire crew at Beal's Point! You guys were the best aid-station ever!! Thank you so very much from the bottom of my heart!!
PPS: Stay tuned for more pictures! I have some pics of the team to share!
PPS: Stay tuned for more pictures! I have some pics of the team to share!