The "highlight" of the first lap was that I landed on my butt a multitude of times. It was cold enough that I didn't get muddy. Yet. But on a steep downhill, just after Speed Demon Ridge, I fell backwards on a bunch of rocks and landed on my forearms and my skull. That one gave me a headache for a good 15 miles. Just wait until you see the bruises.
I was nearing the end of the first loop when I looked at the clock and realized I did the first loop in 2:02. Crap. My plan was 2:15/2:15/2:30 and I thought 2:02 was a little too fast. As it turned out, the trails got so sloppy that I couldn't have gone much faster than I already was and I had so much fun on the first lap I don't regret going out that fast at all. Or maybe the bump on my head made me THINK I was having fun. Either way, I was smiling when I made it to the start/finish/aid station.
After lap 1 I ditched my coat and gloves, grabbed some more GU and started number 2. There were significantly less people this time. I was still feeling great and realized this was turning out to be a great run. I knew it was going to get harder, so I enjoyed as much of it as I could.
I had heard about the legendary aid stations at Psycho Wyco races, but I could not have imagined what they're really like. Besides the smorgasbord of food in front of you, the volunteers turned each aid station into a full-service station for the runners. "What do you need? What can I get you?"
I was a little out of it so I never really knew what to say, other than "oranges". I ate 17 orange quarters during the race and 2 afterwards. I don't even like oranges! At Shelter 10, Kyle (I think it was Kyle) took my bottle, dumped out the Gatorade/Succeed/water mix and refilled me with one flavor of Gatorade while I shoved orange quarters in my mouth. What a genius idea - one flavor of sport drink! I hadn't thought to empty my bottle before refilling.
At the end of loop 2, I realized I could no longer do simple math in my head and that meant I was tired. I finished lap 2 in about 4:30, so I knew if I could do a 2:30 last lap, I could break 7 hours. 8 hours was my original goal, so I was excited as I started lap 3.
The excitement quickly wore off and I was SO happy to see the aid station by the Triangle. My hips were starting to bother me and I was looking for a distraction. It was like an oasis in the desert. Colleen (another 100 miler) and the others offered such great encouragement. On the last lap I fell (again), this time getting super muddy. (Colleen said it was sexy.) Oh well, it was better than hitting my head.
I pushed on through Fester's Wander and blew through the Amos aid station, turning down the quesadillas. I had about 25 minutes to try to get 7 hours and I knew I probably wouldn't make it but I sure as hell wanted to try. It was so muddy at this point, it was faster to walk several sections. It was easily the sloppiest I have ever seen the course.
When I finally finished, my time was 7:04. I didn't break 7, but it was my first ultra so who really cares? I got a hug from Bad Ben while Vicki took off my bib number, and some kind soul directed me to the hot soup. It really was the best soup I've ever had.
I finished a 50k. Holy Crap.
John came in shortly after I did, due to a bum ankle he's been nursing for a few weeks now. We spent the rest of the day on the couch and ordered Oklahoma Joe's as our reward. I feel pretty good today. The most sore part of me is my right arm. That fall on the rocks really left it's mark.
This honestly was the most fun, most challenging, and most rewarding race I've ever done. I'm already looking forward to my next ultra - the Free State 40 mile trail run.
I have to thank all of the volunteers, sponsors, and Trail Nerds it took to put this on. Especially Bad Ben, the RD, and all of the people at the aid stations. Thank you, thank you.