Craig and I had planned on leaving Thursday morning and camping for two days, but ended up waiting until Friday to leave because of bad weather in Wyoming. I was pretty convinced the weather on race day was going to be miserable, but it completely cleared!
We arrived in WY, picked up our packets, dropped off our drop bags and headed to Dayton, where we spent the night in Craig's truck:
At 3am, after VERY little sleep (Craig just couldn't fall asleep, and I had a claustrophobic panic attack around 1am haha) our alarms went off and we started our prep. The bus that took us to the start of the race was right on time and we left at 4am.
The bus ride was so beautiful with the red sky as the sun was starting to come up, but I missed the last 10-15 minutes because the coffee I had drank shot right through my body and I had to PEE like nobody's business! Oh my god, I was afraid I was going to wet my pants on the bus. When we arrived, there were no porta potties! hahaha I ran off the bus and into the woods, not able to walk the quarter mile down to the start where there WERE porta potties. I've never had less shame in my life, dropping my pants when there were still a lot of people milling around. During all this I must have missed some memo, because I walked down to the start, stripped off my fleece pants and top, only to discover I needed to get my bag of clothes back on the bus if I wanted to see my things again. "You'd better get going, we start at 6am on the dot!" the volunteer said to me. Oh brother. By the time I got down to the start I'd almost walked/jogged a mile already. lol Oh well, what's another mile when you're doing 50!
There isn't too much to report on the next 7 miles. I was running with people I didn't know, enjoying the mud and shade, and just doing my thing! I stopped to tinkle, stopped to take pictures, and tried very hard to take care of my feet, especially after painfully rolling my left ankle at mile 7.5, which exacerbated my plantar fasciitis pain in that foot. I knew at that moment it was going to be a long day.
I came up to the Bear Camp aid station at mile 13 after another 969 feet of climbing, and 1072 feet of descending. The ice cold Heed and salty Goldfish crackers really hit the spot! I was good to go. The next section was extremely muddy and rocky, which caused me to go pretty slow, but wasn't boring, that's for sure!
And then, what kind of felt like out of nowhere, we were in a GORGEOUS field surrounded by mountains, green, green grass, and brilliantly colored flowers. Oh my goodness- the pictures do NOT do it justice. This was the start of the steep downhill to the Footbridge turnaround. It was here I met Jennifer, and after taking pictures of each other in the field we talked for awhile while making the technical descent.
Right before heading up to Cow Camp there was a particularly muddy crossing, and there was a man sitting in- maybe a small tractor, watching people run by. Well, because at this point I was in my road running shoes, I began to slip and slide alllll over the place, and had to put my hands down in the mud. The guy shook his head and said to me "darn mud!" to which I responded "I am just the picture of grace." He laughed a little too hard at that. ;)
It was also during this section, before Upper Sheep aid station, that I passed the guy I had been sort of running with for miles and miles. I asked him how he was feeling and he said "everybody seems to have hit their second wind except me." I tried to assure him it would come and that we still had plenty of time left (groan), but I'm not convinced he believed me as I trotted past him.
After Upper Sheep aid station was a gnarly climb. It started out pretty small, though I felt like I was climbing Everest, only to dip down into a river crossing, and then it REALLY started going up. It was a short and very steep climb, but as soon as it was done the really steep descending started. The most miserable part of the race. I stopped a lot to take pictures:
I passed quite a few people in those last 5 miles, including a nice young woman who passed me at mile 18, and another who passed me around mile 33. I was ecstatic, it was my own personal little victory.
Getting an Otterpop handed to me as I ran by the Home Stretch was INCREDIBLE! hahaha I was getting weak, but didn't want to crack open another gel, and I swear that popsicle was like a piece of liquid heaven.
When I got home and discovered how poorly I did in the standings, I was pretty upset. But after some time I was able to put it all into perspective. There were quite a few people that DNF'd- just finishing this race really was a victory, and that's not a concept I'm used to. I don't want to just finish, I want to do well. But one thing I'm proud of is that I was able to have a life while training for this. During training I never ran more than 44 miles in a week (I never had in my life, ever) because I was rock climbing, hanging out with friends, camping, getting a 4.0 last semester... I had a life, I didn't just submerge myself into running. Someday I'd like to try to do better, run longer miles in training, maybe not stop to take so many pictures, etc., but I had a lot of fun out there, and that's what matters.
And so I leave you with a picture of my huge blister on my little toe. Yum: