I had a real hard time fully committing.
I told y’all I been slothy lately.
And also super emotional.
But also I haven’t run at all this week. Which felt like a taper week. So…maybe I had been unintentionally preparing for a surprise 50k++?
When GJB suggested it, I kind of took in the idea and let it just sit in the mess that is my brain for a while.
And then some other options opened up. Beautiful Beastie was putting together an alternate route. That encompassed about 26 miles of the course. And 26 miles sounded way more pleasant than 31. (Because 31 was how far I thought the 50k was at that point. Because 50k.)
But then Friday afternoon I recognized the whole accidental tapering thing.
And J-Pete posted turn by turn directions. Which gave me a false sense of confidence that I could find my way through the course when I inevitably fell off pace from the group.
So I told GJB I was in. For the full Promiseland course.
And then I spent the rest of the day hydrating. Carb-loading. And cramming my pack full of food and water.
Y’all. That’s as much prepping as I’ve ever done for a race.
And I only committed to this one 17 hours before the race.
Went to bed at 8:48pm.
And 10 minutes later. My alarm went off. At 4:00am.
And then the standard pre-race train of thought.
I don’t really need to race.
They probably wouldn’t miss me if I didn’t show up.
GJB is the only one who knows I’m coming anyway.
I’m not even registered for this race. I did not pay for it. I will not receive a shirt. Or even a medal.
It’s so cold.
I’m so tired.
I love my bed.
31 miles is really fucking far.
And there’s no one here to make me go.
This shit is so much easier when you’re in a house full of runners making you get your lazy ass up and out the door.
And then I got my lazy ass up. And out the door. And drove to the fucking race.
Where GJB handed each of us personalized race bibs.
2020. The year of total bullshit.
So, you start by running. And then walking. Up. For five miles.
There’s a giant squirrel about a half mile from the start. Which is apparently representative. Of something. Or it’s just there. Fuck. I don’t know. But the others seemed happy to see it.
Once we got to the top of the climb. We ran into our BB crew. She’d brought Tiny Brazilian, K-Rob-D, and Finn’s Dad with her.
And there’s something really energizing about seeing your people in the middle of a race. And running with them for a while.
Ate through the plastic to get to one of my sandwiches at the first fake aid station.
I was hungry.
Then we did some more climbing.
Until we hit the next aid station. Which was real this time. Because J-Pete was there. With some shit. And the BB crew was also there. With some more shit. Including some chips. For me. Because I spent all of Pilot Mountain to Hanging Rock 50k bitching about the lack of potato chips at the aid stations.
My people are super responsive to my whining.
It really works out quite well for me.
J-Pete suggested I be aware. When we hit something called Cornelius Creek Loop. Or some shit like that. Because poison oak. And my completely exposed legs.
Then OT pointed out that we had hit the nesting stage at the aid station. And needed to move the fuck on.
Ran down for about 5 miles. And through some creek crossings.
Y’all. Nothing feels as miraculous as ice cold creek water on your feet and ankles halfway through an ultra.
And then we hit the third aid station. And the amazing R-Sprouse. Homegirl had water and oranges and candy bars and other goodies.
Y’all. Nothing compares to a mini 3 Musketeers halfway through an ultra. Except fucking potato chips.
Then we ran, like, two fucking miles of road. Bullshit road.
Y’all. Nothing is worse than two fucking miles of road halfway through an ultra. Except fucking downhill.
Then back onto trail. Beautiful trail.
And this section is kind of bullshit. Kind of rolly ups. And downs.
And OT finally just took the fuck off on us. He can only hold back for so long. Plus he had new ultra dude with him. Who hadn’t even run 20 miles before. And seemed to think this was a good idea.
And then we hit the ocean of poison oak. That blanketed the trail. There was no avoiding it. How the fuck am I supposed to be careful, J-Pete??
Finished that bullshit and ran back through the R-Sprouse aid station. Where I asked if this is where we could drop. And be driven back to the start.
So I squirreled away a few more 3 Musketeers.
I was gonna need those bitches to get me to the end of this.
Because my body really reaches its limit around mile 25 these days.
And it was at this point that I learned. That this race was actually 35 miles. Not 31. And that’s some bullshit you should probably know going in.
And that it has, like, 7,400 feet in climbing.
I’m sorry, what?
And ok. That’s just about what the Blue Ridge Double has. Except Blue Ridge has the decency to spread that shit out over 52.4 miles. Instead of cramming it into 35 miles.
Which really isn’t worse. But I’m whiny right now. Things hurt.
So after I was reluctantly pulled away from my R-Sprouse. I was forced to climb straight the fuck back up the mountain. (I don’t know what mountain, y’all. We started in Big Island. But we ran through Apple Orchard Falls. And I don’t fully understand how that happens…)
J-Pete was waiting at the top of the falls. With more aid. And there were so many breathtaking views.
But also. About this time. The skies opened up. And temperatures dropped. And life got a special kind of miserable.
GJB and Charlottesville, who were the only ones still hanging back with my struggling ass, said that the climb was only about 3 1/2 or 4 miles. I voted for 3 1/2.
But that shit went on forever.
I swear it was a 20 mile climb. In the rain. And cold. And wind.
And I was running out of all of the food I’d crammed into my pack.
I was down to my last 3 Musketeers when we hit the top. At the parkway. Where the clouds had settled onto the road.
It was eerie as fuck crossing the parkway. And heading back into the woods.
It was slippery. And there was more climbing. And it was probably only a slight hill. But if felt like Everest. On my legs. Which had absolutely nothing left in them.
My inner thighs had begun to chafe.
My pack was rubbing repeatedly against my back.
My back, which was aching to the point that I was having fantasies about lying down. In the middle of the trail. In the cold wind and rain. And just living there. Forever.
And my hip flexors had decided that this whole race was bullshit back on the road portion. And will probably never forgive me.
I shoved my last 3 Musketeers into my mouth. Praying that it would give me the last bit of strength I needed to get to my car.
Finally hit the last several miles of downhill. And this is the part where my knees and hips just shut the fuck down. So I just handed myself over to gravity.
And tried desperately to maneuver the rocks without actually bending my legs.
Which is fucking impossible.
Got back to the last stretch. Which is on gravel road. And I’ve never been so happy to be running on road in my life. Because gravity can be far more effective when it doesn’t have to maneuver rocks.
And where is that fucking squirrel?
And there was my R-Sprouse.
And I asked her to carry me in.
And she said sure.
And took off running.
And there was the fucking squirrel. Finally.
And GJB said I had to run through the finish. And not just go straight to my car. Which was right fucking there.
And North Mountain Overlord and Dude With The Charming and Disarming Smile were there. At the finish. Holding up the RVTR flag. For us to run through.
And that was special as fuck.
And David Horton was there. Handing out finishers stickers.
And there was a fire. And homemade cookies. And hard kombucha. And all of my people. And it was excellent.
And I took it all in.
Until my need for comfort began to strongly outweigh my need for my people.
And now I’m home. Showered. Jammied. Blanketed. Coffeed. And I’ve had first dinner. (Second and probably third dinner soon. Because 4,800 calories burned.)
I’ll be spending the rest of the weekend inventorying my pain. (Why the fuck do my arms feel bruised???) And figuring out why I don’t do more research before committing to shit.
Except also. It’s usually better if I just don’t know.
Because who the fuck would commit to 35 miles and 7,400 feet of climbing less than 24 hours before a race?