This past weekend, my family and I drove up to Maine for the Pineland Farms Trail Challenge and a bit of camping at Bradbury Mountain State Park. I can’t say enough wonderful things about this event. It was spectacularly run and lots of fun for all of us. On Saturday, there was a 5K, a barefoot 5K, a 10K, and a 5K Canicross. There were a few kids races and a couple of running seminars. Sunday’s races were a 50 mile, 50K, and a 25K.
My daughters got a kick out of watching the Canicross on Saturday. We suspect that one of the top finishing dogs may have been carried like a football throughout most of the course. I imagine that is not against the rules.
Next came the 5K – which my 8 year old and I ran together. There were a whole lot of little kids in the race, which had me thinking that perhaps “ants in the pants” is heritable. About a ¼ mile in, we picked up a 7 year old boy that had outrun his mom and continued to run with us throughout the entire race. The trails at Pineland Farms have been described as being like a roller coaster. So true! While none of it could be considered “technical”, one is also never running on a flat surface. It’s up or down the whole time. The barefoot 5K started ten minutes after the regular 5K, so it was a lot of fun to be passed by some of the faster barefoot runners near the finish line, and they cheered us on as they passed. Audrey never had to walk, and had a great kick near the finish line. With a time of 33:03, she finished 129th out of 221. Not bad for her third race! I really love running with my daughter, and hope she doesn’t get too fast for a long time. Or, at least, I hope once and a while she’ll return the favor and run slowly with her old lady.
Her new running friend was willing to do the 3 legged race with her. Awww!
After the kids races, my husband attended a free beer tasting hosted by Smuttynose, I took in a running form Q&A with Jason Robillard from Barefoot Running University, and my daughters tore apart hay bales and made robot costumes out of cardboard boxes with the other ultrarunners’ offspring.
Then it was back to the campsite for a pasta dinner cooked over the whisperlite and an early bedtime. One of the things I like about camping is that once it gets dark, there ain’t jack to do. I got into the bag at 8:30 and managed to sleep to 5:45. Yay for a good night sleep before race day!
It was already above 60 when the race started at 8AM. Do I look scared? Were you this scared before your first 50K?
My spirits were high, though, and at about the 5K mark, I settled in next to four other runners. They weren’t very chatty but seemed like nice people. I suspected they might be serious ultrarunners. Aid stations were well stocked with cytomax and other goodies, and I helped myself to a handful of chow at every one. About 8K in, I got passed by the lead men in the 50 mile race, which started two hours prior to the 50k. I recognized Ben Nephew. They were so fast! Drop bags were around 23K, and I spent some quality time with mine. I changed into dry socks, reapplied BodyGlide and sunscreen, and hit the porta potty. When I started on loop 2, I noticed that the four people I was running with were just standing there near the start line. I asked them if they were coming, but apparently, they were seriously going to DNF and get their free beer right then.
When I reached the next aid station, at 31K, I noticed that the volunteers were wearing tank tops and shorts. Eeek! It was in the 80s, and I hadn’t had a chance to train in the heat at all. Even had I been able to acclimatize, my body still doesn’t do heat very well. I realized I would have to adjust my goals somewhat. Goal 1 was to now to avoid a medical emergency. Goal 2 was to finish the race. I was pretty confident that if I could accomplish Goal 1, then Goal 2 would be a piece of cake. But I wasn’t so sure about Goal 1. I asked the aid station volunteers to fill my handheld with ice, and I passed it between my hands and armpits to try to cool my core. I just kept in mind that if I got too hot, I would have to simply walk until I felt better. And if I got dizzy or got dry heaves, I’d need to sit down. It took a lot of discipline to slow down, because my legs really wanted to turn over. But I knew that I needed to listen to my body and stay safe. By 35K, I swore I that after today, I wasn’t going to run again until I saw snow. At 41K, the course passes behind the finish line, and heard ambulance sirens. Wonderful. But I kept moving, ran when I could, and walked when my head started throbbing and my stomach felt sick.
At an aid station around 45K, I mentioned to the volunteer that I was frustrated because my legs felt awesome, but I just couldn’t run like I wanted to because I was so hot. A 50 mile runner suggested that I try putting ice in my cap. I did….. and 30 seconds later, I felt better than I had all day. I was dashing up the hills at a full-out run, and passed about 8 people. I'm going to have to remember that trick. I saw my family about 200 yards from the finish, and both of my little girls paced me to the finisher's chute.
Final time: 6:44:18, which apparently was only about 2 minutes slower than the median ladies’ time. And I’m no worse for the wear! One of the good things about having had to take it so easy during the second loop is that my legs still felt great at the end.