In hindsight, and looking at the results now, I discovered that I was actually in 7th place overall after the first loop, averaging a 9:24 pace. Not bad considering that I wanted to die/drop out.
Zona completed her first 16+ miles in 3 hours and 20 minutes, and was near the top of the leader board for the ultra fembots.
The start of each new loop is deceptively fast as you're dropping in elevation right away, and plus you've just been re-energized after passing through the main spectating area. Adrenaline was definitely masking the issues that I would have to confront later on.
The steep drop from miles 2 to 3 (see chart on the previous post) was painfully awesome. I was picking up a lot of speed and passing a couple of runners, but of course, what goes down must come up and up and up. You end up spending the remaining 13 miles of each loop slowly climbing back up to where you started.
(this was definitely NOT in the brochure)
I finally reached my breaking point when I came upon the swamp section for the second time, only to realize that I would have to do this trek one more freakin' time. My second pair of trail shoes were taking a beating, but holding up better than the first. I was now the living embodiment of horse shit from top to bottom. ICK!
I had my doubts on continuing about five miles from the end of the second loop, and things only got worse as the morning sun started to bake me alive in the open fields before the finish area. It was easily in the 80's at this point and there was no shade to be found.
Trouble was brewing as I started to get the chills and felt very light-headed. Sweating was getting more and more difficult. Oh boy.
My back was also spasming on me due to the fact that I was spending more time hunched over and climbing rather than actually running/walking. This was truly a Sisyphean task (20 cent word, EJ).
The one relief that I did have was my water bottle that I almost didn't bring with me. This inanimate object became my Wilson in a sea of pain. I will never ever run another ultra again without one. As cumbersome as it may be to run 50 miles with a water bottle in your hands, it's so much more comforting to know that you can take a swig at any time. The aid stations were really great about making sure it was topped off (with ice) each time I went through. Thanks!
I crossed the halfway point/marathon mark in about 4 hours and 10 minutes, which is about 1 hour and 20 minutes slower than my marathon PR at Boston two months prior.
Even with an easy one mile trail section of the second loop to go I was still ready to quit the moment I crossed that 50K mark. I had made up my mind. There was no way in hell I was going back out there for another 4 to 5 hours, under the afternoon sun, to step on newts, climb herculean hills, and reacquaint myself with free horse manure. No way, no how.
The race organizers, in all their wisdom, would allow the 50 milers to drop from the race at the 50k mark and be counted in the 50k standings (I'm sure Frank would have something to say about this). I figured that this was the way to go with the way this day was going. It would only get worse from here on out.
I came into the finish area and crossed the 50k mat. I told the race director that I was considering dropping out of the 50 miler. She told me to just let her know officially once I was ready.
I slowly hobbled over to my very comfortable chair, took off my shoes, and stared at all of the chaffing in between my thighs. I regret not taking a picture of this (think flies hovering around an open wound).
The crowd in the finish area was huge at this point, and everybody was having a blast drinking beers and enjoying the BBQ. Why not me?
I thought to myself, this can't possibly be everybody from the 25k and 50k race. There were just too many people here milling/hobbling about. I quickly wondered what the attrition rate was for the 50 mile race.
If I'm suffering, then others must be feeling it too. Are people dropping out from the 50 mile race? Most likely, YES!
That one thought really got me going again.
I changed my socks, dusted off my shoes, re-filled my water bottle, and ran over to the race director.
I'm continuing on.