That's what I kept on saying to myself as I passed every familiar landmark for the 3rd and last time.
Crazy switchback? Last time.
Dirt road hill? Last time.
Lone tree in the middle of nowhere? Last time.
1 mile descent? Last time.
Newts? Plenty more to come.
Every aid station? Thanks.
I had dropped back 9 spots after the second loop and found myself in 16th place overall with a total elapsed time of 5 hours and 54 minutes (10:47 pace). Zona was faring much better, moving up 6 spots to 29th place overall after the second loop.
It had taken me over 3 hours to complete the second loop, so I knew that the third loop wouldn't be much faster. I projected myself to finish in over 9 hours, maybe 10. Uggg.
To put things into perspective, I had completed the JFK 50 in 8 hours and 15 minutes, and the final 8 miles of that run was pure pain and suffering.
I was actually surprised at how well I was moving over the first few miles of the third loop. How much longer could I hold this pace?
At this point the only thing that was really hindering my forward progress was the temperature. One aid station reported that it was about to hit 90 degrees. They were sitting in the shade when they told me this.
I just had to be careful not to overheat and experience the chills again. It's over once you stop sweating.
I was putting more water on myself than in myself. The aid stations were also running out of ice. Shite.
There was nothing more I could do at this point but just put one foot in front of the other and fall forward. I started counting down the miles from 16.
It's always a huge mental boost once you get down into the single digits, and the timing couldn't have been better.
There was the mud again, but it was drier now than it was earlier in the day. At least the heat was good for something. I was actually able to run across most of it and then onto some more suitable running trails.
5 miles to go. 8 hours and 30 minutes in. I had an hour and a half to try to get under 10 hours.
On a good day I could easily complete 5 miles in about 30 minutes. Today was not a good day and I was averaging 15 minute miles. I needed a strong and steady kick near the end if I wanted any hope of hitting my new goal of 10 hours.
It definitely didn't help my morale when other runners started passing me, and that they looked much stronger. Slow and steady kicked my ass today.
I joined up with another runner after the final aid station around mile 47. We had been going back and forth all day, but never exchanged any pleasantries until now.
I ran with him for another mile, but when I looked back to check on him, he was gone. I was starting to hallucinate.
Two miles to go. I've got this!
My final kick was just as strong as any other race I've ran. I was cruising through the final trail section with my umpteenth second wind. Legs felt rejuvenated. Ah, the wonders of adrenaline!
I saw the finish line in sight, but unfortunately, you have to tack on about another quarter mile to complete the 50 mile circuit.
The finish area was now jam packed with drunk people and they were all hooting and hollering. The rush I felt over this final stretch was right up there with my first Boston Marathon finish down Boylston. I was flying!
I ran past my campsite and tossed my water bottle for the final kick. Perfect throw.
I'm pretty sure I got close to a 6 minute mile for the final quarter mile. The final results actually did indicate that I was 5th overall for this final section. Scary to think that the winners were probably running 5's through here.
It's amazing how something like this can make you forget all of the misery that preceded it.
I sprinted across the finish line with the clock reading 9:48:02. So close!
I guess I'll have to come back next year to break 9:48.
This is what 50+ miles of running looks like on a Garmin:
The final results show me finishing in 13th place overall out of 46 finishers. Just keep in mind that the 50 mile race started out with over 100 runners. Most of those runners either dropped or ended up just doing 50k.
Zona was one tough cookie on a very tough and long day. She ended up in 45th, but only as the result of getting lost on the tricky trails. I believe this was also her first trail race too!
By the time she finished, Zona ended up doing 54+ miles and she never gave up! I would have crawled up into a ball and begged someone to put me out of my misery if I had the same experience as she did. It's a good thing she hydrated well the day before, and didn't hit any deers :)
Of course, Zona would move on with this experience and win her first ultra race one month later.
Fear the ultra chick-en.