FINALLY! A YUTC Recap!
My First Official Ultra
Where to start?
So I guess I have some 'splaining to do. This race was not in my original plan. In fact I didn't really know if I was going to do it until the Thursday beforehand when I called the race director to reserve a place for me at the start.
Before I went up to Manistee I emailed Wild Bill to let him know I wasn't going to make the weekends trail run because I would be running a trail marathon up in Michigan and that I was a bit worried about my hamstring. He replied that I would be fine and that if it went well I should run YUT-C with them the next weekend.
Wild Bill before the start of YUT-C
Never put ideas in my head! So North Country went well. My hamstring hardly bothered me at all and I had one of the best times I have ever had on a run. I was hooked on the long trail run so I wrote Bill and asked for some details about the 50K.
My ITB had flared up during the marathon so I rested all week and iced and took anti inflammatories. Friday morning I went out to test the knee with my girls and had to hold back tears the ITB hurt so bad. At 18 minutes I had to stop and turn around to walk back in the dark. I had a plenty long walk to think about what I was going to do about the race the next day. The smarter part of me was saying just go and volunteer and take a DNS. The stubborn part of me just wanted my knee to miraculously heal so I could do what I wanted, which was to attempt the 50k. I have no idea what came over me but for some reason it was REALLY important for me to finish that race, even though I had not even paid the fee yet and no one except Bill and the girls even knew I was going to attempt it.
Me before the start at YUT-C
So Saturday morning I drove to Bill's and on the carpool ride to the race we discussed my options. All agreed that since it was a loop course I should start the race and I could always drop if I felt bad. Aleve was recommended but I held out not wanting to mask any issues.
RH pre YUTC- He has won the Mohican 100 miler- serious badass ultra runner
We got to the parking lot after a requested stop at a gas station. I was determined not to have to use the restroom in the woods!
The parking lot is at the top of this hill the start is behind the photographer in this picture.
I went into the cabin and picked up my bib and goodies. Trekked back up the hill to drop my stuff in the car and grabbed my gels and gatorade etc then headed down to the start.
Rootsrunner and I pre start
JA and I getting ready to start.
Pre race instructions
The course was a big figure 8. On the way out for the first figure 8 we started going clockwise around the first loop then counter clockwise around the second, then we turned around and did the opposite. On the third big loop we just did the first hillier loop clockwise again with a short detour to make it an official 50k.
The race started and I quickly fell to the back. We were on pavement and I didn't want to push the ITB. All my friends were getting ahead quickly. We finally got off the pavement and went straight up a metal flight of stairs. Sweet, walking already!
Shortly thereafter we finally hit some trails. I fell in with two gentlemen while trying to shimmy up and down some technical hills. I couldn't run up or down so as not to irritate the ITB so I told them to holler if I ever got too slow for them and they wanted to pass. We ended up running together through almost the entire first figure 8.
Shortly before the first aid station and just after about 30 minutes spent traveling a 1/2 mile of straight up and down hills and a tree so big you had to lay down and roll over it Wild Bill came running up from behind. I asked where the hell he came from and found out he had got lost and way off track. Since he had lost some time he said he would run with me the rest of the way.
Blurry shots of my early group just before the 1st aid station
We went through the first aid station and he tried to get me to hurry along. I need to work on my aid station speed. Bill got ahead of us for awhile after the aid station and when we made a pit stop at the real restrooms! But at some point during the next loop we ended up together. Bill kept trying to go the wrong way but I kept him on track. There was a long stretch of pavement that was a bit confusing and we kept watching for a flag indicating we could get back on the trail. We moved pretty well through this loop since there weren't many hills or rocks.
We hit the aid station again and headed onto the rest of the first loop. It was pretty rocky through here and there was one monster hill. We started to see the leaders trickling back towards us and got a friendly hello from FD who let us know it was only 5 minutes to the aid station. Eventually we finished our first figure 8 and were heading back out to do it again backwards. My new friends had dropped back as I hammered along with Bill so we wouldn't see them again for awhile.
Finishing the first figure 8
Bill walked ahead as I made sure to take in all the nutrition I needed. I accidentally drank two glasses of Heed thinking it was water. I did eventually figure out why that "water" tasted so funny. The volunteers all joked that I should take my time and get in my nutrition because I would catch Bill anyways. I was just glad he had decided to stick with me. Company sure makes a run much more enjoyable!
My ITB hadn't made a peep so I headed back out for some more. It was a tough course but we managed to get through the next figure 8 without any problems. Shortly after the next aid station we picked up a lady who had run the grand canyon. She paced along with us for awhile but took advantage of a bathroom stop I had to make to zoom ahead. Both Bill and this lady were in awe that I knew the way so well. Ever since the first trail run I did where I was completely and utterly lost I pay attention, especially if it is a trail I will cover multiple times. I managed to navigate us through just fine and we never got lost.
After the bathroom stop I headed to catch up with Bill and a road runner asked me how far I had to go. I looked at my watch and looked at him with a blank expression. I had absolutely no idea how long I had gone or how much I had left! I laughed and told him I had no idea but that I would probably be out there for 7 hours. It was a nice feeling knowing that I had no clue how far I had gone or had to go but I didn't care, I was having a blast!
We passed a few people through this section. One guy was cramping really bad but said he was okay. Once we got back to the crazy up and down section with the big log my body was starting to get sore so I took an aleve. I was thankful to witness some of the leaders walking through this section too. I don't know how anyone could have run through it. It was a huge hill and instead of making the trail a big switchback up to the top, the trail literally went all the way up then all the way down several times. You would literally pass right by where you just were climbing up, very crazy. What was really getting to me was I knew I would be back at this place in another hour or so on my last loop.
We did finally make it through the hilly part though and saw our friends coming back at us. Poor BH waved hello to me and bit it face first into the dirt. I felt awful but he finished with the group he was with so it must not have been too bad of a fall.
Before the end of the loop I made another pit stop this time I had to use the woods, uggh! And of course as I am hiking up my shorts I see the lady that we ran with earlier, she laughed and ran on back out onto her last loop.
Finishing my second Figure 8 Loop
Cramp guy and I at the aid station at the end of figure 8 number 2.
I got to the end of the second figure 8 and the cramping guy I had passed earlier was already there. Apparently he had pulled a Bill and got lost but never got back on track. FD did the same thing and bailed because he knew there was no way he would be able to figure out what he missed and make it up. Cramp guy took off with Bill and I though. This was his first ultra and he hadn't done much training. He had obviously never done a trail race because he kept trying to run beside Bill rather than behind him. Hopefully he picked up on the trail etiquette eventually but I know Bill was getting pissed. Bill would speed up to try and drop him and the kid would do the same. Bill would slow down and offer to let him lead and he would just drop back beside Bill. I just watched it all from behind trying not to laugh too much! (I want to state for the record though that even though cramp guy finished before me I beat him because he definitely didn't do the whole 50k)
When we got back to the crazy hill and log section I lost the guys. They were way too fast for my ITB. I told Bill I would catch him at the aid station. He had to wait quite a while for me. But he let cramp guy know he better hustle because Bill had years of experience and I had incredible leg speed and as soon as I got to the aid station we were going to run him down, LOL.
I had to make a pit stop in the woods again and oddly enough I thought there was no one around but as I headed back onto the trail I look across the river and see that same lady again!
After my pit stop there is a short section on board walk with stairs. I hustled through this because I knew Bill was waiting. As I got off of the board walk and onto the pavement before the aid station there was a big groundhog sitting in my path. I have heard they can be mean so I didn't want to get too close. I tried to shoo him away and once I realized that wasn't going to work I made some crazy barking noise at him which scared him off the trail. I realized how silly that was but just laughed and ran on. Bill wondered what had taken me so long but I think he was secretly glad he had a reason to lose cramp guy.
The rest of the way went fine. I am sure I was slowing down but we ran most of it. I bit it hard coming downhill and over a rock and smacked my back but got up and walked it off. I actually started to run right away but Bill stopped me and told me to walk and make sure everything felt fine first. After the aid station Bill realized I wasn't going to make it under 7 hours. He could have left me and I told him to but he didn't! Such a nice guy!
We saw a group of boyscouts at the one monster hill and they asked how long we were going. 31 miles! We told them we had been running since 8 and that we were almost done. I think they thought we were nuts!
We finally came down a technical hill and out onto grass and then the road and I knew we were minutes from being done. I told Bill to go ahead and he said no that I should finish first because I had earned it. I had the biggest smile on my face. I could not believe I just ran 31 FREAKING MILES! I was elated.
Finishing my first Ultra
As soon as I finished I demanded my beer, lol. Microbrew! I got a picture with the race director then hobbled over to the cabin to get some soup and other goodies. I periodically burst out with "I am a freaking ultra runner" or "I can't believe I just ran 31 miles!". Everyone else was much calmer, old pros and all that. But I wanted to party! My crew went up to the car to change and get ready to leave. They told me to join them after I got done celebrating. I poured my beer into my handheld so as not to get everyone in trouble for drinking it at the park :) It was too much fun!
Post race microbrew
Eventually I made my way up to the car and called my husband and A to let them know I finished. We went out for lunch and got some chocolate milk! Surprisingly I wasn't very sore. My ITB was a dull ache but not worse than it had been. I made an appointment for the Monday after to go see the doc and was happy with my decision to run the race.
I am sure I lost a lot here by not finishing this post until now. But at JFK next weekend anytime it gets bad I will just think about how excited I was at the YUTC finish line and I will know the whole day will be more than worth it.