Everything started out just great this morning. With about 67 runners participating, the race started promptly at 8:00 am, temperature in the mid 40s. Throughout the event, it rose to about 65 and the sun was out the entire time.
The course was beautiful and I felt I had prepared fairly well for the event, though as mentioned in previous posts, I was a bit concerned about IT band and hamstring issues. Everything seemed to be working fine until about mile 23, just as I was beginning the final two loops, a 3.5 miler and the final 5.3 miler. I was very sluggish going into the smaller loop and found myself walking more than running. I was also running alone, which is usually not good for me. Fortunately, someone caught ups to me and gave me some encouraging words. I managed to work my way to the check point and prepped myself to head out one last time for the final 5.3 miles. I downed some PB&J sandwiches and a GU and started out.
About 1 mile later (27), I bonked...everything hurt. My toes, IT and hamstring started to really ache. I fell into a brisk walk to try and recover, but with every descent, my toes screamed, "stop!" I kept catching roots with my shoes, further intensifying the pain. The constant barrage of stones and roots on the trail also caused extreme discomfort as it forced me to shift my footing constantly. Mile 28...3 more to go. I pushed on at a steady gait. My goal was 6:30, and I was 5:50 hours into it.
Still alone, I walked for the next mile or so and reached the fourth and final ascent of the stone steps. This felt pretty good as it helped to stretch everything out a little bit and I was able to run on a smooth part of the trail for about half a mile. I was getting so close, but the pain resurfaced and forced me to walk again for the next 1.5 miles or so. 6:15 and still another 1.75 mils to go with another steep descent and nasty climb before the finish. At 6:35, I reached the 30.5 mile mark and knew it was going to be OK. Thank god for a small group of runners coming up behind me. This boosted my adrenaline just enough to scramble to the finish with the family waiting.
Sophie, thanks for the encouragement. I met a guy there with a VHTRC shirt on! I think his name was Bill Lohse (?).
Ouch, I hurt, but I did it! 6:42 hours later I have completed my first ultra! Unfortunately no photos, but plenty of memories. It's going to be a sore morning!