Just nine more miles... Everything hurts.... Cant stop now..... You can do this.... You can win this....
Pumping my arms rapidly, I push..... People are congratulating me.... But the race isn't over....
It's not over until I take that turn, head down that final dirt stretch....
Back it up!
The Pigtails 100k was intended to be my final long run for Bryce.... One last opportunity to dial in nutrition and put ultra miles on the legs. Pigtails is considered an "easy course".... However, easy is a relative term.... What one individual finds easy, another finds absolutely excruciating. It's a gravel loop [9.4 miles] around a watershed. Not quite trail but definitely not road. There is enough elevation gain to keep things interesting [900' per loop]. Depending upon the race you're signed up for, you run this loop until you're done. Alternating direction every loop makes the process surprisingly less torturous for those of us that abhor these types of races.
This year, I haven't been fixated on race goals. I might have a tentative aspiration but I'd rather just focus upon enjoying the experience. Investing too much into a goal can ruin the spirit of a race....It's super deflating when things don't pan out. Let's be real, that happens more often than not. With Pigtails, I knew the course worked in my favor and that I could do well. I was hesitant to really think about much beyond that.
With limited fanfare, the race began in the drizzle expected of Western Washington. It was a small field and the hardcore beasts had already begun their lengthy adventures. From the beginning, I was the leading female....I was right behind the leading male. The pace felt super comfortable so I never felt stressed. We started with a six mile out-and-back. When I turned around, I was shocked that I didn't see a herd following close behind. I just figured that people were still warming up....I knew that I'd soon be passed by runner after runner....And that was OK - I was competing with MYSELF.
|3 miles in|
Spoiler alert - I was never passed. It's a bizarre feeling to lead a race when you're a middle-of-the-packer.... You just keep waiting for someone to speed on by, looking fresh and spunky.... Every hill you walk, you just wait.... Every time you linger at an aid station, you just wait.... Someone's going to zoom by any freaking minute now. If you're competitive, pick a race with alternating loops because it's the best way to gauge your position. I remained about 1.5 miles ahead of the third place runner the entire time; this really ignited a fire inside me. By the time that I was on the 5th loop [out of six], I was determined not to let anyone pass me.... I feel like such an asshole admitting that but yeah.... totally true.
I felt [still feel] terrible because I hardly socialized. Head down, music blasting....I wanted so badly to finish strong. I was running with individuals that had been moving for DAYS, working toward impressive 100, 150, 200 mile finishes..... I wish that I had taken more time to really express how awesome that I think they are, how much they inspire me. Honestly though....I could barely articulate sentences. Every time I tried to tell a runner, "Good Job" or even just "Hello".... it came out as a garbled, incoherent sound.
Jeff didn't have to crew for me this time around, allowing him to take our child to Seattle while I put my poor body through the wringer. I communicated with him around mile 30.... He was shocked at how fast I was moving [given the length of the race] and warned me to slow the F down. I didn't physically see him until I was finishing the 5th loop. Our exchange was limited to, "Loosen the shoes! Loosen the shoes! I got to go! I got to go! She's behind me!"
I departed for the final loop on a mission. I sprinted out of that aid station like an animal. I'd never run this long before and here I am, sprinting. Goes to show you how important the ol' mind is. That final loop was over in what felt like a snap of the fingers..... I am not even exaggerating. I must have just checked out. As I turned onto the final dirt stretch, I started crying.... ugly tears.... just crying.... It wasn't about being the lead female..... It wasn't about finishing this 100k..... I finally knew..... I'm ready..... I'm ready for Bryce. I have what it takes....My heart. My mind. My body. I am fucking ready.
Pre-Run: A giant bowl of Coco Puffs with chocolate almond milk
Fuel: 800ish calories of Tailwind, countless cups of Mountain Dew, watermelon, pineapple + the occasional handful of whatever looked good in the moment. I must have disgusted the individuals working in the aid station....Food was shoved in my mouth like I was an ill-mannered caveman. About 40% didn't even make it in the mouth. I heard a volunteer say, "You can really tell who is racing" Haha.
Gear: 17oz UD Handheld (Soft bottle)... This was my first experience with the soft bottle handheld. Verdict is that it's wonderful for those of us that have freakishly small baby hands. However, it can be difficult to fill up because it crumples down when empty. You have to put your fingers in the bottle to expand it..... That's kind of gross given the places ultra runner hands go... But eh, do what ya gotta do. I changed shoes after 34 miles from the Terra Kiger to Wildhorse [both Nike].... I feel that changing shoes + socks every 30 miles is a GREAT strategy beyond 50 miles. Keep those feet pampered.
*I think it's important to note that I do not feel this race is a sign that I'm headed toward the Olympics. A lot of things worked in my favor including the easy course and small field. Additionally, I just had an amazing running day - we all get blessed with one every now and then again. I'm proud of my performance.... I'm proud of how far I've come in one year, since I ran my first 50..... And I'm excited to see what the future holds.