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Inspired Living

Vermont 50 Mile Saga

Sarah Stanley

Disclaimer:  This race recap uses strong language. I debated about leaving the words out, but felt compelled to write it as I ran it. If this offends you, I am sorry. That is not my intent. If the word "fudge" (not real word) offends you, don't read. 

 

Vermont 50 mile ultramarathon September 25, 2011

It has been five days since the epic finish of Vermont 50 mile ultramarathon. I am still trying to wrap my mind around the last 10 miles. And trying to make this race recap as clean as I can. And I am not just referring to mud.  I wasn't supposed to finish. The math didn't add up. But I guess God had other plans for me!

This was my fifth 50miler rodeo, but let me tell you running 50 miles never gets easier! You just lose a few more brain cells each time ;).

The weekend got kicked off to a great, rainy start. I landed in Boston (back on the East coast for the third time in 3 weeks!) Friday afternoon to gray, wet skies. I had a great evening with friends and the next day my friend Matt picked me up and we made a three hour-ish drive to Vermont. We caught up on the latest news, talked about running (shocker) and other stuff that would make you like to be a fly in the back seat.

We arrived in Brownsville, VT at Ascutney Mountain Resort where it was beautiful (hello Fall Foliage!) but also muddy. We picked up our race packets. Now a little side note. I absolutely love ultra packet pickups. The energy is amazing. So many wonderful, determined and incredible people. The atmosphere is totally different than marathon pickup. Runners that have run countless 100 milers, 24/48 hours races, etc. I am just thrilled to be in their presence!

Matt and I met up with Doug and his wife Lex, his best friend Dave and fellow runners Adam (and his wife Jen) and Jeremy D. We talked about what would happen the next day and they asked me what to expect. My response was to focus on the finish line. Little did I know how important that advice would be! Gene also met up with us - he would be my crew. I gave him my Gen UCAN packets, some Action Wipes, a change of compression socks and some Honey Stinger Chews.

After getting a game plan together for the morning, Matt, Dave, Doug, Lex and I made our way to New Hampshire where we were spending the night. You have to cram as many states in a three day trip as you can. Ha! Kidding and if you didn't get the joke, go run a few miles.

Doug made a delicious dinner - seriously - and we had a chill evening. With a bit of nervous energy as a side dish. Our wake-up time was 3:30 a.m. so we needed to go to bed ASAP. Which was 8 p.m. But it is always hard to fall asleep before a big race so I didn't go to dreamland for a few hours. Which by that time it was time to wake up.

The three of us (Doug, Matt and I) got up and prepared for the long day ahead. Oh what fun lies before us! We left in the darkness of the morning and started driving to the race start. Arrived at the start at 5am and the mood was ecstatic. This race also had a mountain bike option. Which about 800 people elected to do. There were 500 runners. It was kind of cool to have both hardcore athletes in one event! It was dark till 6:20 a.m.-ish so for the first 90 minutes we all got to know each other by bumping into each other. Headlights only go far!

Gene arrived to see us off. There were six of us that running together. Adam, Doug, Jeremy B, Jeremy D, Matt and me. (Notice how I had to put them in alpha order? Ha! )

The bikers started going at 6:00 a.m. till 6:30am. They even had a tandem division. I didn't see any, but man I sure wanted too! I have no idea how you ride a mountain bike with TWO PEOPLE.

6:35 a.m., the gun voice went off. Ultras are so much fun! We all just love to run, so there is usually no gun, chip timing, just a simple, "go." Really!

And we all start out slow. When you are covering 50 miles in a single day, the goal is to survive (or win if you are super special) and have fun. The six of us kept together as left the resort. Praying we would all make it back in one piece.

As we started out, there was a runner who had who knows what jiggling in his pack. It sounded like one million marbles in a tin pail. I hate noise like that! Leave your change at home - it won't buy you a finish line! We all tried to move away from him and thankfully on the second hill we did.

The weather was - thank God - not rainy. It was humid though and the start temp was 70s (which would climb into the 80s when all was said and done). The sun stayed behind the clouds till about mile 14. Then it decided to join in the fun.

The first few miles went by fairly quickly and before we knew it we were at our first aid station. I love aid stations. I've said it before and I will say it again here, aid stations are like little pieces of heaven. Even at mile 4.

The VT 50 is a fairly hilly course (see below). The hills came early and frequently. Oh boy. And with Hurricane Irene last month (Aug. 2011) it did some damage to the course. And resulted in a TON of mud, detours and slip n' slides. And remember what goes up, must come down. I think downhills are almost worse then uphills! Running downhill takes a skill. Which I do not have masted yet. I am so afraid of tripping on either rocks, roots or slipping on mud that running downhill is on my list of must-get-better-at.

My goals for this race were as they always are:

1) Don't die

2) Finish

3) Have fun/smile/joke

4) PR

And at the end of the race, a fifth would be added: try not to curse so damn much.

And here are a few facts about VT50

1) HARD

2) Course time limit: 12 (fucking) hours

3) HARD (just in case you forgot)

4) Aid Stations (AS) cutoff times were aggressive

5) BEAUTIFUL (yes, the fall colors were awesome!!)

Even though this was my 15th race for 2011, I was feeling pretty good, jovial, sarcastic and quite talkative (that ain't new!) By mile 8, our group had broken into Adam and I and Matt, Doug, Jeremy B and Jeremy D. I was content to hang back and just enjoy the ride (run?) with Adam. We were at the same pace so it was a good match.

For this race, our crew only had access to three of the 10 aid stations (usually they have access to all). So these three aid stations became my light in the darkness. I won't speak for the other five in our group, but I am sure they felt the same thing!

Finally at mile 13-ish we got to see our beloved crew! And plenty of other random people cheering us on. Always appreciated. I quickly downed 14 oz. of GEN U CAN, ate a few oranges slices dipped in salt, watermelon, grapes (LOVE) but alas no cold, boiled potatoes. Apparently the bikers liked them and left NONE for us. I also grabbed a paper towel and wiped my face. The sweat was stinging my eyes. I gave my sunglasses to Gene and about 90 seconds since coming into the aid station Adam and I were off. The other guys were leaving just as we were coming in. We wouldn't see our crew till mile 31.

Of course, as fate would have it, the sun came out just as we left. I think I pissed off the sun! A long section lay ahead of us, and the longest climb of the day too. Ending at 1800-ish feet.

But first a few facts if you are new to ultra running.

First, ultras are primarily 99.9 percent run on trails. And trails equal rocks, roots, technical, hills, downhills, in other words - it is HARD. Running cross country for 50 miles (or 100) is not for the faint of heart.

Second, six miles on trails vs. six miles on roads are TWO TOTALLY different beasts. In some ultra races, six miles can take hours as opposed to maybe 30-60 minutes on roads.

Third, running ultra marathons is just 100 percent mental. Yeah, your legs are doing the work, but your mind is telling them to go when they want to sit in the chair they see in the forest.

Back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Adam and I ran out and soon approached a long ass gradual climb. We walked. As did the other 20 people around us. Here is the other thing about ultras: Unless you're in the top 10 everyone walks. And talks. It is probably our bodies instinct to make sure we are still sane. I always enjoy getting to know the runners around me. Most of us crack jokes. And talk about the finish line.

This course is beautiful. I think in part to keep your mind off just how bad your legs hurt! We run through a lot of farm land (near and dear to this farm girl's heart) which included maple syrup taps and lines, picture perfect barns and houses with picture perfect horses. Oh to be able to sit down and actually enjoy the view! Ha!

We continued to run and talk. And talk and run. There was this other runner who had to be at least 65. He had a 2003 American River 50 Mile shirt on. His name was Clem and we played leap frog till mile 33. At one point he said he had run AR50 13 times in a row. HOLY EFFING CRAP.

The stretch between miles 13 and 20 seemed to go on forever. FOREVER. But finally we came out of the forest and started making switchbacks up the longest point of the race course to end at 1800-ish feet. The view at the top was gorgeous! See, good things do happen at hill tops :).

At this point, I had felt a hot spot (blister) a few miles back and knew I should take few minutes to take care of. So I slathered Vaseline on both feet. Sadly they had no duct tape.

I should also state that at each time we came into a aid station Adam and I both asked what the cut off time was with fear and trembling. This was a new thing for me. I have a run a bunch of ultras and HAVE NEVER BEEN WORRIED about cutoffs. NEVER! Remember, the course cutoff is 12 hours. Don't forget this fact. It plays a HUGE part in this saga.

Another fact before you get your panties in a wad, neither Adam or I are slow runners. Personally, my 5k PR is 20 minutes and change. That is a 6:30 minute mile folks. And my marathon PR is 3:40. And I know Adam has run a four hour marathon. But road PRs get thrown out when you run trails. I really, really, REALLY need to remember this. Anyway, moving on ...

We hit mile 20 and AS around 10:40 a.m. Again, no cold, boiled potatoes. This would be the theme throughout the long, effing day. I had fruit - including oranges dipped in salt. Salt, glorious salt. Remember it was hot and humid! Adam also took care of his feet and soon we hit the muddy trail.

We made a goal to get to next AS in an hour. This stretch was also difficult as we had a lot of downhills. Remember me and downhills? Yeah, really need to work on that. And God, the mud, the MUD! I ain't talking about little man-made mud here. I am talking about weeks-of-rain mud. Some places we were up to our shins in it. Blood-shoe sucking mud. We tried to avoid the worst sections where possible which meant becoming one with a tree as we attempted to avoid the worst mud pits.

I remember running down a fairly steep hill on this section and slipping on mud and catching myself (HELLO ABS) before becoming one with the mud. It was a pretty epic save and even Adam gave me mad props. You know when you are running 50 miles, the little things become great things :).

Pretty soon we were at the next AS and mile 24. It was 11:45 a.m. Right on time. 30 minutes before cutoff. And no COLD, BOILED POTATOES! Damn bikers, you! (Kidding people, kidding. Settle down).

Now here is what the surprising thing was. There were tons of runners all around. For "only" 30 minutes remaining at this aid station, I have to say I was shocked. There should not have been so many of us. Yes, the course was tough, but the cut off time should have been at least a hour, not 30 minutes. I had some turkey (hmm, GOOD), more fruit, more oranges dipped in salt and even watermelon dipped salt. Not glamorous, kids! OK, maybe just a little.

For today's race, my goal was to stick to Gen UCAN (first time for a ultra distance race) and avoid grains/wheat and dairy. AS have Oreo's, M&M's, Gummy Bears, PB&J (usually a go-to food for me), fruit, potatoes, etc. Nutrition is a HUGE part of either success or failure in a race of this distance. You need to fuel to keep running but also to keep thinking clearly too. You need sugar, carbs and protein. And it is important to make sure your body likes the food it gets. One 50 miler I ran my GI system was NOT a happy camper. Lesson learned.

Adam and I left the AS and started making our way to the next piece of heaven. We had more hills to cover and so we walked out. Then I asked him if he could run. He said sure and we made a landmark and ran to it. And that is how we covered the next few miles. We would take turns picking out a tree, a person, a bear (kidding) or a bottom of hill and run to it, then walk.

We were almost six hours into the race and I had yet to use a tree. Yes I am talking about peeing in the woods. Here is a Sarah Stanley quote "we were born to pee naturally." I was hydrating but it is amazing how the humidity and heat can take it from you. FAST! However, I finally used a tree in about 23 seconds flat and ran to catch up with Adam.

We passed a few people and that felt really good. But that good feeling would only last so long. About two miles from the Margaritaville AS I started to feel really out of it and pretty low energy. I really needed some GEN UCAN but I didn't have a blender bottle to mix it. I knew I needed solid food or I would have an even tougher day. Finally, we came into a clearing and saw the beloved AS. I plopped down on an ice chest and wished I could just sit there all fucking day long. I was exhausted. I had some chicken broth with Ramen noodles. AND THAT FELT AMAZING. A little carbs and a lot of sodium. I had some more fruit then Adam and I left the AS. My spirits started to pick up a bit. It was a little after 1 p.m. and we had just run 27+ miles.

We were running through the country and came upon a horse drinking trough. A couple (yep, a husband and wife) were in front of us and they dived over to it and splashed the cold water over their arms/face. We did the same. Oh my gosh that felt AMAZING!!

We trudged on and passed Clem again.

The next AS would be where we would get to see our crew. And that couldn't happen quick enough. Trust me.

The hills became harder. The mud muddier. The downhills more brutal to the quads. And the words that were in my head started to manifest. Verbally. Oh my fucking God. Make this stop! The course was beginning to chew me up, eat me alive and spit me out.

Getting to mile 31 and the AS where our crew would be was my motivation. For some reason, miles 20-30 on an ultra break me. Thank god I had that chicken broth and noodles at mile 27. These miles were a blur. Partly because my feet blisters were KILLING me. My left foot in particular. I started to run on my toes to help lessen the impact on the side of my heel where my blisters were. And partly because I cursing. Finally Adam and I could hear the faint sounds of cheering and we knew we were close to the beloved crew. If only they knew what they were in for!

We had a slight hill to run up, round a corner, checkin and arrive. Our crew came running out to us. I was feeling rough and tears were on the verge. I said I needed GEN UCAN to Gene and he ran to get it.

I checked in and the guy getting our bib numbers was saying something to me and I literally had no fucking clue what he was trying to say. Dude, I just ran 31 miles, don't ask me questions! I don't think he understood that I was having issues so he repeated the question again and I remember just looking at him and saying "hallefuckinglujah." I think he was surprised to see a blond hair, blue eyed girl say that :).

I stumbled over to the chairs our crew had set up and plopped down. Dave and Gene pulled off my MUDDY ass and stinky shoes and socks (sorry guys) and started applying Vaseline and then duct tape to my feet. I guzzled GEN U CAN, ate a few bananas, oranges, but sadly NO FUCKING POTATOES! We knew our time was precious time, so as much as we wanted to linger, we begrudgingly got up and started off down the trail.

It was 2:10 p.m. (approximately).

Then it happened. I saw a deer. Only it was a fern. I kid you not. Adam was like "deer, where?" I replied "right there!" He replied, "It is a fern." OH MY GOD. My first hallucination. It only took eight ultra races! Then about five seconds later I saw a snake. Adam, was like, are you sure? And it really was a snake. I detest snakes. Thankfully, it was a little one and slithered off.

This section was designed to make us dizzy. I am sure of that. We kept running in circles it felt. Back and forth through the forest. And, oh, let's not forget the sun! My feet blisters started to feel better. Although the duct tape was starting to cut the tops of my ankles. but at least I wasn't compromising my running gait - as much.

With each passing AS our time window came more and more crucial. I even asked some other runners along the way if they were worried they replied they were not. I tried to take that as encouragement. Adam and I grew less and less talkative and I grew more and more like a sailor. Cursing each fucking step of the way.

I did coin a few more quotes for the day though.

1) Rally and persevere

2) The 11th commandment: thou shalt not quit

3) Hallefuckinglujah

We had a about an hour to get to the next AS and the course continued to give us a run for our $125.00. We like value :). This part was also a blur. I vaguely remember hills, HILLS, downhills, trying to keep up with Adam running downhill (that dude can run downhill) and trying to keep from seeing things that weren't there. However, this is where I started to shift into the zone out phase. Where the brain takes over. And the body just runs. It is like an out of body experience.

We got to the next AS with about 15 minutes to spare. Thank god. I stuck with my fruit dipped in salt and headed out as soon quickly as I could. Adam was right behind me.

3:15 p.m.

And oh my God, have I mentioned the hills? We had some more climbs coming into this AS and only more ahead of us. And the switchbacks. I tried to just zone out, but I was getting dizzy. And frustrated that the finish line wasn't closer! Who's idea was this? Why am I running 50 fucking miles? Who does this? I am crazy! Oh, is that a purple panda? I think so! Why do I do this again? Why don't I take up knitting. Or maybe eating bonbons - while sitting on a couch. I want an ice bath. Not later, NOW. Adam, are you OK? Hello Adam! Adam you can do it! Keep it up! Oh look - mud! Haven't seen you in like 53.7 fucking seconds.

We had an hour to get to the next AS. The continuous story of the day. I kept encouraging Adam (and myself). I prayed. Yes, you can curse and pray at the same time. I quoted Bible verses till I run out of Bible verses in my memory bank. Think the purple panda came out in the forest again. We ran, and ran and ran and ran ...

Spotted a few runners here and there, but for the most part it was just the woods and I. At this point I knew Adam was tired and he said to go on ahead. I said I would stick with him as I wanted to get him across the finish line. But I did run on ahead and kept calling out to him with words of encouragement (I hope).

Another woman and I were running together and she said her husband is a ultra veteran and quit at the last AS. He told her it was a brutal day and he was done. It was reassuring to hear that others were having a tough time too!

I came across a road crossing and was told only (ONLY?!) 13 miles left. That spurred me on. But I was also worried about Adam. I ran up the this long upward stretch of the road. Then ran backwards to see if I could see Adam. Finally spotted him. Whew. Shouted to him to keep it up.

Finally, I rounded a corner and ran into more fucking woods. And another downhill. My quads are not happy! Adam caught up with me (remember he rocks the downhills?!) and we ran in tandem together for a bit. Some other runners came into view and we all commiserated together. Then I noticed that my shorts had ripped. On the inside of my right leg. As if worrying about cut offs wasn't bad enough, now I had to worry about my crotch being exposed! Fuck, fuck, fuck. Yes, I actually said those words aloud.

I knew mile 40 AS had to be close. I ran up the hill to get there. Every second counts today. Little did I know how true that would become. Finally saw it and ran to it as fast as my tired legs could. Checked in and replied again (with great joy I might add) "Hallefuckinglujah."

I waited around for Adam and finally saw him. I shouted "hurry up Adam!" I knew we were cutting it close. Too close. Finally. we headed out.

It was 4:26 p.m. The next AS was seven miles away. And closed at 5:45 p.m. We would have to HUSTLE like a son of a bitch to get there. Oh. My. God.

Ten more miles. Seven miles till crew. Dig deep Sarah, and dig deeper still.

I started running. And running. Adam told me that it was virtually impossible to make the cutoff. We would have to run nine-minute miles. The clock was NOT in our favor. Not one little bit. I didn't want to believe it. I have never not finished a (running) race. And I didn't want today to be the first. It was like a bad nightmare that kept ticking.

Adam told me to go. At this point, I didn't know what to do. We had just spent 10 LONG, sweaty, hilly, muddy hours together. And oh yeah, 40 fucking miles too. A bond was formed. A friendship. In the past few months, I have read three books about Mount Everest. As I slowly let Adam fade behind me, it was one of the hardest things I had to do. I felt like I left him at Camp 5 as I went on to the summit. But I knew it was the right thing to do. Although I will always be haunted by this - I think.

I knew I had a little over a hour to run seven FUCKING miles. SEVEN FUCKING MILES after already running 40 miles. How in the fucking God damned world was I supposed to do this? I prayed so hard it hurt. I put my head down and started running. Fast. Reminding myself to pick up my feet. They were so tired. I spotted Adam at one point and shouted "you are awesome Adam!" and sprinted through the twisty trail that felt like "Chutes and Ladders." Adam told me to tell one of his brothers to come and get him when I saw them at the AS.

I passed two runners, then a third. This lifted my spirits. I was like we have minutes folks, MINUTES!! It had been almost five hours since I had used a tree, so I squatted down right there on the trail and peed. God, I love ultra running.

I ran into this grass clearing. And ran down it as fast as I could. I kept checking my watch and looking back at what I just covered. I felt like I was covering ground (trail?) pretty quickly. I was SO tired. I wanted to just curl up on the side and sleep for days. Years. Forever. I told myself to dig deeper than I ever have. And I fucking did. I literally ran my heart out. I heard a bike behind me and my heart sank. I knew who IT was. It was the fucking sweeper. I ran faster. Stumbling over rocks, roots, up little hills, NOT stopping. The bike finally caught up with me and I was like "are you the fucking sweeper?" (Sorry dude) and he replied yes. More curse words. He told me I had a shot if I kept my pace up. "Don't quit" he told me. (He also said that I had seven people behind me.) Hell no, I wouldn't quit. My watch kept ticking and I kept running.

As the sweeper left, I ran even faster. I came into a clearing and a guy was running toward me. I asked him how much farther till the AS and he was like two miles (OH DEAR GOD PLEASE HELP ME). Then I realized it was one of Adam's brothers - it took me about a minute to figure that out. Afterwards, I was like oh fuck I was supposed to tell him to get Adam. I shouted back the message. Then a bug flew into my eye. Really? Really? And then a HUGE mud pit. I ran right in the god damn middle of it. I wasn't going to waste time trying not to get muddy. Not that I was clean to begin with! And then I started to emotionally lose it. Between the bug, the mud, the sweeper, the cut off time ... it was all so overwhelming. Tears started to stream down my face. But I kept running.

I then passed one runner, then three more runners. We were on the road at this point and the pavement HURT like a mother fucker.

Rounded a corner and knew that the god damned mile 47 AS and crew HAD to be close. I was already getting emotional. I was SPENT. Spent I tell you! I gave it my ALL and then some. I refused to let the Green Mountains win. A random woman came running to me and was like you are all amazing. I just grunted.

Finally, I heard Adam's brothers and wives and Jen (Adam's wife), Dave, Gene and Lex SHOUT my name "GO SARAH!" I lost it. And just started crying. Sobbing to be honest. Jen ran down the hill, grabbed my hand and we ran up the hill together.

It was 5:46 p.m. I wanted to finish SO bad. A few other runners were just leaving when I arrived so that felt good. I closed my eyes, downed some GEN UCAN, stuffed a banana into my mouth and WAS TOLD TO GO FINISH. I left AS 47 around 5:50 p.m. Three more miles.

Gene asked me: "Do you want a pacer?" And I mumbled "yes." (Pacers were allowed at miles 47-finish). And we were off. I passed more runners (three?) in the next half mile. I was NOT going to come this close to making the 12 hour cut off. Gene ran behind me. I trotted. And ate some oranges. Man I love oranges. Almost as much as peeing in the woods. Laugh people, laugh.

Then we passed a mountain biker! OH MY GOSH! Even though I was pretty out of it, I knew that was a good sign (for me, not them). We ran into the woods and Gene was like "can you pick it up?" I was thinking some nasty thoughts, but whispered yes and started to run. I could not talk. I was having a hard time catching my breath. The last seven miles DID. ME. IN. We passed two more runners and that felt good. Then another biker. Insert another high five. Gene kept encouraging me. Thank the Lord.

I remember a really pretty water fall and wishing I could enjoy it. I had to make that God damned finish line by 6:34:59.  I ran right though a stream. Wet shoes didn't really matter at this point. I staggered up and down the hills. I kept hearing things. Like the finish line. But it was still a ways off. Sadly. Then a sign said one more mile. I mumbled "I love you." Either to the sign or Gene. I am not sure. Then I realized I did say it aloud and Gene might think I love him! I mean I do, but not in that way ... and I tried to apologize and Gene was like "just run." I didn't argue. I could not think. It hurt to think. Hell, it hurt to keep my feet moving forward. The downhills were killing me so I hopped sideways down it. I'm sure it looked amusing.

Remember the clock was ticking and I was going to finish even if it killed me. I dug deeper still, mumbled some other inspirational quotes to myself and envisioned that finish line with ALL MY MIGHT. Maybe to much might because I swear it kept reappearing. And then disappearing. Stupid finish line, don't you know you are supposed to come to me?

And then. AND THEN! I saw the start of the Vermont 50 red tape and I knew I was close. I gave my waist pack and camera to Gene, took two more Honey Stinger chews and RAN. I knew the time would be a miracle. A pure fucking miracle. Everything hurt. EVERYTHING. My breasts hurt. My ears hurt. My feet hurt. My legs hurt. But yet I WOULD NOT give up.

I could see the finish line. A sign indicated it was a quarter mile away. Felt MUCH further, but what do I know. I was just happy to actually see the damn thing. Then I heard SCREAMS. And my people SCREAMING my name "GO SARAH! YOU HAVE 90 seconds to make it!" I gave it my all. And ran down that hill so hard it was a blur. I didn't have the energy to look over at the screaming people. And then, THEN! I crossed the beloved finish line. And collapsed right into hay bales. Then onto the ground. And sobbed.  And sobbed. And cried some more. I was done. DONE I tell you! Done! I did it! I made the cut off. I finished in 11 hours, 58 seconds. I was the last sub 12 hour finisher.

The first words out of my mouth were "I had to leave Adam." And then I saw Adam! I apologized and he said not to. He said "I have no idea how you ran those last 10 miles." How did you do it? I said cursing helps. And faith.

Then Doug came over to me and gave said "I have something for you" and placed the VT50 medal around my neck. It is a moment I will NEVER forget. Thank you Doug. Thank you. He gave me his hand and helped me up. I sat on the hay bales for a bit and Dave gave me a shoulder massage. I was still in shock I made it under 12 hours. And I will be for a long, long, long time.

The rest of the gang came over. We walked up the hill, made our way to the cars, back to the house to get a shower. Ouch chaffing. Matt was hurting too. Got a quick photo, then hopped into the car to head back to Boston. I do not recommend driving 3 hours right after running 50 brutal miles by the way. Matt dropped me off and I stumbled up the winding stair case to get a few hours of sleep before getting picked up to head to the airport at 5 a.m. I also do not recommend catching a early morning flight right after running 50 miles.

I hobbled through the airport on little sleep, LOTS of pain and yet the pride that I just pulled myself through a VERY challenging race course. And lived to tell about it.

As I write this five days later I am still in shock. Not from running 50 miles. But from making the 12 hour cutoff when the math was NOT on my side. All I can say is that I gave it everything I had and then some. I can not put in to words how hard it was to run those last 10 miles as fast I had to. No words will do it justice. The memory of will last forever.

My fifth 50 miler DONE. And how fucking glad I am that although I was chewed up, swallowed and spit out I did it.

Take aways:

- I felt that my nutrition was great. Not perfect, but I felt nutritional better than I ever had. I know I could have used GEN UCAN a few times between miles 13-31 but what can you do when your crew isn't able to be there.

- Never say never

- It was great to have Adam to run with for 40 miles

- The mind is amazing and what it will do

- Finishing always feels GREAT. As does sitting down. :)

Next up: more flights and San Jose Half Marathon in 6 days!