Pioneer Spirit 50 2016
|August 21, 2016||Posted by Melinda under Event Report, Ultra Running|
It was deja vu all over again. Coming into Granite Bay, my race was once again over. Six miles to go and no more time on the clock.
The cut off was 5:12 for the *44 mile check and I was running just as fast as I could and hiking when I couldn’t. I had to be into the aid station at 5. I just had to be.
*(in 2014 the trail was slightly different and Granite Bay was 32 miles)
As 5 o’clock came and went and there was no aid station in sight I could feel myself running out of gas. I pushed hard anyways. I wanted to be telling myself the truth when I said later I had tried as hard as I could to make it.
As 5:15 3 min past the cut off I stopped running, completely red-lined on empty. I had dug deep, given it my all and according to the last report of a passing not-in-the-race-runner I had 0.25 miles to go. But who knows for sure since I had gotten “1.7 miles to go” 3 times so far on that stretch, each about 10 min apart. I started powerhiking in.
Almost 10 miles ago Cyd and I had pushed hard and made the mile 34 cut off by 30 seconds. A mere 14 miles before that, 20 miles into the race we were solidly on 12 hour pace and feeling good. What happened?
A little stretch of trail that Cyd and I affectionately referred to as “Death Trail” that was the most technical section of true trail (not counting going across country off trail) I have ever navigated, let alone during a race. Parts of the single track were so steep I gave up and slid down on my butt, there was boulder hopping, climbing, jumping as well as trails carved into the side of a cliff that were less than the width of my shoe. When the trail wasn’t taking a break altogether forcing us to hop across gaps.
It was probably a lot of fun if you didn’t have 20 hilly miles on your legs already.
That ~2-3 miles of trail cost us 2 hours off our finish time as we arrived at mile 25 aid station. There was no more thought of a 12 hour finish time, just finishing under cut off.
My body always goes into sleep mode during races from about 1-3p. Yesterday was no exception. I could power hike and manage short runs and I had a hard time keeping myself centered on the trail as my eyes drooped. At least I don’t despair when this happens now – I know that if I keep going it will work itself out. Relentless forward progress into Rattlesnake Bar (mile 34) with both of us bonking but moving forward and keeping pace with the people around us.
Here’s where I’m not sure I understand what happened. Even were still making pretty good forward time we started to get really close to the 2:30 cut off and no aid station was in sight. Either we grossly miscalculated something, the GPS mileage was wrong, the published trail mileage was wrong, or SOMETHING else happened (aliens?).
I had struggled all day to be in the moment. Thinking, worrying, second-guessing. As the minutes ticked closer to the 2:30 cut off I made a choice. I CARED. I WAS GOING TO FUCKING TRY. I was NOT going to let this slip away because I was worried about what would come next, or whether I could make the next cut off, or worry about how I really couldn’t picture doing a 100 miles if I was this miserable at 30+ miles. I WANTED MY FUCKING COMPLETION JACKET. My rule going into this race was I couldn’t DNF myself and that DAMN sure included not going overtime with gas in the tank.
At 2:25 I ran into the check not sure if the cut off was an in or an out time.
I had to be OUT at 2:30.
Fill water pack, cold water sponge, ice down bra, grab all the food in my drop box and stuff down whatever pockets I had handy. Grab a fist full of otter pops and yell at Cyd, “are you coming????” as the aid station people are screaming that if we are still there in 30 seconds we are going to get pulled.
We made it.
I told Cyd that we had to make time on this section because on the next section it was going to be impossible to make the cut off unless we had a cushion.
We pushed and had a couple of minutes by the next aid station.
We were in the final push to Granite Bay. We just needed to be there before 5:12.
Cyd and I had been running our own races, which happened to neatly coincide with each other’s races. A couple of time one of us had dropped the other, but invariably we would catch up. We supported, conjoled, and gave each other a kick in the ass when needed. However we both knew, without explicitly discussing it that if the time came that one of us needed to separate, we would, which is how I found myself ~mile 40 running truly by myself for the first time. Cyd had quietly dropped behind me and when I realized she was far enough behind I couldn’t see her, I knew the rest of the race was probably mine to run on my own.
(Cool fact: apparently on this stretch of trail a little baggie of carmalized ginger fell out of my pocket, which Cyd found and recognized and promptly ate and it came at “the perfect time”).
And now it was 5:15 and I was walking and out of time.
And now it was 5:17 and I was still walking and I saw Elicia, who was crewing for me and Cyd, coming towards me.
“Only a quarter mile to go!!!!”
“Yeah….but I’m over time”.
“The extended the cut off until 5:30. GO!”
And so somehow I went again. At a true honest-to-God run. Even though (pinkie-swear) I was completely out of gas 30 seconds ago.
And I made it at 5:20.
And someone grabbed my pack, and someone else sponged me, and someone else dumped ice down my bra, and someone else thew a handful of jolly ranchers at me, and then they pushed me out onto the trail and told me to GO.
And I did. I had 6.4 miles to go.
They extended the finish line cut off to 7:30 (originally 7) for anyone that got out of the Granite Bay check by 5:30. I had just over 2 hours.
For the first time all day I turned on my ipod. I stayed in the moment. I ran every step I could. And then I told myself I could hike the rest of the way in. And then after a couple of minutes of hiking I found I could run again. Repeat.
I was so worried about Cyd. What if she had gotten into real trouble?
1.5 miles to go according to someone on the trail. If I pushed I could make it in under 14 hours. This was really going to happen.
I had a baby 10 months ago, give myself a break. My legs felt trashed but not any more than they had at 20 miles. This was a really tough 50, but not the toughest race I have ever done. I was still running. I wanted to this. What about Rio? Forget about Rio. Just do this NOW.
I started to sob as I ran into the finish chute. NO. I choose to smile. Both emotions are appropriate and I chose smiling joy. And there’s Cyd and Elicia! She’s OK!
13:45ish finish (no idea what official time was). My last 50 mile completion was 13:49 (or 13:57 or :59 depending on what results list you look at?) so who knows whether this is a PR. But considering my last 50 mile attempt was a DNF who the fuck cares?
Cold Pizza. Starbucks Latte. A little Fig that was still barely awake at 9:00pm when I got home to nurse (I hadn’t nursed since the previous night :O). A shower. Getting hungry at 2:30am. A job well done. Maybe a 100 in 3 months isn’t out of the question after all.
Ow. Ow you ran with full boobs. Ow.
Also… this was amazing to read. I was so excited to see you finish online. GO YOU!
Yeah….I had to leave at 2:30am to make the start and it meant waking up at 1:30 to feed her and she doesn’t usually wake up in the middle of the night any more, AND my husband threatened me with possible bodily harm if she then didn’t go back to sleep and I handed him a crying child at 2:30 and said “gotta go!”. I did bring my hand pump just in case and could have pumped at the start…but I didn’t really feel like I had to, and then the aid stations were so crazy and I had to KEEP RUNNING. So yeah. I was SO HAPPY she was still awake when I got home. Either way she was GOING TO EAT when I got home.
Mel, you are a superhero. That’s what you are.
Btw this race had a completion rate of something like 67 percent. That’s rediculously low. Makes me wonder if they will choose to take out that super technical section in the future.
Huge, huge congrats! You are a beast, Mel! This was a wonderful read and I am so very happy that you succeeded after all of your hard work!
I am SO excited for you. You’re such a beast. Super congratulations.
Mel, congratulations! And- apologies. I was so excited to see the run results i had to comment… and
unintentionally provided a spoiler….flunked blogger etiquette 🙁 However, your report on the run
is awesome, and you are amazing.
You didn’t spoil anything! There was a ton of buzz on facebook and it definitely wasn’t a secret. I’m just so glad the tracking was there so that people like you who weren’t on facebook could find out while I got around to posting!
Wow, Congrats! I KNOW how hard that trail is, seriously tough single track. And I know exactly the death trail you speak of! So happy you conquered it!
Congrats. What an amazing achievement.
There should be a special award for running and not nursing that long!
Love this post, I needed something to inspire me today!
[…] (for the actual race story, see link here) […]
[…] I ran just over 106 miles last month, which is consistent with the mileage I ran in August and September. It’s less than I ran in July when I was ramping up for Pioneer 50. […]