The alarm never had to go off Saturday morning at 3:45 AM. I was wide awake in bed at 3:30 and my brain was telling me "Im ready - get up!" As I lounged few a few more minutes I thought back to Valentine's Day when I finished my first marathon. Right after that race I told myself, "now you can just take a break through the spring and summer and start training again in the fall after the heat is gone." I had not shook the hand of ultra running yet!
I was excited to share the ride to the race with my new friend Mike Riggins from Greenville. He picked me up at 4 AM and we were in Lancaster, SC at the Landsford Canal State Park for the race at 6 AM. The race started at 7 AM so we had a full hour to chat and take care of other stuff. It was nice to meet Christian Griffith and several of the other GUTS (Georgia Ultrarunning & Trailrunning Society). I read several of their blogs and have learned a lot of great ultra stuff from them. On top of that, they are incredibly nice people to spend a day running with.
The 4.25 mile loop course was totally different than what I had in mind. I was thinking it would be 3.25 miles of single track trail and 1 mile of road. Wrong, it was the exact opposite. I was thinking it would be as flat as a pancake. Wrong, there were two respectable hills to get up & down. Ultra running is a sport of "adjustments" and this would be one too.
Claude Sinclair (Race Director) lined about 50 runners up at 7 AM, fired his civil war musket cannon thing and we were running. You could hear the blast echo up the Catawba river and then back down. It was cool.
It seemed like the whole pack started off really fast. I was running a nine minute mile up a steep hill for the first mile and I knew that was just stupid for me. I felt like I needed to keep up with everyone to learn the first loop of the course so I did.
After the first loop I was feeling pretty good and decided that today was the day to push myself and see how fast I could finish. Loops 1-4 went really smooth and I was enjoying the day. I met up with Tiger who was a joy to run & chat with. I have followed her blog for a few months and it was great to finally meet her.
I passed our vehicle every lap and I would eat a few electrolyte caps every time. For some reason I zoned out on the 5th lap and forgot to take them. The temperature on the blacktop had to be over 90 degrees and I was pouring sweat. About 100 yards from the vehicle I realized that I had forgot them, but decided not to back track. As soon as I made up my mind to keep going I saw Erica from Augusta, GA who looked like she was about to collapse trying to make it up the hill. I offered her some food/water and she bent over & looked like she was about to get sick. I offered to stay with her, but she insisted that I push on. I did, but I was a little concerned.
As I made it by the aid station on the 6th lap I was sure to get the Scaps and some extra salt in me. There was a long stretch of road half way through the loop where you could look back and see people behind you. I noticed Erica about 1/2 mile back and she was looking strong.
Erica ran me down heading into the last lap and we arrived at the aid station at the same time. We headed out together and she said that she had taken some extra electrolytes and ginger snaps & felt much better. My electrolyte salt stuff seemed to be doing OK at that point too. We ran/walked together for much of the final loop and stayed ahead of anyone else trying to catch us. We both encouraged each other and finished strong. She is a gutsy runner and I look forward to running with her in the future.
Both of my arm pits became chaffed and bled, but other than that I finished with zero problems! Not only that I finished in 6:13:40 which was a great day for me!
It was great to cap of the run by celebrating my sister's birthday with some burgers and cake right at the park!