I was up at 5:00 a.m. and out the door at 5:50. I picked up Theresa at 6:20 and we were in Tiburon by 7:00. We purchased our ferry tickets, picked up our bib numbers and then stood and watched everyone else arrive. We applied our sunscreen and waited to get on the ferry for the 7:50 departure. The day was unseasonably bright and sunny with no wind to speak of at all. This made me very happy. I was thrilled it wasn't freezing.
Angel Island from the ferry
Me and Theresa on the ferry ride
We barely had enough time to go potty and drop off our bags before having to strip down and line up with the 25K runners and the other 36 50K runners. When I was waiting in line to use the bathroom, I heard Wendell say "nine minutes to start time." It was down to four minutes when we got over to the start. As usual, I lined up in the back of the pack and we took off at exactly 8:30. I didn't carry my camera for the first half of the run and all of the pictures from here on out were taken by Theresa because I "didn't feel like taking any pictures." This will all be explained later. ;)
The 50K consists of three different loops, completed two times. Each loop starts off with (typical PCTR fashion) a steep climb, however, this climb was steps. Lots of steps!! These steps had to be climbed six freakin' times.
The first loop was 9K. It ran along the perimeter of the island. It was flat with some rolling hills, and paved. Definitely runnable. We averaged a 12 minute/mile pace for the first loop, finishing in 1:15. My IT band started flaring up so I rubbed some Arnica into it and popped a couple Ibuprofen. We refilled our water bottles at the aid station, I grabbed a few bloks and we took off for the second loop which was 8K.
This was the middle loop and it was much more enjoyable than the perimeter loop. It was mostly single track dirt trails. Not a lot of the views like the first loop but the trails were beautiful. I felt like I was back home at Garin. If I wasn't doing 50K, I for sure would have been running all of this. I was so afraid I would crash and burn later if I ran so much, so early. So, we mostly hiked the uphill portions and saved the running for the flat and downhills. This loop took 1:15 also. I rubbed some more Arnica into both legs now, popped some more Ibuprofen, and again, refilled my water bottle, grabbed a couple of bloks and took off.
The third loop was called the summit loop. It was 8K and climbed to the top of Mt. Livermore. It too was mostly single track dirt trails. After getting to the top, we ran back down to the aid station and our time was 3:30. So far so good. We may finish in 7 hours! This time I drank some liquid electrolyte and grabbed a handful of banana chips I had brought from home. I took my knee brace out of my bag and had to decide which leg to put it on because both IT bands were SCREAMING at me. Funny Sarah said, "put it on the one that hurts less, it may still be able to be saved." Thanks! I put it on and hobbled away. We walked over to the bathroom while I shoveled the banana chips into my mouth and I think I had a cup of Coke handed to me by Theresa. Off we went for the second time around the paved perimeter loop.
The top of Mt. Livermore (for the last time)
So here we go, 16 miles behind us, 16 in front of us. We get to the top of the steps and begin running. I couldn't believe my IT bands were hurting so much. I started walking/running the best I could. Theresa was doing everything she could to keep me going. God bless this girl! I just kept moving forward. Running when I could and power walking when I couldn't. This fourth loop was the WORST. I was in so much pain because of the flat pavement and now everything was sloshing around in my stomach. It was during this loop that the photo of me laying on the road was taken. Theresa was talking away and I just decided I didn't want to move forward anymore. I just wanted to lay down, so I did. Hmph! When I would run, I would feel like I was going to throw up. Theresa kept telling me to walk 15 steps, then run for 100. Walk 15, run 100. I tried so hard to just get through this damn loop. Finally, mile 20 came. My stomach couldn't stand it anymore. I walked over to the side of the road and threw up. Aaaaah, mucho better. We got off the paved road and back onto dirt. I realized at this point we only had 10 more miles to go. That's not very much further, considering how far we had gone. When we got to the aid station this time around, I didn't want anything AT ALL. Theresa grabbed some Clif Bloks and fed them to me the entire fifth loop. I was in an extreme amount of pain but I kept listening to Theresa, encouraging me to run when I could. We just needed to make it through this loop before 6-1/2 hours. We made it in 6:20. I stretched my IT bands at the aid station, switched my brace to the other leg, took two more Ibuprofen and went up those steps for the very last time. You have no idea how badly I wanted to spit on every single step as I walked over it.
We were both so happy, we only had five more miles to go. I could really do this. We were actually going to finish an ultramarathon today! We climbed to the top of Mt. Livermore faster than we did the first time (37 minutes vs. 45 minutes), snapped a few photos and ran down to the finish line. We knew we were the last ones on the course because the sweepers were just steps behind us. LOL They were trying not to be too obvious but they were. We finished in 7:46 and had the honor of being last on the 50K results page.
At mile 28, Theresa finally said she was tired. She did not complain once, all day. She very easily could have finished the entire race in under 6:30 but she stuck right with me. She said she had signed up to complete the 50K with me and that's what she was going to do. She took all the pictures because she knows how much my blog followers like to see photos. Isn't that sweet? I actually said, "I'll just put a link to Angel Island's homepage for them to look at." She wouldn't accept that.
After the finish
Soaking our legs in the cold bay water
I learned a lot during this run. I need to run on flat ground more often. I should have run a little bit this past week. I can't avoid pavement any longer. I need to stretch and use a foam roller, even when I'm not hurting. I seriously need do strength training. I am stronger (mentally and physically) than I thought I was. I am stubborn. I am tough.
You never know how valuable a person is going to be when they first enter your life. It may take years to find out or you might get lucky and find out in a short period of time. Thanks a million, Theresa! I hope I will be there if you ever need someone to bark at you for hours on end!