Monday, 25 June 2018

Many on the Genny - 40 miles for my 40th birthday

I signed up for this race almost a year ago because it was too perfect - a 40 mile race, fairly close to home, a week after my 40th birthday?!

I've been hashtagging #seeyaatthedam for months. 
Finally at the dam.
Race morning started with a jolt, as I had set my alarm for 3:15, but due to the blasting a/c in the hotel room, didn't hear it until 3:25.  Then I took too long in the bathroom.  There is a shuttle from the finish to the start.  In the pre-race emails we were warned that the shuttle would leave at 5 am SHARP and they were not joking, as I arrived to the finish at 5:00:30 to see the buses pulling out of the parking lot.  So I had no choice but to follow the buses to the start, which was only 2.5K straight uphill from my hotel but about 8K from the finish. I definitely wasn't the only one who missed the bus as there were quite a few cars there.

Tip #1: get to the shuttle early!

The race started promptly at 6, running back downhill. There were a few familiar faces, Jeff and Heather from Happy Trails and Lizzy. I saw a LOT of people with poles.  I don't own poles and I'd probably like them but I would like to try them out first before buying. After a couple of minutes, I looked behind me and thought, "shit I am already last?!" 

I think this was the first quick pass
 through the start area, less than 5K in.
I was going back and forth with a guy from Michigan, and another guy in an orange shirt, who had done the race last year.  I was chatting with MI dude when Orange Shirt whistled at us, we missed a turn and were off course by maybe 100 m.  Fortunately, that was the only time I went off course all day.

Tip #2 - wear quick drying clothing!

We were told by the RD in the pre-race briefing that there was a water crossing at 7 miles.  He didn't mention it was really deep.  The water went up to my waist. My skirt didn't dry very quickly and I was still wringing water out several hours later.

You can see how deep the water was from Orange Shirt.
Directly on the other side of the water crossing.  
My watch specs say that the battery lasts 10 hours in "best" GPS mode and I knew I'd be over that, so I put the GPS mode to "good". After a couple of hours, I started to see some funny stuff, like my pace being 1:30/km when hiking a hill, but the splits were still reasonable numbers, so I didn't worry too much until I asked Orange Shirt what distance he had. "13 or 14 miles?" My watch was showing over 25K.

The aid station at the halfway point was a highlight of the race.  The theme was auto racing/pit stop and the volunteers got my drop box, handed me a freezie and refilled my hydration pack, so that I could focus on stuffing food in my face.  I was wearing my Altra Lone Peaks and felt pretty good so I did not change shoes or socks.  I was told that the next aid station was in 7 miles.

The scenery at the halfway point was also the most beautiful.  I can't remember now if I heard about the race first, or saw pictures of the waterfalls at Letchworth, but it was a huge reason why I signed up.

Lower Falls.  Just awful scenery.
So terrible.

Nothing to see here.
I thought only Orange Shirt was behind me, but I came across two girls, one of whom greeted me with, "I love your Dona Jo skirt!" to which I replied, "I love it when people know where my clothes are from, instead of asking what brand it is."  I'll be honest, I tried to drop these two girls several times, taking off when they were taking pictures and running hard on easy sections, but they caught me every time.  Kudos to them!

The distance showing on my watch was totally bonkers by now, so I said to the girls, "hasn't it been awhile since the last aid station? they said 7 miles and it's been 2 and a half hours!" Nope, we had only gone about 10K.  It was raining off and on, and there were many muddy streams gullies with a steep step down, and then a climb back up.  It reminded me of The Bad Thing.

Tip #3 - don't rely on the aid stations

There were only 4 aid stations (plus one self serve water station) for the 40 miles.  They were at least 7-9 miles apart.  I was carrying enough food for about 30K and I usually grab fruit or pop at the AS.  One minute, I felt fine and the next I was very dizzy, I sat down on a log and the two girls finally passed me.  A third lady turned out to be right behind them and asked how long it had been since I had eaten.  Oh the last aid station, well over an hour ago.  I pulled out an e-beet, took one bite, and it happened, I blew chunks everywhere.  A first for me, I have definitely dry heaved after 5Ks, but never, ever have I puked during a race.  I got down the rest of the bar and it stayed down, surprisingly after a few minutes I felt much better and got up to continue.  The lady, Torrie, stayed with me.  It was her first ultra but she got me going again like a veteran! Another lady, Jen from Long Island was also with us. This part was really, really slow, but I kept referring back to my mantras, 'relentless forward motion' which is on the bracelet that I wear always, and my arm tat, 'sometimes, the moments that challenge us the most, define us."

Turns out that one of the two girls was Torrie's SIL, and she kept calling Torrie to see how I was doing and when they had reached the next aid station, they alerted them to the fact that I had been sick.  This last station was manned by jokers.  It was located 4 miles from the finish and 8 miles from the previous station.  I had started using my old Garmin 210 at exactly 30 miles (according to Torrie's SIL's watch) so we were startled to see a sign at 35 miles saying "1 mile to aid!" but then right after that, around a bend, another sign that said, "haha 0.25 to the station!" Way to fuck with the minds of ultrarunners!

The volunteers at the last aid station took great care of me.  I sat down for a few minutes, ate watermelon, oranges, Coke, a dill pickle and a handful of swedish fish - in that order, OMG! Torrie went ahead and the volunteers assured me that it was 4.5 miles to the finish and net downhill.  I could still run pretty well on clear trail and I ran the last km or so hard to the finish.

There was a local delicacy, the garbage plate, at the finish and I couldn't bring myself to have any.  But I did have my beer! and Long Island Jen was kind enough to drive me back to my car at the start.

I can't say enough amazing things about this race.  Challenging distance, gorgeous scenery..fantastic volunteers and fellow runners!  Definitely made my first week of being 40 memorable.

1 comment:

  1. So glad you enjoyed the race!

    As the captain of the final aid station, so sorry about the confusion on the last aid station distance! We weren't trying to screw with you on the distance. The first sign didn't have a distance but definitely read "you are a ___ mile run, walk... from the aid station" so looking back on it, it read that it was 1 mile. We normally fill in the distance as we did on the second sign just a few hundred yards after that said .25 miles which was accurate and neither was meant as a joke! So sorry that happened and glad you had a good experience once you got to the aid station but just know we are trail runners too and would never intended to mess with your head like that. We know you are coming off the hardest and longest stretch of the course at that time and were just trying to give you a heads up that the aid station was ahead.

    amazing job and hope you come back!