Day 2 dawned dark and early.. I think we were up by 4:30. Thankfully everyone had gotten all their stuff together the night before so it was just a matter of dressing, eating and getting out the door. It was a fairly restless night for most... lots of getting up and peeing in the middle of the night, or getting up and taking a few Advil or just not being able to find a comfortable position. The first step out of bed is always a fun one... you put your feet down slowly, stand up, hold your breath and wonder how bad it's going to feel! Luckily for me, I felt fairly good... little stiff, little sore and a little blister on a toe but mentally feeling pretty happy. Stage races are certainly about the mental aspect.
The start was slow and easy and there was a lot of low moaning and swearing coming from runners around me at the first few strides. As every one's muscles loosened up, the swearing turned into light chatter as we settled into a long day. I felt quite good at the beginning and held myself back, I didn't want to blow it early on. At first the weather was perfect for running, sunny and still cool, comfortable shorts and short sleeve weather. There was a group of us running easily together for the first 10 miles, taking it easy on the climbs and faster on the downs and flat. At one point Sarah, running behind me, tripped and grabbed my skirt to keep herself up, it came down and it was then that I realized there was a guy in our group! Whoops.. Jimmy suggested wearing suspenders next time.... I was just glad that my skirt had kept Sarah from face planting.
We hit the 10 mile unmanned aid station, and Deb filled up while Sarah and I retied our shoelaces. I was wearing a brand new pair of shoes and the laces kept loosening up on me. The first 16 miles or so were the prettiest part of the course until the very end and I enjoyed this section, the temps were still cool and the scenery was gorgeous. We came into the 16 mile aid station and Laurie was happy to see us, but also VERY concerned because Nick hadn't come through yet. We looked at each other and knew that there was no way that he was behind us, which meant he must have gone off course. Nick isn't stupid though, so we knew that he would backtrack upon realizing that he was lost. I filled up my pack and looked hopefully for bananas but alas... there was none again. There were a few oranges but sadly I can't do citrus when I run... the heartburn kills me.
The girls were taking too long at this aid station so I set off on the trail by myself... Deb was just behind me and Sarah right behind her.... luckily they were close enough to point me in the right direction since I promptly lost the trail! This section is a 4 mile loop that brings you back around to the same aid station and just a few hundred feet down the trail, we see Nick coming at us from the wrong direction. Turns out he and another guy got uber-lost and added around 5 extra miles, I told Nick that the R.D Steve was at the aid station so he could get things straightened out. I was glad to see that he wasn't LOST, just misdirected. This loop was pretty but it was also the only section of the course that I felt could have used a few more markers on it.... but that was probably just my own fears after having seen how bad Nick got off course. I got back to the aid station and my saviour Jerry gave me a banana from his private stash... Jerry rules!!
I was happily existing on dates and bananas and water which has been my fueling for all these winter 50k's.... it's too early in the year for watermelon yet. It was starting to heat up and I was super thirsty, but afraid to drink too much for fear off throwing my electrolytes off. Water didn't seem to be quenching my thirst no matter how much I drank of it and figured I'd end up going overboard. Coming out of this aid station was a long, gradual downhill and I was loving it, but also way back in the corner of mind I was thinking of the uphill section that was surely to follow. This was probably the last time that I felt really good the rest of the day. The heat really started to kick in here and there were more and more exposed sections with not a cloud in the sky to shield us from the sun. My stomach started to go south... and by south I mean it was busy partying in Tierra del Fuego. I just HATE when my stomach goes on vacation without me. At the time I was blaming the nausea on the heat, but in retrospect it was probably a combo of heat and not enough calories considering the effort expended the day before and all the hills we were climbing today.
The iPod came out of my pack in hopes that it would work some magic.... if I could lose myself in the music maybe I could avoid dwelling on the at times overwhelming urge to toss my cookies. I popped a ginger candy and stuck the headphones on and kept trucking along... slowly, but steadily. At one point, I passed a guy going the opposite direction and at my startled and panicked look, he assured me that I was indeed going the correct direction. Apparently getting lost was the name of the game today. I reached a most WONDERFUL river crossing and spent a few minutes just standing in it and dropping my core temp a few degrees. I dunked my hat and used it to wipe all the salt off my face... sheer heaven. As I started off again, I encountered yet another person that was off trail and then 2 more guys that were apparently doing circles on this section. I really can't say too much since I got lost twice last year, but I really thought that the courses were well marked, especially the intersections. I guess it's all just a matter of what you're used to. I do appreciate when the course flagging is low to the ground especially on technical courses.. my eyes are usually glued to the ground and if the flagging is up high in the trees, there is a pretty good chance that I will miss a few.
I came into the 25 mile aid station with the pack of "lost" guys feeling much better after the creek dunking. I filled my pack and spent a few minutes here chatting with Laurie (still no bananas!) and as I was getting ready to leave, Deb came into the aid station so I waited for her and we took off together. This section had a few more little water crossing that felt heavenly and we agreed that it would be perfect to spread these out every few miles along the course. As we were leaving the aid station Nick was just coming in, so we expected that he would come past us like a freight train any minute. Deb and I plugged along and about 30 minutes or so after leaving the aid station, we heard Nick hailing us. He was with one of the guys he had gotten lost with, way back at the 10 mile aid station. Apparently they had gone straight by the unmanned aid station instead of turning right, and had gone about 5 miles in the wrong direction, unfortunately they ended up back on the course so they thought they were fine and following course ribbons until they came into an aid station from the wrong direction. Nick was content to settle into our slow pace for awhile and talk and having conversation around me helped take my mind off my guts, so this section went fairly quickly although it was super exposed to the sun.
We came into the 32 mile aid station and fueled and filled quickly and headed back out... headlamps were grabbed just in case we didn't make it back around before dark. Nick and Deb left me fairly soon after exiting this aid station... I was in a bad spot and they were feeling good, so I watched them both trot off into the distance. I put my iPod on tried to ignore the stomach, but every time I tried to run faster then a shuffle, I got nauseous. The smart thing probably would have been to run hard until I threw up in hopes that it would make me feel better but making yourself throw up isn't the easiest thing to do even when it probably would be the best. I worked myself into a real snit and by the time I was approaching the 41 mile aid station I was convinced that I was either going to quit or explain that I wouldn't make the cutoffs so I had to be pulled. Fortunately for me Laurie came bopping down the trail to find me and wouldn't accept any of my whining or excuses. She got me some ice in my water, made me laugh and told me that I could walk the remaining 9 miles way under the cutoffs. I needed her size 7 1/2 shoe up my ass since I was acting like a little bitch.
I headed immediately for the stream and spent 20 minutes enjoying the cold and then totally enjoyed the hot shower afterward. I sat down and got myself a huge helping of rice and beans just as they were starting to raffle off lots of prizes. There were packs and lights and socks and all sorts of fun goodies to possibly win.... but I won the most non fun prize of the evening. I just happened to win a free entry into the Ozark 100 ! As someone pointed out... at that moment winning felt an awful lot like a punishment! At about this time my wonderful friend Sarah came across the finish line... she was the last finisher, but there were a whole lot of people that had dropped out. That girl has got GUTS. She'd never done anything like before and her only other ultra was a flat, almost paved 50 miler... she jumped in with both feet to this race and persevered. She's my hero!
Day 3 to come.......