“Part of a runner’s training consists of pushing back the limits of his mind” ~Kenny Moore
I swore after my first fifty miler in 2011, that I would never do that again. I guess the motto is…never say never. I’ve changed a lot since then, I’ve become mentally stronger (even though I still need a boost here and there with my mantras) after my injury and I’ve changed as a runner, I think most in part because I have more passion for it. I’ve been counting the days until the fifty, so pumped to run the beautiful trails and dirt roads of Brownsville, Hartland, Windsor, & So. Woodstock, VT. This race is so special because it’s held in our backyard and supports The Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sport. (http://www.vermontadaptive.org) They are the largest year-round disabled sports non-profit organization in VT. The Vermont 50 is a wonderful race. I love running with the mountain bikers and the other 600 runners, especially this time of year in VT. The volunteers and race management are top-notch, and the course is incredible. Long stretches of single track and a mix of dirt roads and open trails. (Thank you landowners!!) It’s one of the best in the East. Registration opens in May 2017(https://vermont50home.blogspot.com) You won’t be disappointed!
We awoke early Sunday morning, fed the animals and then came inside to eat and get ready. One word…BRRRRR. It was a crisp 33 degrees, stars were out in full force. A gorgeous morning to start, I kept saying “How can we be this lucky to have the perfect weather for our 50??” The weather forecast was supposed to be 59 sunny, so we put lots of layers on, knowing we’d be peeling them off along the way.
We got to the race around 6am, and watched the mountain bikers leave in waves. My teeth were chattering, there were people huddled by huge lights, trying to stay warm. Others were covered in blankets, “why didn’t I think of that!?” Good conversations passed the time until our 6:30 am start.
I was surprisingly calm before the race, I was able to eat a big breakfast and I was just relaxed..which is not always the case for me. I think I looked at the day as a fun, enjoyable run in the woods with Guy. Like I always say, he’s my rock, I love running with him. He grounds me, inspires me, gives me confidence, and is just a fun running partner. I know, this is where you can <gag>….our horse farrier calls us the “cupcake couple” I’m actually flattered by this…. We love doing everything together, even running!
We couldn’t wait to meet our family at Skunk Hollow which was 12 miles in….the first stretch of miles was so enjoyable. The early meandering trails are our normal training ones, so those flew by. Loved chatting with numerous runners from all over, DC, Boston, Chicago….each one kept saying, “You are so lucky to live in such a beautiful part of the world ” My sister, Karrie and her boyfriend Dan, my parents, our boys and Alba (our chi) were waiting for us at Skunk. What a lift they were….smiling, cheering, encouraging, there’s nothing like seeing your crew. Such a boost to the soul and heart!! Thank you guys!!! I knew we had to leave, time is NOT on your side in this 50. We reluctantly said goodbye, waving “see you at mile 30! Yikes!! That’s so far away” I thought……
We climbed and climbed for miles and miles up to Garvin Hill….What a stunning view. Loads of volunteers lugged aid stations goodies up there for runners and bikers.Yum, everything was so good! Potatoes, chips, and PB&J sandwiches. Holy Shit, I was eating!!! This was a first, I normally shy away from food, knowing I will pay for it later. Tailwind was being consumed about 17 ounces every 1 1/2 hours. So I knew that played a huge part in my eating. Tailwind gives you 100 calories per scoop and electrolytes. Read up on it here. http://www.tailwindnutrition.com/why-tailwind/ It was a life saver for me…like I said, I ate all day, even at the last aid station!!!!
Garvin Hill Clip
Heading down after Garvin, we knew we had 12 miles until we saw our faithful crew again. It would be so great to see them!! We knew time was getting tight, 12 hours seems like a lot, but at times you actually feel like you are going backwards! Strange feeling. We trudged along, through Cady Brook, and M-Ville aid stations. Leaving M-Ville at 26.5 miles, Guy was concerned about time. We left there at 12:25, only 35 minutes before the cut off time….that’s when my mind and stomach felt nervous, “Can we make it?” All the negative thoughts started running through my mind…The mind is a powerful thing….it can give you a boost or it can cut you down. Running is a good example when the mind can trick you…you may hear “You can’t do this, your arches/quads are killing you” or “Why did you sign up for this” “how much further?” I had many thoughts throughout the fifty miles, good and bad. Mantras really helped me a with a few low points in my fifty miler. A mantra is a statement of slogan repeated frequently. Leading up to Greenall’s at mile 30 (where I’d see my family) I repeated it over and over “You are strong, you can do this, Remember what you’ve gone through, You are strong, you can do this, Remember what you’ve gone through” Mantras are incredible. I repeated and repeated it, looking at my mala bracelet, peace and calmness flooded back over me. My stomach felt better, my nerves calmed. Back to business..As we ran down the big hill behind Silver Hill Farm, we saw our two boys running towards us. What a sight for sore eyes…they literally brought tears to my eyes. How sweet they are to come looking for us, running and laughing and so full of life. Love them to pieces, they are what keep me ticking. A moment I won’t forget.
Clip a few miles before Fallon’s
We quickly said hi to everyone, filled our water bottles with more Tailwind and grabbed a snack and kept going. My BFF Jules, nudging me out of the aid station, “Get going girl” she said….I needed that, or I would have wanted to stay longer. We knew 30-40 would be a hard single track section, leading to Fallon’s. We met runners in our situation. We knew we would be running against the clock, one gal came up and asked “Do you think we’ll make it?” Guy kept doing the calculations in his head, “We gotta keep moving!!” So onward we went. I loved knowing that at Stones (39.8 miles in) we’d see our friends, Jim, Amanda, Mark (he was going to pace Fred in the home stretch) Again, we quickly said hi, grabbed food and marched on. See the trend, we never stayed long and kept moving the whole day, where does the time go???? We had ten miles and two hours and forty-five minutes… Ok, doable, but not a gimme. Mark kept the mood light, with jokes and encouraging words. We slogged up and down single track trails, with hopes that we could get to Johnson’s with an hour and twenty for the last 4.1. We wanted that cushion, the end was different from what we’ve known in the past, so that had me a bit rattled. We came into the last aid station with one hour and 25 minutes to do the last 4.1…OK, I could finally breathe. I knew we still had to move, power walk up the hills. As we left, the trail leaded us right, away from Mt. Ascutney. Ugh…. Our bodies and mind wanted to veer left, knowing left would lead us to the finish. The expression on people’s faces and the silence in the woods was deafening….the soft sounds of feet hitting the dirt, each one of us putting one foot in front of the other, wanting the same goal….. A FINISH. We must power on, relentless forward motion RFP, RFP..repeating in my head.
When we reached the one mile to go sign, we all tapped it as we went by it. One mile to go, was it really happening? Were we going to finish within the time perimeter? We seem to always make a dramatic ending, my last 50 I had six minutes to spare, six! This time I knew we’d have more, but not by much!! We could hear all our family and friends from about 1/2 mile to go….the tears were flowing, all the work, time, and energy had paid off, we were going to finish…I could taste it now. This time we finished 11:43:57…16 minutes to spare!!! I was now qualified to enter the VT 100!!!! Something I’ve dreamed about for the last few years….
Thank you to all the volunteers, race managers, land owners, who make this race happen year after year…..it’s a special one for my family!!!!
See you on the trails…… xoxoxoxox