Those who don't run ultras don't know that ultras are basically awesome parties. Especially ones with out and back and loops. I mean, I get to do what I love most (running) and then I can stop in the middle and get a hug from my friend Anastasia or get blown over sideways from the gusts of air that Mike Morton pushed forth as he ran past (OMG OMG OMG) or compliment Scott Sanders as he smiles past...it's basically a party without alcohol. And the only drugs are endurolytes and tylenol and really, your mind is taking you to levels you could never even dream of achieving with drugs so it definitely is a mind-altering experience.
The start of the Iron Horse 100k was COLD. I started in my hot pink tank, pink tutu, and arm warmers. I was shivering. Teeth-chattering cold. Mile 3, I was already warmed up.
The course is quite runnable. The race instructions by the RD were a tad bit confusing, so here's my interpretation of the course: you start out by running out 1.75 miles (though some said it was more) on a paved path. You turn around at a sign, and run back. That's 3.5 miles.
Then you keep running on this paved path which has slight undulations, that somehow turn into mountains later in the race. Then it turns into trail - rocky grassy rocky trail. I wore trail shoes, which you didn't necessarily need to wear, but some runners wearing road shoes complained of the rocks bothering them at this portion. This path (along with the previous paved part) is a rails to trails (meaning once upon a time, trains went through here, but when the train service was discontinued, the ties were pulled up and turned into trails! Thus, IRON HORSE. And my railroad working/loving boyfriend was ecstatic when I gave him my shirt from the race b/c they didn't order enough smalls so he got a medium.)
Mile 7.5 is at the top of the hill. Then you get up into an area with a minimally-stocked aid station but very friendly volunteers. You do one woods loop, which has lots of sand and sugar sand (very hard to run in) and is quite nice. Again, like the rest of the course, primarily flat with a few slight hills. You hit an aid station. Grab a handful of pretzels, fill my water. Then back to that minimally-stocked aid station. Then I do another different woods loop with a hyper aid station in the middle. Then you head back to that same minimally stocked aid station (not sure what else to call it but the RD said it was water only but they actually had iced tea packets, more on that later, and wheat thins and hard sucking candies).
Then you get back to that trail you came up - the four miles of trail and then pavement.
Easy peasy 25 miles! And then you do it again, and for the 100k, you do a partial loop - until a little bit into the first woods loop.
I went out fairly hard - pushing it as much as I could. My asthma was really bothering me and I found myself hitting the inhaler a bit more than normal. I ran the first 25 miles in 4:00. Not bad.
Due to girl troubles and just being stupidly slow, it took me 9minutes to get out of the aid station.
Hot, humid Florida quickly beat the crap out of me. I've been running in 20 degree/feels like waaaaay colder temps in NYC. So as the sun beat down on me, I felt treacherous.
The water tasted terrible. Like I was drinking out of a pool. It was apparently way too much chlorine. I said something to the volunteers, but they were just kids and didn't seem to know much. I couldn't bear to drink water and I knew I desperately needed to. An aid station volunteer was brilliant to think of adding iced tea powder to my water - I didn't add very much powder to my water, so it tasted like watered-down iced tea which was really bizarre to be drinking during an ultramarathon. People told me the water made them sick; Scott said he was vomiting due to it, and another guy dropped from the 100miler to the 50miler b/c the water and the heat combo were just too much. Anyway, those little iced tea packets saved my race.
My feet felt swollen. My pinky toes are blistered. My toenails (what little ones I have) were hurting. I pushed on. I tried to not cry, but as my friend Chip said, "Cherie you always cry during races." Um, thanks.
I finished the 50 miles in 9:18 - not too bad, not as great as I wanted. My friend Jessica was supposed to pace me but unfortunately her sitter fell through so I was on my own. The last 12 miles I started out feeling like hell - and ended up running 8 minute miles for the last 7 miles. Not too bad after running that far.
I finished in just under 12 hours with tears in my eyes. I had been really pushing it hard, hard, HARD at the end...and minutes after, I could barely walk. I got an awesome buckle for the 100k. Mike Melton came up to me and said, "Ray would be proud of you." Not what I wanted, but I pushed as hard as I could - for the day.
Another day, another 100k....
100k of friends, of running, of pain, of partying....