I honestly don’t even know where to begin. This race just flew by for me. I guess that’s a good thing right!? It’s so bizarre to me to think that 8 hours can just fly by.
I signed up only weeks before the Door County fall 50. I’ll admit, I was dragging my feet. I was pretty unsure about how this race would go. Only 5 weeks before, I had run the Fox Cities Marathon and qualified for Boston. I wasn’t sure if I had much left in me. To be honest, the thing I wanted most was that awesome blinged out chain medal that I had seen in photos. It was pretty cool. However, the thought of running 50 miles on roads was scary, especially after my injury-prone summer.
I spent most of the summer resting, healing and doing cycling and elliptical where I could. This summer left me fearing another injury and took away most of my love for running. I just didn’t want to get hurt again. The fact that I didn’t have much time between races for recovery and one more long training run had me apprehensive. Lets face it, I hadn’t run farther than a marathon since May after my injury. The longest back to back runs I got in were a 20 miler followed by a 10 miler. I took a lot of days off, due to being busy and things just feeling weird (it was probably all in my head). Simply put, I felt under trained.
The drive to Sturgeon Bay (packet pick up) was a long one. I didn’t realize it was such a long trip. It was nice to see the colors of the leaves changing. This was one thing I was really looking forward to during this trip. Door county is a popular place in the fall when the colors are popping.
We arrived around 7pm for packet pick up and headed to our hotel. Because of my indecisiveness we didn’t get the best hotel ever. What we were able to find was about an hour away from the start line and a little on the run down side. sleeping was difficult that night. I tossed and turned most of the night.
I woke up around around 4:45am. I let Steve sleep in a bit while I got ready for the race. I packed up two Spi Belts with Hammer Gel and Salt. I wasn’t planning on stopping at many aid stations. I filled up my CamelBack and made some Malt-O-Meal for breakfast. We had an hour drive to the start line so we headed out around 5:15 A.M.
We arrived at the start line around 6:30 A.M. Our timing was perfect. My number 1 mission was to hit up the porta-potty. I didn’t want to have to stop during the race. Once we got out of the car we were surprised with quite a bit of wind. I had decided on shorts and a tshirt but the wind changed my mind. I grabbed my sleeves, gloves and ear covers and headed to the start line. The start line was buzzing with energy and happiness. I could tell this event was one that people looked forward to all year. I saw a few familiar faces, including Zach Bitter hopping around near the front trying to keep warm. Before the race started the announcer read a quote that really stuck with me.
“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
How appropriate it was for this day.
And then we were off. I found my friend Jason who has been talking me through training and all this ultra stuff… and probably putting bad ideas in my head (haha jk we all know they are great ideas). We decided to run together aiming for an 8:10-8:20 pace. We were totally ok with 8:30 pace for the first few miles.
As we took off at the finish line the leaders flew off into the distance as we stayed back and chatted along. The views in the first few miles were absolutely amazing. The trees were the most beautiful orange I’d ever seen. The houses along the shoreline were a dream! These backroads had very little to no traffic, it was really a perfect place to run.
When we got a bit farther there were a lot of cheers and excited crew people. We were greeted with lots of cow-bell and beeps as we ran through towns. Jason and I ran together for around 15 miles. He wasn’t feeling the greatest so I tried my best to keep him going. Before I knew it he was out of sight. He must have stopped at an aid station.
The first aid station I stopped at was at mile 23.7 at exchange 4. The plan was to have Steve meet me here for the first time to switch out my Spi Belt and fill up my CamelBak. My Spi Belt had enough Hammer Gel to get me through the rest of the race. Before heading out I grabbed some pickle slices and a banana. Usually at races I like to eat real food. This time though, I assumed I’d be using Hammer Gel as my main source of energy. I said goodbye and headed off.
This is the point where the “solo” runner title was very fitting because the rest of the race I was alone. It’s hard to even write about the last half of the race because there wasn’t much but long roads. I did chat with one man from PA for a short time. He passed me as we were leaving an aid station and said “Nice work!”. When I caught him we briefly chatted before I passed him. Then, of course he passed me back when I was taking in some calories. I caught up and we ran together for a short time again before he had to slow to a walk. We ran into each other at the next aid station and then I lost him again. Other than chatting with Jason, he was the ONLY person I talked to during the race!
The last 10 miles felt very straight, even though I know it wasn’t THAT straight it felt it. It was pretty exhausting to look out ahead and see miles and miles yet no finish.
Steve met me at another aid station later on in the race, I can’t even remember what mile it was at, but I’m guessing it was near the last 9 miles. Anyways, it was here that I realized that I was sandwiched between two women. One was ahead of me, just in view, but seemingly uncatchable, while the other was behind me, creeping up. The woman behind me had a large and rowdy crew. I even know the woman’s name “Carrie Miller” because it written all over the back of their SUV’s. I initially thought it was a relay team but it was all for one woman. They would cheer for me like kids at a pep rally early in the race. They began calling me “White” because of my white shirt. Toward the end they seemed to cheer less and just stare as they passed me in their cars. I’m assuming because their runner was catching up. The suspense! The woman in front of me, I would see in passing at the few aid stations I would stop at. She would be leaving while I’d be coming in and sure enough I wouldn’t catch her till we got to the next aid station. I ended up stopping more than I planned on throughout the last half of the race.
Finally, I hit the last aid station, took my last Hammer Gel and just kept running. I didn’t stop at the last aid station because I knew I could run the last 5 miles without anything. As I approached the aid station to my left was the woman in front of me, she had stopped. I kept going and tried to keep my pace under control. I didn’t want to burn out so close to the end. I kept running at a pace I could feel comfortable. The last five miles seemed so long. I would look back and see the lady behind me, but she was never close enough to pass. Finally the last mile came. I looked back again to see the woman behind me was even closer. I ran my last mile at Door County at a 7:57 pace. She never caught me.
I finished 50 miles faster than I’d ever run a 50 miler before! 7:26:21. In the beginning I was a little worried but I just planned to have a good day. I hadn’t run farther than a marathon since May and I didn’t have much extra time for training but somehow I pulled it off. By mile 20 things were hurting and by 25 I couldn’t believe I still basically had another marathon to run. I was waiting for something to break down, but it never did. I had a great day and even finished as the 4th female.
Sometimes you just have to have some faith in yourself, your body, your training… I did and I went far. 🙂