Yesterday I finished my first 50k race and it was muddy, slippery. The day started out rather early 3:45ish. I got ready and hit the road before 5am. It was really cold outside so I packed some extra clothes and was on my way. I hit Highway 26 and noticed an issue with my suspension. I was really nervous so I attributed it to that.
Hagg Lake is far off the main road so as I pulled onto a side road, my wheels spun. Then I realized the roads were frozen. Great. After a series of communication breakdowns and not being able to find Deb’s house, Deb, Jodie, and I arrived at Hagg Lake with 7 minutes until the start of the race. Eek!!
We had to start out slowly due to the black ice. It’s only 14.1 miles around Hagg Lake so in order to get to 31.1 miles, we ran out and back for 2.9 miles and then around the lake twice. It was absolutely beautiful watching the sun come up at the lake.
We slipped and skidded around the lake, tripping and falling, crossing the creek, and running through the mud. Oh and mud there was. I have never seen so much mud. Although I had run there several weeks before, I was unprepared for the sheer amount of mud.
My goal was to finish the race in 8 hours. We finished in 8:46:02 so my pace was very slow. I wasn’t very excited with the way I finished the race. In the last 14.1 miles, I felt my form fall apart and I had trouble keeping up with Deb, Jodie, and Dorothy ( a lovely woman who joined us). At one point, I decided to continue on rather than nosh on food at the aid station. I separated from the group and slowly ran by myself. I cried. I admit it. I cried. The race was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be both mentally and physically. And I wanted to drop. Badly. My chest ached and I felt like crap. I just wanted to stop running.
If I were to say that I felt 100% ready for this hard 50k, I would be lying. We moved, I got sick, and we went to San Francisco for Christmas. Although I did get in some great runs in San Francisco, I didn’t complete as many long runs as I wanted to. Or should I say as I needed to. I knew I was going to struggle in this race as hills aren’t my strong point. But one of my strong points is that being slow, I’m used to being on my feet for a long time. So I kept running. And running. And running.
The last 4.3 miles (or so) were really, really, really hard. I just kept chanting “4.3, 4.3, 4.3…” over and over again. I had run 4.3 miles absolutely exhausted before. I could do it now. Besides my car was at the finish. What else was I going to do? I felt horrible that Andy had waited to long at the race to see me finish. I tried to run as fast as I could those those 2 miles but my legs simply could not do it. It was at this time that I truly appreciated the effort that athletes that do Iron Man, 50 miles, 100 miles, etc. put into their races.
We were approaching the finish line when I heard, “Go Aleta!” I looked out towards the lake and saw Andy standing there with a camera. I started crying. I saw the timer and a group of people waiting. I hit the chute and was unsure as to the actual finish line. Andy told me to keep going which I did. The race folks looked at my bib and recorded my time. I grabbed Andy and cried on his shoulder. I was so happy to be done.
Looking at the race results, I wasn’t last. I was second to last though…Now that Hagg 50K is over and done with, I’m really going to think about what I want to accomplish this year and how I’m going to make that happen. I think that 50k is the farthest I will run in 2011. I need to work on my endurance and speed. I’ve only been running seriously for less than 16 months so I will cut myself a little bit of slack. I also want to do a few triathlons this year. I’m going to rest for a week or two and then get to running while trying to incorporate more of the bike and swimming.