Freight Train 100k

Freight Train 100k
Farmville, VA (no, not the facebook game popular in 2008)

I became very frustrated with recovery after the Madison Marathon (I would not have done the marathon again, but I got a free bib, and had very similar conditions as when I did it in 2017, cue the  face), and by that, I mean the total destruction of the skin on the bottom of my feet.

Cloudsplitter ended October 13th, 2019. I was feeling pretty spry afterwards despite not having the proper distance training (although it turns out my efforts of vert training paid off in full), and did a few recovery runs and got back to my old self. I decided to take a free bib for the Madison Marathon on November 10th. I did the usual, no different socks or shoes. My feet were still tender from Cloudsplitter where I received some minor underfoot macerations, but they had healed up mostly. Well, about half way through, my feet got wrecked hard. In a road marathon. Nothing different.

I took the next week off completely to heal the peeling skin. It peeled like the layers of an onion I swear. I taped up and ran/walked a night 50k (self supported on the Hennepin course), a solid 10 hours on my feet. I had nothing bad happen! So I decided I could run again. WRONG. Maybe it was the lack of sweating that day…

On a short trail sisters’ run I was leading on the Badger state trail on a damp morning (puddles), I could tell I had new blisters only 3 miles in, slowing me to a limping walk for the final mile back to my car. I was embarrassed. I’ve never gotten blisters in ANY shoe or sock combo running just THREE miles!

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I will not be sharing the “post” race pics, but here are my taped up feet prior to the race.

It seemed every time I tried to run, I would get a new blister somewhere, like it was a moving target. I ended up getting a 2nd degree burn at some point during this time, and as of the time of this blog, you wouldn’t be able to tell I was burned at all, so my body is doing its job. I then opted to cut a majority of my running to almost zero and work on the bike and strength workouts in order to heal as much as I could before the race on December 14th. Three weeks of taper, and missing a solid week of miles I desperately needed.

Also let me tell you, walking a majority of a 50k is VERY hard. Very different from running! But through every workout, I recovered well.

I had wanted to do Freight Train 100k because it was a sort of last chance ultra in Virginia, which was well within reasonable driving distance from my mom’s (90 minutes or so), flat (which would help prepare me for Badger later in 2020 and give me better perspective of what happens when it’s flat for that long), and seemed like an exciting prospect and give my sister the opportunity to pace. I wanted this race to be more about family.

I read into the race as much as I could. I wanted a PR and I wanted to do well at the race. But the site had a lot of words and not a lot of actual useful information, some of it repetitive. I explored state park sites to get information about address where aid stations could be and where crew could meet me using a combination of google maps and garmin connect course maker. Though the little chart of aid stations and mileage sent out in an email was somewhat useful, there was no course map or elevation profile. The chart actually ended up being not as useful as it should have been due to aid stations being moved and changed. More on that later.

So let me break the course down:

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The start/finish/halfway point was at the Farmville farmers market, an outdoor pavilion (not sure the site mentioned it nor did it seem to have the address to the farmer’s marker, but google is smart at least). From there, you headed east along the High Bridge State Trail to the end of the trail. This out and back was 30.5 miles (as stated on the site, and pretty accurate I found). Along this out and back there were two aid stations, one in Rice, 8.2 miles from the start, and along a road (supposed to have been in Moran, VA), 5.4 more miles away. Crew could access runners more often by meeting them along the trail in Camp Paradise and River Road.

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After returning from the first out and back, runners would head out west from Farmville to the end of the trail west. The first aid station that direction was in Tuggle 5.6ish miles away, a long trek, but didn’t noticed there was much they could do between Farmville and Tuggle as far as access. No biggie. But at this point, having just had a stretch of a 8+ mile distance and then another almost 6 mile distance to an aid station is quite the distance in my personal opinion. From Tuggle, you would travel 4 miles to Prospect, the easiest aid station to find and in an open area! From Prospect, you would travel to the end of the trail about 9 miles away. IF you had crew, you could have them meet you in between at Elam (a parking lot for the High Bridge Trail). There was a final aid station before returning at trail’s end that I simply could not find the address for anywhere, so my crew would not be accessing it. This out and back was 32.4 miles, as stated on the site (I did not find this one to be accurate).

For a highly accessible trail, this race did not place a lot of aid stations along the way. I would personally find this very difficult as a runner without a crew. This was the first year for this race, but the race director also has done other races on the exact trail.

Here are some quotes from the emails and site:

“Directions and GPS coordinates for every aidstation can be found on the race website or park website. All of the aid stations will havetypical aid station fare. Count onPB&J, cookies, oranges, Bananas and candy as well as coke, ginger ale,water and Tailwind. Tuggle, Farmvilleand Prospect will offer hot liquid (soup or broth). Some form of lunch/dinner meal will beavailable at Farmville and Prospect. Expect pizza during lunch and pasta fordinner. The post race meal may beserved/eaten at 3 Roads Brewing. Long Sleeve t-shirts will be provided for every runner signing up prior to December 1st.”

1) was not able to find all the addresses and had a very hard time finding exact address and had to match them up with coordinates using google maps and garmin connect.
2) I try to take note of the aid station food. Oranges they had, as well as Pepsi and Gingerale. Not sure all aid stations had all the items listed. Heed was mentioned in one place, and in another, Tailwind. Both work for me, so that’s not a deal breaker, but something to mention for those with more sensitivities. Hot broth was not available until I reached the western trail end (Pamplin City) and again in Prospect but only the 2nd time?? Would have been nice earlier as it was cold and rainy. PB&Js were only noted in Pamplin City and Prospect. Did not see cookies, but saw some sort of dried bread snack? Skittles was noted. I didn’t note bananas at every aid station. Was not offered any “meal” items until the finish where they had dominos pizza.
3) Long sleeve t-shirts were half sleeve shirts that were not useful for working out in and was too small for me to wear (and I went larger with my size for safety).
4) Maybe proof your texts so the words aren’t glued together in formatting.

Another issue. Ultrasignup had the cut off for every runner as 17.5 hours, and the main website had the cut off being 18 hours. Who knows which it was. I also typically do not argue with ultra distances, but I ended up with 63.5 miles, Garmin had the distance (on the site when I mapped it) as 62.8 miles, and the site had it as 62.6. The bathrooms stated to be a mile from the turn around (Pamplin City), was only about 0.3 miles or so. I only noted that since that did become an issue trying to use that one and waiting longer. There seemed to be a lot of slightly wrong misinformation. But not all was a headache, more on that to come.

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So I packed all my stuff up in Wisconsin in 8 degree weather and headed home, looking forward to the high of low 50s on race day…despite the predicted rain and low of upper 30s. Honestly I was so happy to be running in reasonable temperatures for December. It could be 8 after all.

The family, my mom and sister, stayed locally in Farmville, although we could have driven, we knew we’d be staying the night after the race anyway. We were about a mile or two away (Farmville is not large), and the Holiday Inn Express was amazing. The sheets and bedspread were buttery soft and a decent mattress. I don’t usually mention this in my race reports because it’s not that big of a deal, but this was pretty nice! So I give credit where it’s due. We ate at Charley’s Waterfront Cafe which looked like a boat house transformed into a place to eat. It looked really cool and had good food. I filled myself with pretzel and a homemade burger and a bit of chocolate cake. Got in bed around 11pm, and sleep was hard to come by per usual.

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79784792_1659933507477115_5176340850526912512_nWe woke at 6am, with a race start of 7:15am (sunrise at 7:20am), I checked the weather. Rain. As predicted over 2 weeks out, the forecast never really changed. The highs did, and looked like low 50s still (was upper 40s a week before). I wore a new highly processed wool blend shirt (10% wool, I am very sensitive to wool but this one did not bother me) and a rain jacket on top, that was it! I chose to wear my Inknburn 6” shorts despite the cooler temperatures. I was going to be wet, so it didn’t matter if I wore shorts or pants, I would be cold from the waist down. I planned on changing completely when it stopped. I grabbed some fruit loops and two cups of OJ before heading to the start.

The pavilion of the farmer’s marker was quaint. I listened to the race briefing at 7am where I wondered if there was info I was missing (I felt like I was missing a lot). There wasn’t anything I didn’t already know mentioned.

79727744_565382484301201_2623697548627410944_nI met up with Robin, the Dam 50k angel, and my Blue Ridge Double Marathon partner, who was running with her friend Mike who had JUST finished the Devil Dog Ultra 100k the weekend before. And let me tell you, this guy was a total beast out there that day. I suddenly noticed it was about 3 minutes until 7:15am race start, so I headed up in the rain to the start (approximately 40°F start temp), where…no one was?! People followed, but the race didn’t start until 7:19am. This threw off all my time charts I made for my crew a bit. Anyway off we went.

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The trail was basically the consistency of kitty litter, and wet kitty litter that stuck to the bottom of your shoes like glue making them heavy. The pea gravel was so white (in most places)! I decided to not go with my running pace plan until mile 3 because I needed to warm up. I found out by mile 3 and 4 I was experiencing the (AGAIN) thing where my feet fall asleep for a mile or so…probably due to me not wearing my compression socks on the plane ride there and sitting too long (trying to find ANY correlation), so that slowed me down and my calves just tensed hard. My plan was walk ¼ mile and then run ¾ mile since the course was predicted to be flat (it IS a rails-to-trails trail), though I learned as I went, I didn’t know how flat it truly was. I had not been training flat, mistake #1.

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Exactly like kitty litter.

I traveled along, having told my crew to meet me at Camp Paradise. According to google maps and garmin, it looked like the easiest place for crew to go with ample parking and it was a bit further away from the start than River Road (another trail access point only 1.8 miles from Camp Paradise). After passing River Road, I checked my phone to tell the crew I was closing in on Camp Paradise, only to find they could not access Camp Paradise because of a road closure. I feel like the race director should have known about this having mentioned Camp Paradise as a highly accessible site for crews. This was disappointing, but something ALWAYS happens with nutrition in every one of my recent ultras, why would this be different? Except this time it wasn’t the crew’s fault, nor mine. So I had my backup gels hahahaha! Got you this time ULTRA MARATHON. I finally learned something. 8+ miles was quite the hike out to the first aid station.

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The trail was unremarkable until the Bridge. The bridge was more than promised, and they should have bragged about it more. I was very nervous about it since I am not great with heights (see Zion 100k), but the entire bridge, and it felt close to a mile long!, had very high end chain link fences around. The bridge also had places where you could view the scenery without the fence in the way, and if I raised my arms up, I could get pics over the fence too. The bridge DID. NOT. MOVE. No motion. The sturdiest thing ever. I very much enjoyed my time on the bridge. I definitely would go back in the summer to just see it with everything green.

When I finally arrived at Rice, the 50k turn around, I assumed they would have more than one tent and more people and things at the aid station. It was lackluster. I took an orange and met my crew. I had already start experiencing intense rubbing on the ball of my right foot.

I applied more 2toms to the already taped foot (with bonus blister pads to prevent blisters under that). I switched out my two waterproof jackets, after finding out one of them was not so waterproof for my Altra Wasatch jacket. It was still kind of raining and a chance for more at 11am. I grabbed some soda (Sprite) but not enough. I ended up realizing this after leaving so I hit a gel soon after.

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Passing Robin and Michael on the out and back. Michael is a true beast having done Devil Dog 100k the previous weekend!

I was using my own tailwind in my hydration bladder I gratefully got to borrow from Robin (that one item I forgot in Wisconsin due to cleaning it out…), which helped with calories and salt. I had had a gel already on the way to Rice after I learned crew could not access me any longer.

I used the restroom here, couldn’t wait. I had a lot of OJ earlier! I did have to wait since there was only 2 restrooms and everyone had to use these.

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The side of the trails varied from slopes up to slopes down. Trees covered both sides of the trail for miles. No rocks except for one place near Rice. The slopes that went off the trail were muddy and looked horrible. I was glad I was on this kitty litter at least…and thought about those doing the Hellgate 100k this year that had started 7 hours before I did…in the rain. Gratefulness washed over me several times that race despite me feeling like I had stepped in gum the whole race.

I got to 13.1 at 2:26, faster than I wanted. I was doing my intervals and keeping warm. I felt fast, cause I was faster. Not great, but in retrospect, I don’t regret this decision because the wheels came off in a totally different way later…to come. Orchid road came, now my expectations of an aid station adjusted. Robin’s crew treated me like their own too, but I declined. My crew had everything I needed. I headed out to the end of the trail. I grabbed my own bib number from a folder to return to Farmville with to prove I had been there. The end of the trail was, well, the end. Most trails don’t have an end. Especially considering it was a rails-to-trails trail, I expected it to go somewhere, have a train station, something. It was woods! Well I was done going “uphill” for 15+ miles. Hahaha it was uphill.

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I returned to Orchid Road, and then headed out to Rice again. I looked at my phone again about a mile out from Rice to tell the crew I was almost there having slowed a bit due to the foot, to only get a message that THERE WAS A CAT. I immediately started what I called my “scuttling” much faster. What if the cat left? What if I never got to meet the cat?? These important things went through my head at mile 17.

I arrived promptly at Rice. There was the cat. I immediately went to the cat. I spent a solid minute with the small fluffy cat. I loved her and wanted her. I can defeat the chair, as I would sit when I got crewed with my mini chair which kept my legs happier, but I cannot defeat 1) chapped lips, and 2) desire to pet cats.

I reluctantly left after being mightily pushed out by the crew. I decided to open Pokemon Go (it was community day and I figured there would be a pokestop here at Rice, I was right). I clicked on the pokemon and got a shiny. 78381573_435335080472335_5256687027071483904_n I put the phone away and left Rice. I told my crew to meet me at River Road which seemed to be accessible when Camp Paradise wasn’t.

I had another gel at some point, and crossed under a bridge (oooh something different to see). I admit, I got really bored. I occasionally opened my pokemon game every walk break. This kept me going. Hitting mile 22, I knew my feet were in trouble. I asked the crew to go get my road shoes from the hotel which I had never used or ran in ever. I only knew they were Altras and I needed something different, NOW. I had 4+ miles to get back to Farmville, so they could go get them. My foot was really bothering me and keeping me from pushing off now off the ground…not great for speed or gait.

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Something different to look at!

In order to not be bored out of my mind heading back, I opened up the pokemon game permanently. I made a deal with myself. I could have the game open and play it as long as I was running. I knew my phone battery was not going to last even had I not played the game so I knew it needed to be charged at some point, so why not waste the battery now anyway? I caught a few shiny pokemon and got some great bridge pictures on the way back now the rain was gone. My shorts were freezing me, but I was putting off changing until I got back to Farmville. I ran well here anyway.

I arrived back before I knew it, thanks pokemon go. At the 50k mark, I changed my clothes completely from head to toe, and bra and underwear…everything went. It was rather complicated in a car and took me some time given I was still wet. I probably wasted about 20 minutes here…and I use wasted lightly because the change was WELL worthwhile for the rest of the race. Meaning, I did not need to change ever again. I slipped on my Inknburn capris, a rabbit spaghetti strap tencil material top, and my new Ornery Mule ¼ zip which breathed really well in the upper 40s low 50s temps! I put on my green beanie, a little much, but it treated me well especially with the headlamp. I switched out to the Altra Kayenta, never worn running, but I trusted Altra that much.

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The sun threatening to make an appearance.

They felt great, but they were a little tight with all the swelling of my blistered feet and tape and everything going on inside my shoe. The best part was probably the sock like liner which kept all the kitty litter out!! Worked better than the gators. But the plush feel really rocked my socks. I was also now wearing thicker balega socks. The combo didn’t work well, but it kept me mostly happy until Tuggle.

I started to see the 50k’ers starting to finish, and I started cheering them on and it brought light to my run. I was in a really good mental and physical spot. The sun might even start coming out! The section to Tuggle lasted forever though. Still not much more to report about the kitty litter trail other than I was going uphill again lol. I was allowed to have a pacer after the return to Farmville. But I only had my sister, so I left it up to her what she would do. I know my mom needed her for directions too. I have done 100k alone before, so it mentally wasn’t bad. I was already sore and locked up. Flat was not treating me well despite me preparing with walk breaks.

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High fiving Tom Green!!

I caught up to Robin, who had passed me while I was doing my wardrobe change in Farmville. I was introduced to Mike and hung with them for a while. I eventually left them when I was feeling good to go. I know in ultras I would love to hang with others, but when I’m running my race, I’ve learned (in Cloudsplitter even) I need to run my own race and when you feel good you need to go while you can.

I was starting to tire mentally and got a shock when a squirrel ran in front of me. Why do animals always seem to run perpendicular to the direction of the road?

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See restrooms behind me.

I arrived in Tuggle with the crew waiting, those bright headlights now a shining beacon of hope. Same old same old for this aid station, nothing too useful for me. I needed new shoes. I remember giving my mom my very first pair of escalantes, so they had probably 600 some miles on them, and she had them at the race. I wanted those. I took them. My little mitten slippers. The knit upper saved my race. They were beaten into the ground, but they treated me well. The Kayenta’s kept the blisters on the insides of my feet at bay by squeezing them tight against the shoe, but the inflammation setting in made my whole gait wonky with the tape also squeezing me too. The escalantes gave my feet the width and stretch my gait needed, but the rubbing started up again. I was in a losing situation trying to win. Switching to the old escalantes was the best decision of the race and saved me. The only issue ended up being they were road shoes and kitty litter filled my shoes during my walk breaks specifically. No idea why I pick up rocks only when I walk.

I picked up my sister to run with. I gave her the low down, and hit a low even with her joining me. The sun was starting to set and wondered if I could make it to Prospect before it got dark. Then we got to Prospect. This was supposed to be an indoor aid station but was not offered to go inside. They had a table along the trail with soda and water and tailwind. I sat in the car and put on the gators I had on before even if I could not attach them. This ended up being useful somewhat.

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Prospect AS.

The sun was setting fast. Heading directly towards the sun on the trail west. I ran into another guy who had succumbed to blisters. He had just DNF’d Grindstone at mile 50 or so, and we talked about how flat was not mountains. Mountains are not flat. I had to get back on my intervals since it was getting cold. I should mention when I started heading back west from the eastern trails’ end, the wind started picking up, peaking around Prospect and holding to what was about 10 mph.

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One of the only visually appealing parts of the course that wasn’t near highway or more trees.

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I dropped my sister and headed the 3 miles to Elam to meet the mothership at the non aid station spot. Now I wondered how long it would be until I had to use a headlamp! I made it to Elam and was feeling terrible. 81539521_1344059909135963_35471744055640064_n Mom got me an oatmeal Pie. And as Megan friendo let me try before at S’more, I could eat them. I took it and ate most of it. I upped my soda, of which I was having at least 2 cups every aid station. I ate a fruit cup as well. My sister opted to hang with me for the 6+ mile out and back to Pamplin City aid station, my mom very unsure she could get there especially since I could not find an address. I told her to try and if she couldn’t get close, just go back to Elam since it would take over an hour to get back there again. I put on Megan’s Craft jacket I had borrowed (thanks Megan friendo!). This jacket ended up being perfect combo of wind protection and ventilation.

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Kept sticking to the intervals. My pace was miserable now, pushing off was near impossible and I don’t heel strike. My walking was slow and I was so stiff from being in the same plane for so long. My sister was happy going along. But then I needed a restroom. I remembered the race email said the restroom was a mile out from Pamplin City Aid, but ended up being right up near the aid station itself!

Pamplin City aid was the best aid station. The ladies there were top notch and very helpful. They had broth, the first I had encountered. I took it thinking maybe some more sodium would help my spirits. Didn’t hurt! It wasn’t that hot, but it was just the right temp to drink and move on. I appreciated that a lot since I am sensitive to hot and burned my mouth at cloudsplitter. They had the first PB&Js I’d seen on course. Bananas and oranges and a fire. The end of this trail didn’t go anywhere either.

I have a massive think going on. Where did the train go? Why was this rail trail here? Both ends didn’t go anywhere and there was no other trail to get off on. I have a big think still. Why was over 30 miles of track just sitting out there?!

Me and my sister headed back. The headlamps came on on the way to the trails’ end. We saw ALL the creepy eyes of this one kind of spider. They were neon green in the dark. Scuttle scuttle.

I realized I was leaning forward too much and coach Scott’s words reverberated in my head and he is never more right…always stand up straight and hold yourself up even if you’re feeling horrible. This helps not only your mood and posture, but also your pace and form. This became my mantra when I could remember it. My sister ended her duties at Elam, now at 9+ miles of pacing…more than she trained for.

I had to make her proud, and the next 3 miles to Prospect, I ran my best run with less walk breaks. I popped on Ten Junk Miles podcast cause music was now just old for my ears. It was the Camille gang show, so lots mentally to focus on about her 24 hour record run. I valued all the things I wasn’t going through… all the worst parts of Camille’s run and her difficulties and the non american toilets.

I wanted to cry. My feet hurt so bad but tears would not come. It was too much work to produce the tears. I kept chasing Robin. I would catch up and fall back, whether she knew it or not. 3/7 intervals she was doing would not work for me. Plus I spent way more time fixing myself at aid stations than she spent probably walking. Her power hike was strong even late in the game, and mine was weak. Something I will need to further work on when fatigued and something to note in my coaching as well.

I felt I was going to be alone with the spider bugs the rest of the race. I asked very shyly if my sister would pace the last 5.6ish miles knowing very well I was in bad shape and she would also be in bad shape. She declined at first.

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Sun setting on the trail. Picture put here to break up all the text lol.

I reached Prospect again. I went inside longer than I wanted. It was warm, but it didn’t chill me. My layers were perfect! I had some hot broth, but the two pacers there (no idea where the runners were) were the most helpful, thank you guys. I got back outside and had no issues adjusting to the falling temps into the low 40s. Again, layers were perfect! I was so happy about that.

I finally found that place where I was running in comfort but slightly uncomfortable if I walked too long. The wind affected me a little though as they sustained through the darkness.

I headed out with hope to Tuggle, the last aid station. I was so close. I had wanted to call it quits when I stopped reaching my own pace expectations and goals. I convinced myself I was still well under PR pace, but the worse pace I had predicted I had already gotten to by mile 44. I hung onto that pace for a long time until the very end.

Miles were a blur after dark since I didn’t look at mileage after mile 42 or so. Miles didn’t matter. Only aid to aid. How many miles between aid, keep moving. I kept comparing to the 40 miles I did on the Military Ridge State Trail, which seemed a little bit more hilly than this trail ironically. I was so much faster there overall, but took larger breaks since it was unsupported. I kept blaming myself I was too slow. I even had a stress fracture at the time I had done Military Ridge for pete’s sake. Why was I so bad now?! Does the heat help me that much? The humidity and heat was so bad that day though. No sense worrying now. I was knee deep in the 50 some miles of a 100k. The here and now.

At Tuggle, I asked my sister if she really was ready to go another almost 6 miles to the finish. She was ready. I had to believe what she said. This was a long segment covered in leaves in places. I was thankful for the leaves, cause it wasn’t running on kitty litter gravel. She said what I was thinking: is this trail uphill all the time?? It definitely was uphill both ways for sure.

My sister even thought this trail was boring. I told her to keep talking. I breathed hard through my pain. The pain mounted in my knees and hips. Maybe it was time to accept that Kettle might not be so bad after all? Maybe I always need some hills in my life to keep me alive and well? We started seeing houses, but I had went through this area in the middle of the day so I had no idea how far away I was really. I fought my slow pace with everything I had. I started a new plan, where I would run the first 0.2 miles of the mile, and the last 0.2 mile of the mile. Sure this meant running 0.4 in a row, but it kept me at a 14:00 pace. My power hike was more like a slow jog/shuffle, and my run was actual running (probably around 12:00 pace)…the push off still not working. I worried about my gait and how different it was and how much of a toll it was taking on my whole body.

When I left Tuggle I looked at my mileage. It was 56.8 miles, though I was supposed to be at 57.2ish. Somewhere my watch lost some distance. But I kept going. It was 5.6ish miles back. So I should have ended at 62.4 miles. When we got close to that, I noticed I could not see anything a half mile ahead. In general with such a straightish trail, I could see what was coming about half a mile before I got there (Pamplin aid station for instance). I started to panic since I was pushing already to try and now beat 15 hours and see that number 14 in my time. I did not know how much further it would be. Was I a mile off?? My sister’s moral lessened greatly and she got discouraged and started falling behind when I saw a red light in the distance. I didn’t know for sure, but I figured it had to be the timing clock! I told her this and I had less than 5 minutes now to make it there. I did not think it would take that long, but the clock never got closer. I panicked harder. I felt bad cause I knew my sister, when discouraged, was now overextended. I couldn’t fail.

Then the numbers were visible. I had 3 minutes. 2 minutes and we passed this guy who was struggling hard, no run left in him. We encouraged him saying it was RIGHT there, come with us. 1 minute…

Push harder, push harder, it’s right there…

Hitting the only sidewalk in the race, my sister raced forward and across the line before me. I had no push with the aches and blisters. They popped in the last few feet in Cloudsplitter on the final turn into the farmer’s market, wouldn’t be surprised here either. I hit the finish at 14:58:30 according to my watch. 89 seconds to spare.

The guy, now behind us, we stayed to cheer, and he managed to run three steps over the line and then disappeared quickly. I watched my sister “walk it off”, I looked for the RD. I did not find him. I found no one actually. Very anticlimatic.

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Farmville Aid Station, mostly bare when I came through the finish.

I waited for my sister and the RD finally showed up and just said I was 16th. Ok. And? He went back down to the farmers market. I followed and asked if there was a finisher’s item (I knew there was, unless that info was wrong), he went to get it and was offered pizza for the first time. Now I only wanted a shower and to sleep.

Back at the hotel, I had chaffing on my bra line. I’d given my change out bra I was gonna use midway to my sister since she forgot hers. The only other issue physically externally was the feet. After a successful shower, I had a VERY unsuccessful sleep. Real shame, the hotel was very nice. I woke about every 40-60 minutes in pure aches from the hips or knees, and sharp pains from the blisters under the taping.

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Finisher item, can be used as an ornament.

I removed the tape the next day without doing harm. The blisters were still very intact and very inflamed, plus the size of my pinky finger. The best news was that none of the prior blistered areas were blistered, but again, the blisters had MOVED. WHY?! I just can’t explain it.

My nutrition for once was dead on, thanks to the crew. Every 3 miles I had something significant, whether it was on me in gel format, or in soda or tailwind little bits along the way. I never ran out of water, stayed well hydrated. I had to really manage water at times because I didn’t want to carry much on me. My pack chaffed my back again like at Cloudsplitter. Will have to adjust it to be against my bra and not right under it. I didn’t like my aid station times, but I had to continue to manage my deteriorating condition…whether it was my feet or adjusting to the changing weather. I ended the race barely damp on my baselayer. What luck!! I preloaded on antihistamines and it worked well when temps got near the 30s. Shorts was fine for the wet, and capris were great the last half and stayed dry as a bone. It never got cold enough for tights.

I learned a lot about running on very flat that I didn’t have with just 40 miles on Military Ridge. The intervals work, but also it’s not always necessary, but it can mentally break things up and sometimes I really needed that more than a physical break. My heart rate stayed even the whole race, and pretty low like I had wanted. This was a tune up for Badger which will be a 100 in August. I’m glad I was able to do this race to better get an idea of how to run the Badger and do it well. If this had been Badger it would not have worked out well. For flat, you should train flat as you can and when you are tired. The same plane really wears on you…this applies to all rail/trails or similar canal races.

As for me, I am done for a while, it’s time for a well deserved break. Time to shift the focus briefly to Georgia Death Race, and some vert training and biking. I need to give my skin a break and have it heal completely. It’s obviously not happy. I’m about as sore as I was after my 2nd marathon (memory serving me only for that, but sleep has accelerated that repair service of my body). I’m actually less sore than after my 100s. But I have goals to meet, and I know I can get a 12-13 hour 100k. I need better training for sure. This was a shot in the dark, but it was fun trying.

Big shoutouts to Robin for staying positive and her friend Mike and his wife for being so nice and welcoming. I got to meet Tom Green on the course too and to see him in action was an honor (he was doing the 50k). Overall it was a pretty good teaching race that I was not highly invested in. However, I think the RD needs to work on verbiage and presentation of his race as to not create expectations that might not be met. Some misinformation was not great. It’s a great starter race though, and I think it could be better in times to come, especially considering the price was not too cheap.

Update as of January 9th, 2020. Feet are recovering well now, no further blistering, but main skin damage is still visible and healing/drying out. Thinking back, I’m not sure if it was the course or what, but my left knee has been achy since off and on, bothered MOST by biking (??). Running and walking seem to make it subside, and sitting makes it worse. This has been mostly getting substantially better recently but thought it was important to note. This has not affected my gait or the way I run or walk. Frozen Gnome 50k is this coming weekend with weather predictions of heavy snow, and possibly sleet for the duration of the race (still great uncertainty about 3 days out). Stay tuned for that race report!