Finally I heard the sounds of horns not too much further up the trail. I thought for sure it was the aid station. I smiled when I saw it was Jordan and Sean, they said the aid station was just around the corner. Stephan Sabo and other people were at the first aid station, I ate half a banana, grabbed some gels and was on my way.
The first 10 miles (up til aid station two) I regretted wearing road shoes. The first fire road section was very unmaintained and was basically a trail. There were big rocks cemented in the road that I had to leap over, large puddles (ponds, basically) that the surrounding mud slid me into, and the terrain was wet and not compact.
I was confused at the second aid station when I saw Stephan again. "Have I been here before?" I asked him. "It didn’t feel like a loop." He laughed and said, "no, we’re just the same people." I refilled my stack of gels in the pocket of my shorts and headed off. Luckily the fire road sections from here on out were maintained and fast and I un-regretted my decision to wear road shoes.
I felt myself slowing down, I felt myself walking more—much more. I pushed myself to hiking as fast as I could every time I did walk, and running anything that was flat or downhill to make up time. I turned a corner and saw my parents at the top of a hill. THANK GOD. I needed them. I didn’t know when I needed but I knew I needed everything! They must have gone to a convience store along the way because they had an unopened, cold cherry powerade that I all of the sudden had the biggest craving for. I chugged it and went off into the trails.
The trail section was tough! But it was good to have some shade in the thick canopy of trees. Slowly I made my way to the last aid station, where I saw Leif and his cute little doggy, Chloe. Jordan was also at this aid station and poured a pitcher of cold water on me as I chugged 4 dixie cups of soda. At this point I had four miles left. I gave my hand-held to Leif along with my gels and took off. I knew I had to go fast before I got hungry or thirsty again and slowed down even more. I felt liberated without that handheld. I was especially happy I didn’t have it during the last mile and a half of technical trails. I kept going and going and pushed myself through the finish line at 6:11.
It was really great to have my dad there, because it was the first ultra that he has been to. I was worried that I looked awful at mile 22 when he saw me and that he would think that ultras were miserable experiences. I found out after the race that apparently I didn’t look that bad and that he really did enjoy being there and was really proud of me.
Shout out to Mike, Trevor, Royce, Josh, Brett, and Rachel for all having great races and representing VT Ultra! It was great to see you all on the course!!
Although it was the hardest race yet, it got me motivated to start training again. Perhaps I’ll take advantage of being in the flatness of Northern VA this summer and use that to train for the Quito Marathon!