Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Promise Land 50k

Promise Land started with a Thursday night potluck at Kelly’s house where I was reminded how much I love each and every person on our team and why I run ultra-marathons in the first place. When I first arrived, I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to be running or even attending PL; I had been sick all week and my mom was pushing for me to rest up. I didn’t think the night of camping would be a good night of sleep and thought the running would wear down my body too much. However, after an awesome night and a couple words from Rudy, I was left thinking of all the things I’d miss if I didn’t go:

1. last ultra with graduating/moving runners Kelly, Rudy, Guy, Danny, and Wyatt
2. seeing how top-seeders Rudy, Guy, Darren, and Jordan would do
3. watching Alex and Eric kick butt in their first ultra
4. the traditional pre-PL bonfire
5. seeing David Horton one last time my freshman year---always a treat
6. patagonia finishers shorts (possibly the biggest factor, I really wanted them)
7. ability to complete the LUS series
Which prompted me to send out my late-night e-mail, titled “very important decision” (see below) which apparently caused the trailrunning listserv to lost a subscriber- oops but totally worth it:

Midnight Decision: I will be joining you all (and running) Promise Land
Hannah "cured by Rudy's microwave green beans" Bright

And with that, I was off to the Promised Land!

Classic pre-race activities occurred: Patagonia give-aways, pizza and other of Horton’s favorite unhealthy foods, lots of mingling, and finally camping in a poorly set up tent.

The 4:30 wake up call had us all on our feet, preparing and eating before the 5:30 start. “BOOM” the theoretical gun went off and we began. Keely, Eric, and I ran together for all of five minutes before, in classic race fashion, Keely and Eric pulled away and I hung back to talk to Michael Rogers, who I’ve managed to run with for a few miles every race. The first four miles consisted mostly of “speed” hiking. When I got to the light-side, I met up with graduated VT triathlon ex-president (what a title) Scotty B and talked to him a bit. He ended up finishing with in 6:34 so I totally wished I attempted to stay with him more. Halfway through the dark side I caught up to my favorite person to see during 50k’s, Keely O’Keefe, and despite what Lewis Millholland’s Collegiate Times article may say (read here- it’s a good read! I was excited to see Keely this race. We stayed together for a couple of miles, enjoyed the second aid station together, and split before Sunset Fields.

I thoroughly enjoyed the technical downhill at the start of the dark side down to Cornelius Creek. I had some delicious watermelon and water before I headed down the road to start the 8 mile loop. This was the only part of the course I hadn’t ran during the training runs and thank goodness I had no idea what I was about to do or I might have tried to weasel my way out of it. It was pretty solid sailing to the ice cream aid station, mile 19, where I grabbed two delicious ice pops (orange and pink- the best flavors). The sign at this aid station said “~4 miles to the next aid station” but as I ran by it, some guy commented “That’s the biggest lie of the whole race, it’s more like 7.” I had no idea how far the loop stretched and I tried to calculate in my head who was right, this sign or this runner. It would have been a lot easier to figure out if I had actually known how long the course was. How could I start a race having no idea how long it actually was? All I knew was that it was a couple miles longer than the 31.1 standard 50k. I spent that entire chunk of the race wondering when I was going to get to the next aid station. FINALLY getting back to Cornelius Creek, I ate some real food for the first time (1/2 PB&J, 2 mini reeses cups, and some potato chips) before I started the dreaded climb….which I ended up really enjoying a lot. I had more in the tank that I had expected and didn’t have any problems hiking up.

Even though it wasn’t a bad climb, I don’t think I have ever been so happy as when I reached the aid station at Sunset Fields. I hugged a couple of the volunteers and told them they were wonderful people. When you’re not racing for top 10, you find yourself with a lot of time in these ultras to do stuff like that. Leaving the comfort of food, nice people, and water, I knew the next 5 miles were all downhill to the finish. My thighs were in pretty bad shape and I was pretty convinced my femurs was going to shoot through my knee caps (unrealistic but IT COULD HAPPEN!).

I wish someone had told me there was a “1 Mile To Go” sign because I spent about 3/4ths of a mile before that sign looking for that black squirrel, the famous marking meaning that you were almost done. When I saw I had a mile left, I started to lose some steam until Jesus showed up in the form of Jordan Chang! Telling me the black squirrel was right ahead and it was now or never to kick it in. About 50m away from the finish line I saw lightning fast senior runner RUDY, who took 2nd overall, and tried to yell at him to run across the finish line with me. It would have been such a cute photo finish except he couldn’t hear/understand what I was saying. As soon as I crossed the finish line you better believe one of the first things I did was get those super sick Patagonia finishers shorts. Definitely made the race worth it. You know what else made the race worth it? Completing that sucker, now I can say I’ve run three 50k’s which will totally get me all the ladies, spending time with the coolest people from VT, and re-discovered motivation to run.

A lot of our runners are seniors this year and are graduating this spring. Congratulations guys, I can’t express to you how awesome it has been getting to know you this year. There’s no better group of people that could have introduced me to ultra-running and I hope you all visit us at sometimes and crew/run some races in the future.

Here’s some pictures for my photo album: even if you didn’t attend this 50k and have never met half or any of these people, I still suggest you put these in your own photo album as we’re a pretty good looking group of people.

(Almost complete) Team Photo!

Jordan, Darren, and Rudy
FACT: Wearing a hat makes you fast

David Horton and VT Women

VT runners at the starting line, way to represent the ladies Rachel!
QUESTION: Danny, where is your shirt?

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