As it was my first 50 mile attempt I wanted to start conservatively and finish with something left in the tank. That plan lasted for 12 miles. At least 20 of us went off course and didn't realize it for at least 1/2 of a mile. Then 10 minutes later about 5 of us went wrong again for about 5 minutes. Frustrated, I threw my game plan went out the window (bad idea).
As I passed groups of runners for the third time I was disgusted that I allowed myself to follow the pack and the feet of the runner immediately ahead of me. Instead of looking for the trail markers I assumed the lead runner had it covered. That was not the case. Now that I had wasted 15 minutes I was determined to make up some time. When we hit a brief road section I cranked up the pace even though I knew that it was far too soon for that type of running.
Needless to say I paid the price for the early hard efforts. Everything went south at mile 30 when both hamstrings seized up as I tried to scurry across a creek. The cramps persisted intermittently for the remainder of the afternoon. Any misstep, stick, or tree root caused the cramps to fly-in with varying degree's of intensity. I developed a shuffling gait that allowed me to move forward, albeit slowly, while minimizing the chance of suffering debilitating cramps.
As you can see below my downward spiral began at the 4:40 mark or right around the time I started to cramp.
Although I was rapidly fading I had no choice but to shuffle on. I caught a few runners who were suffering the same fate. My legs hurt. My mind was questioning why I was still moving forward. I ran with the eventual women's winner for a few miles and we passed the time talking about running and races of all things. We both tripped and stumbled our way down the trail. Eventually I was in no-man's land running solo. I played mind games with my watch. I counted down the aid stations. I promised myself I could walk; but walking caused cramps so I continued with an awkward shuffling gait. I chastised myself for running the wrong way and running too fast early on. I wondered how anyone actually finishes 100 mile races. I got passed by two runners in the last 4 miles. I talked to myself. I thought about the Five Guys Burger and Fries that I was going to eat after the race.
I ended up finishing in 8:14 and change. Good enough for 14th place.
A big thanks to my brother who kept me moving quickly and my father and sister who cheered me on.