Saturday, March 17, 2018

Pistol Ultra

I did it!! I completed a 50 miler.....after months and months of hard work and hundreds of miles later the deed is done!!

My beautiful friend Jenna gave me a ride to the airport. She handed me some cool good luck items, a jade owl and some fairy dust in a tiny bottle, and off I went. The adventure that has taken 6+ months of training and mental conditioning was about to begin.  

For my run, I tucked my Jenna gifts in the back pocket of my compression shorts, seeing as I hardly ever fuse that pocket. I wore these gifts the whole time on my person and feel so fortunate to have such sweet and meaningful gifts. 

Here is a view from the plane, ice-capped mountains and all. It was the first time I would leave my kids for so long. No, that's not true. When my grandma passed I was away fro 3-4 days. But planning for this seemed a lot more work. I have to admit, I am one lucky momma. My hubby took the helm like a champ and not one negative word, not one ounce of complain was sent my way. the house was intact when I returned and kids seemed content and in their routines. 

I got the chance to see my running buddy and good ol' friend again....Two years ago we met and helped each other finish the Marine Corps Marathon. It was a very emotional finish for both of us and meeting him again after two years was also quite epic. 

Paid extra to have a special workshop session with Catra Corbett....She's run 130+ hundred milers and two 200's, what an inspiration. She did make running a 200-miler sound much easier than even a 100- miler..... oh Ms. Corbett, what have you started? Even after the weekend I do see myself within 2-3 years' time completing my first 100. Reminds me of what my mom use to say, your friends are who you are. The more I identify with this world as part of my tribe the more I think of a 100 miler as just another challenge that can be conquered with enough effort and hard work. 

The RD's were simply amazing. Gail is going over general rules and regulations with lots of humor. Lots of anticipation to the big day. Great idea to have us all come a day before.....definitely helped to allay any jitters. 

They have an Athena/Clydesdale category. I chose to try.....have not heard yet about which female won for the Athena category for the 50-miler..... Nevertheless, it's just nice to know they even have this category. 

My rental car was a brand-spanking-new 2018 Nissan Versa hatchback. They called it an 'economy' car. It's the same brand as my own car. I guess I own an economy car. It had Texas about feeling even more like a badass. 

The weather predicted rain.....but it was mostly warm and just so welcoming, compared to cold northern VA weather of 35 degrees. You bet I was soaking in all the heat....It was amazing to go out in flight flops and not have to put on all these layers. 

This was posted on the Facebook Pistol Ultra Running Group online and I thought it was perfect description of what Alcoa's weather reports looked like days before the race. I had no idea what to pack. 

Morning of race day was cloudy and warm....lots of anxious runners getting ready, lots of hassle and bustle. I went to the race start to see the 100 miler and 100 K'ers take off then went back to the hotel to sleep. For a mom who is not use to sleeping in the middle of the day this was a very tough task. 

I did something I often do not do, but I feel it helped me in the end; I bought gear for a race I have not yet finished. Normally, that is a huge no no.  I normally consider that very bad luck, but spending all this extra money on spirit gear did help me finish. At mile 31+ what kept me going was the thought that there is no way I could wear this gear if I did not finish what I began. 

Once at the hotel, I set up my clothes for the race....
                                           I also packed my suitcase with gear to keep in my car. The race route passes by the parking lot where my car would be parked, so we could easily help ourselves to our gear, as needed, provided we continue from where we left off. 

                                          Back home in Northern VA the cherry blossoms have not yet blossomed, but here in Tennessee they were at their peak. 


I stayed at the Mainstay Hotel for 3 nights (technically 2) and man was that room comfy....could also be that because of the race I did not sleep one night and any bed would have been amazing...nevertheless, it was the best sleep I have gotten in a long time. 


Whenever one visits anywhere new one always notices the differences and similarities to where we came from.  In Tennessee there are wooden rocking chairs everywhere. (see way below for image)

As a busy full-time working mom this was a super nice vacation as well. Not like I don't love my kids, but one forgets how nice it feels to JUST make decisions for you and not have to attend to a child daily. Took a little to get used to so much freedom, AND to not feel so guilty....but once it sank in I was livin' it up baby!!

Come 6:30pm I was dressed and ready to tackle my first 50 miler....Not my most flattering picture but man was I pumped. 

Thankfully, the race was delayed 15 minutes due to rain and lightning. In fact, minutes before our original start a huge lighting bolt hit right outside the high school where we were waiting.....Rain ended at 8:15pm. What I did not know was that there was another rain cloud creeping in from the west which did hit us while we were on the course. I did end up changing quite a bit during this race. At the 10 mile loop I changed into dry clothes after the rain storm and kept on moving forward. At 20 I layered up, at 30 I canned sneakers and at 40 I had blisters to pop and wrap and shed some layers as the sun warmed up the course. 
As I mentioned above, the race began at 8:15pm, my goal finishing time was 11:15am, yet, I finished at 1:25pm-ish....2-hours later than anticipated. Mostly because I did not anticipate needing to change every 10 miles. I guess now that I have more experience I will have to tighten these transitions so they don't eat into my time so much.  Nevertheless, I am so very happy to have finished below the cutoff, which was my second goal. Physically, I was ready to throw in the towel at loop #3....the fact that I made two more loops after that, despite the sleepiness and the pain is a miracle and a testament to how the mind really is over matter. In long distance races like this it always comes down to how strong your mind is. Your mind can really do anything. 

I also knew I would finish because I felt the presence of a loved one  with me the whole time. I lost a dear friend years ago. During loop 3 when things were the toughest, the street maps kept flickering as I passed them by. My friend and I always said if one of us 'goes' first we'd let the other know we were there through making lights flicker. The entire 3rd loop the lights on the street lamps flickered right as I passed them by. I knew was definitely not alone. I thanked each flicker as I passed. 

                                     This is me before I passed out and could not text anyone for hours.....


Met my sweet friend, John for dinner and had a great time going over every detail of the race with him. This was so special to me. It's very rare that anyone wants to actually hear about running, only our running buddies care to hear every detail. So to have the undivided attention of a friend, who also is a runner, was super special. 

I am going to miss my dear friend. I am also going to miss the cool warmth and the view of the mountains far away.....who knows, maybe I will be back to try a longer distance soon.....but now, let's heal a bit. 


Here is a perfect example of the proliferation of wooden rocking chairs all over Tennessee....they are seriously everywhere....even in the airport pictured below. Very inviting, nah?

Goodbye Tennessee..... until next time....

Soon I was bback in reality! From the airport I went directly to my daughter's school to pick her up...they are putting on a play....Beauty and The Beast!!! I missed my little family so much....

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