I ran 50 miles last Friday night. I really did! It took me 12 hours, 10 minutes, so I was basically running from 7pm until 7am. Sounds crazy, but the TARC 50 miler was the wussy-option for Massachusetts’ first 100 mile race, the TARC 100 miler… so, there were people exponentially more crazy than me out there.
First: EPIC mud. The last few weeks of rain, including at least three days of heavy downpours, left the normally-bucolic course in Weston, MA extremely muddy, with vast stretches of knee-deep mud that runners had no choice but to trudge through. By mile 3, my sneakers, socks, and feet were soaked — and they remained wet for the next 47 miles.
The mud actually caused 60% of the runners in both the 50m and 100m to drop out — from twisted ankles, from fatigue, from pure mental wear. Had I known that so many people were dropping out, I probably would have joined the ranks… especially at around 3am, around mile 32, when my hips were sore and I became slightly nauseous and unable to eat any solid food. The nighttime stomping through mud and water, which a few hours before seemed really cool and fun, was becoming tedious to say the least.
At one aid station, I surveyed the selection of pizza, brownies, cookies, and candy with hunger for calories subdued by vague nausea. The volunteer — who happened to be one the premier ultrarunners in New England — asked me what I needed. “I’m losing the ability to eat, so maybe some Ginger Aid?” I was asking for Ginger Ale, but I was so delirious I kept calling it Ginger Aid. Do’oh. In addition to giving me a cup of said beverage, he forced me a handful of Saltines, too.
Still, the nausea persisted, but so did I. I ran. I ran. I talked with people. They’d become my BFF for a mile or two and then we’d part ways. I listened to my iPod — a strange melange of Erasure, AC/DC, Mumford and Sons, and Awolnation got me through to mile 45. By then, it was sunlight. I was tired but my legs suddenly felt revived. All I could think about was the finish line. I ran through the final aid station at mile 47.5. I ran! I bounded through mud. At mile 49, my shoes became stuck and I totally wiped out into thick puddle of mud, drenching my entire right arm, leg, and buttock in clingy chunky mud. I kept running. I passed a few volunteers at the road crossing — “I hope I’m not the only one covered in mud?” I asked them as I passed. They laughed and assured me that I wasn’t. As I came into the finish line at 7:10am, the crowd went wild — granted, the crowd was about 30 tired volunteers and spectators waiting for their loved ones, but the sight of a crazed mud-covered girl with comely blond braids was evidently pleasing. I wish I had pictures, but you just have to picture it — I forbid Mr. P to come and see me with Little Boy. But here’s a pic about 5 hours later, after a bath and a nap, relaxing poolside at the birthday party of one of Little Boy’s best friends. Wearing, proudly, my race t-shirt. Hair cleaned and re-braided.