|I just really can't get enough of memes with this image.|
I went in with no anxiety, no expectations, nothing except the desire to end the day safely, and if that included a finish, that was just the cherry on the sundae. After last week's drama, I was just glad that this race was in a populated area, and that it would be easy to quit if needed. I spent the night before at my BFF Carolyn's housewarming party. Some friends from a local running group were there and asked me if I had any more ultras coming up. I was like "oh....yeah....well actually I do have one. Tomorrow morning. Well, hopefully".
This may be a good spot to explain the deal with this race.
Typically, a road race gives you a distance, and your goal is to complete the distance as fast as you can. ES6 is flip flopped. Everybody runs for 6 hours, and your goal is to cover as much distance as you can. The race took place in a cute little park in Annapolis. It began at 7:30, and you spend your 6 hour doing as many 4-ish mile loops through the park as you can. Each time you returned to start, it was considered a completed loop, and your bib number was recorded. It was also the aid station, so after each loop most people (us included) would stop, refill our water, and get some snacks.
Once the 6 hour mark was approaching and people were beginning their last loop, each runner was given a flag with their bib number on it. At exactly 6 hours, you heard an air horn, stopped in your tracks, and planted your flag in the ground. A volunteer went through after the race to find all the flags and calculate everyone's exact distance (official results haven't been posted yet).
Fun, right? At this point you may be thinking that doing loops over and over like a hamster in its wheel sounds terrible, but I really didn't mind it for two reasons.
1. I'm a creature of habit. I'll eat the same meal over and over for weeks or months on end. I run the same route almost every day. I would rather watch repeats of The Office for the 17th time then try out a movie I haven't seen before. I like things to NOT CHANGE EVER.
2. I'm not observant. On a regular basis, we'll drive past something new in our neighborhood, like a restaurant or something, and I'll get all excited about it only to have Eric tell me that it's been there since we moved in. 4 years ago. Eric is really concerned about me getting robbed because I have a unique ability to zone out and completely ignore my surroundings at all times.
The race began at 7:30, and I arrived at 7 with plenty of time to hit the porto-potty, get my bib on, find Kara, and listen to the pre-race briefing.
I don't know if I can ever go back to big races. There were a little over 100 runners in ES6 (with some doing the relay, so fewer than that on the path at any given time). Here's my car in relation to the start line.
There was a drop bag option, but it turned out we didn't need it. A lot of runners just set up a little area on the ground near the aid station with whatever they might want during the race. So easy, so perfect.
At 7:30, we were off.
|Twinsies. On purpose. Because we're cool like that.|
|Starting with maybe the 4th loop, we began to call this "the mountain".|
|There was a big hill leading up to the aid station with a sign like this on a tree that read|
Unfortunately, the watermelon didn't really sit well with me and I had kind of a side stitch on the third loop. No big deal or anything, it just meant I had to turn down the watermelon. The aid station at ES6 was the second best I've ever come across (the best being the Stone Mill 55 miler). They had tons of delicious foods, and the volunteers were enthusiastic, sweet, and basically ready to do anything short of giving you their first born to ensure you were having a good race experience.
|This was just one of the two loaded tables, plus there were huge coolers for the chilled items!|
- 2 Gus (one was Roctane!)
- 2 pieces of watermelon straight from Heaven
- a few Mike and Ikes
- a small cup of gatorade
- most of a can of Mountain Dew (they had ice cold cans in the cooler and grabbed it for me so I could have a little bit each time through!)
- Two icees - sort of like slurpees in a little paper package, ice cold, super sweet, and PERFECT
- 3-4 salt pills
Other than the watermelon my stomach felt fine during and after the race so I guess it worked out!
You hear a lot about negative splits (running the second half faster than the first) as a racing strategy, and it's a good one for normal races. Ultras in July are not normal. It's much easier to run in the first half while it's cooler and less sunny, so positive splits are really the way to go there. We finished our 4th loop (around 17 miles) when the clock was only at 2:54, which put us well ahead of our goal pace. Ok, I lied, I did go into the race with a goal of completing at least a 50k (31 miles), but I felt like that goal would be pretty easy to accomplish, so I wasn't stressed over it.
The second half of the race was hotter and hillier (the hills grew steeper with each loop, just like at Rosaryville), and the ratio of walking to running was starting to get a little heavier on the walking. Still, it seemed to go by pretty fast and for the most part, we were still having fun. We each had our dark moments, but luckily they didn't come at the same time. Mine was somewhere around 4:20-4:40, but the Roctane snapped me out of it.
You know that feeling of "OH MY GOD I WILL DIE IF I HAVE TO RUN ONE MORE STEP THIS MILE SHOULD HAVE ENDED LIKE 30 MINUTES AGO"? Especially common during miles 20-26.2 of marathons, but also has a tendency to hit on like, 5 milers in your neighborhood sometimes? Never happened. I don't know if it was just the focus on time, not distance, or the relatively cool day, or the great company, or what, but we were at 5:30 and collecting our flags before I knew it.
We hit our goal of 31 miles with 11 minutes left to go, and basically phoned it in until we heard the air horn from there (but we made sure we were running when we heard it). It was weird running a race with no finish line. You know how you usually get that huge feeling of relief, and then a volunteer hands you a water bottle, and you're thrilled to be able to stop running? Well, none of that. You just stop and plant your flag, but then you still have to get back to your car (we were able to cut through the park so it was only about half a mile). So, built in cool down!
Kara's husband was surprised that we didn't run back, and I guess if you think about it from an outsider's perspective, we were already crazy enough to run for 6 hours, why not just tack on an extra 5 or 10 minutes? He couldn't have been more wrong though. I'm pretty sure a lion could have been chasing me and I still would have walked it in.
We hung out for a little bit. I considered getting some food, because my stomach felt fine, but I didn't trust it, so I walked up to the Pavillion twice and came back with only water (and a few pretzels) twice.
|They had only diet coke to drink and a veggie tray, which cracked me up.|
Yes, I just ran 32 miles and I'd like to eat a baby carrot.
|I had to really debate between the sandwich and the bottle of water. Tough choice.|
I did the typical whimpering from chafing pain in the shower, covered all my war wounds in bandaids, then hit the pool looking like a burn victim in a bikini. I almost took a picture for the blog, but then I decided there were already plenty of bikini selfies and the internet didn't need another one. Instead, here's a picture of my foot after two 50ks in a week.
I spent the rest of the night eating these (which I just learned are called millionaire bars),