skyline to the sea 50k trail race, hosted by coastal trail runs
um, so i had a really delicious egg sandwich for breakfast. two pieces of toast with butter and strawberry jam + 2 farm fresh eggs i fried up with a dash of sea salt. (oh, i also had a mini blueberry muffin, some blueberries, melon, strawberries, and a small cup of coffee.) it seemed like it was maybe a bit too much food, but it turned out fine and my body seemed to absorb it well. i.e. no stomach issues and a lot of energy.
i wore one of my favorite temporary tattoos created by miss amykr, to remind me that whatever happens, i want to make the most of my time out there. and of course, i wore my zamzee to track the minutes and intensity of all the running.
we started at saratoga gap (at the castle rock trailhead) and took the skyline to sea trail all the way to, you guessed it, the sea. in the picture below, it's zach, me, and austin.
i was feeling crazy strong for the first 4.5 miles and flew through the first aid station with two peanut m&m's in tow. popped those babies in my mouth and wished i had two more. my friend zach caught up to me and we ran for a short while together before he flew ahead. (that would be the last time i'd see him.)
during 4.5-9m, austin caught up to me with his friendly, "hi liz song!" (he fell behind me and zach because he had to take a potty break. haha, did i just tell the interweb that you had to poo? i guess so.) anyway, we ran together for a while, mostly without the company of other racers. it felt just like one of our fun runs in the wilderness and i felt grateful to be with my dear friend. we hit china grade aid station (9m), i stuffed my face with potatoes+salt, orange slices, pb&j and was off again.
by the time i hit the gazos creek aid station (15.8m), i was getting pretty tired. at this point, i saw austin and zach's girlfriends working the aid station, said a quick hello, and went straight to shove food in my face. i was hungry and needing to replenish my electrolyte intake. after getting refueled and vaselined up (my inner thighs and inner upper arms were chaffing like a mofo), austin and i took off for the loop off the main skyline to sea trail. this is where the marathoners keep proceeding down the trail and the 50k folk run an additional 4.5 miles. the uphill in this section was brutal. it was also pretty exposed and hot. austin took off, while i walked, completely winded. it was kinda neat because on the climb, i looked out and saw the ocean and thought, "that's where i'm heading! what the hell, am i crazy?!" then i hit a crazy-ass hill that was so steep, i accepted that "yes, i am crazy." in the picture below, you can see the ocean just beyond the furthest tree line.
this was immediately taken after seeing the scene pictured above. although i was amazed that i'd be at the ocean in a few hours, i was feeling the pain of going up up up up.
during that loop, two things happened: 1) i caught up to austin during the downhill and he was walking! this is a guy who flies on the downhills. his legs were not being very responsive, and i had a feeling he was going to stop at mile 20. and 2) i noticed a lady running ahead of me. i picked her out as my next target to catch up to and pass. but DAMN, she just kept prancing off in front of me, taunting me with her effortless movement! i finally caught up to her at the aid station where we picked up our orange rubber band for finishing the loop. i went up to her and said, "you're a strong runner! i've been trying to catch up to you!" she remarked with the same response about me (since we did yo-yo a few times), and we decided to continue running together. at this point, we had about 11 more miles to go.
it was beautiful to run with emily. we were in sync with each other's running pace and had a really nice human connection, talking about everything from her 3.5 year old son scottie, church, charlie engle, and saying "fuck!" when we'd hit hills. (i get pretty crude on long runs when i'm wicked tired.) we were very present to each other during the next 11 miles. emily was a gift to me in this race. we pushed each other hard, helped out when either of us needed, we listened to each other share stories and thoughts, and it was so sweet... every time i almost ate it, but would catch myself, she'd say, "nice save!" "nice catch!" it made me smile each time (and it happened a lot). she would even say it to herself when she'd catch herself from falling or rolling her ankle.
anyway, the last 4 miles were brutal, mostly because my feet and legs were yelling at me, i was starving, and the trail wasn't very interesting and to add, it was mostly flat. but i was afraid to walk because i didn't think i'd be able to start running again. but around 3 miles out, we decided to walk for a bit, and i pulled out my gu chomps (strawberry) and literally inhaled all of them. they have never tasted so good. we painfully rolled into one last aid station before the finish and i filled up on soda and pb&j's and then took off for the final 1.6 miles.
the last 1.6 miles was when i probably felt most emotional. i felt like i could start sobbing at any moment, but had no energy to spend on tears. a couple times, i said to myself, "dig deep lizzy, dig deep," especially when there would be a slight uphill. then suddenly, everything changed.
i heard people cheering and got a tiny glimpse of a blue tent from where my vantage point. i knew i was close and my juices immediately fired up. i started sprinting towards the finish.
6 hours and 12 minutes later, i finished my first 50k.
after inhaling some watermelon and orange slices, i walked around to look for my friends who were supposed to meet me at the finish line. about 25 minutes later, i finally saw them roll into the area. i was so excited to see them that i ran over and cheered! :-) funny how things work out. anyway, they were delightful and we managed to stage a second faux-finish line crossing. they listened to me as i enthusiastically told them stories about the race and i simply loved seeing familiar faces of people who i love.
oh yeah, i also found out i placed. 2nd woman in my age group, 5th woman overall, and 30th place overall. i feel really proud of this accomplishment and can('t) wait for my next 50k, 50m, 100k, 100m.
i have to mention that afterward, we went to go eat korean bbq at a buffet. holy smokes. lots of meat, fruit, and a dash of beer. and when i got home, i found a sign on my door made by my lovely friend heather. after gasping with delight, i went straight to icing my feet.
this has been one of the hardest feats to date, but one of the most rewarding. as my new friend emily put it, to accomplish something like this is both empowering and humbling. thank you to everyone for your love & support!