I'm not even going to explain how crazy it is that I signed up for the Run Rabbit Run 50 mile race. You all read my blog, you know where I've been. So, lets just get to the part that you all love, the race report. I have a special treat for you this time too. Your gonna LOVE it! But, it's at the end. Fine, skip all the way down there if you want to, whatever, It's not like I'm up at midnight on a Sunday night writing this...
So, Friday morning Annie and I make the three hour drive to Steamboat Springs, CO for the Run Rabbit Run packet pickup. I immediately know this is gonna be cool. Despite the fact that I signed up for the race like 3 days prior (after begging) and the race director made me "Promise" that I would finish, I was pleasantly surprised to see my name and info on the list and the race director Fred meeting me personally at packet pickup and remembering me.
Annie and I then rode the Gondola around and around a couple times (cause she's 3, and that's the kinda of thing 3 year olds get a kick out of) and then we headed back to the race meeting at 5pm. Annie was all hyped up from the gondola and proceeded to NOT behave herself, and answered questions the race director asked to the group like "Is Bill here?" Annie (loudly): "No", Crowd: laughs.
I knew this was going to be good because Fred, the RD, was a hoot. It was the most hilarious pre race meeting I have ever been to, and after the many triathlon meetings I have been to recently it was refreshing. At one point he said "Your gonna run until you see Dick". The crown erupted in laughter (Dick was to be at the turn around).
They gave away some fantastic raffle prizes from various sponsors (good stuff that runners like) and they interspersed the prizes with the talking (very smart). It was to be my lucky lucky day, I won the grand raffle prize! Lucky #192 won a two night stay in a two bedroom, two bath condo at the Torian Plum for next years race! Resort Quest donated the prize, so generous. note: In my video below I state that Smartwool socks donated the condo, I was mistaken!
That evening Troy drove up in a rental car and once he walked in the door safely I hit the hay. 5am, I'm up-and-attum, dressed, Mix1ed and ready to go. Our hotel was about 20 steps from the start line. A quick checkin with Fred and 130 headlights were off and running.
The course is 100% dirt and about 80% single track. It starts with 6 miles up up up the Steamboat Ski Resort on a dirt road that is quite steep. I ran some, I walked some. The sun came up during this time and it was quite beautiful. The sky was clear and I was calm and enjoying myself. You climb 3,450 feet up in the first 6 miles and then the remainder of the race is rolling, but staying at about 10,000 feet of elevation, with a net gain of about 9,000 feet of climbing over the entire 50 miles.
At mile 5 I met Jenna Grubin for the first time. She was last years female champion and she also helps Fred with the race direction. We chatted while we walked up the last mile to the top of the resort. At mile 6 the rolling terrain began. It was gorgeous, exactly what you think of when you romanticize trail running. Trees all around with sporadic view of gorgeous vistas, and tiny alpine lakes. It was green and lush and I was eating it up. It was exactly the serenity and adventure I have become so addicted to.
Jenna and I stayed pretty close to each other (as we would for the entire race) as did a nice friend of hers whom I didn't catch his name. She told me we were in the lead for the women. Oh dear. I wasn't really wanting to go that direction with this race. I had strict instructions to not get hurt, and to chillax. And I WAS chillaxing. I just happened to be chillaxing in the front of the race.
I just tried to forget about it and have fun. Run MY race, enjoy MY adventure, celebrate MY fitness. So I did. I sang a lot when I was alone and I smiled a lot, even though I was just smiling at the trees and the birds. I came into aid #2 a little disoriented. Our drop bags were there so I ditched my hat, sunglasses and arm warmers. I felt like I could see the trail much better after that. Then I CRUISED. I just enjoyed life and running and the freedom of movement that I was feeling.
At Aid #3 I saw Fred the race director and I was back up with Jenna. Everyone of course knew her bc she organized all the volunteers, so I felt like I was running with a celebrity. Her next pit stop put me in the lead by about a minute and that's about where I stayed for miles and miles and miles.
I was running through this beautiful meadow next to this perfectly still blue lake and there was Troy and Annie. I stopped and gave them hugs and kisses, and a few more kisses and I was on my way. Troy was equally shocked that I was the first lady coming through.
Aid #4 was AWESOME. They treated me so well. From there we had a big 2.5 mile climb up to the "Rabbit Ears". It's a local rock formation that you can see from miles around and we ran right up to them. The hills up to them were INSANE. I saw "Dick", the official "You made it to the half way point" man, and I turned around and booked it down. My watch said about 5 hours.
The course is an out and back so I knew where I had to go. I flew back past Troy and Annie, and headed back up the next hill. I stopped for a pit stop and when I popped out of the trees Jenna was there. So, we ran together. It was so so nice. We both knew that either one of us could win, and she was the previous winner, so we talked about that a little. We both didn't particularly have our sights set on winning. It was a pretty awesome conversation to have out there. We decided that if we were together at the finish we would hold hands and kiss to try to get on the front page of the newspaper. Then we laughed about that for a LONG TIME. We talked about life, and running, and marriage, and adventure. It was good times. Jenna is a wonderfully sweet woman, strong, inspirational, and giving. We ran together for 6-8 miles. Sometimes we would trade off leading. It was chill. We were both out there for the same reason, enjoyment.
Back through Aid #3 and Aid #2. Then things got harder for me. I took two gels and I felt really good. So I put my headphones in and cruised for a little while. I got a little gap on Jenna and then I didn't feel so good and she took the lead.
In every long run, I have learned you have a "suffer section". You just have to know it's coming and you have to prepare ahead of time for it. The worst thing to do when you are in a suffer section is to just plod along. You need to get into your arsenal and start trying things. Hydration is #1, suck down some fluid and see if that helps. No? Nutrition. Get in some gels, or pull out your stashed treat and down that. Then, for me, I hunt down my Advil. I only do this if I am close to the end because it can mess with your salt absorption. After that, try verbal offloading. Get out your camera and take some video saying that you are hurting. Get it off your chest. No camera? Just pretend. Lastly, crank up the tunes, lie to yourself and pretend something is chasing you. If all that doesn't work, then when all else fails, repeat over and over in your head "relentless forward motion".
So, about mile 39 I get in my slump. I know I have 5 pretty uphill miles until I get to the top of the ski resort and I know they are going to hurt. I just start going through my arsenal. Did those miles hurt? Yea. Did it get worse? Not really. I kept myself busy trying to get out of my slump and I pushed on. It's just part of the game. I also took 3 Advil in preparation for the downhill.
I finally drag myself up to the first aid station and the guy there says "Jenna has 5 minutes on you, you can still get her". I look at him and say "I think I'll let her have this one!". Jenna is a great downhiller. She's gonna fly, and I'm gonna enjoy myself.
The last 6 miles were awesome. The first one was 8:06, then 7:45, then 7:35, then 7:15, 7:15, and I don't remember the last one. I was just letting my body fly down the hill. I was singing Black Eyed Peas at the top of my lungs and I was so stinking happy. That's the thing with endurance running, everything can change in a split second. You HAVE to push through the tough times, because it WILL get better, guaranteed.
I ran into the finish shoot so dang happy. Fred was there to give me a huge hug. They have a designated hugger for every finisher. It's a great perk. And Jenna too, she was there with big hugs. Just awesome. Jenna went 9:14! Smokin'
The after party was great, you got a wrist band that entitled you to free beer and pizza the rest of the night. So pretty much everyone hung around all evening watching the finishers and eating and drinking. It was very communal, and festive and very well done. The awards were these fantastic hand made platters. Just awesome.
After the awards ceremony I relieved Troy and Annie who had been volunteering for 5 hours at the finish line and I stayed there until 10pm to help the last finishers in. This was a really rewarding experience and something I urge you to do if you ever do an ultra marathon. It's not like Ironman where the last hour has the most spectators. In an ultra, for the final finishers the only people there waiting is their families and to stand around and listen to just how proud the competitors families are is quite the gift. Best part of my day, hands down.
Plus, Fred has done ALL of the famous 100 milers in the US so I got to pick his brain! OOOH, and also...the best thing for your legs afterwards is to keep moving, and the volunteering helped out with that too.
So, my first 50 miler: - Free lodging for next year - Awesome race - Awesome experience - To Die for course - 2nd woman - 15th finisher - 9 hours 20 minutes. - made lots of new friends
A huge thanks goes out to all the volunteers for the Run Rabbit Run 50 miler. This event was very well orchestrated. I will be back next year for sure. 5 out of 5 stars in my book. Also thank you to Smartwool for my schwanky lodging for next year.
Um, Troy, you did it again. You are always out there for me 100%. Always looking out for my best interests, and doing what needs to be done so that I can chase after these crazy goals. You're always there to pick my tired bones up off the ground the next morning too. I love you.
Steve, thanks for saying to me "I know why you want to do this". That meant a lot.
And now, your treat. You didn't get a lot of photos in this post because.... I TOOK VIDEO! Yes, it's the amazing comeback of Sonja's wild trail running videos. By now the vertigo you got from my Grand Canyon video should be gone, so you should be ready for some more wild trail running action??
I switched from YouTube to Vimeo. I really like the format and intent of Vimeo. If the below video doesn't work you can search vimeo.com for "gosonja" or "run rabbit run". Enjoy (it's 10 minutes)!
The Run Rabbit Run 50 mile race in Steamboat Springs Colorado, from my personal perspective as a runner. This was my first 50 mile race.