The North Face ECSMA Wachusett 50 Miler – Race Report

I signed up for this race almost as soon as it was announced. I thoroughly enjoyed the Bear Mountain 50k in 2016, and was ready to jump up to the 50 miler. My “big race” of the year was supposed to be the Gorge Waterfalls 100k out in Portland, and this was going to be an “easier” race, since I’d have been a seasoned 100k-er by then. Boy was I gonna be wrong!

Mid-first summit thinking “I have to do this THREE MORE TIMES?”

To start off, this race did not have a course description in the Course Guide on their website. It showed the map, gave turn-by-turn directions, had the chart for elevation, but the description was “TBD” which meant that everyone who hadn’t run trails in New England was in for a big surprise. I’ve had plenty of experience on trails in the Northeast, so I was prepared for some technical terrain, but honestly it was one of the most intense runs of my entire life. You could say “well of course it was, it was your first 50 miler!” but I ran Bear Mountain last year, which was advertised as an extremely technical course, and I just ran Seven Sisters, which was absolutely insane as well. I was ready for a challenge, but I don’t think The North Face adequately prepared runners for this race.

We started the day with our alarms going off at 2:50am. We made some coffee, inhaled some cereal for breakfast, and we were out the door by 3:15 to go grab our friend Harry, who was also running the 50 miler. I won the “who’s driving home after a 50 miler?!” battle, so I drove us to the race so I didn’t have to drive home. It was about an hour, which we spent shooting the shit, talking about various other races, and trying not to psych myself out before the race. We got there, sunscreened and bug sprayed up, dropped our drop-bags off, and lined up at the start. The sun was coming up just as the race was starting, so we didn’t even need our headlamps, which was great!

Matt sped off, and I settled into a nice slow, steady pace so I didn’t go out too hard. I knew there was going to be a lot of up and down, so my goal of the day was to run any flat or downhill that wasn’t too technical, and to assess my pace on uphills as the day went on. I started by power hiking most uphills, and I ended up keeping that up throughout almost the entire race. In the 50 mile race, we summited 4 times total. The first summit was at mile 7.1, and I was feeling pretty strong at this point. I reached the summit the first time with an average pace of 14:34 min/mi, and reached it the second time with an average page of 15:43 min/mi. I was feeling strong, and had actually met a very nice runner named John around mile 3, who helped keep my mind off the fact that it was a lot of elevation. He was engaged as well, living in NYC, and we chatted about the absurdity of the cost of weddings, all the crazy races he’s run, how his fiancee is crazy fast, and exchanged fun stories. It was exactly what I needed to ignore my nerves, and focus on just moving forward.

John and I in the first few miles, happy to have made a new friend!

During the first 15 miles, my left IT band was acting up. I haven’t had this happen in a really long time, and it was very stressful, so I was glad to have John there to talk me out of my head. I grabbed some advil a few times during the first half of the race, and it didn’t bother me again until the day after the race. I will definitely be spending the next few weeks focusing on getting the inflammation down and strength training in order to prevent this in the future.

Once we summited the second time, we started to make our way out to the state park. Looking at this section on the elevation chart, I thought I was going to be able to run a lot of it. I was verrrrryyy wrong. While the elevation profile was mellow, the technicality of the trails was insane. There were long sections of this where the trail was literally a foot wide, completely overgrown, with just giant rocks and roots everywhere. It was impossible to run. John had passed me by this point as his goal was 10 hours, and I was hoping for 12, so I decided to just power hike and take it slow. I had a lot of hours ahead of me, and have heard too many horror stories of runners going out too hard and crashing. I focused on my goals: walk uphill, run every runnable section, and don’t fall on my face.


I also was like clockwork with my gels/chomps throughout the day until maybe 10 hours in. I made sure to eat gels or chomps every hour, and ate other food at probably every other aid station. I also filled my pack with ice at almost every aid station, and threw at least two cup-fulls of water on my head every chance I got. I also dipped my hat in any creek we ran over to try to keep myself from overheating. Ideally, I wouldn’t have had the pack on because of the heat, but I really wanted the security of having what I needed with me, just in case. My pack was like the binky of my first 50-miler, and I was thankful to have it the entire time even if it made me hotter than I would have liked. I was thankful to have a dropbag with extra food in it as well because the aid stations were pretty sparse throughout the course. There were even some aid stations where they were just out of a certain kind of food completely. To someone who is used to running TARC races and having an insane spread of snacks, that was definitely one of the biggest bummer. To go into an aid station hoping for oranges and having them be out is a huge mental obstacle for someone who’s already been running for 10+ hours. I think if they are going to do this race again next year, they need to have a bigger variety of food available, especially to people running the marathon or more.

The trail continued to be barely runnable until around mile 20, when we did a 4 mile loop that was almost entirely runnable (to me, to faster runners I’m sure they ran the entire way), with some fast fire road miles after the loop. I got some 10-12 min/miles in around here, and felt better since I had already been on track to finish beyond my 12 hour goal. I knew when I saw the high for the day was close to 80 degrees that I would likely be adjusting my goals, but felt that it was entirely just a personal decision, rather than an across the board decision for all runners. I ran with another runner named John (different runner, I swear) who was a seasoned ultra marathoner as well, who was struggling in the heat and with the technicality of the course. We suffered together to an aid station, where I threw water on myself and set off for the next big aid station, where I’d have my drop bag and Kayleigh waiting for me with sour gummy worms. I had notifications for Matt that would text me when he crossed a checkpoint, and there had been an issue where his mile 15.5 checkpoint also counted as his mile 33 checkpoint time, so I had no idea how he was doing. His goal for the entire race was 10 hours, and at about 10 hours in, I got a notification that he was at the summit for the third time.

Photo by my favorite running partner, Matt!

At that point I was extremely concerned I wasn’t going to finish this race in time. I got to mile 37 feeling defeated, at my all-time low of the race. I had run through a bunch of muddy puddles and my feet were soaking, I had hit my top level of pain in the last 5 miles, and still had a freaking half marathon to go. At this point, Tammy joined me to pace me through the rest of the race, and I was so grateful she offered to do this for me. I was feeling really down on myself, worried I wouldn’t get to finish my race, debating whether or not to just give up at that point, because there was a good chance I wasn’t going to finish within the 14 mile cutoff. I ran in and saw Tammy practically bouncing with excitement to see me, and Kayleigh and her boyfriend Tim waiting with gatorade, sour gummy worms, sour patch kids, and hugs. It was exactly what I needed to keep going. I switched my shoes and socks, and headed out with Tammy to finish this damn race.

So grateful to have had Tammy by my side, supporting me and encouraging me for those last 13 miles!

At this point, any uphill felt like a mountain. I was quite literally making mountains out of molehills, as my dad would say. Tammy was pushing me to run when it was flat or downhill, and we were coming up with landmarks to run to when I was too tired to keep running. “Okay, see those ribbons? We’ll run to those ribbons and then walk.” Tammy honestly was my trail guardian angel, and I would have been in a much worse place if it hadn’t been for her. At this point, my legs were still functioning well, and I hadn’t gotten nauseous at all. Up until 37 I did a really good job of drinking water not only when I was thirsty, but at every beep of a mile at my watch too. Normally I worry about over-hydrating, but it was freaking 80 degrees outside, and I was going to be out on the course a lot longer than I had anticipated. I even drank 2 bottles of tailwind during the second half of the race, since I was pretty much over gels at that point.

A lot of hands-on-the-knees pushing off my quads to lighten the load from my legs a bit.

37-44 was a blur of just putting my head down and powering through the exhaustion. By the time I reached the summit the third time at mile 44, Matt had just finished the race in 12 hours. I still had 2 hours to go, but looking back at Matt’s timing for the last 6 miles, I knew I was going to be cutting it close. It took Matt 2 hours and 3 minutes from the third summit to the end of the course, so I knew that likely it would take me at least that much time, and I was already at 12 hours. I also had a blister pop mid-run that I had to take care of at this aid station and, of course, Tammy was the best pacer ever. She ran up to the medic and grabbed anything she thought I might need. She helped me get my toe all bandaged up and back in action, since I had spent the last 4 miles of the course spreading my toes so my popped blister didn’t rub against my big toe, since it was extremely painful.

I was freaking out about not making the cutoff when the volunteer at the aid station assured me to just keep going, and that they had extended the cutoff time for the relay race by at least 3 hours. THREE HOURS EXTRA for a MARATHON. At that point, I was feeling MUCH better that I was still running any chance I could, still eating, still drinking, and hadn’t dropped. Kayleigh was at the summit, and I knew that my parents and Matt would be at the summit my final go around, so I set off a woman on a mission, with my toe feeling like new.

Tammy encouraged me to run as much as possible, had me running on the shortest path possible, and was keeping my spirits high. I was still mentally there, though I’ll admit some words were taking a long time to come into my head, and I was still physically feeling pretty strong. I was surprised that I was still capable of running at this point, when I kept passing runners sidelined with cramps, or vomiting on the side of the trail. We ran down and on our way back up to the summit, we ran into the sweeper, who was still about an hour behind us, since she was on her first loop of the summit. She assured us that the race cutoff had to be extended, and we found out that there were still relay runners on the course – the relay was scheduled to be finished by 4pm, and it was now 5:30-6pm. We trekked up to the summit for the last time, and I thought my heart would explode from happiness when I got up there and saw my mom, dad, Matt, Kayleigh and Tim all cheering for me. I got to the top and spent a few minutes hugging everyone, congratulating Matt, and chatting up the volunteers.

Cry/smiling (criling?) at the finish line. So overwhelmed with exhaustion, relief, happiness, and love at seeing my family, fiancee, and one of my best friends at the finish line cheering me on.

We set off out of the aid station on a mission to finish, and the guy that had been at the aid station sprinted past us telling me we had to run the rest of the way in order to finish by the cutoff. I said “oh don’t worry about it, the sweeper is still an hour  back and they extended the cutoffs” and he was all frenzied saying that they might not honor it. The next 4 miles were not only hard because it was still pretty technical and my legs were exhausted, but I was mentally exhausted from coming up with angry tweets I’d send to North Face if they didn’t extend the cutoff time. Luckily, I was worried for nothing. After passing the same poor soul vomiting on the side of the trail for the third time, I powered through the last 4 miles and finished with a smile on my face and tears in my eyes after running for 14 hours, 17 minutes, and 4 seconds.

Probably the most accurate picture of my personality, post-race, eating a chicken tender on the ground, happy to be not moving.


Overall, the race was great, and the volunteers were top notch! I know a few trail runners that don’t like that the Endurance Challenge series has a more “road race” vibe and a lot of non-trail runners, but that’s one of my favorite parts. The fact that everyone from all different abilities is out there on the same course is pretty great, despite the fact that their trail etiquette isn’t super great. I did see some cups/trash on the course, but these could easily have accidentally fallen out of people’s packs or belts despite their experience on trails. One of my biggest complaints is that they should announce who has the right of way when on a course like this. I’m a firm believer that if someone is passing you, you need to get out of their way. But if someone is coming at you, the person who has been out on the course longer should get the right of way. Proper etiquette wasn’t clear, and I was getting shoulder-checked left and right by runners at this section of the course. When you’ve been running for 9 hours and get shoulder-checked, this could seriously throw off your balance and possibly push you over and injure you. The last thing I want to DNF over is some schmuck who’s never run trails before knocking me over and not even apologizing for it.

It was the toughest race I’ve ever run, and it was one of the toughest races for pretty much everyone I spoke with. 179 runners started this 50 miler and only 75 people finished. That’s right, only 41% of people who started ended up finishing the race. It was absolutely insane. I still can’t believe it was real, and I can’t believe I’m barely even sore today, 5 days after running for 14 hours. I feel confident I’ll run another 50 miler, though jury is still out on 100 milers… I have a newly developed appreciate for how insane Matt is.


Garmin Fenix 5s
Nathan VaporAiress Hydration Pack
Ciele GoCap
Nike Pro HyperCool Shorts
Salomon Sense Pro 2
New Balance 910s
Balega socks

2016 Year in Review – The Year of 💯

2016 was my year when it comes to racing. Sure, it was a pretty wacky year otherwise. But for my running, it couldn’t have gone any better. With a few days left, I wanted to take a step back, reflect on my accomplishments, and set my sights on 2017. Taking a quick look back at my races:

  • TARC Hale and Back 6 Hour – 31.5 Miles
  • TARC Spring Classic Half – 1:43:47
  • Bear Mountain 50 Miler – 9:58:52
  • 7 Sisters – 2:38:48
  • Pineland Farms 50 – 7:48:30 PR
  • Catamount 50k – 4:37:00 PR
  • Vermont 100 – 21:26:00 PR
  • Pisgah 50k – 5:50:50
  • Oktoberfest 5K – 18:40
  • Grindstone 100 – 27:15:00
  • Cambridge Half – 1:23:44 PR
  • Yulefest 5k – 18:13 PR
Grindstone 100 Finish
Post-Grindstone. By far the toughest race of the year. – Photo Credit – Samantha Alyn Goresh

That’s a lot of races, a lot of PRs, and a whole lot of miles run in between all of that. Looking back, I think it is pretty incredible to crush my PRs in so many distances. When I started 2016, the main goal was just to finish my first 100 miler. At the end of it, I feel stronger than I ever have. I’ve got 2 hundred finishes under my belt, more ultra experience, and confidence to tackle 2017.

Bear Mountain 50 Mile Mid-Race
Bear Mountain – Matt Elam Crusher

Even though things went well, that doesn’t mean that I didn’t pay my dues. My first goal race for the year was Bear Mountain. I was stuck training in California, traveling every week, but still confident I was going to crush the race. On race day, by mile 15 it had crushed me. After having to dig deep just to finish and barely beating my previous 50 miler PR I thought 2016 was going to be miserable. Fast forward to Pineland and a few more weeks of solid training I obliterated my PR and felt unstoppable going into Vermont. Another PR at Catamount in the 50K and then time to take a crack at the 100.

My first 100 miler was quite the experience. It really is the roller coaster that everybody describes it as. I was so thankful to have such an amazing crew out there and experience the rolling hills of Vermont. I beat my time goal of sub-24 hours and came out excited for my next 100. Pretty much immediately after I Vermont I started training for Grindstone. Not taking more time off was probably a mistake. Training for a hundred is extremely draining physically and mentally. Still, I got it done.

Grindstone was hell. Simple as that. I was definitely fit, ready for the hills, and had another amazing crew. But add some constant rain, sloppy trails, and humidity and you can completely derail me. I set out to finish Grindstone to get my Hardrock qualifier. I didn’t drive to Virginia to run 50 miles, or 65 miles, or 80 miles. I was there to do a hundred. So I dug deep and got it done.

Woahman 2 weeks after the Grindstone 100. Nothing like a killer workout to kick your ass.

After Grindstone, the last 3 months were such a whirlwind. Woahman crushed me (although I definitely was not recovered to run it). At the Cambridge Half, I wanted to run a 1:25 to prove to myself a BQ in 2017 was achievable. I beat that goal by about a minute and fifteen seconds. I ran a PR at Yulefest which was completely unexpected. I hadn’t planned on it, but the consistency of training for the hundred milers plus the mental fortitude really has helped at the shorter distances.

After a half marathon PR, it was good to celebrate with friends.

With 2017 just about here, I think it’s worth setting some goals. Number 1 goal is to BQ. I think the fitness is there. I’d like it to happen at Hyannis, but my training has not been the most consistent. I also need to re-qualify for Western States. My current plan is to run either Run Rabbit Run or the Bear. I really love the hundred mile distance, but running more than one a year is more than I can really enjoy. Beyond those two specific goals, I honestly just plan on racing a little bit less. Although I was successful at most of my races, the ones that I wasn’t (Bear Mountain, Pisgah) were extremely defeating. Besides that, it is really exhausting racing like once per month. Finally, just have to stay consistent. 2016 was definitely my breakout running year, so I can’t wait to see what 2017 has to offer.

TARC Hale and Back 6 Hour – Race Report (March 26th, 2016)

Somehow, it is the end of March and the first race of 2016 is in the books! While certainly not my optimal performance, I had an absolutely amazing time out on the trails at Hale Reservation at another incredible TARC event. Two days before the race, I woke up with a pretty nasty cough/cold that made me wheezy and gave me a sore throat. The idea of running for 6 hours seemed pretty unappealing, but I tried to look on the bright side. I decided to think of it like this: if I weren’t running the TARC event, I would be running alone. The race started to seem a bit more appealing, but I wasn’t as excited as I had been a few days prior. Either way, Saturday morning rolled around and Colleen and I made our way to the Hale Day Camp.

TARC Hale and Back Gear
All the gear I needed for the 3.5 mile loop. Water, gu, and lube.

Colleen and I got to the reservation about 30 minutes before the start. We got checked in and got all of our gear set up. Running a short 3.5 mile loop made it possible to carry very little gear each lap which was amazing. Each lap I only had a water bottle, and in between I made sure to get my calories in. The loop itself was probably my favorite TARC course to-date. It was a great mix of technical single-track and some fire roads. While there weren’t any major climbs, there was a decent amount of up and down. The hardest part of each lap was running across some sandy beaches along the pond that absolutely killed my legs!

Colleen and I were representing TBC just a few minutes before the start

At around 9:10, the 6-hour runners were off after the speedy 5K group took off running. As soon as we started running, I didn’t feel on top of my game. My breathing felt labored and I didn’t feel well-rested. I was able to at least convince myself that I didn’t have any set distance to cover. If my body wanted to quit after 3 loops, that would be fine. I just was out there to enjoy the trails. Since the loop was relatively short, the first loop felt more like a warm up. We came back to the aid station where I grabbed my water bottle, ate a little bit of Gu, and took off. I was looking to keep my time at the aid stations short, because it really is deceiving how much time you can lose eating food or chatting with the wonderful volunteers.

Powerline Downhill
One of the rolling downhills towards the start of the loop

Lap 2 my main goal was to keep it consistent with lap 1. I was at a bit of a disadvantage with the aid station time, but I did my best to keep my pace even and stay focused. I started to feel a bit more at ease, but still not great. I found myself focusing more on my health than on my running which was really distracting. My throat was sore, I was coughing, my nose was runny. It wasn’t the best. But as the miles clicked by, it started to feel more comfortable. Lap 2 was pretty much on par with lap 1, and I kept rolling along. Lap 3 was the absolute low point of the race. I was only 25% done, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to keep my pace, people were passing me. It was at this point when I started bargaining with myself: “6 loops would be okay, maybe 5. Well, as long as I run for 20 miles that is a good long run”. Lap 3 was the pits. But pretty much as soon as it ended my spirits reversed. Physically, I felt a bit stronger and I really wasn’t feeling fatigued at all. It was all in my head.

When I went out for lap 4, my main concern was still consistency. With Bear Mountain coming up in about a month, I want to make sure to have an extremely even race. I was using the 6 Hour as a way to test my pacing and endurance, so having the set loop to repeat made it great practice. By the end of the day, all of my laps were within 6 or 7 minutes of each other, which I would consider great pacing (at least for me). I was making sure to keep fueling. I switched to just drinking tailwind and having some Gu in between laps. Laps 4, 5, and 6 were all really smooth and even. At this point, I started to set my goal for the end of the day. I knew I could definitely do 7, I would really like to do 8, and 9 would be a great day given how I was feeling.

When I started lap 7, Colleen was in the aid station to start lap 6. She was flying! And feeling amazing! And an amazing burst of positive energy to keep me going. She was super supportive and encouraging for me to keep running. At this point we had about 2 and half hours left of running, but she was certain I could go for the full 6 hours. We left the aid station together and ran together for about half the lap. I got it in my head I had to run each lap exactly the same, but really I probably should have taken it down a notch and just enjoyed the next few laps. I hollered to Colleen I was going to go off ahead (which she didn’t hear) and took off. Even though I tried pushing it, I was only in the aid station a minute or two before Colleen.

Laps 6 and 7
Colleen and I synced up on my 7th lap and her 6th. Colleen was feeling amazing, I was not.
Hale Reservation Single Track
Still moving

At that point, Colleen had hit her 4 hour goal, so she was calling it a day. I tried to keep it quick at the aid station and went out for lap 8. By this point, my sickness felt like less of a burden compared to good old-fashioned tiredness. I had been running for 4 hours and change. Fatigue was setting in. But also, there was a ton of time left! So I knew I could make 9 laps, and just over 50K happen. I finished up lap 8 and then went out for lap 9 with just over an hour left. Since I figured I wasn’t going to make the cutoff for going out for another lap, I eased up a bit and just tried to enjoy the last lap. I was pretty beat up, but the course was still a ton of fun, and the sun started to break out. I wound up finishing lap 9 at around 5 hours and 36 minutes, right after the cutoff for starting one more lap! Josh, the race director was super supportive and said I should go out to try and beat the sweep crew, but I was tired and pushing that hard seemed impossible and stupid. I called it a day at 9 laps, 5.5 hours of running, and 31.5 miles covered.

Matt and Gustav
Happy to be finished and see Gustav. Just missed that opportunity to go out for a lap 10 (which I was very thankful for).

Once again, TARC put on an incredible event. The course was incredibly well marked, all the volunteers were amazing, and every runner was super friendly! This was also the first “cupless” race I had ever been to, and I thought it was awesome how little waste this resulted in. As a tune-up for Bear Mountain, I was incredibly pleased. Sure, I didn’t feel 100%, but I was really pleased to be able to get 50K done. While I am a bit under my goal mileage for the event and for the the week, I still think this was an amazing event that I will definitely be back at.

TARC Hale and Back


  1. Nike Terra Kiger 3
  2. Nathan Speedraw
  3. Garmin Fenix 3
  4. Gu, Tailwind, Junkfood
  5. Ciele GoCap

Stonecat 50 Mile Race Report – 11/7/2015 (Guest Blog from Kristen Peterson!!!)

I am really, really thrilled to be posting this right now. After having a great time pacing Kristen to finish her first 50 miler (in an entirely robotic, super-human 9:04?!!?!!??!?!) she did me an even bigger favor and wrote an amazing, inspiring race report! I am going to write a short post about how much fun it was to be a pacer, and how much it reminded me of how much I love trail running, but this is way better!


I ran 50 miles. It is still unbelievable to me. In order to really grasp that it happened, I wrote it all down…here is a slightly shorter version of my experience.

My alarm went off and I immediately was struck with a nervous and anxious feeling unlike anything I have ever felt before. I always get super nervous before races, but this was way worse. I lately have had numerous doubts about myself and I was afraid that 50 miles just was not going to be possible for me. My nerves calmed a bit when I picked up Harry. This was going to be a great day to be outside, doing what we love to do.

When we picked up our bibs, I was happy to get the number 114. I have a silly superstition that I have to somehow make all of my bib numbers significant. This one was easy—14 is my sister’s favorite number. She would be with me throughout the whole race like this.

We woke up at 5 AM to do this?
We woke up at 5 AM to do this?

The sun rose just in time for the race to start. When we started the race, I just focused on running, not going to hard, and keeping my heart rate steady. Everyone was pretty quiet on the first lap. I think we were all trying to digest what we were in for for the next several hours. Harry was just behind me the whole first lap. At first it made me nervous to be setting the pace, but I refocused to only worry about how I felt at that pace. We finished the first lap way too fast, 2:04. I didn’t stop at any of the aid stations and pretty much ran up every hill which I knew was stupid. I vowed to stop at all of the aid stations from this point forward. I set it in my mind to finish the 2nd loop in 2:10-2:15.

I expected the first and second laps to be easy, the third to be hard, and the fourth Matt would get me through. I was surprised when the 2nd lap wasn’t all that easy. I was super hungry after the first lap (I only had one Huma gel so far), but I didn’t know what to eat since they didn’t have potatoes. My stomach grumbled all the way to the first aid station and I got scared that I screwed myself over for the rest of the race. I settled on a quarter of a pb & j sandwich (duh. peanut butter). After eating, I felt much better and pushed my way through the second lap. I walked a lot of uphills over the 2nd lap and thought wow how did I not walk up these on the 1st lap! I broke up the laps and thought of just getting aid station to aid station and that got me through it. I just kept thinking that I wanted to get started on my 3rd lap since it was going to be super hard. I finished the 2nd lap in 2:12, just like I had hoped for and aimed to finish the 3rd lap in less than 2:25.

As I went into the 3rd lap, I got another wind. I focused on getting to each aid station and looked forward to drinking

Absolutely cruising going into the final lap. Notice how Matt is nowhere to be seen....
Absolutely cruising going into the final lap. Notice how Matt is nowhere to be seen….

Gatorade and interacting with people at each. The course got a bit lonely, especially since the marathoners were mostly finished other than the slower people or people who were really struggling. It made me feel good to say “great job,” and “push forward you’re almost finished” to the marathoners having a tough time near the end. They made me feel good when they saw I was a 50 miler and said I was amazing. It made me laugh when a man asked me “are you doing the half or the full?”, as if the marathon was a half. My legs were getting crampy but my heart and lungs felt strong. What got me through that lap was knowing I’d have Matt for the last lap to talk to and distract me. I finished the lap sooner than I thought, in about 2:17 and I was so happy to see Molly. Apparently they weren’t expecting me to finish that lap that quickly either, and Matt was nowhere in sight!. I said to Molly “I’m not waiting for him, he will have to catch up” and kept running. It was 6:34 on the clock when I finished my lap and saw that if I ran 2:25 I could get 9 hours, which seemed doable. It would be cutting it really close, but it could be possible.

Luckily Matt caught up with me after the 1st mile or so and it was great to have someone to chat with. Shortly after, I started to feel pretty bad. I can’t describe it because it was unlike anything I ever felt before in a race. I just felt meh. Whenever we reached a hill I had to walk and even some flats I had a hard time getting myself to go. Even with Matt doing a fantastic job of distracting me, the first aid station seemed so so far away. With a mile or so to go until the 1st station, Matt took the lead to try to carry me through to the station, he said I just needed food. When we finally got there I filled my water, had a Gatorade, and grabbed a ¼ pb & j. After that I felt like a MILLION times better. I called that my miracle sandwich. In all reality it was just a pb & j on stale white bread, but in that moment it was the best thing on earth. We continued onto the next aid station which still felt farther than usual, but we talked and laughed and it was manageable. We saw that with 4 miles to go, I would have to run in less than 40 minutes to break 9 hours. I knew that that was likely not possible since the last few miles had some pretty decent hills, but Matt had me “stab it in the heart” (we still were trying to figure out what exactly that meant) and dig deep to keep up my pace so I had a shot at 9 hours. With him, I ran up some hills that I previously would have walked up. It was tough to not walk these, but whenever I kept running Matt acknowledged my effort and that kept me to pushing. With about 2 miles left, we hit my favorite part of the course—single track with rolling hills that was just so much fun that I got into the groove. Then we were struck with the hill with 1 mile left to go. I looked at my watch and re-evaluated my goal. I could do it in 9:05. During the last mile with Matt pushing me and the end it sight I passed at least 4 people. My watch said 9:03 when we reached the field, I could see the finish line and sprinted (or in this case a sprint was probably like 9-10 min/mile). I passed one last guy and finished in 9:04:30. I did it. I couldn’t believe it. I ran 50 miles.

I'm not dead mom!
I’m not dead, mom!

Matt did all of the things I could have hoped for as a pacer, he distracted me, pushed me, took notice when I was having a tough time and got me through it, had me focus on the exhilaration of passing people, and made me feel awesome when I finished. That last lap would have gone totally different without him and I hope to be able to return the favor in the future whenever he runs his first 100 miler. As the sun was about to set, we saw Harry and Molly cruising in from across the field. Harry pushed to the finish before the sun set. We did it. We finished our first 50 milers, something I never imagined I would ever do.

The race was indescribable. It was a mix of emotions, ups and downs, good times and not so good times, worry and optimism. It was the collaborative effort of not only the thousands of miles and hundreds of hours that I ran this year, but the support of friends who kept me going and instilled in me that I was capable of doing this. Not only friends who came to support me at the race, but friends who wished me good luck, wrote words of encouragement, and liked my photos. Who told me I was strong and beautiful and amazing. Thank you. This won’t be my last. 50 miles, 09:04:36, 5th place female, 24th overall. Boom.

Feeling way too happy.
Feeling way too happy.