Mel was the only early starter at 7am. Those crazy 50milers need to suck it up while the 50k and 25k runners had a cushy 10am start. Mel had already been running for 30min by the time I got out of bed :) We carpooled from the campground and met up the 50kers: Erica, Alana and Karen. I was so excited for them as it was their first 50k. They have been working hard for months to make their dream come true and I just couldn't wait to see them cross the finish line that afternoon. I knew they were ready physically and I was doing the ol' coaches check list in my mind as I watched the three of them huddle together for the race briefing... yep! All training areas checked, I took a deep breath and had faith this would be a good day for all three.
My personal expectations were low when it came to the 25k race that day. I was prepared to push as hard as my body could, taking into account the build week and the last 2 days in particular. I anticipated my legs to be tired and was building off a 12hr week... making the finish of today's run 14.5 - 15hrs in total. But I will admit... there was a little part of me hoping to feel fresh enough to do well in the race and if the day would have gone based on how I felt in the first 15min I would have ripped it up!! Unfortunately... the only time my heart rate stayed under 1:47 was those first 15min. After that, I struggled to keep it under 160bpm. That's just the way it goes sometimes and despite how much it hurt, that was actually what I needed. I need practice working through the rough days on my feet and not giving up as I get ready for the Alps.
To spare writing all the boring point to point details, Trent and Ashlee ended up catching up to me after 30min. And passing me after 35min. LOL!! Actually, we ran/hiked together for a bit but that little Ashlee took no prisoners and found an awesome rhythm and eventually pulled away from me. Trent... he was ahead of me the whole time, but just enough so I could see him and he could encourage me from a distance. He might of even dropped a few 'come on Unser, you can do it. What do you think stage 3-8 is going to feel like!' If it wasn't for Trent yesterday I probably would have hiked and just toned it down to a manageable pace and settled for a longer time out. Instead his encouragement and little words of wisdom and support keep me on the painful push and despite the fact I was NOT moving fast... I was moving faster and pushed through the pain faster than if he wouldn't have been there.
Trent and I sauntered in together in approx. 2hrs 20mim and once my heart rate finally dropped out of the 160's (max HR is 172) I hugged Trent and thanked him with the cheesy 'you're my best friend... the best coach and I love you so much. Thanks for your support and not giving up on me today.' Yea, yea, I know... barffy for some of you, but when you're exhausted and gave it all you had, you don't focus on your race time - you think about what got you through it. And for me it was Trent, the beautiful views and trails that day.
Ian & Ahslee ripped it up!!! I was so proud of them and happy they felt so great. We never did catch Ashlee and I think she kept a good 7min lead on us. Awesome! Glenn and Cindy ran the 25k together and it was great to see them finish together too. The next in was Miss Mel... in an impressive 7hr 13min 50mile time. Another friend/athlete I was so excited and proud of yesterday. 2nd female in her first 50mile race and finished smiling as usual. The three amigos came in close to one another next. Alana, Erica and then Karen. All three battled through their first long journey in the woods... otherwise known as an ultra. It is hard to express what I felt for them as I watched them cross the finish line and unless you have ran this far and in particular, remember your first ultra, don't know that I can. I guess for me, it was a combination of reflecting on all the early morning runs, the sacrifices it takes to be away from your family and for a period of time prioritize the hours needed to get yourself to the physical and mental point where you're ready to endure such an accomplishment. I was relieved that they all did so well as I wear some of the responsibility as their coach and the training plans I prescribed for them. Most importantly... I was just proud as their friend and without knowing each one's details... knew what it took to get through it.
James Varner did a great job on the race. Markings were well done. He started on time. Choose incredible routes. Had the BEST and I mean the BEST post-race venue I have ever had the pleasure of being part of. Beer... fancy pizza(s), and a bluegrass band which was unreal. It showed how much pride he takes as a RD and wanted to give back to his participants that day. The post-race party and atmosphere was not lost on the Kelowna Crew and we enjoyed it... drinking beer, eating pizza, hanging out and socializing with someones foot forever tapping to the grassroots bluegrass music. The rain stayed away long enough for everyone to finish and then we carried the party back to the KOA.
Pot luck BBQ... wine... beer and race stories, jokes and one of the best nights of the weekend! The rigamortis was setting in for the 50k girls with each passing minute and not even the wine seemed to loosen them up. LOL Everyone might have been exhausted from either their race or the multi-days of recreating that weekend... we were all overjoyed and grateful for an incredible weekend with great people and good health.