I started off tired. I had just driven home from Plymouth, Mass, with the hubs and three kids. Spending the night doing laundry is not part of my normal pre-race routine, but what's a weekend warrior to do...
The alarm went off at 3 am and I was out the door at 3:13. It took about 2.5 hours to get to the race start, and I was thinking of every excuse possible to get a pass on this race and turn around and go to bed. Unfortunately, everything fell into place and I was at the starting line ready to go at 6:30 am.
This race is run by my friend Chris, and I really wanted to see what kind of class act this classy lady would put on. I was not disappointed. She really thought of everything. With the weather predicted to hit 95 degrees, she put a high priority on hydration and runner safety. I've never seen so many search and rescue and medical people mulling around a race before.
The course was a typical trail race with a mix of single track, double track, paved and unpaved roads. We also had to run through a couple of cow pastures. We were warned to shut the gates as we passed so as to not let any cows out. That of course ment dodging cow patties and potentially cows. Luckily I only had to deal with the former. The trails were thick with my old friends: rocks, roots, and mud. I took one hard spill over a tree root and ripped open a boo boo I had received last week. There goes my career as a knee model. I joked with one of the aid volunteers that it seemed like the trail was working to put me on my butt.
Things were going well until mile 5. I heard a buzzing noise and felt something on my hand. Damn! I couldn't find a stinger or the body, but I prayed it wasn't a bee. I'm allergic and my epi-pen was in my car. Damn, damn, damn! I stopped the next runner, who happened to be a nurse (Thank God). She stayed with me a few minutes, gave me an Advil and the blessing to continue on. Earlier, all I wanted was to get out of this race, now I was fighting to stay in it. I found an over the counter allergy pill in my stuff and popped it in. I wasn't having trouble breathing, nor was my heart racing, so I cautiously continued. I was scared, but stubborn. At the next aid station, I filled my sports bra with ice and iced my hand until it was numb. It was swollen, but not too bad.
The allergy pill worked pretty well, but did not stop the hives. It couldn't have been a bee, or I would have been down for the count, but it was something my body wasn't fond of. I had hives mostly on my left leg at first (odd, I was stung on my right hand). About an hour later they were on both legs, both arms and my neck, but still no major swelling in my hand. The hives seemed to come and go. I decided if they were worse after the first loop (it was a 2 loop course) I would call it a day. Fortunately they were manageable at that point. I popped another allergy pill and started loop 2.
My goal for the second loop was to not let anyone pass me. I was also hoping my second loop time would be within 5 minutes of my first loop time. I met the first goal and came close on the second.
The field had thinned by this point, and I chased down every runner I saw. I moved up about 8 positions. There were these two ladies I met on the first loop. They had on bright pink matching t-shirts. One said "Vanilla" and the other "Mocha" (Yes, I thought of 50 Shades of Grey). They happened to be from Massachusetts and were great ladies. They were pretty new to ultra-running and wanted to pick my brain.
Anyway, I passed Mocha and Vanilla at about mile 7 of the second loop. We chatted a few minutes, but I did not share my not-being-passed goal with them. I wished them well and buzzed on by. I tried to put as much distance as possible between us. I did not know they were spending their last 9.5 miles trying to catch me and ask me more about ultras. EVERY time I thought I put some distance between us, I'd see those pink shirts and have to surge again. Uggh. I did finish ahead of them, but barely. They were great ladies and I enjoyed the challenge they set for me. Ultimately, it was good for me, as it kept me moving at a pace quicker than I would have otherwise kept.
The heat also met its projections. While I was on the trail, I was mostly protected from the low 90 temps. However, one section before the last aid station was totally exposed and it completely drained me. I lost a good ten minutes there. Oh well, I'll live to run another day.
I finished the race, collected my bottle opener finish medal (very cool), hugged Mocha and Vanilla and headed home. When I arrived, Mark looked at me and asked "coconut or lily of the valley?" (my other 2 allergies). His face fell, when I told him "bee".
As usual, he asked me about my race, but really only tuned in for the first two or three words (It was good....). However, he did have waiting for me my favorites: veggie pad thai, fruit and feta salad, caprise salad and lemon bars. He may not be all that interested in ultra-running, but he sure knows what I need after a race.