My nerves were pretty high as I rode the bus up to Boyton Inlett. I looked at other people on the bus and many of them were talking about other ultra events.. this would be my first 50k! At Boyton I tried to relax and eat so I would be ready for the race ahead of me. We had a quick pre-race briefing and before I knew it we were gathered around the start line. Usually in a marathon I can barely see the actual start line from CORAL C or wherever I am, but this time it was just a small crowd... and off we went. As we went out of the park I found myself alone with 2 guys in front of me. I knew that their pace was too quick for me and I wanted to stick with my plan so I try to find a rhythm around an 8:30 pace. My first mile was 7:52 - definitely too fast! Miles 2 and 3 were just over 8 min miles but by mile four I settled in to my 8:30 pace and chugged along pretty happily. Out of no where I heard rapid foot steps behind me and what ended up being the winner came up next to me.. our conversation was brief but it involved him telling me he recently did a 2:40 marathon so I knew this was not someone I was going to keep pace with..LOL. So he went on ahead!
A few miles after that I caught up with one of the other leaders. We chatted for a few minutes but then he pulled in to an aid station and I kept going. So i was back in 3rd place.
There was quite a lot more shade than I expected and I felt good. The first few aid stations I just slowed down and made sure they got my number. I had water in my fuel belt so i did not need to stop. It was great to see some friends doing the 100K heading north. I was amazed by their energy. They had already run so far and had so far to go and yet we all cheered as we saw each other. As I came towards the first draw-bridge I saw it was in the UP position and cars were backed up for a while. I slowed my pace as not much point in rushing to stand and wait. As I got closer I saw Seth stuck there, he must have been stuck there a while. We chatted for 2 minutes and then the bridge went down and off we went at our own paces.
At mile 14 i stopped to grab my page 117 out of the book.. and then made my first stop at that aid station. I refilled all my bottles as quickly as I could and set off again. I knew I had friends waiting for me at mile 21 aid station. I always love the Hilsboro mile.. so pretty. I had not worn my iPod up until now as I wanted to listen to my breathing.. make sure I was not pushing too hard. But I put my music on and tried to enjoy the journey. I could feel my legs starting to get a bit tired and I was worried I had gone out too fast but overall I felt OK... I caught the next draw-bridge and again caught up with Seth who was stuck there waiting, again! I only waited a short time before it came down and I got a giant cheer from my friends Elaine, Diane and Denise at mile 21 as I came over the bridge. I switched out all my bottles with the fresh bottles they had brought me. They offered food but I was OK with the GU and cliff blox I had been eating. Only 10 miles left they cheered as I headed out!
A few miles later I saw Seth up ahead and he looked like he was having cramps in his calf muscles. He was having to walk due to leg pain. He said he was OK but was struggling to eat or drink anything because of the heat. We played catch up for a bit as he ran/walked, and then finally I passed him. I knew I was in 2nd place now. I was excited but at the same time it scared me a little because I know a lot can happen in those last few miles of a marathon, let alone a 50K! It felt like my pace was now super slow but according to my garmin I was still keeping under 9 min miles. I felt like any second a bunch of runners were going to swarm past me.. SMARTER runners that had gone out nice and slow and were now catching me up! I tried to just keep focusing on staying relaxed and making sure I remembered to eat something at least every 45 minutes.
Mile 26 aid station. Thank goodness for Denise. She helped me switch out my water bottles.. told me to take an electrolyte pill and off I went.. here we go.. oficially running past 26 miles for the first time.. the finish line really should be here and yet I have another 5 miles to go! But I was excited.. I was really doing it and although hot and tired I felt overall OK.
Aid station at mile 28, Denise again and Marcus and Ali cheering me along too! It was great! The volunteer told me 2.8 miles left. 2.8?? I thought it was 2 from here?! As I headed off again my garmin started telling me the history was full.. it was still getting my pace and miles but the screen kept popping up a message for me to delete data. Probably for the best for me NOT to see my pace at this point! As I came on to Ft Laud beach the sun was HOT! The heat honestly had not felt too bad until about miles 26 and then it really felt HOT! There were so many beach goers I had turn off my ipod and really focus on what I was doing. People were pushing coolers across the street, strollers.. it was crazy. I tried to shout to warn people so they didn't walk into me as they were all looking south to cross the road.. not north for someone running towards them. All of a sudden out of no where I saw the finish line.. I made it!
Bob and Eric were there and the guy who won too. They all congratulated me. I remember reading somewhere that ultras there is no big crowd at the finish like at a marathon but I loved the finish. In a marathon the second you cross the finish line you immediately have volunteers telling you to "keep moving. don't block the finish line" etc but here the race director walked up and shook my hand and seemed genuinely happy to see me finish. It was great. I looked around for my kids as Eric told me that they were around. And then usual kid-chaos followed as my daughter had been stung by a jellyfish while waiting for me. The race nurse looked at it and then I carried her over (still sweating) to the life guard stand and the life guard sprayed it was some spray... A lollipop and a few minutes later everyone was OK again!
It was such a great experience for my first ultra. I learned a lot. Like maybe those long sleeved white shirts are a good idea. The liberal amounts of sunblock I applied were no match for 5 hours in the mid day sun!! I also now have an even bigger respect for the "real" ultra runners who were out there doing the 100K! Maybe one day...