My team ended up with a 7:00 start time and planned to meet at the starting line at 6AM., Because I had opted not to drive up to Ft. Collins the night before, I had to get up at 3:30 in the morning on Friday in order to get going and arrive on time. Of course, I was up until nearly midnight Thursday night (freaking/packing/freaking some more/unpacking my over-packing/freaking yet sill more) so this promised to potentially start out very badly. But, I think because I was so excited and nervous, I didn’t really have any extra emotional room left over to be tired Friday morning. I was in Van #2, which meant that we wouldn’t actually be running until close to noon. So I spent a leisurely morning lying around and getting to know my vanmates. We made a breakfast stop, a grocery stop, and then headed up to the first van exchange to wait. At the inactive van waiting area, I kept seeing other runners and thinking, “wow, that guy/girl looks REALLY familiar” and it was kind of an odd, surreal thing. I mean, EVERYONE looked familiar, but obviously I didn’t know 99% of them. It was all a very déjà vous experience.
hey kid, don't I know you?
As for my runs, I ran legs 12, 24 and 36, which logistically speaking are the best legs to run IMHO. I got plenty of rest time upfront. I got to run into the van exchanges, which were the most heavily-populated with cheering crowds and music. I got to take a hot shower (commence 17-year-old-boy's-fantasy: 25 naked, in-shape chicks, 4 to a group shower, in a high school locker room--you're welcome GQH) after leg 24 and the promptly fall asleep for 5 hours all warm and clean. I got to run into the finish, joined by the rest of my team to cross the line together. Perfection!
amazing mountain views
Amazing! Cows! Next to the highway! Mooing loudly!
At the start of my first leg!
My first run (leg 12) was about 3:00PM on Friday. It was sunny and hot and about 8500’ elevation, but I only had 2.5 miles so it was completely manageable. My second run (leg 24) was a heavenly, wondrous 5.5 miles at 3:00AM on a rural highway, under the full moon and a gazillion stars. I passed several runners on this leg, as though it was at 8000’, it was fairly flat with just a few gently rolling hills. The thought I kept having over and over and over as I ran was, “THIS is why I run.” It was so dark, quiet, peaceful, and the weather was perfect (about 40 degrees or so). I just felt so happy and grateful to be there and able to do that run. I felt strong, fast, and free, and my heart was full. It was probably one of my top 3 runs of all time. I then got some good, solid sleep after this run and felt refreshed when I woke up Saturday morning to enjoy a hot pancake breakfast at the van exchange site.
van exchange #2, early, before it got busy & turned into a
full-on party scene. what, you didn't know
that Woods Landing, WY is where the Partay People go?
the sweet little babbling brook where i cooled
and de-stunkified my feet at van exchange #2. it is now
classified as a Superfund site...
My last run (leg 36) of 5 miles was about 1:00PM on Saturday. It was back down at about 6500’ and was another lovely leg that ran along the river in Steamboat., where I could hear and see all the tubers having fun on the water. It was warm and sunny and I SO wanted to jump in the water and join them! This run for me was just ok; I was hot and by the last little uphill at the end, my legs were starting to get tired. I knew that Hubs and the Shorties would be waiting for me at the end, so I was eager to see them, along with the rest of my teammates. And I was ready for some food!
My camera battery died. Must. Get. Pictures. From. Vanmates.
especially the one of us cleverly putting bunny ears on one
another at Rabbit Ears Pass. It was a lot cuter going on minimal sleep.
My team (the Greatful Treaders) finished the race in 30:16:50 0 with an average pace of:09:08 and 61st out of 142 teams overall. We were 10th in our division (Mixed) out of 33. It amazes me that the winning team finished in only 19 hours and 37 minutes, with an average pace of 5:55. That freakin knocks my shorts off! (really, literally, they are sitting here next to me on the floor as I type this now! Ok so maybe that’s because I changed out of them after my run and left them in a sopping wet heap on the carpet, but whatev.) I know they passed us at some point, but for the life of me, I never saw them. Obviously they were going too fast for me to notice more than the swift breeze sent up in their wake. 12 people running 5:55 up THOSE mountains for 200 miles! Now THAT is some serious crazy.
Ok so perhaps I may have already decided which (more challenging, more miles) leg I want next year. And I might have been mulling over trying the 6x6 Ultra category. And it’s possible that I have been secretly googling “ultra running races” the last few days. Full-on Nuts-o, here I come.