Big Bend Ultra 50k Race Recap as I sit here delayed for a second time trying to get back home to DC!
Pre-Race Shenanigans included:
Giant Hula Hooping
About 8ish miles hiking
Feeding the Mayor of Terlingua his beer
I’ve been less trained for longer races. But I certainly wasn’t super trained for this either. I wasn’t sure how the course terrain was going to be but I knew the elevation gain wasn’t insane and I was looking forward to the downhill back half.
It’s a small race. Only 3 women in my age group so I knew I’d podium. But I wanted a 50k PR and secretly wanted 1st place AG.
The 50k course was more technical than I’d anticipated and damn, how sick I got of running on rocks for miles and miles. The landscape (when I’d remind myself to take a moment and look around) was truly breathtaking except for the ginormous tarantula I encountered! 😱 I am majorly arachnophobic!!! I definitely picked up the pace running past this furry desert creature. I may also have let out a very girly shriek as I scurried past it!
I ran in my new ON Cloud X which are road shoes. They were excellent for responsiveness, lightness, and agility, but I’d definitely recommend a teeny bit more cushion for this course. I’m definitely losing a toenail too.
My borrowed strategy for this lollipop course was to break it down into 6 mini races between the start to aid stations Alpha, Bravo, Charlie and back.
Bravo to Charlie was dark. I got passed by 2 dudes and 3 women, one or two of whom looked to be in my age group. I learned here that I need to work on my climbing speed. I was pretty demoralized when I lost all of them and no one else seemed to be in sight for miles and miles. However, I knew where to keep my heart rate and I kept saying to myself, “Run your race, run your pace.” I was also having some residual tummy troubles from the day before and overdid it on the electrolytes as evidenced by my puffy hands. Finally when I reached the halfway point, aid station Charlie, my tummy felt settled. I’d switched to plain water and took a couple of Advil for my nagging calf pain. From Charlie it is mostly downhill. And somehow, it all came together.
I started picking up the pace and was pleasantly surprised I could maintain anywhere from sub 10 to 11/mi pace without feeling gassed. So that’s what I did and between aid stations Bravo and Alpha, I was really shocked and stoked to catch up and pass those who’d passed me earlier in the race! Best feeling ever! Super happy to feel strong so late in the race and knew I took each of their souls. 😂
Arriving at the last mini aid station, the old dude volunteers in lawn chairs exclaimed, “Only 3 more miles!” I followed the course flags. I took a sharp left at the beginning of another loop when I should’ve gone straight. I kept running strong looking back to make sure none of the folks I’d passed was catching up.
No one. Then looking at my Garmin, I was supposed to be 1.5 miles out from the finish but instead ran past a crystal field I’d run by at the beginning of the race but in the same direction. I thought I should’ve been running the other way.
I looked up for my landmark Anvil and realized I was running the wrong way. I looked back and saw one of the girls so then I thought I was still good to go. But I had this weird feeling in my gut that something wasn’t right. I then see 3 young guys coming toward me. They were running the 50miler. I asked, “Which way to the finish?” Clearly the opposite way! About face, it was.
At that point, I thought maybe I’d be 2 miles over the course but then we approached those lawn chair guys again and realized I’d end up running an extra 4ish miles when everything was said and done. Anger fueled me at this point. I just didn’t understand where I’d made the wrong turn.
I stayed with the young girl behind me as we didn’t want to make the wrong turn again. It was great to have to be the one to reassure another runner. It calmed me down a bit and helped keep things positive. Once we figured out where we went wrong, I took off for the finish.
The hardest part during those last extra miles was knowing that the other women in my age group had probably finished by now. I literally thought, “Well, it’s character building.” I kept up my pace knowing I’d still bag a PR despite the extra miles and it felt great knowing I could keep running well past 35 miles.
Crossing the finish line with a 50k PR and 2nd place AG despite the mistake was pretty awesome, as was the post race love and food that awaited me.
I am filled with an enormous amount of gratitude, motivation, and love.