Holiday Lake 2010
My first thought a few days before the race was "What have I gotten myself
into?" I was just a month out of physical therapy due to a significant IT
band issue . Another illness, work commitments and life in general had
made a horrible impact on training properly. I hadn't even run a marathon
before. My longest run ever had only been 20 miles on a treadmill due to
all the snow we had gotten in the Metro DC area. Could I really pull off a
50k in these conditions?
I was seriously starting to question my training and running the race
until I received the last email from Dr.Horton, and I quote:"If you are
scared away from the snow, and you are a big sissy, and are not tough
enough to run on Saturday, please let me know asap." That sealed it. I
started packing my race gear like I was going into battle. Which I was.
I drove down with my family Friday afternoon and stayed in a camper on my
mother-in-law's farm in Farmville about 30 minutes out from Holiday Lake.
I met up with my running partner, Christine, at the pre-race dinner Friday
night. I had talked her into running this race with me and I just KNEW she
was cussin' me. The dinner was great. The atmosphere was very fun and all
the other runners I met were very friendly. Dr. Horton's humor and
enthusiasm were very contagious. After the prize giveaways (I got a nice
Montrail cap) Dr. Horton sat down with first time Ultra runners and gave
some advice. Some of the things he went over:
How to tell if you are running too hard.
Men, duct tape your nipples.
How you should fuel yourself for the run.
Wipe yourself well to avoid butt rash.
and his key piece of advice, Patience. Practice patience on the course.
Did it quell my nerves any? Not really, but at least I knew there were
others that had similar circumstances as myself. I said goodbye to
Christine around 9pm and made plans to meet up with her at the Check-in at
The first thing I see Saturday morning when I wake up is that it's snowing
and there is about a half inch accumulation already. This ought to be fun.
I arrive at the start at 6:20 due to slippery road conditions. I check-in
,meet up with Christine, and get to the starting line very quickly.
Everything is happening super fast. No time for mental prep at all and my
adrenaline is in overdrive. After all the runners sing the National Anthem
the race is on. Here we go!
Two miles into the run and I knew this race was a different kind of
animal. I had never run on snow before and my body needed time adjust. It
was almost like running on sand at times. The fine powdery snow taking a
lot of energy out of your legs. I started feeling my left hip flexor
twinge and I wasn't even at the 1st aid station . Ugh. I started repeating
a mantra in my head. "Run slow but strong."
My fuelbelt was also giving me problems. It kept sliding off my hips and
pulling my shorts down. I was constantly pulling both the belt and shorts
up. Christine asked from behind me "You lose weight or something?" I made
a quick stop at the 1st aid station and fixed the fuelbelt issue. I had
forgotten to tie my shorts so they slid down easily. I also moved my
fuelbelt to the outside of my vest to make it tighter. It never gave me
any problems after that.
The next obstacle was "the creek". It was smaller then I expected. I could
have jumped it if there hadn't been a slowdown from other runners. With my
feet freshly wet and cold I continued to run and came upon the real
"creek". This one was much wider. I barreled though it and kept going.
My running partner, Christine, pulled away from me at this time as I knew
she would. She is a strong runner and I expected her to do well in this
race. My foot started hurting at about mile 11 and I could feel the a
blister coming on. It would have to wait until the turnaround to do damage
The front runners started coming at about 13 miles into the first loop.
They all looked fresh and I eyed them with envy as they flew by. I met
Christine at mile 15 as she was on her second loop. She was looking
strong. We high fived and I wished her luck.
I came into the turnaround at 3:12 not too bad a pace. I went to my
dropbag for my medkit and dry socks. When I tried to untie my shoes I
started laughing. I couldn't do it. The laces were frozen solid. I opted
to just pull them off and inspect my damaged right foot. I had a huge
blood blister the size of a marble on my second biggest toe. It was
painful and when I went to fix it I realized I had forgotten my medkit. Oh
well, I took a safety pin from my number and lanced it. Blood came jetting
out. I know you aren't supposed to lance blood blisters but I had to
relive the pressure. I did find some tape and took some time to bandage
the toe with it. This took a lot of time
because by now my hands were pretty cold and were not cooperating. By the
time I ate something ,refilled my waterbottles and took off for the second
loop it was 3:35 into the race. I spent WAY to long in there.
I wish I could say the the rest of the race went spectacular and that my
second loop was faster. I cannot. At mile 18 my legs turned to rubberbands.
I walked every little grade I ran into. I kept telling myself "make it to
the next aid station."
Right before the aid station at mile 20 there was a man with a cross, I
later learned he had actually ran while carrying it. He was encouraging
everyone on saying "God bless you all." I really needed at the time. At
the aid station I started to chow. I figured I was bonking because my
nutrition was poor. I had some cookies, some donut holes and then some
trail mix. I refilled my water bottles and started walking the uphill
climb from the aid station. By the time I made it to the top I had gotten
my legs back and was able to start running.
I chatted with lots of runners along the way. They were great. They gave
lots of advice and encouragement. They kept me going and made the
difficult miles endurable. When I passed struggling runners I encouraged
them as well, letting them know they could do it. Just keep pressing. When
I made the last aid station I was so relieved.They cow belled me in and
filled my water bottles. I have to commend every aid station worker that
day. They were phenomenal and their hard work is appreciated. They sent me
off with 3.8 miles to go.
I knew I was at the back of the pack but I didn't care. I was about to
finish my first Ultra but I do remember cursing those extra "Horton
Miles". When I hit the blacktop my energy surged again and I finished
strong. My family was waiting for me and cheered me on. My son and
daughter ran across the finish line with me. 7:50 flat... Slow but proud.
My running partner was there as well. She did a fantastic job and finished
6th female overall. Way to go girl!
This was such an adventure for me and the snow which made it that much
more difficult also made that much more unforgettable. I can't wait for my