It was still dark when we arrived for packet pick-up. At 7 A.M. the 50k runners took off. The first mile felt pretty good. It was actually fun. I was going at a 7-minute pace, keeping up with a couple of other runners. They were talkative and I enjoyed eavesdropping.
One runner mentioned that he hadn't run in a long time.
"Wow," I thought, "Why is this guy running a 50k after not running for such a long time?"
"Yeah, I took the last three days off," he went on.
"Oh, three days is a long time?" I thought.
We moved off of the paved path unto a gravel road.
"Flat as a pancake," the other guy commented about the course. At mile three my watch read 22:17. There was a slight breeze blowing at our backs. I enjoyed the rural scenery. There were pretty cows grazing. There were golden corn fields all around. After a ways we ran into a rough trail in the woods. We were going to run two six mile loops.
"Ah, what a perfect way for someone to get lost," I thought. By mile 16 I was ready to go home. But both my parents were far away running their 25k and 10k. I was tired, but stopping out there in the woods would do me no good. So I kept moving. The trail was partially hidden in leaves, and there were some old roots sticking out just asking to trip some tired runner. They grabbed me twice. My knee got banged up, but worst of all I jammed my right hand's ring finger. I was glad to make it out alive, back to the gravel. It was a super long, uphill road. Iowa is not flat! The wind had really picked up...and now was blowing straight into my face. I thought of another race where a guy told me,"That's the story of my life--uphill and into the wind."
I didn't have a water pack on me; I just survived from one aid station to the next. I enjoyed water, Tailwind, gummy bears, M&M's, and best of all, dark chocolate and nuts. I always knew chocolate was good for me! At mile 27 I felt like crying. I had a side ache. I had never run that far before. But then I saw Papa and Mama up ahead! They had finished their runs and were there to cheer me on. I couldn't cry now! "I'll wait until the finish line," I thought. Just seeing my dear parents again made a big difference. I felt better and finished the race in 5:00:20. I couldn't cry then either...I was so happy!!!! I was the second female finisher and won a nice $50 gift card to the Runner's Flat. The thing that hurt the most in the following days was my jammed finger. Eight days later I set a PR of 3:49:39 at the IMT Des Moines Marothon. I'm thankful I could do my first ultra this fall! Remember, don't be afraid to go chase after your goals. Your life is a gift from God, and you only live once. Live life to the fullest!