Wednesday, October 21, 2009

New River Trail-Part 3 The Tunnel to the Finish (Mile 24 to finish) Now with pictures!

Partaking in the aid station treats...all the aid station volunteers were so nice and the homemade goodies were really yummy! Here you can see several runners enjoying the various yummy treats and beverages in the very well stocked aid stations

Does it say we are not supposed to lie down and sleep on this bench?? Well, if I want a nap, I am going to take a nap! This little park was attached to a hike in campground. But this park was only open during daylight hours. And it had several rules including no swimming and no sleeping. This park was kind of challenging to get to because you had to walk down a set of stairs to get closer to the riverside.

My personal barking section as I approached the finish line...these dogs were really encouraging as was their master. And they were pretty close to the finish somewhere between mile 29 and mile 31 and were able to report this to me.
Evidently, the dogs and the lady were family members of another runner as they (and their runner) crossed the finish line about 50 minutes after I finished.

After the finish, savoring my victory! And of course showing my ability to stand. I felt really good throughout the entire race. And I was so happy to finish this race with only a little bit of rain and relatively warm.

After the race, the post race homemade soup, a small walk on the New River Trail and a frozen yogurt to celebrate, we had to go to a pet store to replace Gilligans leash. In the pet shop there were two baby (6 week old) chinchillas for sale. They were so adorable! I tried to convince Tristan that he should get me the pair as a finishers chinchilla. Sadly he did not get me either or both chinchillas (which I would have named New River and Chandler Creek to commemorate the race:-).

After seeing the “light at the end of the tunnel”, I knew I was well on my way to a successful finish. I was feeling strong, enjoying the race and finally the weather was looking a bit better. While not sunny, at least the sky was getting brighter and it was not feeling as damp and humid.

Jogging from the tunnel to the bridge that crosses the New River I had a major internal debate that nearly got violent. I wanted to take all my clothing that was tied around my waist (a jacket and a long sleeve shirt) as well as all the raingear (poncho, hat and my bandana) and jettison it at the mile 25 aid station. But I was not positive I would not need anything, hence my heated internal debated. I ended up deciding during this section I should leave my poncho, hat and bandana at the aid station for the nice volunteers to take to the finish. And I would keep my long sleeve shirt tied around my waist. Then I would get rid of most of my extra stuff but I would still have a bit of a safety blanket if it did get colder.

I was sorry to be leaving Chandler Creek because I knew the downhill section of the course was coming to an end. Also the creek was very cute and I liked the little rapids we would run by occasionally and how it was only 10-20 feet wide, thus meeting my description of a babbling brook. Pretty soon I arrived at the railroad bridge. I took several pictures before, during and after I crossed this ~500+ foot long bridge. The bridge still has a section of trestle that looks like a typical railroad bridge. The remainder of the bridge is surrounded by a wooden fence about 4 feet tall. I am not sure why it is so high, but I liked this fence as I did not worry about inadvertently stepping a foot or two left or right and then falling into the river. During the race I felt very strong and was not overly worried about stumbling but sometimes I sort of trip unprovoked.

As I neared the end of the bridge, my friends from the first aid station were “hootin and hollarin”. They were really enthusiastic! I grabbed my cup which only said “Tammy” and drank several glasses of Gatorade and ginger ale which continued to be my favorite beverage of champions. I also nibbled on some pretzels and a bit of banana. Having the finish line in my sights I did not spend much time here. But I did confirm the nice volunteers would transport my bag (which I had added my poncho, hat and bandana too) to the finishline. After grabbing a victory cookie and thanking the volunteers, I was on my way.

Exiting this aid station I had another decision (running would be so much easier without having to make decisions!). I had to pee but dislike pit toilets (which there was one right by the aid station) but I also dislike porta potties (which there was one about 800 meters from the aid station). What to do, what to do. The pit toilet had no one in the ladies side. But alas I decided to press my luck and continue on to the porta potty. Running along I was able to see runners getting on the bridge who I passed over the previous few miles. My impression was that most of these runners were slowing down, although I know I was picking up a little speed.

When I finally arrived at the porta potty I was a little worried. There was a gentleman on a bike right in front of it. Had I just gotton on a line 2 people long? I asked the gentleman if he was waiting, but he pointed to the sign about the campground that may have been the reason for the porta potty and said he was reading it. I was in luck. A few moments later I finished my business and was back on the course for about 5 steps. The riverside hike in campground and park had a pretty funny sign about “No sleeping” and “No Swimming on the park side. I thought it would be pretty amusing to take a picture of me sleeping in this park during the race. Sadly I was alone so it had to be a self portrait (thus of marginal quality). Even worse getting down to this little park with the bench involved about 25 steps down a rickety stone staircase. But of course I will do anything for a picture. Getting down to this bench was kind of challenging due to the 26 miles on my feet as well as the not so regulation stairs. But getting up was even more challenging. But alas I perservered!

After my little junket down to the river it was time to get back to the business of finishing this race. The next 3-4 miles passed rather quickly. The New River is rather wide at this point. The other side had a variety of houses, pastures and farms. The side of the river we were running on had the river on one side and woods on the other side. It was very pretty and many of the leaves were changing color.

During this section I started to have a leg/calf cramp in my right leg. I was kind of bummed out. I had been taking in potassium via bananas and Gatorade during the race. And of course I regularly eat banana splits at Brusters Ice Cream and Yogurt on bring your own banana night. The cramp was not too bad but definitely slowed me down a bit and worse worried me. It was pretty far into the race so I decided to just push through it rather then take an Advil to see if meds would help it go away. Pretty soon I was at the 1.7 mile to go road crossing. I decided to try to work my cramp by stretching my legs. As anyone who reads my blogs regularly may know, I don’t stretch. In fact I don’t warm up or warm down either, but that is just me and it seems to work. I am not sure if stretching my leg helped, or even if I was doing it right. But I was doing it with another runner, so I felt a little better.

After about 1-2 minutes I powered on. At this time I had no idea of the gun time (which was the only relevant time since we did not have chips). But I knew I was going to be over 6 hours. I was a little bummed but pleased to be so far under 7 hours which made up for my bummingness. In this section I passed a lady with two dogs on the course. The dogs were barking and I suggested to the lady, that the dogs were cheering for me. I passed the farms, where the trail gets really close to the road, then veers off and pretty soon I realized I was at the New River Trail Park in Fries. There was the tent, finish line and lots of people. A nice runner had walked out about 400 meters and indicated the finish line was right there and offered encouraging words. This was really nice.

Finally I was approaching the finish line. A bunch of people were there cheering. The race director, some of my friends I had met before the race, a bunch of volunteers, a few folks I had seen along the course (evidently crew of other runners) and even some random spectators. While busy taking pictures of the finish line (and me finishing) I never took a glance at the clock to see what my time was. I was happy to be finished and I knew my time was a little over 6 hours! A PR by nearly an hour, wahoo.

After crossing the finish line, I took a picture of my view of the finishline. Then a nice lady and volunteer, Anita, who I had seen at a few locations throughout the race insisted on taking a picture of me with both her camera and subsequently her camera. She was so SWEET. I also got several pictures with Annette Bednosky who asked me how I keep such a positive attitude during my run. I wasn’t sure how to respond except to say that my time of 6 hours and her typical 50 km time of 3-4 hours mean she is working a lot harder at finishing while I am working a lot harder at having a good time! I also suggested a bright pink outfit and a sparkely fanny pack helps as any time I get down, I just look down and see my outfit and it makes me happy.

Finally, after such a great experience, the icing on the cake was my friend Joe coming up to me after I finished for a hug. He is such a great guy and I was so pleased that he finished his first 50 km in good spirits and with a very respectable time of just over 5 hours. He suggested I was one of the highlights of his race, but realistically he was one of the highlights of my race! We got several pictures which I had to apologize for perhaps smelling a bit and being a bit sweaty. He then had to head back to Richmond to rejoin his family. Hopefully next year he comes back to this race and brings his family. Maybe next year his young children can watch and babysit GilliganJ

After finishing I decided I would cheer on runners until the 3 p.m. cutoff. I knew soup, bread and treats were going to be provided until 4:30, so I did not have to hurry to the post race food hall. I walked the course backwards for a bit cheering on runners. Then I wandered around aimlessly chatting with other runners and spectators while runners finished. At one point in the race I was dead last. While waiting for finishers I was shocked to realize how many people I passed. I guess slowly from about mile 15 I was inching my way forward (or were runners inching their way backwardsJ).

Everyone at the finish line was really nice and it was refreshing to be able to hang out while others completed their journey. As I waited I learned no one had dropped from the race. I thought this was cool because VT50, my last ultra had a significant drop/DNF. And even the tails for trails 40 miler also had a fairly high drop rate (hence my top 3 female finish position). We learned this when the final aid station van of volunteers made it to the finish. With this van came my stuff. It was nice to grab my extra shirt and my pants and put them back on to keep warm particularly since Tristan seemed to have disappeared.

This begins my saga of worrying how I will get to the hotel and subsequently home in Maryland. Tristan was supposed to get back to the race location by about 2:30. It was approaching 3 and there was no sign of Tristan. In fact it was not until 3:20 that Tristan finally made it back. Luckily I had enough stuff to keep me warm and I could have gone to the firestation for the post race festivities. Alas keeping myself occupied after the race was only part of my concern. My bigger concern was how to get home and what had happened to my Gilligan and husband.

After cheering on the final runners I headed to the firehouse for a bowl (or 3) of soup. I ended up eating only chicken and dumpling soup because it was my favorite. One of the other soups had beef and since I really enjoyed the chicken and dumpling I stuck with it. I also scarfed down the really yummy homemade bread. The wheat bread was delicious and I had many pieces.

At this time (during a break in my marathon soup eating), Tristan finally arrived. He joined the runners, volunteers, spectators at the firehouse and enjoyed the soup as well. We hung out for a while chatting with Anita and Jay Finkle as well as several others who had run or volunteered at the race. It was a really nice way to end the race.

On our way back to the hotel, Tristan and I decided to walk a bit more of the New River Trail. We ended up in the section by “Cliffside” which is where the turnaround was. Tristan agreed that the course was very pretty and by me pointing out places along the way, he realized he could have seen me multiple times during this race.

Finally after walking a bit over a mile, we turned around and headed back to the hotel. Our final stop on the way to the hotel was for some frozen yogurt and to a pet store to get Gilligan a new leash (apparently Tristan lost it during their hike). In the pet shop I was lucky enough to pet a pair of baby chinchilla’s that were so cute. I tried to convince Tristan that a finisher’s chinchilla or two would be awesome. Apparently I was not very convincing or else my performance was not up to finisher chinchilla standards.


Carolina John said...

hey you finished it up which is still amazing. Good job tammie!

Glaven Q. Heisenberg said...


That you finished another 50k run? No. That's impressive, but not amazing.

That you wanted a chinchilla for a pet? No. That's more borderline batsh*t crazy than amazing.

That you could still stand after the race? Nice, but not amazing.


What's amazing is that Carolina Cletus can come here, to a blog that incorporates your name in its url; has your name over to the right there with the "about me" info; says, at the end of each post, "Posted by Runner Tammy" ...

... your blog does all this to help him get past his the issues he has with basic literacy, and yet he can still manages to spell your name incorrectly.

There's your typical Mets fan for you.