since I am incapable of such concise thought I will drone on about all the minutiae of the day.
Jane and I got dropped off at the start and were immediately surrounded by seriously hardcore trail runners. We were the only ones in pink. We also were probably the only ones that hadn't eaten twigs and soil for breakfast.
These people were not your typical flashy tri-folk. They were sinewy, weathered and ready to pound out 7 and 8 min miles on trails with over 3,000 feet of climb and 5,000 feet of often technical decent for over 30 miles.
Well, at least we look cute
The start was at the top of Highway 9 in Saratoga. The race director essentially said, 'have a good run' and we were off. Ultrarunning is very low key. If you want a lot of fanfare I would suggest that ultrarunning is probably not for you.
Within about 500 yards we were DFL. Don't worry I have photographic evidence to prove it.
Here is the back of the pack. Were we dropped so fast it was as if we had our own start.
I had been told that the first 6.5 miles were the most glorious downhill on a soft redwood trail that you would ever experience. It did not disappoint. It was beautiful and easy and we were feeling quite wonderful.
Wonderful until I suddenly felt a sharp pinch then burning sting on my back behind my right arm. Then we watched as a runner in front of us flailed and pawed at her hair. "Swarm of Bees! Run!" Jane screams. I am a little slow on the uptake and I get stung again. Christ, that hurts.
We were attacked again at mile 2 and then a third time at about mile 4. Then in the ultimate insult one of the little fuckers stung me at mile 28. Mile fucking 28! This, of course, caused me to swear profusely. Which I did (in my defense, unknowingly) in front of sweet, blue eyed cherub, his little sister, and their shocked parents. Whatever, that shit hurts!
All told I was stung 6 times. I still have to take Benadryl to sleep at night almost 3 days later.
I later found out that the attacks were by wasps. Yellowjackets to be exact. Now, as a biologist I should not wish harm upon an entire species, but I have done the research, and I see absolutely no value to these vile, spiteful creatures and am hereby calling for their elimination from the planet.
"But, wait they are important animal pollinators", the wasp-loving, twig eaters will whine.
Honeybees are cute, fuzzy, excellent pollinators, and only sting you if you are stupid enough to try to harm them first. They are not prone to chickenshit, unprovoked attacks. Yellowjackets consider yourself on notice!
Anyhoo back to the story.
Yellowjackets notwithstanding, it was a BLAST! Beautiful, easy, and we took every opportunity to take silly pictures: Jane and fallen redwood, RBR in redwood hollowed out by a lightning strike.
Here we started a long, slow, slightly demoralizing climb. Don't get me wrong it was still beautiful, but I started to wory about our ability to make it to mile 15.5 by the 1 pm cutoff.
By time we got to the top of China grade and the second aide station we had actually passed two people! We were no longer DFL! One guy looked pretty bad and said there was much more climb than he had bargained for and the other guy was demoralized by both bees stings and the climb.
The volunteer at the aide station said we had plenty of time to get to the next aide station where the cut off was.
Breathtaking views, childlike scampering over rock formations, quad frying technical downhills. I have to say I was giddy with joy. It was so AWESOME! Pictures: Me hamming it up as usual, Jane tearin' up the trail, Stunning view and stunning trail.
Sucked plain and simple. We made the cut off but we had to push it and then we were treated to a celebratory climb for over 3 miles. I think this picture sums up our morale during this stretch.
After the aide station at mile 20.3 there was not another aide station for almost nine miles. There was one more big climb and the rest was downhill.
Jane and I separated during this stretch and ran alone. This part was equal parts hard and amazing. I felt like I just ran and ran. My Garmin was unreliable in the forest and I had no idea how far I had gone or how far I had left to go. I vacillated between wanting it to be done and I wanting it to continue.
I have to admit I felt a little super human during this stretch. I was tired, I was sore, but I was still running and enjoying myself. Picture: A bench made from a redwood log at about mile 24-25.
After what felt like hours, I finally reached the mile 29 aide station. I instantly fell in love with the volunteer and tried to woo him with my charm and wit. Oddly, he seemed unaffected by my advances.
What? Salt encrusted, foul smelling, babbling idiots, able to devour a package of red vines in one swallow aren't his type? Freak.
Whatever, I pressed on. There were just 2 miles left. The Marsh trail was the last half mile and you would have thought I found the Holy Grail when I saw the bridge over the marsh.
The finish line was orange traffic cones and a clock that read an embarrassing 8:52 finish time, but I finished. I survived it and I still had a smile on my face as I crossed the line.
I captured possibly the WORST finish picture EVER of Jane as she crossed the line, but we had done it. We ran 31.1 miles.
Regardless of finish time I am immensely proud of us both.