Four years after I was ecstatic to make the list for Bill’s Bad Ass 50K I finally took part in the event. In 2011 I sat out due to my heart condition. In 2012 I sat out due to leg injury and post dog attack issues. In 2013 I ran away to Kentucky for what I thought was a true love story. 2014 was the year I knew despite kidney stones, depression and blah blah blah I was showing up at the starting line…and guess what? I did!
The week before I ate properly and stretched and rested. The day before I drank plenty of water/sports drink mix and carb loaded. The night before I set out my outfit and settled into bed. Then at 700 AM and as the sun rose over the trees, I found myself joining a group of wonderful friends for a day out in the woods. It was about 30 degrees, we all dressed in many, many layers and were thankful it didn’t rain or snow, or get too windy.
The race itself involves 6 laps around a 5 mile course. After the six laps, runners head across the road to a ridiculous and steep hill about a mile long both ways. Haha. At the top one must collect a piece of candy to prove you made it to the top, and bring it back down to the “finish line”.
Most people bring lots of food and drink to share. I arrived early to drop $40 worth of groceries off. I didn’t need 90% of them, but I never know what I’ll want, and with allergies it’s better to have and not need than to need and not have a choice. I started my morning with half a Wendy’s grilled chicken sandwich. I’ve done this for most of my races this year and I have yet to experience any issues. Along with Megan (pictured above) and Melissa I jogged off into the distance. It didn’t take long for most people to pass us by and Melissa and I were bringing up the rear with smiles and stories.
I don’t know the exact elevation of the course, I don’t wear a Garmin or anything else anymore. I find it distracts from my true enjoyment of running. AKA I get too competitive and goal oriented. I can tell you at the end of the event my FitBit registered a TON more steps than expected (consistent with the extra movement of trail running) and it thinks I climbed 300 floors. Since I finished 5 laps, that would be about 60 floors per loop? Anyway. Yes, lots of hills, 3.5 water crossings and mud and leaves.
About 2/3 of the way into the first loop, another friend of mine came across the trail. She started late and managed to catch up with us. I went off with her briefly thinking I’d never keep up long and would wait for Melissa not too far in the distance. Amazingly I kept up with Tap and after 2 laps together her friend Randy joined for another 2 loops.
If you’re doing the math, that puts us at 10 miles with Melissa/Tap then 10 more miles with Tap/Randy for 20 total miles. One of the BEST moments of the whole race happened with Tap on our second loop. During a “flatter” section of the course I pulled out the second half of my sandwich. I hadn’t told her about my meal plan, so when she looked over to say something she did a double take before saying “Where the F*** did you get a Wendy’s sandwich?” And as I was laughing and almost choking she continues “No. For real. I don’t see a F*** drive-up window in the woods” Not sure if the second part is a direct quote though. I guess that is a weird sight, huh?
Near the end of the 4th loop I was feeling FANTASTIC. I swear it was my steady diet of having a grape G2 Gatorade (12 oz) and a package of Golden Oat BelVita Breakfast Biscuits every loop. I had all the energy and strength I could have hoped for and almost pulled a negative split. I phoned my Mom quickly to tell her to expect me for my last loop at 3:30 PM.
Running/walking my 5th loop alone was not a concern. I enjoyed the quite time to reflect and I wasn’t really alone. In fact I was shocked how many people kept coming by on the trail. Both runners and casual hikers out and about on a Saturday. Sadly, the miles caught up with me somewhere between 20-25 miles and I slowed down without knowing it. Mom met me very close to the end of the loop and we jogged in together. It was between 3:45 and 4:00. I missed the cut off and was dropped from the race. The cut off was set to keep all runners and volunteers from being in the dark. Probably a little for safety reasons, but also because it’s an all volunteer (free) event so who wants to be out there that long?
Sure, there was a part of me that was super bummed. A bigger part of me was SUPER pleased though. I just ROCKED 25 realllllllly difficult trail miles. I wasn’t sick, or moody or anything negative and the drop wasn’t my “choice” or “needed”. I COULD have finished if there wasn’t a time limit. Heck I even played the “what if” game and realized if I ran a lil faster and took quicker aid station breaks, I could have made THIS cut off. Yet, I also knew this was the best thing for me. I accomplished my goals.
- I showed up and started the race (enough right there)
- I gave what I could (had to hold back to keep safe for Philly)
- I had FUN
Walking over to Chef Bill’s car, I turned in my $10 to buy a mug since I didn’t earn one for free. I kept a smile on my face the whole time. It was a great event and I did it without hurting myself, meaning I will be good to go for Philly next weekend.
I know it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea to start an event they know they may not finish. I know a lot of people would be embarrassed to post a DNF. Today and for this race, I’m not either of those groups. In my book, a 25 mile DNF is NOT a failure. I was able to enjoy the day with friends I was able to learn about myself and my body, and I’m able to keep being active and healthy, How could that be wrong?