The Lake Waramaug Ultra took place in New Preston, CT. It was a local race and really, that was the selling point for me. It was about an hour away from my house and I had the choice of a 50K, 50 miles, or 100K. I choose the 100k, because, well…. Why not? I was set to run an initial 2.2 mile out and back, and then x7 7.8 mile loops around the lake, and a final 2.2 mile out and back.
I wasn’t nervous about this race. I was rather calm. This is a blessing for me. I don’t like pressure and I don’t typically perform well under stress. Anything can happen in an ultra. My intention was to go out there and give it my best.
A few little things went wrong initially. I forgot some needed supplies and couldn’t find some things. I was genuinely OK. I shrugged my shoulders and said, “Ok. I’ll adapt.”
I was at the race about 1.5 hours before race time. I had plenty of time to check in and register. However, as many of us were still at our cars we saw the runners take off and start. OH MY. Well, I took off and did this without my race number and its timing chip. We were all a bit frustrated at this weird lack of start. But again, OH WELL. I had to check in with race staff at the end the initial 4.2 miles and get my time in their computer. This took up some time that I was not happy about, but really what am I gonna do? So, I continued to run.
Bottom line, NOT OK to start a race without any announcement or notice whatsoever. This also happened with the 50k start and they also started 10 minutes early, again with no announcement.
While this is a very beautiful lake and course the beauty of a place starts to fade when you hurt. I had a decent pace and met some other runners. However, the pitch of the road quickly became VERY painful. We were running on the left side of the road and there was a steep drop causing my left foot to land significantly lower than my right. This caused feet issues and hip issues.
Now, those hip issues…. Ultras hurt. This is not up for debate. I may not be the fastest, but I am tough and I don’t give up. I wasn’t going to give up here. I’m used to “ultra pain.” However, I started having pain that was related to my bicycle crash in June 2017. In this crash, I had multiple pelvis and back fractures, among other things. The bone breaks are healed, but I could feel 4 of the bone breaks. It was a scary feeling. I don’t think my pelvis and back bones were able to absorb the shock of running these sloped miles on pavement. The impact of each step was sickening. The pain was scary. Because my bones couldn’t take the impact my feet and lower legs did.
I run these distances because I can. I run for those that can’t. I run for my loved ones. I run because I’m tougher than any crap life will ever throw at me. I run and know that whatever pain I feel it will never even come close to the hurt I’ve felt in this life. I WAS FINISHING THIS RACE.
Here’s where there were more problems with this race. I like rules. I think they keep us in check and they provide stability, at least for me. Many people started dropping out of the race. I can’t say how many because most people just dropped to a lower distance. They were not given a “DNF” or Did Not Finish. They let people drop by lowering their distance. This is a race directors choice. Fine. But, I don’t like this policy. Oh well. Not my business. I’m finishing 100k.
At this point my bone pain is SEVERE. I do not complain out loud and I try to shut down the voices in my head. I avoid people that complain. I won’t feed into that energy. Fortunately, I crossed paths with my friends Natalie and Mary on lap 3. They were registered for the 50k. I could run 2 more laps with them and I am so grateful for this. They changed my mood. It was getting way too serious and sour. They allowed me to laugh, tell stories, listen, we had a great pace going, and we even stopped to take pictures.
When I got to lap 6, I was running solo, and only very few runners were even left. I had a 13 hour cutoff. It was going to be close. The cutoffs for the 50k, 50 miles, and 100k were all 13 hours. By the time I finished lap 7 I knew I needed to complete the last 4.4 miles in less than 40 minutes. I was running a 10:30 min/mile pace and walking at 15:00 min/mile pace. I knew I wasn’t going to make it.
I asked a race volunteer how strict the cutoff was. I had noticed that some race aid stations and some equipment were being taken down over 2-3 hours earlier! NOT OK!!! I was told that I could continue. I was also told that no one might be there when I returned, so I could send them my GPS recorded time at finish. I was the only one left out on the course. My husband and 3 of my 4 children were at the race, but had to leave for school bedtime. My buddy and longtime crew Chris stayed with me. I’m sure she was worried sick. The race staff just told me to end them my finish time for their record. This was a USATF certified course. REALLY?!
I finished in the dark, alone to the single cheers of my friend Chris. It’s all I needed. I don’t do this for accolades and fame. I NEEDED to finish. And I did. I had mixed feelings about being what we call “DFL” aka Dead Flipping Last. But I know there is more heart in DFL finish than exists anywhere else. So, I didn’t care. I won my last race, now I am last place.
I found out later that only TWO WOMEN EVEN FINISHED THE 100K! EVERYONE ELSE DROPPED! A handful of men finished too. I take pride in this.
Ask me if I’d do this race again and the resounding answer is HELL NO. Here’s why…. the sloped pavement course sucked. Ouch. Big OUCH. My issues are with the race. Both the 100k start was lame and missed by many, and I learned the same happened with the 50k as it started 6 minutes early. As a race director, if you still have racer(s) out on the course, you don’t leave. This is a dangerous thing to do in a litigious society. I take full responsibility for continuing. However, if I was told I had to stop because I missed a 13-hour cutoff I would have stopped. Not only is it a dangerous thing for a runner to be out on a course solo, it is a very lonely way to finish. Bad policy, but I made the best of it. I made the choice. And with that said, the aid station volunteers that supported us were amazing. I am grateful for their time and kindness. But I’m still not doing this race again.
It was another racing experience that I will learn from!