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Tracy Vroeginday

Note: The following is Tracy's report, as posted on the Ultralist on July 9, 2012.

Sorry, I don't have a blog so I'm posting the full report here.

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."

Started off the race with my friend, Steph, who kept repeating that she
goes slow, yet seemed to be going at a pretty good clip.  She actually
won the women's race!  At mile 25, we completed our first out and back
and were at the S/F line.  I had to tend to a blister on my heel but
couldn't find my damn blister pads and band aids! Steph headed back out
but had a first aid kit by her drop bag.  I found a gauze pad, taped it
over the blister and set off.  Since we followed everyone when the race
started, I didn't pay enough attention to when we made our first turn. 
Though the bulk of the race was on the actual trail, we had to run a
short distance on the road to get to the trail and there was a turn
involved.  I missed the left hand turn and continued straight.  I saw a
woman in a car on the side of the road and asked her if she was part of
the race. She said she was (her husband was a past participant and
volunteering this year) so I asked her which way to go.  I pointed to
the left and she wasn't sure but thought so.  I run up a damn hill and
figure out it's not the correct way.  I wave my hands to stop an
oncoming car and ask them if they have any idea how to get to the trail,
which they didn't.  I go back to the lady in the car and tell her that
wasn't the right way.  I asked if she had anyone's phone number.  By
this time, I began crying hysterically.  She sees her husband drive by
to the S/F area and drives her car to go ask him.  I wait for her to
come back and find out that I actually ran too far down the road and
missed the previous turn.  Because of this mistake, I added 1.5 miles
and 25-30 min. to an already long race and was so stressed out.

So I get back on the correct route but lost hope of catching up with
Steph.  She was probably 40 min. ahead at this point.  There was a
pretty good thunderstorm that started before noon and cooled things
off.  I ran some decent miles by myself.  However, by the time I got to
the 40 mile mark, I had multiple painful blisters.  A really nice
volunteer tried to patch me up but it was hard to contain them and run
comfortably, especially when the terrain is rocky!  "Deer pellets,"
Carl?  'Fraid not.  I found myself struggling quite a bit to keep good
running form and not turn my feet too much.  I'm thinking that's what
caused (and aggravated) the blisters.  I'm not prone to blisters when
running, even when my feet get drenched from rain.

So as if the blisters weren't enough, I also started to get stomach
issues about 10 hours or so into the race.  I can't remember how long it
lasted but I did have to make a few pit stops.  I've now become an
expert at using the bathroom on the trails. :-)   By this point, I was
reduced to mostly walking with some jogging spurts as I felt able.  I
asked a couple of volunteers if I could realistically finish the race if
I was walking so much so early.  They said all I had to do was 20 min.
miles - 3 miles an hour and I would make the cutoff.  I press on and
when my Garmin hit 50 miles, the time was 12 hours.  However, I was
still almost 2 miles from the S/F, due to the extra mileage I added. 
And the course was also a little long. Didn't get back to the S/F until
12 hours, 30 something min.  Then spent time trying to bandage my
blisters.  I had trouble though as they were on the bottom of my feet
and back of my toes.  Headed back out and was able to reach my husband
by cell.  I filled him in on all the issues - he was sympathetic.  Then
he put my 9 y/o son on the phone and I tell him that I'm trying but it's
very hard.  He says, "You can do it, Mom" and I got all choked up.  Then
my 6 y/o gets on the phone and says the same thing.  I hung up with
them, cried for awhile, and tried to distract myself with some music. 
My MP3 player was cutting in and out, perhaps it got wet in the rain. At
around 6 p.m., the chafing began.  I spent so much time at the S/F that
I figured I would change shorts the next time I was back, as I still
felt okay in the ones I was wearing.  Little did I know that would soon
change.  Came upon a volunteer and asked if he had some lube, which he
did. Pile it on thick and press on.  Happen to turn around and who do I
see running toward me but my pacer, Emmy, with a Wendy's bag in hand
(cheeseburger and fries).  We literally walked for 5 hours straight. 
Any time that I started to run, I was derailed by trying to keep steady
footing on the rocks.  We arrived at the drop bag point near the
turnaround at about 10 p.m.  One of the race coordinators (Dave) tried
to coach me - he said not to think about all of the mileage in front of
me but break it into segments and see how I feel when I make it back to
the S/F line, which would be 75 miles.  Oh, he also said that eventually
my feet will go numb and the blisters won't hurt any longer.  I actually
heard that from a few people.  But at what point in the race would this
happen - mile 80?!  LOL  There was a 2 mile segment to the turnaround
and then we would be back at that station again.  As Emmy and I headed
out, the chafing gets worse.  I tell her I'm ready to rip my damn shorts
off.  She says some guy actually did that in a race she was in.  I try
to alleviate some of the rubbing by holding the shorts off my legs while
walking.  Must have looked pretty funny.

So we're walking along the trail and all of a sudden my cell phone
rings.  LOL  It's my husband wanting to know how I'm doing.  I told him
I didn't want to have to come home and tell everyone that I didn't
finish, blah, blah, blah but Emmy said no one would care, they would be
impressed with what I did.  As I'm talking to him, huge fireworks
started going off and it sounded like a battle zone. Anyway, I knew at
that point that I was going to call it once we went 2 more miles back to
the drop bag station.  I didn't have the mental fortitude to press on
any longer.  I told Emmy of my decision and she was supportive.  At the
pace we were going, it would have required another 12 hours on the
course.  So my official finish time - 64.5 miles/18 hrs. 24 min. 
Technically, it was 66 miles (since I got lost), which is the longest
I've ever run.

Rylan, one of the volunteers, drove Emmy and I back to the S/F. Another
runner who got back to the S/F asked about my status and I told him I
DNF'd.  Carl, the race director, heard me and said, "Tracy, we don't
have DNF's."  That was awesome!  So I joked that I opted for the 100K
option, though clearly this is not one of the race distance choices
listed on the website.

So that's my story.  Really don't think I want to attempt that distance
again, even though crazy ultrarunners are telling me to give it 2
weeks.  It just doesn't represent how I want to experience running.  I'm
thinking a 12 hour race is what I would enjoy as a maximum time and
distance to pursue.  I'm looking forward to a decent recovery period
followed by marathon-focused training (in hopes of qualifying for Boston
one day).

Thanks for reading.  No regrets, as it was an eye-opening experience.