Last year at this time, I was spending the day recovering from my (at the time) longest ever run. I finished the Titletown Ultra Series with 26.35 miles in 7 Hours and 26 minutes (you can find that adventure here). I was happy to finish what I did, but was 4.7 miles short of my goal of completing my first 50k.
This year it was time to try again.
I love the fact that over the last few years, I have been able to meet some amazing people who have been a huge source of inspiration and motivation to push to reach some of these crazy goals that I have set for myself! To my tribe, I will forever be grateful! This year’s Titletown Ultra could not have happened without them! Over the last few years, I have discovered that I would rather get out on the trails to run than on the road, but since trail races around here are limited, I still find myself pounding the pavement more. (and running a half marathon in every state would be that much harder if I tried looking for trail halfs everywhere!) Running both trail and road is ok though, because most of the crew that I run with prefers road. Everyone is different, and that’s ok. We all find what works for us! We all run together, on the road, on the trails and everywhere in between. That’s what I love about my tribe – we all do what we can to help each other succeed!
This year marked the 7th annual running of this awesome little race. I say little because race reached capacity and this year, that was about 130 runners! Most runners come from Wisconsin, but this year, 9 other states, plus New Zealand were represented! So excited that this race is going popularity! Can’t wait to see what the future holds!
One other reason that I was excited going into the race this year, was that Mother Nature decided to throw us the best weather EVER for this race! Mild temps and a few light rain showers were on the forecast – not the heat and humidity that has accompanied the race in all previous years!
Race day – A day like no other!
When the alarm is set for 3am, you try to get to sleep early. But the excitement, nerves and everything else about race morning usually keep that good nights sleep from happening! This time was no different. Headed to bed by 8:30pm on Friday night, only to toss and turn for a few hours, waking up several time and then realizing at 2am, I can’t fall back asleep. I finally turned off the alarm off just before it is set to go off and crawled out of bed. Humor of the morning… As I head down the stairs to find some food, I was greeted by my son who was just coming in from a concert. Yup, he was getting home, as I was starting my day!
Tracy and I made it to the start/finish line at the golf course about 4am so that we could grab our spot and set up the canopy. Before long, we had our little oasis set up, fuel organized and we were ready to go! Slowly, the rest of the tribe arrived and it was go time! 5:08am (sunrise) was upon us! Time to run!
At the start line, I did have a chance to meet another Skirt Sports Ambassador (Martine) that came up to the race from Indiana! Of course, in my scattered brain before the race (remember, the sun was not even up yet!), I forgot to snap a picture. I would see Martine a few more times during the day, but it was out on the course!
If we needed a sign that it was going to be a good day, Mother Nature provided… an amazing sunrise and a rainbow that appeared just as we were getting ready to start!
I really couldn’t have asked for a better day (ok, yes I could have done without the knee issues, more on that later). I started the race surrounded by friends. My tribe. I knew that Tracy had faster goals that me, so we didn’t’ really see her after we got down the first hill (which is right after the start/finish/main aid station). Renee and I headed out, with Asha right beside us, and Lisa not too far behind. By the time we hit the 1st aid station (a mile into the loop) we were all together. We would end up running the 1st 3 loops almost completely together. We were determined to have fun out there and make the day extraordinary – and yes, that meant having fun with the race photographer!
Running 31+ miles is never going to be an easy task. No matter how you slice it! But when you have good friends along, it really does make the time and miles go by faster! At one point I looked at Renee and commented that it really didn’t’ seem like we had already covered over 10 miles. We were 1/3 of the way to our goal!
“If you want to go fast, go alone, If you want to go far, bring friends!”
As we were starting loop 4, I got a message from Carrie that she was on her way out to find me and run a loop or 2! She started out running the loop backwards so that she could find us. (Last year I had friends come out to run a loop with me but they ran the loop in the same direction as we were, so they never found me!). During this loop, my knee started to bother me, so when we got back to the main aid station, I stopped to have Christine (massage therapist extraordinaire!) take a look at it. While I was getting my knee worked on, I saw another friend and her daughter who came out as spectators. Yay! More of my tribe! Once Christine got done man-handling my knee and taping it up, I was on my way again. This time, I had my posse with me! They all joined me for the next loop, which ended up being more walking that running, since I was trying to figure out how my knee was going to react.
We walked, we laughed, we got wet. Yup, it was about 1.5 miles into this loop that is started to rain! And not just a little bit! But we didn’t let it stop us. Best quote from the loop came from 11 year old Aurbee! “Mom, she’s already run over 20 miles and she is still walking faster than us… we really should keep up!” I did try running some on this loop, but I realized quickly that running more today was not going to happen. I was walking the rest of my miles. I was ok with this. As long as I was still moving forward, on my own two feet (even if the knee was not playing nice) I was not stopping.
After that loop, the girls had to leave, so I headed out on Loop 6 solo… at least I started solo. Another reason why I love the running community… you are never really out there alone. Yes, if you want to just go and stay by yourself, but if you want people to run with, chat with and just hang with for a few miles, you can usually find someone! I “ran” into Sharyl at the bottom of the hill just after I left the aid station and we walked together for the next few miles. She was on a mission to hit 50 miles! that distance still amazes me… then again, 5 years ago, I would have never even thought that I would have even considered a 50k… and here I am!
I can truly say that finishing out that loop after Sharyl started running again, was by far the toughest 3 miles I think I have EVER run (yes, even tougher than the Red Loop at Midnight during the trail Ragnar last year). There was a lot of self talk going on. Some of it was probably not nice (I really don’t remember as I Runner Brain had definitely set it by then, so I don’t know what I was thinking) and was probably questioning myself as to WHY I was doing this. My knee was hurting and WALKING down the hills was even painful. I knew I needed to turn the attitude around and make it happen. I picked myself up (mentally) and kept moving.
Finally, the main aid station was in sight!
I had about 2.5 miles to go.
All I had left to do was make it around to the second aid station.
There was nothing that was going to stop me from getting there!
I stopped for a moment to chat with Ann and knew that I just needed to keep going. I headed down the trail to make it around to where our tent was to refill my water. Then I heard Ann yelling to me to wait. She turned and said something to the gal that was near her. Little did I know that this was my Guardian Angel for the day. Ann introduced me to Wanda, and told her that I just needed to make it to aid station two. Wanda looked at me and said “ok, lets go! Lets get you that 50k!). I really didn’t know what to say!
Wanda waited for me while I refilled my tailwind and we headed out. We spent the next 2+ miles chatting, laughing, texting her husband to find out when he was coming with the kids, and so much more. Before long, Aid station 2 was right around the corner! I finished my first 50k! Wanda, I am eternally grateful for the selfless thing that you did for me! One day, I hope that I can return the favor to another runner!
I have always been a firm believer that nothing happens by chance. There was a reason why Wanda and I were at the Main Aid station at the same time. I am truly blessed for the amazing running community and how everyone is so willing to help a fellow runner out. Not only did she help me finish, but I finished in under 9 hours!
After grabbing a few snacks (yes I was hungry!), I hitched a ride back to the Main aid station where everyone was waiting.
We didn’t stick around the finish line too long as I realized that I had finished with enough time to get to Cryotherapy for a post race chill… I had 45 minutes to get there! We packed up my stuff, Darrin went to the clubhouse to get my my post race meal (awesome perk of the race!) and we were on our way.
Now that everything from the day has sunk in and I have had time to reflect, here are my final thoughts:
- Titletown Ultra, although a small event, is one that will always be one of my favorites! The race crew is amazing, the volunteers are fabulous, the food along the course will give you everything you need (and then some!)
- You never know who or what you will see on the course. Elvis made an appearance this year! Although I didn’t actually see him (I did see his guitar tho sitting next to his chair) I have seen photo’s so I know it was not just something in someone’s imagination.
- Watermelon rules! I am not sure what they do to the watermelon at Aid Station 1, but it’s the best water melon in the midwest!
- Jack and Jill with probably out on the course somewhere, but don’t try and strike up a conversation with them They are pretty quiet…
- I have some of the best running friends over! For those of you that came out to run with me, I greatly appreciate it! For those of you who decided you were crazy enough to come actually sign up for the race with me, You are THE BEST! It’s awesome to have friends that are just as crazy as me! For those that came out to run a few loops with me… maybe you will just have to sign up net year to come run with me all day!
- Will I run this one again? Absolutely! Next year, maybe I’ll have to be out on the course long enough to actually get some of the pizza when that arrives at the aid station!
- Oh yeah, you might not get an actual medal for this race, but the race swag and finisher’s mugs are second to none!
- You can find more of the pics that John took on his website!
- I may not be the fastest runner out there, and everyone else that ran the 15.5 hour event ran further and longer than me, but that’s ok. This was MY race. MY miles. MY 50K! It doesn’t matter how fast you go, it just matters that you get there!
Who’s coming to run with me next year? It’s not going to be easy, but I promise it will be worth it!
**I am a brand ambassador for Skirt Sports. I am no paid to mention them in my blog or to wear their merchandise. I loved the brand and the message “Real Women, Real bodies” before I was invited to be an Ambassador. You can find out more about her story and the merchandise on www.skirtsports.com. Some links above are affiliate links and I may be paid a small commission for any purchases made via those links.