I woke up the next morning feeling grouchy and dreading the 16 miles of cold I signed up for — I did not want to run and was trying to think of reasons to instead hang out in the warm hotel room. Unable to come up with a good excuse to defer my race number, we soon arrived back at Harbison State Forest with what I thought was just enough time to grab my number, use the good ole’ porta-potty, and start running. This time around, I was early…super early, and waited an extra 40 minutes in the cold (Chris thought the start was at 8:30 when it was actually 9:00) — “UGH” was my inner monologue. I bounced around to the music playing over the loudspeaker to stay warm in the meantime.
The race began with a horn blast, a few barking dogs (especially ours), and spectators cheering along the trail’s edge. My brain immediately focused on a few bothersome sounds— the gravel crunching beneath hundreds of feet, the heavy mouth-breathing from the runners around me, my hydration pack’s water spout bouncing against my number, and the water sloshing as it tossed side-to-side on my back. Early on in the run, I looked down at my watch to see my pace and I face planted in the dirt. Needless to say, I felt grumpy! Yikes! I looked down at my watch (again) and I was only at mile 3. I needed to turn things around and fast!
I began thinking about the kids, Chris, and the dog— they were probably off at a park having a great time playing, or maybe hiking again in the forest and picking up pinecones.
I recalled the last time I ran this same race— it was 2020, right before Chris left again for the Middle-East and before COVID hit. My friends drove up early on a Saturday morning to run the 50K. This was my second ultra-marathon. I remember the encouragement from my friend, Beth, as I arrived at the halfway mark during the 50K and how her words and presence boosted my spirits. It was uplifting seeing Jess as we realized the course distance was longer than 32 miles!
I thought about a Stroller Warrior friend from Ramstein. Molly and I ran the Jungfrau Marathon together in 2019. Our families enjoyed a pre-race meal the day before the Jungfrau that included a pot of fondue from a mountainside restaurant— one of the most delicious meals of my life! I am incredibly lucky to have such a wonderful friend who also enjoys racing up tall mountains!
How do you overcome hitting a wall during a race? Please share your stories!