BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!...2:55a.m. The alarm goes off to wake me for what would be one of the best days of my life. Bundling up for a frigid morning (the temperatures had been in the record lows for the area this week), complete with my new Sprinter Black Diamond head lamp....Wyatt and I left for the course. The race started with the elite women's pack charging up the first hill. Initially, I got caught up in the competition, but quickly realized I needed to sit back and enjoy this beautiful, starry morning and eat some breakfast :) (Eating a lot throughout the race was the overall plan). We crest the first hill and I took off.... really just running my own race, using my strengths (the technical downhills mostly). I was surprised that no one came with me, but thought we would probably go back and forth a bit over these first few sections. That didn't happen. Although it was still dark, the stars lit up the ocean crashing against the rocks on the coastal trail as I ran happily. Shortly after that I arrived at the Tennessee Valley aid station (about 9 miles in) and took a brief look back to see the dancing headlights trying to chase me down. A little baffled at the amount of people and support at the aid station, Wyatt quickly stepped out of the crowd for the water bottle exchange and I was on my way. The next 20 miles were almost a blur with the exception of "THE" Timmy Olson literally helping me with my drop bag at one of the aid stations- I was shocked an ultra stud like that would take time to help me- just goes to show HOW AMAZING ULTRA RUNNING PEOPLE ARE!!!. Head down, focused on the course, I battled the cold wind. When I made the turnaround at the out and back portion of the course, I was greeted by Megan and Magda only a few minutes behind me. With the wind at my back and a technical downhill section next, I capitalized on my lead. Throughout the race I focused on taking a lot of GU Energy Gels, eating 3x as many Simply Bars as I normally do, and pushing the fluids. Good thing I had the Ultimate Direction Vesta to hold it all! Although it was a chilly day, the sections with sun burned me up! It was enough to soak me with sweat until I ran into a colder, damp mystical forest. What a diverse course! The unique sights, trails and challenges would put this event on top of my race charts.
Rolling through the aid stations, I was finally on the last climb. Frustrated, because I had just learned that Magda was only 1 minute behind ( actual: 7.5 minutes behind but no one knew for sure)...I was going to hammer up this last uphill and anyone who tried to pass me would have to die trying. There was only 6 miles to go at this point and once I got to the top it was a 2 mile downhill and 1 up to the finish...as my new friend Michael informed me and passionately said..."you got this!" as he climbed up and away. Totally locked in now, I was giving everything I had. I crossed the finish line in disbelief. How AMAZING God and his gifts are! I have never felt so blessed, grateful, and slightly overwhelmed. I've never crossed the finish line with that much media before. The cameras shot off like fireworks as I pushed through them, making my way to a hansom guy in bright yellow, my hubby, my head crew and #2 fan (not #1 because that is my brother's spot :) Throwing my arms around him, we embraced, my body relaxed and I whispered, "Go team Yates!" 7:21:51, 1st Female, 21st overall The next few days were filled with way too much driving but an experience I will also never forget- Viewing the Redwoods. What power and strength these magnificent, mystical trees have. I was blown away. Now, a few more days of rest, then back to training. No time for a long vacation as hoped...I didn't realize the shorter time frame I had in order to prepare for the next race, Rocky Raccoon 100 miler. Vacation to follow that race!!! Rocky here I come :) THANKS TO MY SPONSORS: 1. ULTIMATE DIRECTION 2. GU ENERGY 3. ICESPIKE 4. BODY ARMOR SUPER DRINK 5. THE SIMPLY BAR 6. BLACK DIAMOND EQUIPMENT