Monday, December 31, 2012

Farewell 2012...

So I ran a mile every day this year.  At least.  One of those days I ran nearly 62 (it was after midnight when I finished).  Some days, I struggled to get that one mile.  I ran in place in front of the tv several times.  I used the track at the gym.  But I ran.

Through a website I use, my mileage total for this year is around 1,320.  That's running only, not hiking or biking or chasing a 5 year old around.

It's been a rough year for me.  I made some mistakes, and I lost a bit of me on that path.  I'm still feeling the bite of that loss, but I'm proud of the good things I have done this year.

Right now, I'm not sure what I'm going to do differently next year.  Just go through one day at a time, see what paths open up to me, and hope that I feel a little better each day. 

I don't think I will continue the mile a day thing.  I'll keep getting outside and keep finding things to move me forward.  It's all any of us can do.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Oil Creek 100s - 100k - accomplished.

I did it.  I ran 62.2 miles in 19 hours, 8 minutes and 56 seconds.  It was really hard, but really rewarding, and I think it went about as perfect as I could have hoped.

I went into the few days before the race feeling a bit of trepidation.  Had I run enough miles?  Had I done the training?  Was I ready?  Was I going to have food issues?  Was I going to fall and hurt myself?  How would I stay awake for over 18 hours?  These questions ran through my mind, and I gave them a moment, then let them go without answering them.  It was the day before the race.  I couldn't train anymore, I couldn't change anything I'd done.  It was time to do it.

Friday afternoon I headed down to help with set up, moving all over the place, moving boxes, chatting with folks I hadn't seen in a while, making sure I had my number and knew how everything was going to go in the morning.  After some confusion, I found my pacer, Alisha and her husband, got her a number, and told her I would call her after my first loop to give her an estimate when to meet me at Aid Station 2 tomorrow.  I said some goodbyes and headed home to sleep.

I felt crampy and nervous as I curled into bed, after double checking my gear, my drop bags, my head lamps.  It wasn't the best night of sleep, and finally when I woke up at 3 am, I just got up and started my morning.  I ate and had coffee, geared up with long sleeves with a short sleeved shirt over that, calf length tights, gloves, and a buff for around my ears.  I braided my hair back, so a ponytail wouldn't give me an eventual headache, and headed out into the wee hours of the morning.

I drove to Titusville, and got to the highschool around 4:55, about 8 minutes before the 100 milers would start.  I gave some well-wishes to some of my friends going that distance, then got my chip, pinned on my number, dropped my drop bags, and went to the bathroom several more times.  I drank a cup of water, made sure my waist pack with my one bottle of gatorade and one bottle of water was secure.

I had my ipod and headphones, gels, my phone, and enduralytes.  I knew anything else I needed would be at the aid station.  A few minutes before the race started, I dumped my gps watch on the advice of a friend.  I think it was the first excellent choice in a very amazing day.

At 6:00am we started.  The stars and sliver of moon were amazingly clear, but it was COLD.  I bounced around a bit without quite running just to warm up.  I hung to the back of the pack with a few friends until I was chomping at the bit too much.  I caught up with another friend of mine, Rob G., and he and I ended up spending most of the day together on the trail.  That first hour in darkness was really beautiful and peaceful.  It was much different than the 50k the year before.  I felt like going slow was the right thing to to.  Rob and I passed a few people here and there, then we would end up hanging out with a few different people.  We were running the flats and the downhills, walking the hills, and I realized I need to work on my power-hiking, as Rob would lose me on the hills ( he was awesome at power-walking those hills), then I would pass him running the flats and downhills.  The sun came up, revealing frost on the trees of the surrounding hills, and sparkling on all the clear areas.  I was glad I had layered up, and the only thing that was cold was my nose.

I made it to the first aid station, and drank a cup of dr. pepper, my standard, and grabbed a couple strawberries.  I had eaten a gel or two, and was drinking fine.  My stomach felt strong, everything felt great system wise, so I kept going strong.  We had a fun time, those first sections, just chatting and moving along.  We formed a group of 5 or 6 of us through the second section, and joked about bears and chatted about why trail people are the best people, and so on.  The day was going fast.

I played conservative with all my running, especially the downhills.  I knew I would have to conserve some leg if I was going to run at all in the second loop, so I trotted the flats and took the downhills nice and easy.  I made it to Aid Station 2, where Rob did some blister maintenance on his feet, I visited the port-a-john, had more doctor pepper and a quarter of blueberry bagel, then moved slowly into section 3.  Walked that very hilly section, and Rob caught up, and the rest of that section was fairly un-eventful.  More runners passed us as the 50k folk made their way by us.  Saw a few friends, and made great time.  We were set to reach the school at around 2:30 or 3, the way we were moving, which worked great in my plan.  My feet were feeling a little hot - not exactly blisters, but I was looking forward to changing into my bigger pair of shoes and a new pair of socks.

Coming into Aid Station 3, Rob and I were lucky enough to see a bald eagle flying over the creek.  We greeted the folks, and moved on, knowing we had a couple nasty hills.  I hooked up with a very nice lady and her running partner, and again was amazed and happy by how friendly everyone was.  I left Rob behind for a bit as we came down to the end of the trail towards the extra Drake Well loop and the bike path.  I knew his feet would be hurting him, and I also knew I would probably take longer at the School Aid station 4 than he would, so I trotted ahead.  As we came off the trail to do the extra loop, the train pulled along side of us, and I waved to the people on the train.  I felt kind of like a superstar.  I ran a lady in who was finishing up the 50k, then saw my husband and my kiddo there, and they ran me into the school to finish my first loop.

I was greeted by some other friends who were headed back out, and I told them maybe we'd catch back up with them (though I knew the way they move, it probably wouldn't happen), then stripped a layer of clothes off, got coffee, changed socks and shoes, realized that keeping the extra layer was probably not a bad idea, so I just changed out of my damp shirts for new too.  By this time Rob had he feet doctored, and we had both eaten.  I called my pacer and told her we would probably make it to Aid Station 2 to meet her around 6:30 or 7.  This went great with my idea of reaching that aid station before full dark. I gave my boys a last hug before we headed out, then we were on our way.  I lent Rob my extra headlamp in case he needed it(he had packed his into the drop bag at AS2), and we were off.

We walked the paved area towards the trail.  I got a little nervous at this point, because my newish shoes were bumping the ball of my ankle.  I had only worn the new shoes for maybe 20 miles, and I was a little worried I hadn't broken them in enough, and it was also the first time I had up sized a half size for shoes for running.  I bounced on my ball of my feet as if I were running, and it felt ok, so I tried not to worry about it.  I adjusted the tightness of the laces before we got onto the trail, and felt better.

I was tired.  So was Rob.  At this point we had both been up for at least 12 hours, and running for 8.5 of that.  I think that stretch was the hardest.  Rob got quiet, and we prodded each other a bit to eat and drink.  I chanted mantras about coffee at the next aid station in my head.  My legs felt leaden, but my feet felt refreshed by the new shoes.  I had also wiped my face off back at the school, and I felt ok, except just bone tired.  When we got to the aid station, I got a hug from the Aid Station captain, did my business (there was nothing wrong with the amount I was drinking during this race), and then drank 2 cups of coffee, ate a couple coffee beans, and waited until Rob was ready to continue. 

The next section was not quite as bad, and I started opening up my stride again.  Rob still was doing great on the uphills, so he would catch me while we were climbing, but then I'd run pretty quick on the flats and downs.  It was section 2 of our second loop, and would be dark soon.  I had two mini-goals in my head.  Reach the aid station before I had to use my head lamp, and that I might as well toast my legs a bit, because I wasn't going to run much in the dark anyway.  So I stretched it out, told Rob I'd wait for him at the Aid Station (though he stayed pretty close to me), and took the section as a good and steady clip.  It was the first section where I was really alone, and my mind got a little dark and angry about some things I had been dealing with over the summer.  I started singing a loud a little bit to distract myself, chanted about more coffee, and finally made it down the road to the aid station.

I came in, and was greeted by friendly faces, and my pacer.  I gave her a hug, and started to get ready for the final stretch.  I saw a friend of mine who had dropped, so I went over to try to cheer her up a bit, got my headlamp, more coffee, more doctor pepper, and a little more food.  By this point I was very happy that my stomach seemed have turned into a steel trap.  I had had no issues throughout the day.  I sucked down coffee, made my goodbyes, and set off with my Pacer, Alisha.  She was amazing.

The rest of the race was easy.  I didn't run very much after that point.  A little bit on some flats, but it was very dark, starting to get sprinkly, and I hurt.  My legs were lead, but even worse than that, every part of my skin hurt.  My organs seemed to ache with each bouncing step I took.  Walking was ok.  I could even power walk.  But when I tried to run, the bouncing was too much.  I ran a little here and there, but by this point, I knew I wasn't going to break 18 hours, so I was happy just to chew the ear off my Pacer and Rob and anyone else that caught our little group.

We got to Aid station 3, and it was raining pretty good.  A friend of mine, Thea, gave me a poncho to wear, and I drank more doctor pepper and more coffee.  We sat for a bit until Rob was ready, then the three of us took off.  Rob took the lead, and once we had climbed the two monster hills, he took off, and it was the last I'd see him until we finished.  I later found out he was getting into a dark place, and I didn't blame him for wanting to finish.  Alisha kept me going steadily, making sure I was eating, and we talked and talked, which was what I needed.  Those last miles went quickly in the rainy wet dark.  I eventually took my poncho off, since it wasn't raining bad enough to need it, and the glare was bothering me more.

We broke out of the woods onto the road, and I tried to do a little running shuffle.  My legs were willing but the bouncing of all my parts, my skin, my stomach, was just too much, so I walked as fast as my legs could go.  I sprinted the last bit along the sidewalk into the school to cheers of a few people who were still there at 1:00 am.  I got hugs and cheers and my silver buckle, and hugged and thanked Alisha and her husband Rich.  I hung out with them for a little while, just feeling kind of floaty and in awe of just being done.  I ate a little bit, and realized more than I wanted to get a shower and hang out, I wanted to go home and get a shower and see my family, even if they'd be sound asleep.

I stayed awake for the drive home, and after I showered and climbed into the warm bed, I had been up over 24 hours.  I closed my eyes and saw the rocks and leaves and roots still passing in front of my eyes.  I dozed, then woke, and Sunday was mostly fitful sleep.  Today (Monday)  I'm not too sore... probably not more-so than I ever am after a long run.  And now I'm wondering what's next, if anything, on the great adventure that is my life.

I feel vaguely empty now that it's over.  I think I did well.  I felt good most of the time.  I don't feel like I should've run faster, or done anything much differently.  Maybe a pacer for that entire second loop would've been fun, if Alisha had been up to it, but would I have driven her crazy?  Maybe.  Do I wish I could've had more people there for me at the end...  I didn't think I'd be as sad at the end without my family there, but my trail family was there, so I can't feel too terrible for too long about it.  I'm kind of in a state if this is where I want to put the cap on distance, and just do 50ks or 50 milers in the future.

I love running.  But I love the woods more.  I love nature most.  Am I missing out on the other things I could be doing out there by concentrating so much on training for distance?  Am I letting my family down by how much I'm training. 

There are a lot of deep thoughts going through my head after such a thing, that I did, that I can't wrap my head around.  I know I don't want to ever stop doing this ultra running thing, but how far do I want to go with it.  And will I ever be able to answer this question if I don't press on a little further...

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The doldrums.

I seem to have hit dead water in my running world. I'm still trying, I'm getting up and getting in my minimal mile a day, sometimes more, but nothing like I want to be or should be doing. The wind has gone out of my sails.

I know a lot of this is to do with my headspace. It's been a difficult month for me, because of myself. I do my best to be a good person for the people in my life, for the people I meet, for the people I care about, but the more I concentrate on people around me, the more I neglect myself or the people that I'm closest to and the things I care about the most. It's not a good thing.

So my running has suffered as I think about the person I am and the person I want to be. I know this is a bit deep for my blog, but I think the breeze is picking up. I need to keep learning about what makes me the person I am, and try to get rid of the things that make me feel bad, guilty, and unworthy of the things that are important.

Maybe the breeze is gone, maybe there is no wind in my sails, but dammit, I have strong arms, and I know how to paddle.

Time to lace back up and get strong again.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Countryside running

I love to run.  I really do, don't get me wrong.  But the reason I run isn't just that it makes me feel strong, it's gotten me in shape and made losing extra weight easier.  I run because it gets me outside.  It makes me feel wild and natural.  It's given me a reason to get more time in the woods or on the country roads that I wouldn't maybe make an excuse for, or wouldn't get as much ground covered if I were just hiking or walking.
Miller Station road - It was sprinkling when Jason dropped me off.
 I am a country girl.   Don't get me wrong, I enjoy cities.  I know they give us culture.  I like the theatre, and concerts, and museums and art galleries.  I like zoos, and science centers, I like eating a variety of different ethnic food, and seeing how people come together in places like cities to live and learn and grow.  I'll visit cities, big cities, but I'll always be a country girl.  Living in town right now is hard for me.  And I'm happy that I can run a mile and be back out in the country, running along corn fields and cow pastures.

I'm never going to know which fashion designer makes what clothes.  I'm never going to refer to shoes by who designed them unless they're a running shoe or a hiking shoe.  I'm never going to wear heels, and I'm never going to own a cocktail anything.
Gamelands access.
I do know what it's like to immerse myself in the outdoors.  I know the happiness of the buzz of insects and the songs of birds and the crunch of road gravel or dirt under my feet while I run or walk down a trail.  I know the smell of ragweed or hay or cows or horses.  I know the names of a lot of plants and trees.  I'm not afraid of bugs or spiders or snakes, though I give bees a healthy distance out of respect.

I always loved exploring the woods and fields around my house when I was a little girl.  My friends went to the mall or to each other's houses and hung out.  I did that too, but sometimes I just wanted to go into the woods and catch frogs or climb trees or just find things that were exciting to me.
 I don't live on a farm or really out in the country.  I miss it.  But I get out there.  Maybe someday we'll have a cabin or I'll be able to work on someone else's farm.  Because, nothing, really nothing makes me as happy as being out in the fresh air, doing hard work, and seeing myself accomplish something.  I think that's why I like running so much.  I do it for me, not really for anyone else.  I run to be IN the nature that I love.

Today's run was great.  I went slower than I'd like, but I saw heron and duck, an opossum.  I ran along cornfields and swamps and winding streams.
 I got 17.5 miles in, and mapped some of those country roads. I saw neatly trimmed lawns, and overgrown abandoned barns and houses.  I was chased by a couple of dogs, and waved at by a number of people.  And you know what?  It was a good run.  So get out there, run where you love, do what you want, and find your happy, even just for a little while...

queen anne's lace with bugs
country church
misty Jerusalem artichoke (I think)
French Creek
swamp with ducks

Friday, July 20, 2012

This is a test of the emergency blogcast system.

Weather and Running

It's been a very odd summer.  For a while there in the spring, we had late frosts and late snows, and it seemed like warm weather would never arrive.  Then the past few weeks have been brutal, both heat and humidity wise.

I actually don't mind it.  We don't have air conditioning here, so it's been a dance of my husband's secret "Lock in the cool" skills as he opens the windows at night, and then I close them around mid-morning, before the sun comes up and heats everything.  The nights with a fan blowing on us have been comfortable.  I haven't lost much sleep.  At least not to heat.

Running has been ok.  I have gotten into a routine to run early in the mornings, or run in the woods on the weekends to hide from the heat.  The last full loop of Oil Creek State Park was brutal, but I think it has made me stronger.  I'm enjoying the adventure and challenge brought by the heat, because I'm nothing if not stubborn.

Today was lovely though.  I think mid 60s, breezy, overcast is my perfect running weather.  I wouldn't even mind cooler, but today... I got up, ran out the door, up the hill and away from town.  Along fields and past little country houses, smelling the scent of hay and sky and fields.  Oh and squished snails, but I didn't smell those, thankfully. Small barky dogs warned me away from their yards, and I ran and ran.

It was only 5 miles, but I made it back in time for my husband to get to work, and I was sweaty but not as hot or sweaty as I have been the last few times I've run.  I've been ok this summer, but this kind of day just makes me long for fall...

Monday, July 2, 2012

Run Between the Suns - 12 hour endurance trail race

So this past Saturday, June 30th - I wrapped up the month of June by completing my third ultra run, and my furthest distance so far - 40 miles in about 10 and a half hours.

I was excited, and not very nervous about this race, because it was being RDed by a friend and fellow runner from the area, Jeff Nelson, and his wife, Heather Nelson.  They put in a ton of work, and in the beginning, when they were first talking about putting the race together, I had said I would volunteer, but later, I decided it would be a good middle of summer test for me as I prepared for the 100k in the fall.

Friday night I had a good dinner of salmon, quinoa salad, and drank plenty of water.  I knew it was going to be a scorcher on Saturday, with predicted temps in the high 80s.  I packed myself 2 drop boxes with extra clothes and shoes, gels, enduralytes, plus a cooler with lots of ice and Gatorade.  I knew the aid station would be well stocked, but I wanted to make sure I had a reliable source of food and drink that I knew had no soy.  Soy has been giving me the "instantly run to the nearest bathroom" syndrome, so before races, I've been avoiding it like the plague.

So I had everything packed.  I even got my ipod ready.  The course would be a 5 mile loop, and if I was going to try for 40-50 miles, I wanted to be sure if I wasn't running with someone, that I had music or a podcast to keep me going.

So Jason and Eli and I woke up early and got down to the course.  It was great seeing so many people I knew, and once I had hit the restroom one more time and greeted some of the people, pinned on my number and reset my watch, we were off.  I fell into step with Katie, and we kept up a good pace and kept each other entertained.

And so it went.  First five miles we did in a little over an hour.  The course was hilly, but not terribly so.  I told Katie the hill size were pretty much perfect, because just about when I wished I was done going up a hill, it leveled off then went back down.  There wasn't much exposure to the sky, a few bits around a really beautiful and clear lake, but the cloud cover was holding, and the temperature wasn't awful, but I was sweating a ton.  I made sure I took enduralytes, drank, but not too much, and had a gel whenever I was feeling a bit hollow.

I didn't eat anything first time through the aid station, but I did hit the toilet, then we kept going.  10 miles.  We weren't passed much, and kept fairly steady pace.  I felt a little ick the second time through the aid station, hit the restroom again, and felt much better.  I tripped over a root on the third lap, but just got up and brushed it off.  Landed on my hands, not my knees, and I was fine.  I was feeling good, and Katie and I kept going.  We were caught up by a few of our friends, and it was nice to see and visit with people each time we came through the aid station.

15 miles.  I stopped and stretched each time through, sat down a bit, ate a bit.  The boiled potatoes with salt were my lifesaver, and so was the cold Gatorade.  I also took to dumping water over my head each time, which I think kept me refreshed.  I was already soaked with sweat anyway.  I also kept slathering sunblock on, even though the clouds were staying put.  The breeze was also very nice, and keeping us running strong.

I can't say enough about the Aid station.  It was amazing to come in and have bottles filled and anything we needed taken care of.

Jason had taken Eli off for a while (It's hard to entertain a 4.5 year old at an endurance event), but by the time we came in from our 5th round (25 miles) They were back.  I gave my kiddo a sweaty hug, then we were back to it.  Katie said she wanted to get 30, then would be happy.  I begged her to do to 35 with me, then I was going to walk one more loop to get 40.  The sun decided to come out then, at mile 30.  I was still feeling great.  A little sore in the hips, but each time I stopped and stretched at the aid station, I was good for another go.  Katie was getting a little down on the 6th loop, but she perked up again for the 7th, and then we met her husband and another friend on the 7th looped, and we walked the last one together, for 40 total.
I am so happy with how this event turned out.  The course was great - long enough to not be boring, but not too rough on the body.  I didn't need my ipod, because Katie and I chatted most of the loops, and kept encouraging each other along.  And hell if I didn't feel the best I have the next day after the race.  A little sore, but of my other ultras, this was the one I hurt the least after.  Was it the cool down loop?  Was it the stretching?  Did Laurel Highlands give me an extra kick in the teeth training wise?  I'm not sure, but I'm happy and still kind of... in disbelief that I ran 40 miles in 10 hours and 38 minutes.

It was an amazing event, and I'll be excited to do it again next year, and see if I can squeeze in 45, or maybe even 50...

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Laurel Highlands 50k Race

 So I know I haven't posted in quite a while, but Saturday, June 9th was my second Ultra race ever, the Laurel Highlands 50k, and I think it deserved some attention before the entire day goes out of my head as if my brain was made of Swiss cheese, which in the few days following the race, it seems to sort of become so... but anyway, the RACE!

Above, I am all innocence and smiles and unknowing anticipation of steep climbs, beautiful vistas, and really lovely landscapes approaching.  Jason, Eli and I had driven down the night before, checked in at our motel, and then driven up to Ohiopyle, where the race starts to have a meal and check out where the race would start.  I really like getting an idea before hand where parking is, where I'm going to pick up my stuff, where the trail will start, all that stuff so I can sleep a little better the night before.  We hung out with the Youngs and the Gallagher's at the motel right before bed, I had a giant slice of Dan Young's famous chocolate cheesecake (which was heavenly).  Then we were off to bed around 9:30.

I slept ok for a few hours, then woke up at 2, nervous with anticipation.  I finally got up at 5, and started my routine, gearing up, deciding to wear black, even though I was slightly worried about the heat, rejecting the idea of carrying my ipod, making sure I had my drinks, enough gels, and my emergency Swedish red fish ration for the last few miles.  We headed down to the start (too early), got coffee and walked around.  People started to gather in droves around 7:00, so I visited with a few of my running buddies, including my friend Patrick who's been motivating me from New York state since last year's Oil Creek 50k.
 We grouped up a few minutes before the 7:30 start.  I clumped into the middle, waved to my husband and kiddo, and before I knew it, we were off.  I started out at the same pace as the people I was with, on double-track for about a quarter mile, until we reached the single-track where we climbed up.  Taking it slow was easy at that point.  I ran gently on any flats, but the first portion of the race was mainly a series of ups and downs, then more ups.   I fell in with a few of my NWPA Warrior friends, and we were going steady until about mile 6, where the trail took a decided upturn for the next 2 miles.

I was taking the hills easy, but moving steadily up them.  I wasn't really having too much of a problem with them.  I noticed that my GPS watch was decidedly behind the lovely little trail markers that appeared in happy yellow every mile.  I guess the elevation screwed the GPS up, so those markers were life-savers.  I ended up cheering whenever I saw them, sometimes patting them, and I think I only missed seeing number 13.

I took off a little fast after I reached the top of the ridge after mile 8.  I was feeling great, and really opened up on the downhills and the flats, passing a few people, and enjoying my "skill" on the downhills.  Little did I know that storming down those hills probably is what killed my quads for later in the day.  I had left one of my friends behind on the big hill, and she had said she would catch up with me later, but I spent mile 8-14ish mostly on my own.  I was doing well, enjoying the trail, enjoying the scenery, and bantering with runners around me.  I came to the first aid station, filled my bottles, ate a banana and had some caffeinated soda, but didn't linger.  I knew I'd probably camp out at the mile 19 aid station, and I wanted to make it there before the 6 hour cut-off, which I knew by this point, I would do, but the idea of not getting there had haunted me so long in preparation for the race, that I just wanted to be through there.

I few more miles along, and I caught up with my friend Patrick!  I hadn't know if he was in front or behind me, but we stayed together for a few miles.  He seemed to be doing really well, and we stuck together for quite a while.  When we got to a long climb a few miles before the second aid station, he stopped.  I stopped with him for a bit, but I was chomping to go, being the impatient sort that I am, and wished him well, and moved forwards.

I had caught up with one of my Warrior friends, Sean, and not long after, Shannon caught up with us as well.  We decided there is power in numbers, and stuck together.  They were both having issues with the killer hills, where as I was now having a little bit rougher time with the downhills.  We got to aid station two, hung out for a little while and fueled up.  A few people were asking about a gentleman named Patrick, and it was his family!  I told him I didn't think he was too far behind me.  The three of us shuffled out, knowing we only had 12 miles left to go.

Having company for those miles was invaluable.  Something I ate or drank at the aid station had not made my stomach happy, so it and I had a silent and angry discussion while I forced myself to go on.  I was not going to retreat into the shrubs while I was running with Shannon and Sean, though I did eye them a few times.  After a couple of miles, the feeling passed, and we continued to run/walk/climb, cursing hills, wondering why we do this to ourselves, but enjoying a vista here, a rock formation there, and the general wonder that is the Laurel Highlands.

We got to the final aid station, and I got a little of my wind back.  We made our way around the Seven Springs ski resort, oooing and ahhing over the views.  By mile 29, I felt like i was done.  I was silent, sullen, and slogging through the flats like i was made of disintegrating cheese.  My quads were killing, I was preferring climbs to downhill jolting runs, but I pulled it together at mile 30, and started to lumber in a plodding run while we wondered where in the heck mile marker 30 was.  After mile 30, we knew there was a turn off, but it was not showing up.  We were worried that we had taken a wrong turn, but suddenly, there was the sign, 50k turn!  We turned.  I heard my little Eli's voice clamoring, "Go Mommy!"  And that's what spurred me into the final sprint.  I came out into the clearing and got this mad adrenaline rush.  I just wanted to be done!  The people cheered at me sprinting around that corner, and I finished in 8:25:40.  Shannon and Sean were right behind me, and we shared a post-race hug, and right behind us - Patrick!  We had all finished.  We got really nice finisher's medals, pizza and colllllddd gatorade.  I was a happy girl.  I teared up as I greeted Jason and Eli at the finish.  I was so glad to be done, and ready to go home.  But I did love the run, I really loved Laurel.  Will I be back for the 70 miler next year?  I don't know...