So PTR really is an ultra crazy event…besides the 30 mile 'fun run' and 50 mile event, runners can also choose to run 100, 150 or even 200 miles. The 200 and 150 mile events were already underway by the time we lined up for the start of the 50 and 100 at 6am. I'd been dropped off by the family, then they headed back to grab a few more hours of sleep before being out at the course the rest of the day to crew and cheer for me. The first loop started off with everyone crossing the mats then making the turn to go down the first hill, then it breaks out into a meadow for a flat ¾ mile loop before turning back into the trees for the first major climb of the course. They aren't kidding about these hills on this course, there's plenty of them and the RD's aren't kidding when they say 1600ft of elevation 'gain' per loop. The trail then crosses another short meadow that is right behind the start/finish area before dropping back into the trees and going through what I referred to as the 'power line' district. After that, a few more twists and turns and you're at the first aid station, about a quarter of the way through the loop. From there, the course makes a change as you go through a real sandy section, then leads you back into the trees for the first creek crossing. Walking up to it the first time, I realize all that I've read is true, there is not way but to just power through it…so power through it is what I do…pretty refreshing that early in the morning. After that, the trail winds through the trees on a very flat section leading up to "Golf Course Hill"...this is a monster with a rope to help pull your way up it and even worse, you get past the rope and you're still at a hands on knees climb to get to the top. Once there, I was hoping for some nice gentle declines because what goes up, must go down…but no, that is not the case here. I get to the first decline and seriously, it's steep. All I can see is my clumsy self rolling in a heap to the bottom of the hill…so, I decide maybe to take it a little more cautiously. It's no joke that there are quite a few places with a steep drop off that one misstep could send you barreling down, so I played it safe. Another interesting note from this section…the insole in my left shoe did some weird bunching on the downhill, most likely from still being soaking wet from the dip through the creek. I stopped to adjust because loop one is just a bit too early for any foot problems. After several more ups and downs, we go past the "Beware – Friendly Dog" house (yes, they have that sign hanging by the trail) and down to a section by the road that filters back up and to the second aid station. Leaving the aid station, you roll down through a meadow called "Cemetery Loop" for the Meyers Cemetery that sits right off the trail and take a little off-shoot in the Heaven's Gate loop. It's about a 1 mile loop that is pretty sweet. One steep downhill, then a nice, long flat section (I liked to refer to this as the 'squishy tree' section for the few times the trail narrowed majorly to run between some small trees) and then one big climb and you're out of the loop and back at the meadow. From there, less than 3 miles to go and this was by far the easiest section of the course. It's pretty rolling hills and meadows, through some Frisbee golf area's (I talked to several groups of people that were playing that nice day – they all thought the runners were crazy). There was one more creek crossing and you could skirt it and get your feet minimally wet, which is what I did all 5 loops. Quite frankly, by the end of the day, I let my feet get wetter, but still skirted to the side because of how muddy and swampy the side of the creek was where the runners that went straight though would step out. This crossing is about 1 mile from the finish line and every time around, I knew I was getting close to another loop done by this point. Of course, you think at this point you're home free, but no, there's some sick individual who thought one last major climb would be in order. But then you break out into the meadow at the start/finish line and the loop is done. The finish line area is awesome.
No more blow by blow replays, just some other high notes from the day. The start/finish area is amazing. There were tents set up from other runners that camped out and people there all day cheering for everyone. It was a wonderful feeling to run through there each loop knowing that was putting me a little bit closer to the finish. Also, the aid stations had amazing food. I can't say that I really ate a lot of real food, I'm still working on what my stomach can handle, but they had eggs, sausage, bacon. At one point, the AS workers were pulling a fresh baked apple breakfast bread of some sort off the fire and it smelled amazing. On my last loop, the fresh avocado and cheese quesadilla's at the first aid station were lifesavers! Oh and the little guy (maybe 2 years old) that ran out from the second aid station on one of the loops and shared a gummy bear with me was a gem! When I finished the 3rd loop and was gearing up for my 4th, Justin handed me a Starbucks Frappe to start out the loop with (they could catch me a little over a mile in and grab the cup back from me) and I had another joy for the day by being joined by Bonnie Busche (look her up on Ultra Signup, she's a legend) for that first mile as well. It was wonderful to talk with her. At that point, I already knew I would finish, and was just hoping to hold onto enough pace to finish before 14 hours. The 3rd & 4th loops got a bit warm for me, not bad, but enough to end up with some sunburn for the day. I heard one local say that the temps were the highest they had so far this year. On the 5th loop, I started out running in the meadow and passed a gal walking (later I talked to her at the finish line, her name is Andrea), we chatted and then I went on. Her and I yelled encouragement to each other off and on the rest of the loop. She'd get ahead, then I'd catch up a bit and we'd see each other, it was nice seeing a friendly face that often and when we chatted at the finish line, she said that I had been an inspiration for her to keep moving that last loop. Overall, the day went exactly how I wanted it to go. I never had any down points, no stomach issues and kept moving the whole day. I'm already thinking about when my next 50 will be and trying to decide on when to try a 100...yeah, I'm a glutton for punishment! Oh yeah...my finishing time was 13:21:32, under both my "I need to be done by 14 hours" goal, and my "I want to be done by 13 1/2 hours goal" and gives me some thoughts to work on for getting my next trail 50 to be under 13 hours.
Crossing the finish line with Alexis and Paige will be one of my fondest memories of the day! Being able to have them share this day with me is priceless. These memories will help shape them into determined and resilient individuals. I also love being able to encourage them to enjoy and embrace the outdoors. Shortly after I finished, the RD (Rich Skocaj) came over to congratulate me on my finish and collect a hug…before he would hand me my belt buckle! There was also some awesome chicken soup at the finish line (they had plenty of hot food ready for the runners still running and for the finishers), which was good because I ate very little the last 15 miles of the race. This is a very well run race, I'd encourage anyone to give it a try in the future.
The best memory of the finish line will be my girls telling me how very, very, very proud of me they are…