That Is Why Women Have the Babies
This is the story of Mieko. She joined Trail Runners in July of this year. Prior to that, she would occasionally run 3-4 miles. Last weekend, she did an ultra, and this is her account of the event. Pretty incredible!!!
My first 50-miler... it was great!!! BUT at mile 41, they needed to stop me, because of their National Park Regulation. After 4:30pm, they cannot let anyone on the trail. What a BUMMER!!!
At first, the course was brutal!! It was very challenging but it was amazing. This course made the Chantry Flat seem like a flat course and Bull Dog race for the beginner. While I was running, I thought, "How did they find this course??? Crazy people!!!" I am a beginner in Trail Running and my major mistake was I got lost three times.
The first time, I was just following people in the front and about 5 of us ended up turned around about a mile. It was kind of funny, when we were on Hwy 1 running down hill to Stinson beach, I saw another runner in the canyon. I screamed to stop the runners. Then I saw one cyclist was coming. We stopped him and asked. We needed to go up the hill again to find the entrance to the trail. The main problem was the marker, it was knocked down at the turn and it fell off in the bush. We made the marker straight and visible for other runners and we went on.
Even with a little lost time, I was doing so good with the mid pack, going through each checkpoint with other people. It was no problem. My plan was to stretch my legs and refill my water and food at mile 26 Checkpoint. So I did. I got all the energy back. Believe it or not, I was more pumped up and looking for my mile countdown. After I rested at mile 26, I was about 5 minutes behind the mid pack pace going through the next check point at mile 31. "Oh Yes, 19 miles to go..." I was so excited.
With my pace, I calculated in my head, "Okay, I will be done by 5:30pm". I started running, going up and down hills. I felt really good. I was there alone, and no one was around me. I came across about 10 wild turkeys and I ended up running with them for a while.... Then I came to a 3-way section. Just like the dream I had about 3 weeks ago... Trust me, there were NO Markers nor ANY Ribbons to indicate the course. I had a map but the sign at the 3-way section did not help me that much. While I was checking my map and reading the trail names, one Park Ranger drove by. He did not even know which way to the trail I was looking for. He dispatched another ranger and they told him that runners were running into Muir Woods Trail... so, I headed to that trail. About 5 minutes went by... Then I felt kind of strange. I followed my instinct and I turned about. I came back to the 3- way section, then went back to the trail to see if I missed a marker, but there were not any. Actually one ribbon was hanging on the "Do Not Enter" Sign... I was confused and almost cried. I found some campers and I asked, but they were no help. Then another Park Ranger came so I asked him. He knew exactly which way to go... "Phew". I lost about 30 minutes, but I knew I still could make the cut off time.
While I was running, there were no markers, no ribbons and no arrows... then I finally found a ribbon. "Oh yes... with a big smile." I was climbing up hill. This hill was nicely paved and really steep. I was almost crawling. Then I saw a couple of local people. To make sure I was on the right track I asked them if this was the Sun trail?. Then they said " Oh, this is the private drive way". I said "Excuse me???" The hill was really steep and long... and I did not want to understand and I did not want to hear what they said, so I asked again.... and they said again..."This is the private drive way to houses up there..."... My eyes started filling up with tears ... I checked my time... 5 minutes to the cut off time. The local people realized I was in the race then they said their son lives up there, so I could ask... so I went to his house to ask... Then he told me " Go ALL THE WAY DOWN this drive way, after the bottom of this drive and about 100 feet, you will see the small trail on your left”. I could not believe that I had to go down this hill.... but I had to do what I had to do.... So, I ran down and looked for the trail, and I found it. There were no markers to indicate that this was the race course, but the people knew the trail name I needed to get to... so I followed the trail. When I was running, I knew I missed the cut off time at mile 36, but I knew, I could catch up...
After about 15 minutes running, I finally found another runner in front of me. I caught up to her, and she also said there were no marker, but she knew this mountain... So, I passed her and two more runners. I really ran hard down and up the hills....
At the mile 36 checkpoint, I was about 30 minutes after the cut off time. But I told them about the markers and I got lost. Then one head person said, "We apologize about that. After 50 KM cut off time, volunteers did not know there were still 50 milers using the same course and they started removing the markers, but we told them to put them back...".... I was so upset. I was 30 minutes over the cut off time. I was upset, but I knew it was my responsibility to know the course, too. Then he told me that I could still go, since the volunteers mistakenly took out the markers, and there were still more people in the woods looking for the right trail.
Looking for the checkpoint from mile 31 to 36 took me about 3 hours—a distance of only 5 miles. So now I needed to run 5 miles in one hour to make the next cut off time. Believe me... I RAN... I was so excited. It was 3:30pm and I still had 3 hours and 30 minuets to run 14 miles (Final cut off at the finish line is 7:00pm). I knew I could do it.... Another crazy up hills and down hills... Luckily, there were VERY VISUAL markings everywhere and I ran. After sunset, I started using my headlamp again. Then, finally I saw the mile 41 checkpoint. It was 4:40pm. I knew the cut off time was 4:30pm.
When I ran into the checkpoint, there were people from other checkpoints who remembered me. They wished me luck, and I checked in and started running.... Then a car came in and someone shouted for me to stop. He was a National Park Ranger and the regulation is no one can get on this trail after 4:30pm. I begged him to let me run, because it was only 9 more miles and I had 2 hours and 15 minutes to finish. I really begged him... but he told me at least 7 people are missing and they cannot take any more risks.
I was really upset and expressed my frustration. My brain was fried after 11 hours of running and getting lost. Finally, one check point head leader who knew my situation said, I could go if I still wanted to run. But the Park Ranger physically stood in front of me and said, "Ma’am, we CANNOT let you in"....
I was so upset and sad... They knew where my complaints and frustration came from, and even they apprized. But they still could not let me go....
So, my first 50 miles race ended at mile 41... only 9 more miles ... I really felt I was a failure. But you know me. I won't give up. This was just my first Ultra, and more to come. You know me, I t keep going, just like the Energizer Bunny.
This was a great positive experience and now I know what to expect next time.
After the race, people were still looking for missing runners and were calling emergency contacts... so, if I thought about that—I guess I was the lucky one.
I spoke with the organizer about my disappointment. Very simply, my point was ...this was an endurance challenge, so they should let all the runners who want to run continue, as long as there is time left. Making runners stop when there are still have a couple hours of time left is not fair to the runners who prepared for this race, especially with the marking problems on this course.
Another amazing discovery during the race-- I fell in love with " Mountain Dew " -- yes the drink. That gave me more energy than any sports supplement. Sugar and Caffeine... I guess that was all I needed.
Thanks to our regular Sunday runs, my legs are fine. No knee pain, a little muscle soreness and a stiff body. The most painful thing now is a BIG quarter size blister on the bottom of my foot from foot a warmer. I should have removed them when I started running.
Overall, I met great people and I had a fun time.