On Sunday, I ran the Vermont 50, a 50K through the mountains of Vermont. To say that it was amazing is an understatement. 31 miles of the most beautiful landscape that I could have imagined, and I was blessed to run it with four of my favorite girlfriends by my side the whole way. It was a blast.
Was it hard? Yup. 5600 feet of climbing that we were no where near prepared for. But to me, it really didn’t matter. I had been looking forward to this journey for a while, and it was everything I’d hoped it would be.
From the second our car crossed the border into Vermont, we really just couldn’t believe how picturesque the state was. Every beautiful picture that you see of Vermont and its adorable covered bridges, stunning mountain views, quaint small towns, and brilliant fall colors are spot on accurate…through the WHOLE state! And getting to see it up close and personal through 31 miles of mostly private trails was an experience like no other.
The pre-race scene that we are used to at triathlons and road races is much different that what we experienced before the 50K ultra. Everyone seemed much more laid back than what we were used to in some ways, but in others, it was obvious that everyone else there was taking the race a bit more seriously than we were. I think it had something to do with the matching “Sparkle. Pounce.” tanks and sweatshirts that we were sporting. And the fact that we really weren’t taking the race seriously at all. Our day consisted of two goals. First, we wanted to finish. And second, we wanted to stick together through the whole race.
From the get-go I loved this race. As we jogged through the start line and up a small hill I already started joking about being out of breathe and noted that we had gone 0.22 miles. And as we reached the hill at mile 1, EVERYONE started walking up it. Not just the five of us, but every racer that I could see. It was awesome! It took the guess work out of the equation. These “hills” weren’t hills. They were mountains and no one was running up them.
And that is how the race continued. I kept track of the distance and time, and we ran in between mountains, and walked up them. And the whole time, I noted how “pretty” everything was. And I kept reminding the girls how “pretty” everything was. And I can’t remember what mile it was that one of them told me they really didn’t need to hear how “pretty” everything was anymore, but I reminded them anyways. You’re welcome ladies!
Note…I kept track of the distance. For some reason, these girls trusted me to be the sole barer of a Garmin to track our distance and average pace. Mua ha ha ha ha! I had a plan that worked like a charm…for a while. Starting around mile 4, I kept telling them that we had gone a little less than we had really gone. This wasn’t a typical road race course where the miles are marked, so they had no idea. So, when we had run 7 miles I told them we were at 6.5. When we were up to 10 I told them we were almost at 9 miles. By the time we got to 18 miles I had them tricked into thinking that we had only gone 16.5. It was awesome!!! And then we hit the aid station at mile 18 that said we were at mile 18…. For a while I tried to get them to think the sign was wrong, but in the end I just told them that I had been lying to them all day. At first they were pretty mad, but I got them to admit that it felt pretty amazing to be 1.5 miles farther than they had thought. Mission accomplished.
In my opinion, the race flew by. There were parts when I could tell it was hard for some of the ladies to stick together, but for me, the journey was the reward. I was soaking in every moment of our time on that mountain. Did I want to be done? Yes. But did I realize that once I was done I wasn’t going to get to spend anymore time out on those beautiful trails? Yup. So, I was really in no rush. And I didn’t mind when we stopped for photos in the middle of the race. Or walked even when there wasn’t a hill. Because pictures like this don’t take themselves, and the action shots of us running just aren’t nearly as cute!
In the end we were able to reach both of our goals. We finished together. And we spread quite a bit of sparkle on the way. Lots of other racers commented on our “cute” tops and we were welcomed with a cheer into every aid station as the “Sparkle. Pounce.” team. We were pretty hard to miss.
So, will I do another 50K? I think most definitely. Will it top that one? Probably not.
That journey was my reward. And I loved every second of it!!!