This weekend I ran Nanny Goat for the second time, my first ultra marathon since I ran the 50K in North Carolina in December. Last year Nanny Goat was going to be my first 100 mile race, but because of a knee injury I was forced to walk the entire 24-hours. I did complete 52 miles at Nanny Goat for my first ultra marathon finish. This weekend I competed in the 12-hour event, but I chose to start at 8pm and do the second twelve hours of the event. This is challenging for me because I am a big time morning person. For my EC 100, the hours between midnight and dawn were rough. So this year as I ran from 8pm-8am, it was challenging to say the least.
First, this course is more challenging than you would imagine a one-mile loop through a horse farm would be. Not having to find a crew, a pacer, and not having to arrange a van to follow along like the EC 100 made planning for this race much easier. However, while the EC100 had hills to contend with, overall, the course itself was fairly easy. Nanny Goat, on the other hand, was full of hazards just waiting for my crazy legs to trip over. The race starts at the outside of a barn (see the picture above for the size of this barn). The runner then moves through a grove of orange trees on a flat dirt path until a turn onto an asphalt out and back. This asphalt is full of cracks, gravel, sand, and huge pot holes. These hazards were difficult to maneuver during the daylight hours, but were even more treacherous in the dark. This road then leads the runners along another dirt path to the most difficult portion for the runners. There is a very uneven grassy path where gophers have made the area a difficult place to maneuver. Last year, I almost had to tippy toe through this part so that my blisters didn't kill me as the bumpy grass pushed on my feet. Then as the path turns off the grass, the runner is faced with raised tree roots to avoid before turning again onto the flattest portion of the course that then leads through the barn where it all starts over again.
My first sixteen miles were actually very strong. I ran consistent 12-14 minute mile loops and felt good running over even the most difficult sections of the course. I was analyzing the course during the daylight, so I knew what I needed to avoid at night when the visibility would be diminished. My buddy Mark drove up and ran some of those first night miles with me. Keep your eyes on the ground in front of you, watch for the hazards in the road, and keep relentlessly moving forward! That was my mantra throughout the dark hours.
I actually signed up for this race to run with my EC100 partner, Gabby. Gabby was so strong! Despite the difficult 85 degree temps she ran strong all day, and when I arrived at 8 pm to support her for the rest of the race, she really didn't need me at all. She had her game face on and pushed herself through most of the dark hours. Because Gabby wasn't needing my support yet, after Mark left I was able to run with my friend Emma and stay with her until she crossed the finish for her first 100K finish--I am hoping my encouragement was less nagging and more help. It wasn't until 2 pm that Gabby finally needed a little support, so we spent the rest of the night running and power walking the miles together. And thankfully, at 6 am more reinforcements arrived to do the final miles with us. Syndie, Leslie, and my daughter Siobhan walked the final seven miles and kept us going despite the fatigue and the sore legs and feet. We were dirty, tired, and sore, but very proud of our miles at this race!
I was so happy with my accomplishments at Nanny Goat. Last year I ran 52 miles in 24 hours, and this year I was able to do 35 over 12 hours, a kind of PR of sorts. I moved strong through the night miles, which is a big win for me. While I still prefer my morning runs, I can now say that night miles are not my nemesis anymore. The hugest win for me (drum roll please)... NO BLISTERS! I slathered my feet with A&D ointment, wore double-layer Wright socks under my Balega socks, and I wore gaiters (a kind of sleeve over my shoes) to keep the sand and dirt from entering the top of my shoes. I stopped once to clean my feet and reapply more lubricant, but thankfully my friend Stephanie did not have to do any blister care on me this year.
This was a great race! I loved seeing all my running friends out there pushing themselves to their limits. That kind of toughness is so inspiring to watch. Thanks to everyone for the shouts of encouragement at every turn. Nanny Goat is a tough race, but I am so thankful for the experience, and I am looking forward to my next crazy adventure!