Lookout Mountain 50 miler was my first attempt at this distance. The morning was cold, but it looked like it was going to be a beautiful day with the high being around 53. 6 weeks prior to the race I had taken a fall on the trail and twisted my ankle. It wasn’t too big of a deal, and after a few days off the ankle seemed to be fine so I resumed my running. Just 2 weeks before the race however,it resurfaced causing me to take enough time off that I decided to cancel my race. A day after telling everyone that I wasn’t going, and didn’t want to further injure whatever was going on some friends managed to talk me back into it suggesting it wasn’t too bad and that I had trained well for this. So I decided that I had trained for it and that I should at least get on the line and go. After all, it was a day in the woods and the weather was looking great for race day.
The time cutoffs were going to be tight for me, so I planned to stay ahead of them by about 45 minutes to give me a buffer for the last 16 miles of the race. During the first section leading up to the 22 mile mark I got off course and ran about ½ mile out before I realized it. While that doesn’t sound like much it’s enough to throw you really behind when you’re already in a position to be fighting to make cutoff times. I didn’t panic, got back on course and went about my day. I made it to the 22 mile mark with only 20 minutes to spare, refilled my fuel at the drop bag and went along my way. My next mark was the 29.9 mile mark and I made it there with 45 minutes to spare. Doing great, but I’ve been running faster than I had planned for this race. I was 7 hours into the race at this point. The next section went through some single track that was more technical that I would hope for, and caused me to do a lot of walking. Once I made it out of this section I would be on a road and would meet my friend Carrie for the last 16 miles of the race.
I finally made it up there and was grateful to see her. Needed to get through this next section in 1 ½ hours and knew this was like a meat grinder section. My ankles were getting really tired at this point. As we meandered our way through this rolling up and down, single track, off camber in areas section I knew it was going to be tight making the next cutoff. My mind started to not care too much about whether or not I finished as well. Carrie kept pushing me like I had asked her to. We were .3 miles from getting out of this section thankfully and would make the cutoff. There was a knee high creek to cross and I decided to take the high side with the rocks. Two steps in my foot slipped off the rock and I fell hard onto my hip and into the very cold water. Ouch. Get up and keep going. Right? While the time cutoff would have been okay I decided to pull the plug for the day. I was super cold and at the point of being so close to the cutoff my mind gave up with caring about finishing this race.
At the end of the day I was super happy to have started the race. I trained hard for it. Getting to know what happens to your body at this distance is part of doing ultra races. How you manage your emotions when you get lost, how to keep yourself moving when it feels like the entire field is in front of you is an experience that will only make you stronger. I’ll find another race to do and will dial in what I need to do for it. A 13 hour cutoff on a course like Lookout Mountain is pretty tough. I spent a 10 hour day out there alone most of the time. I never felt frustrated or like I wish it would have ended sooner. I pushed as hard as I could have and I can’t ask for more than that.