Bear Mountain 50 Miler Race Recap!

When I signed up for the North Face Endurance Challenge, I knew it was going to be tough, but awesome.  Tough does not even come close to describing the course and awesome is just one of the emotions I felt when I crossed that finish line.  It was a long day in the woods for a city girl and I feel like I could write a small novel about my day, but I will keep it short to a blog post!  =)

4 AM: Joslynn and I planned to walk to the start from our hotel since it was only about 1 mile.  We got as far as the end of the parking lot when we heard tree branches snap ahead of us.  Joslynn and I quickly turned around and though about plan B!  Luckily there were two guys in the parking lot who also planned to walk so we turned around and walked to the start with them.  We made it to the start safely without a wild animal attack!

Clean sneakers and gaiters pre-race!!
Starting line!
I knew that I could not count of my memory mid race so I made this to help me keep track of aid stations and mileage check points.

Aid Station #1: Mile 3.9: The first 3.9 miles were run in the dark with headlamps.  It took us about 53 minutes to get to the first aid station.  I was surprised how quickly people moved through the food and water tables.  I wanted to stay and chat, but kept moving because there were a lot of people coming into the aid station.  The course was beautiful so I took a few pictures along the way to share with everyone.

A little bit of road running after the aid station!
Joslynn leading the pack!
Still smiling at this point!
Joslynn coming down the hill.
One of the climbs to aid station #2.

Aid Station #2: Mile 8.6: Joslynn and I got split up before this aid station.  I was feeling good and determined to get to mile 20.7 before the cut off time.  I waited for Joslynn to come into the aid station to make sure she was okay before I continued on the trail.  I ran this next section with a pair of Canadians and a few others.

View at Aid Station #2
Morning fog.

Aid Station #3: Mile 13.9: Met the first un-friendly volunteer at a trail race.  Lady in the pink Vermont City Marathon t-shirt: you suck!  Do not limit 50 milers to how much food we eat at an aid station and tell us that you are saving food for the marathoners.  We were running double the mileage!  You are lucky that I did not reach over the table and shake some sense into you.  And if my hydration pack wasn’t heavy already, I would have taken all the GU from your table just because of your comment.

There was a lot of climbing in the next few miles, but I was part of a group of runners so the miles went by quickly.

The top of a huge climb!
Wish I could have stopped to have a picnic up here…
Another rocky climb!

Aid Station #4: Mile 20.7: 10:32 AM, I made it to the cut off with 15 minutes to spare!

So happy to have reached the first cut off in time!

Low point #1.  When I got to this aid station, I was excited to have made the first cut off time!  I was also excited to change into new socks from my drop bag….except it was not the drop bag station!!  I left this station upset that I had to wait another 7 miles to change socks.  I also lost my new Canadian friends at this aid station so I took off on my own.  I had a hard time starting up again, but got my second wind about 3 miles in and made it to the drop bag station!

Aid Station #5: Mile 27.7: It took me a very long time to get to this aid station.  I ate all my GU, shot blocks, honey stingers, and S-caps and was happy to re-stock on supplies from my drop bag.  They did not serve Gatorade at any of the aid stations so I was happy to drink the Gatorade that I had packed in my drop bag.

After a quick change of clothing, potty stop, and stuffing my face with potato chips, I was ready to run again!  It did not even occur to me that I had just run more than a marathon!  I had 2 hours to run 6.5 miles so I was focused on reaching the next check point.

Happy to have a new shirt, new hat, and new socks!

Aid Station #6: Mile 34.2: An hour and forty five minutes later, I made it to the the second cut off point.  Runners had to make it here in 9 hours and 32 minutes.  I made it here with about 15 minutes to spare!  I helped another runner here with some ibuprofen and in hindsight, I should have taken some too.   After this aid station, there was a long climb on the road and I slowly made my way up the hill alone.  A cyclist came by giving encouraging words that I was showing up all the guys and that I looked great.  I definitely did not feel great, but I kept moving.

Long uphill climb on the road.

Aid Station #7: Mile 40.3: I reached the 40.7 mile checkpoint at 11 hours, which meant I had 3 hours to run 9.3 miles.  I was not sure if I would make it in time to the finish so I did not stop to change socks from my drop bag.  I took some food and kept running.  I was on a mission so I stopped taking pictures and focused on staying upright and moving.

Aid Station #8: Mile 44.7: Low point #2. I left this aid station knowing that I would not make the 14 hour cut off time.  A few runners passed me and I was left by myself going up and down rocky terrain.  My quads were gone and the steep downhill during this section really beat me up.  Negative thoughts came pouring in.  Here’s a few so you can understand how I felt:

-If I trip and fall, will anyone find me?

-No one will find me if I’m the last one on this trail.

-If I get lost, I’ll freeze tonight and get attacked by a wild animal.

-If I hitchhike on the road, I might get abducted by some crazy mountain person.

-I wish I read the race manual better. There was something about paying a large amount of money for search and rescue if you get lost.

-Will they stop me at the last aid station or let me finish even though I’ll be over 14 hours?

-Why didn’t I bring my phone with me?

-Is it going to be dark when I finish?  I don’t have my headlamp on me anymore!  I will definitely get lost if it’s dark out.

-I am never doing this again!

Aid Station #9: Mile 47.2: Last aid station.  I walked into this aid station with tears in my eyes and feeling ready to quit.  My left ankle was swollen and I hurt all over.  The volunteers saw that I was having a moment and were very encouraging to me.  They held me up, gave me water and broth, and assured me that it would still be light out when I finished.  Not once did they tell me to stop running.  I would not have made it to the finish without that last boost.

Finish Line: Mile 50!: I left the last aid station feeling a little better, but it did not last long.  I got scared again a mile in after I saw arrows pointing in both directions.  I was running on the first 2 miles of the course and did not recognize it because it was dark when I ran on it this morning.  I thought that I missed a turn to the finish line.  “I better not be running the stupid course from the beginning all over again.  They’ll never find me now!”

I only felt better when I got to the parking lot by the finish line and picked up my pace to run through the finish line.  I was happy to see that they kept the finish line open for runners after 14 hours.  I crossed the line at 14 hours and 20 minutes!  I was so happy to stop running!!  I congratulated another runner who had finished right before me and went to freshen up.

Covered in mud at the finish!
I finished!

I saw Joslynn at the finish line and was sad to hear that she got pulled off the course at the first cut off point.  She was upset, but ready to move onto to her next challenge, the Leadville 50 Miler.

Two days post 50 miler, I’m still hobbling around and my chafed areas are healing nicely.  Yes, it was an awesome experience and it was great to be around other crazy runners like me, but I still do not want to run another 50 miler.  Ask me again in a month and maybe my answer will be different.  =)

Thank you for all of your encouraging words and support this past weekend.  I definitely needed it!

Here are some race statistics!

Men’s Champion: 7:25:22

Women’s Champion: 9:19:24

Overall Finishers: 183  (I finished 179th!)

My finishing time: 14:20:28

92 people DNF’ed.  That is how tough the course was!


25 Days until 29!!

Picture from my birthday last year! Happy 28th!

My 28th year has been quite exciting. I started year #2 at Boston Medical Center, I ran 4 marathons, I went to Harry Potter World, I signed up for online dating, I signed up to be in a date auction!, I went to Hong Kong to visit my family, I got laid off, I crashed a few parties, and I made some new friends. Those are just some of the highlights!

This month, I plan to do something (besides sleep and work) every day until my 29th birthday to end my 28th year with a bang! I will update this blog post daily so you can check back here on my daily adventures!

May 25: 29!!

May 24: My co-workers bought me breakfast and lunch today for my birthday!  I got CPR re-certified!   It was a great day at work.

After work, I went to see my niece’s school performance called “The Bugz Show”.  It was awesome!

Army Ant Mackenzie is the girl holding her hands in the front.
After the show with flowers from Betty Yee Yee!

May 23: Felt much better today!  Did not have to wear a mask at work.  Twin Lobster Night at the Met Club!!  My sister and brother in law took me out to a lobster dinner for my birthday.  It was delicious!

Lobster #1!
My sister and her lobster dinner!
Mack loves lobster too!
Aidan had steak, but wanted to wear a lobster bib too.

May 22: 4th week of rain on a Tuesday night!!  First run since the 50 miler!  I took 2 weeks and 2 days off for my sprained ankle.  My legs felt like lead in the first few miles, but loosened up towards the end. Was not happy to be running in the rain though.

May 21: Was supposed to have dinner with a friend tonight, but came down with a cold from the weekend and decided to take the night off and go home to sleep instead of eat delicious burgers.  Sorry Meg!

May 20: Day #2 on the boat and no motion sickness!  The engine needs work so we cannot take the boat out.  It still moves quite a bit when it is docked!

May 19: The beginning of my boating career started today.  I was first mate on a boat and I helped scrub the boat and prepare for the summer boating season!

Relaxing on the boat! Sorry you can’t see the whole boat in this picture. Trust me, I’m on the boat!

May 18: My first trip to the American Ballet Theater at Lincoln Center!  My boyfriend took me out to dinner and the ballet tonight!  We ate at a restaurant named A Voce, which overlooked Columbus Circle and then we went to see Giselle at Lincoln Center.  I left the show wanting to dance like a ballerina!

Veal and pasta coins!
Me and Jonathan at Lincoln Center!
Me at the fountain at Lincoln Center after the ballet.

May 17: Road trip after work tonight brought me to a McDonalds (one of my favorite parts of a road trip!)  I was upset when I opened my Happy Meal and saw that they had decreased the fries portion and added apple slices to the meal!  You can read about the change here.  If they are shrinking everything, they should not offer the Double Cheeseburger as an option in the Happy Meal!  That’s what I got.  =)

Where did I go on my road trip.  Stay tuned to find out!

May 16: Tonight was the last Stepping Forward Spinal Cord Injury Lecture and Support Group at Boston Medical Center.  The lecture was given by Northeast Passage, which is a non-profit organization that assists people with disabilities to pursue recreational activities.  They brought all different types of wheelchairs and talked about all the sports that people can still participate in despite having a disability.

Initially when I started to work at Boston Medical Center, I always forgot to put Stepping Forward into my schedule so I missed a few, but once I started to have patients with spinal cord injury on my caseload, I brought them to the support group and lecture.  It has helped me grow as a clinician to see other people with spinal cord injury in the community and to hear about some of their issues after discharge.

It is sad that this program has to end because these individuals with spinal cord injury are losing a service and support group.  This program was attended by people in the Boston area, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire.  At the end of the night, no one wanted to leave.  A lot of the participants stayed and talked to others and said goodbyes.

This is another reason why Boston Medical Center should not have shut down the rehab program.  =(

May 15: Run Club Night and another night at Boloco.  This is the 3rd Tuesday in a row that it has rained!  Will our sponsor, Saucony ever have nice weather for a Tuesday night run?!  We’ll see next week!

May 14: Monthly OT dinner tonight.  I have been going out to dinner monthly with a few of my OT classmates since graduation and we usually pick a new place to go every month.  If it is your birthday month, you get to pick the place.  This month, I picked a restaurant named Cuchi Cuchi in Kendall Square.  They serve small plates of international cuisines so it is not a tapas bar.  The waitresses are all in flapper dresses and people have described it to be like a set from “Moulin Rouge”.

My classmates and I caught up on each others’ crazy lives and had a wonderful dinner that ended with staff members coming over to sing Happy Birthday to me.  It was a fun night!

My drink!
4 Amazing OT’s!!

May 13: Happy Mother’s Day!  Day 6 of work. After work, I went to my sister’s to watch Captain America with the kids!

May 12: Day 5 of work.  After work, I went to see the Avengers with my friend Anna and then we went to have dinner at Rustic Kitchen!  The restaurant has a very comfortable and earthy ambiance.  Food was delicious and we plan to come back for The Cooking Show, a live televised broadcast on a Friday night!

Anna and I excited for dinner!
I started with this huge glass of white wine sangria.
Anna and I shared the tuna tartare!
My entree! Short ribs stroganoff!

May 11: Day 4 of work.  I went to No. 9 Park with my college dorm mate and roommate!  I have been wanting to go here for a long time and was so excited to go! Service and food were great (except for my dessert).  Here’s what I had!

Softshell crab risotto!
Black sesame panna cotta with ginger honey sorbet and mango pieces. This did not taste very good. I tried eating things separately and together to see if the flavors blended, but it just did not taste good. They took the dessert off the bill when I told the waiter that I did not like the flavors on the dish.

May 10: Day 3 of work.  Went out to lunch at Seiyo with one of the residents at work.

Bento Box!

Post 50 miler massage with the best massage therapist!  Cannot share her with you because it will be harder for me to book sessions with her.  I have already referred too many people to her!

May 9: Day 2 of work.  I got to visit my co-worker, Patricia’s new baby girl, Lucy!  Love the name and Lucy is so cute!

May 8: Day 1 of 10 days of work.  Everyone at work was eager to hear about my ultra experience.  One of the doctors looked at my swollen left ankle and diagnosed me with a grade 1 ankle sprain.  No running for 2 weeks!  I think I will be able to handle that since my ankle does still hurt 3 days after the race!

Tuesday night are always spent at City Sports Run Club!  Saucony is the sponsor for the month and everyone got to test try the new Kinvara 3’s as well as some Vizi-Pro gear!

City Sports Run Club!

May 7: Day off from work today since I am working this Saturday.

I went out to Happy Hour with my volunteers at Papagayo in the Fort Point District.  It was nice to catch up and hang out in a non-volunteer setting!

May 6: Goodbye Bear Mountain, NY!  I had a great weekend.  Back to Boston today.

May 5: Today I ran 50 miles. =)

May 4: Today was a busy day!  I took Joslynn on a running tour through Times Square and Central Park on our way to packet pick up for the North Face Endurance Challenge.

We ended up on the jumbo-tron in Times Square!

Joslynn had a Krispy Kreme donut at the beginning of the run and we ended the tour with hot dogs from Gray’s Papaya!

I love hot dogs!

Then we prepped for race day and drove up to Bear Mountain in the afternoon.  After we checked into the hotel, we walked down to the start of the race! It is so beautiful here and a complete opposite of my crazy lifestyle!  It is calming and it smells awesome!  I will include more pictures in my race report, but here is one for eye candy.

Hessian Lake at Bear Mountain!

May 3: Today is the start of my ultra adventure! After work, Joslynn and I drove down to NYC. We plan to do a short run to shake out our legs tomorrow and then go to packet pick up at the North Face store. Need to get a good night’s sleep tonight!!

May 2: Today was a fun filled day of eating! I started the day at Flour Bakery with the resident on the unit and ended the day at the Coolidge Corner Theater for a documentary called Jiro Dreams of Sushi!

Sticky buns, creme brulee (for a co-worker), and french toast! Yum!

Flour has the most delicious sticky buns so I hope you get to try one someday. I was very excited to see the movie, but the projector overheated and they had to stop the movie after 5 minutes!! They gave us comp tickets to come back another time and a refund on our tickets. So my ex-roommate, her friend, and I headed over to Fugakyu for sushi instead of seeing another movie at the theater.

Me and Sarah

With the ultra coming up this weekend, I did not want to risk food poisoning so I stayed away from the raw fish. After the ultra, I hope to go back to Coolidge Corner Theater to see Jiro Dreams of Sushi and then have sushi afterwards! I have 2 free tickets if anyone wants to go with me! =)

May 1: Run Club followed by Four Burger to celebrate Alex’s birthday!

We usually go to Five Napkin Burger, but tried Four Burgers for the first time after the Boston Marathon. The burgers are delicious and they serve alcohol here for those who like a cold beer with their burger! And they serve Mexican Coke!