Last weekend, Ryan and I ran in the North Face Endurance Challenge. Ryan ran in the 50K and I ran the Half marathon.
Let me just go ahead and sum this up for you, real quick: HOLY SH*T.
Have I got your attention now? Good.
Let’s start from the very beginning.
We got to New York late Friday night. We stayed at a fairly nice hotel in Fishkill, NY, about half an hour from Bear Mountain State Park where the race took place.
We woke up Saturday morning and met up with Ryan’s friend Chris at around 5AM and headed for the park for the boys to pick up their bib numbers and tee-shirts and make their way to their 7AM start. When we got on the road at 5AM it was already raining. Yup…the boys ran the entire 50K in the pouring rain. So that was fun…
Ryan had thought that he would be at aid station #5 (which was mile 21) around 9:30AM so I made sure to try and be back at that aid station to catch him. Turns out this course is a lot harder than anticipated soooo Ryan didn’t end up showing up at that aid station until around 11:30AM. He was by himself which surprised me because he and Chris had initially said they’d stick together but I came to find out that Ryan had left him even before the first aid station haha! Boys. But, nonetheless, Ryan looked good even though he insisted he was in misery (yes, those were his actual words). I hung around for a couple more hours, charging my phone and getting warm (how pretentious am I…) and then I headed up to the finish line to try and catch Ryan finish. I was projecting he’d finish sometime between 2:30-3PM but to my surprise he crossed the finish line around 1:30PM. His final time was 6:53:45. Seriously killer time. He’s pretty hot.
He is literally the most undramatic person I’ve ever met and he hardly ever complains about being in pain or anything like that so he was pretty chill after I helped him change into dry clothes and warm up.
Chris on the other hand? He crossed the finish line with a time of about 9 hour 21 minutes. He found us at our car and was freaking out about being exhausted and cold (rightfully so). I helped him clean up and get warm and then, in Chris’ words, “the honest box is about to come out”. He started telling us his rendition of the course and how hard it was. Ryan hadn’t told me any of this so it was my first time hearing it. To sum it up, it sounded miserable so, ya know…I was stoked to partake the following day.
Fast forward to Sunday. My turn. 13.1.
I slept like a baby Saturday night and woke up without even a twinge of nervousness. I was soooo not prepared for what was to come. Ryan dropped me at the starting line and wished me luck. Luck that I’d sorely need.
The first wave took off right at the 8AM start time but I was in wave 9 so we didn’t take off until a few minuets after 8AM.
Things started out alright, we went through a huge mud puddle early on and then it was a bit of an uphill with some rocks and I was thinking this wasn’t so bad. Turns out this was all just a really messed up, false sense of security and not at all a hint into what was to come.
I won’t take you turn-by-turn but holy crap. This race totally kicked my ass. It was just all mud and rock. Chris said it perfectly when he said “it’s like they just exploded a huge mountain and threw all the rocks in our path” because you guys, ALL the rock…sweet Jesus, if I never see another rock again…it will be too soon. There were times when we were on trails that didn’t even look like trails. I was legit avoiding bushes on a super thin trail. At one point I was just on a rock face…may as well have been climbing the freaking mountain. Such steep uphills and downhills. My explanations don’t even do this race any justice.
A bit before mile 9 there was an aid station and when I came into this aid station, the woman wanted to know my bib number because she wanted to know who all was in the back. She said “yeah…you’re in the back. But, they haven’t pulled you so you’re good, you got this!” “oh, great” I said back. So I continued on and at one point rolled my ankle and distinctly remember thinking to myself “I seriously just wish someone would come out here and pull me off this freaking course and tell me I can’t finish..this shit sucks”. I just had to walk off my rolled ankle because like, nobody was around…nobody was coming to get me so I just had to limp it off.
I think the worst part about this course was just how it seemed so unending. I definitely thought, at one point that I was going to just die out there because I’d never finish and nobody would come back for me. I hated that there was just literally no running to this race. Because of all the rock and terrain, it was nearly impossible to run. You had to jog when you could but then you’d quickly be stopped in your tracks because of a rock pass, or a knee-deep stream, or a huge mud puddle.
At the very last aid station I came into, someone told me (incorrectly) that I had 2.8 miles left. This incorrect measurement set me off and I just leaned against a tree and shamelessly cried. You go through an insane handbag of emotions out there. I think back now and wonder why I was even crying. But I was exhausted. I was using every bit of everything I had to finish this stupid race and I was fed up with all the rocks and all the hills.
Ryan texted me at one point to tell me it was all downhill and that I could just jog it out because I was so close. I think he was hoping that that would give me some sort of motivation to finish quickly. Mostly it just pissed me off because it was sooo not all downhill from when he texted me.
That last mile or so, I was really convinced that someone was going to stop me and tell me that they were cutting me off.
But I finished, guys.
I legitimately finished in 3:59:59. One literal second before the time limi (even though 10 people finished after me so I guess they weren’t too strict on this?) I was so happy to just be done. I found Ryan and my first words were “that race kicked my ass…it’s not even fun!”
In all honesty, thinking back on it, I would probably do this race again. I lost my mind out there but I found a piece of myself that I never knew I had. I’d need to train far better for it but I’d do it again. It’s an insane race because it is hard to train for. Remember back in my post about how I was preparing for this race when I said that I was doing running on the grass across the street and I thought that would help me? HAHAHAHA WHAT A JOKEEEE. Living in the heart of the suburbs, there is just nothing that comes close to any part of this race that could help in training. Being a hiker would be immensely helpful so I mean, to you hikers…kudos because you’ll be more prepared than anyone. But for the rest of us mortals…God bless our souls.