I probably wouldn't have written about this event had I not ended up lost.
But I'm getting ahead of myself so let's start at the beginning.
I signed up for this event as a way to kill time between Coeur d'Alene and Kona. I thought about throwing in a half Iron but I'm kind of bored with the distance and I think with Kona specifically, I'd like to have the remaining eight weeks as a straight focus block with zero interruptions. So the Skyline 50k fit the bill and I pulled the trigger.
Race morning was fairly uneventful except for the fact that I got up at the crack of dawn to go for a run through the woods.
I showed up at the venue early and everyone was fairly low key. Not that I have much experience with the ultra crowd but it's a much calmer vibe and it makes the pre race situation a lot less agitating.
Just prior to the 7am start, everyone gathered just behind a long strip of duct tape which represented the starting line. A fellow standing to the side of the strip, holding a phone in his hand, began counting down to the start.
In the mile or two, I was surrounded by runners but as soon as we started hitting the hills, I noticed people were slipping off the back. A few more miles passed and it was starting to get lonely.
The really fast guys were off the front and nowhere to be seen again. At the rear, a large pack. And in the middle, our group which seemed to be caught in no man's land.
Being new to the trails, I was somewhat uncomfortable with the direction I was supposed to be headed and there were a few times when I almost made a wrong turn. Fortunately, there was usually another runner nearby to keep me headed in the right direction.
Despite feeling a little sluggish in the first hour, the day moved by quickly after that.
The terrain was mostly up and down but there were a few sections where I could open up my run and I started to reel in runners one by one. When I crossed the 20 mile marker, I felt strong and I began the final push towards the end.
A quick stop at the mile 22 aid station and I was starting to get excited because the finish was getting close.
Somewhere around mile 24, I got a bad feeling.
As a passed a dog walker on the trail coming from the opposite direction, I asked -- "Are there any runners ahead of me?" She replied: "No, you're winning!"
Crap! I'm lost!
I looked behind me and I saw another runner which was somewhat comforting but I still felt like I was headed in the wrong direction.
As I made my way to the end of the trail, I popped out onto an asphalt road and I realized I was back at the mile 22 aid station except I'm at mile 25.xx according to my Garmin.
The guy at the aid station recognized me but encouraged me to get aid before I started back down the road. I grabbed aid and then headed out. As soon as I left, I saw the fellow behind me, also lost, and he was NOT happy.
I continued on and I was attempting to keep my head straight but I wasn't doing a very good job. Adding another three miles was not in the plans and I had saved enough gas in the tank for 31 miles, not 34 miles.
Thoughts bounced around in my head and I let it get to me but once the Garmin ticked over to 31 miles it seemed to help. With only a few miles remaining, I began to push strong again and I finally ended up at the finish.
A couple of the guys in "our group" were puzzled when they saw me finish. I explained what had happened and they seemed to be more upset about it than I was at this point. I let it get to me an hour or so before I crossed the finish but while standing here with my new found friends, it seemed a bit more comical than life altering.
In the end, it just seems like my lack of experience on the trails is showing and I should be grateful it happened on a 50k course.
Two months to Kona! :)