Hello dear reader! I am still really REALLY tired from my last race, so let’s see how coherent this will be.
A lot has happened since the last review so first a quick recap. About a month ago I set out to do another 1/2 marathon with my favorite local race group A Better World Running. Unfortunately the odds were not in my favor that day and between searing temperatures and unknown at the time, but an oncoming cold, after 1 loop I finished dropping down to the 10k group. It sucked, but it’s good to know that I’m coming a way’s in my “running career” to know when to call T.O.D. Then shortly after I met up with my running friends at the Leggers and they convinced me to mentor for the LA Marathon again, so here I am. Mentor X2…
Now fast forward to a few days ago when I competed in my very first ultra marathon. Dun dun duuuunnnn! The race of choice was the “ET Full Moon Midnight Marathon” (5k, 10k, half, full or 51k options) by Calico Racing. This is an interesting race in that it’s a road race ultra, it starts at midnight, and it’s kind of out by area 51 – hence the extra k. I honestly did not feel well trained for this race aside from doing a lot of marathons recently, and with the last race being a drop down I was really concerned about my mental strength for this.
The packet pick up was at the Silver Sevens hotel off the Vegas strip, so I picked that resort for my stay. (Pro tip: While the staff is nice this is a very noisy and very smokey hotel). Packet pick up was done in a room suite and was pretty painless. There were some mix ups with shirt sizes but easy to fix, and since I didn’t have to go to another stupid expo I was in and out in about 20 minutes.
Bus pick up and drop off is also at this hotel and parking was plentiful for those not staying on site. The bus grabbed us around 8:45PM and was sectioned best it could be between 5k/10k people, half marathon people, marathon maniacs, and mixed. There was some confusion about one of the buses not taking people so I ended up with the maniacs which was fine since I recently got my membership. It was a LONG ride to the start, about 2 hours, and it’s really hard to sleep during the trip. People are wide awake chatting and its close quarters so my neighbor and I had some passive aggressive battle for the knee space going on. He won. I heard the bus driver comment that a storm we were driving through was the “worst he’s ever seen out there”.
Eventually the buses stop in what is pretty much the middle of nowhere only noted by a single stop sign riddled with bullet holes. We all poured out into the wind and light drizzle trying to activate glow sticks and use port of johns that had tipped over in the storm. There were some announcements and then rather quickly we were off! No official start line just kind of a start area and you head in one direction down a two lane highway in the middle of the Nevada desert. And it’s midnight. And it starts to rain. And you hear some weird sounds. Then see some weird things. For a long, long, long time. Eventually the crowd thins out as there are different distances and abilities so you find yourself alone. On a highway. In the middle of the Nevada desert. And it’s the middle of the night. And it’s raining. And you’re still hearing weird things. And you’re still see–holy shit was that a chupacabra?! Is a chupacabra an alien? Is it a monster? Let’s spend 18 miles trying to figure this out. Because you’re alone. On a highway. In the middle of the Nevada desert. And it’s the middle of the night.
The water stations provided brief moments of interactions with other humans. I do remember at one point thinking “PEOPLE! I’M SAVED!”. I only stopped at the first 20 miles to use their trash – because littering is for assholes – or to pet dogs. But they looked well stocked and the volunteers were all such lovely people.
The first 13 or 15 miles were all uphill but afterwards you can catch a good downhill jog. Around mile 19 I might have started to crack. I heard this weird whistling sound off in the brush. I tried looking around with my headlamp but started to think of that scene in Pee Wee’s Big Adventure when he turns on his night glasses and see’s all the wild animals so I noped out and focused on heading to mile 20 where the finish line was. Oh no dear readers, I did not finish, us marathon + people got to run past the finish and onward further into the middle of fucking nowhere. Oh hi people eating breakfast and enjoying your finish. Byeeeeeeeeeeeeee.
Mile 23 was the turnaround for the marathon people. There was this little blinky light on the turnaround sign calling me like a siren “Hey, just turn around now, yo”. I snapped back when someone coming my way said “Don’t fall for the light’s trick! You can do this!”. Thank you random runner. You broke the spell.
I stopped to talk to the water station here and have a legit glass of water as my nuun was starting to get warm. I asked her what happens if I have trouble with the last 9 miles here. I was told then I better make up my mind because the buses don’t wait. I asked if there was a sweeper and told no. “But then what do you do if you don’t finish??” “Find a ride back to town”. YIKES! I don’t know the official answer from the RD on whether there are sweepers – but I do know the buses are no joke. More on that in a minute.
So with the fear of being left on a highway. In the middle of the Nevada desert. And the sun is starting to rise. I made my finishing plan. “If I can stay above a 15mm I can finish” with time for a beer (priorities). One foot in front of the other I kept pushing. Run – walk – run – walk – listen to your body. There was a set of lights in the distance. I made up my mind that it MUST be the turnaround point. “Dear god where is the turnaround point? I see you lights! You mock me lights! I’m going to get you lights! Don’t tell me I can’t get there you @%!$# lights! #%#^#@ LIGHTS!” – I really was starting to crack I think. Those lights were in fact the turnaround. Thank heavenly god for the turnaround. I tried to converse with the last station and the police officer there but they couldn’t understand me very well. Maybe I was just rambling. Who knows. But it was a beautiful sight. An empty highway with the sunrise over the mountains.
Aaaannnnddd then I had to turn around and finish. FUCK.
I was wearing down so I started to run between landmarks. “From this black thingy to that stripey thingy” and I’d jog. I’d get partway there “It’s okay, you tried for the stripey thingy. Let’s recover and go for that rock!”. I had given up on internal monologue about 2 hours prior and was legit talking out loud to myself by now. From landmark to landmark I ran when I could and walked when my legs felt like cement. I kept an eye on the time panicking about missing the bus, but also trying to not injure myself. I started to employ what I called my “city walk” which is a no nonsense fast paced walk I do when I’m in a hurry at home. It helped and in my head I looked like some bad ass but I’m sure I looked like a mall walker.
Around mile 30 I saw a jackalope. I don’t care who doesn’t believe me. I KNOW I saw one!
I popped in my headphones for the last mile trying to pump myself up for a finish. I passed a man drinking a cold pepsi and was pissed I didn’t have a pepsi. I saw someone wandering in the brush but assumed they were done and stretching. I got to the finish area and jogged in the last .3 miles trying so hard to just finish strong.
The finish area was dead. One bus, a table full of four people. No breakfast was left. No fanfare 😦 They needed my timing chip from my shoe and i had to lace it in because the twist tie broke. I almost fainted trying to get it off because of the sudden rush and exhaustion. I felt like shit.
I said hi to my fellow Legger Charles who did the marathon that morning and wandered in to the gift shop/diner of the Little A’Lee’Inn hotel. I was trying to get my blood pressure back to non fainting state and also look at the fun stuff inside when the race director came in telling us the bus was leaving. I panicked a little but she said there was one last bus leaving in 20 minutes. I quickly shopped for a gift for my husband and got myself a beer. I plopped down at a table to relax and some random dude who was not running comes up and asks me to switch tables so he could use the outlet to charge his phone…
…Yeah. That happened.
So I drank my beer, thanked the wonderful ladies of the A’Lee’Inn for their service and went outside to get on the bus. I was joined by one guy who literally ran across the finish onto the bus panting like mad. I was worried about his blood pressure and me and the timer talked to him for a while to keep eyes on him. I noticed a small bruise on my leg and slipped on some compression socks and nodded off. I woke up an hour later with drool all over my face like a classy broad would. The bus dropped us off back at our hotel and off I went to get a drink, a shower, and a good meal.
All in all I would have to say it was an interesting race. Some of the attendees were not so great and so the overall vibe ended up feeling “meh”. We had one woman freak out on the bus to the start because she wanted to sit next to someone and there were no seats together, causing other people who were early to move. Then there was a woman who I saw on course that was just standing around and when I asked if she was fine she gave me attitude and I later heard her say she thought it was ridiculous people were checking on her. SORRY FOR WORRYING ABOUT A FELLOW RUNNER! I was bummed that at the end there was no breakfast around since I had paid for a second plate for the husband who didn’t make it. And I had 2 bus tickets so that fight for the leg room on the way there shouldn’t have been a thing but fine whatever, I wasn’t going to be an ass. I also do wish there were separate medals for the distances but it is what it is. I did end up finishing first in my age group, but to be honest there were only 8 women and only 30 total runners in the 51k. So.. ya know.. Since the end was so dead and it seemed like it was get on the bus or be left behind I had no idea I placed and so I ended up writing the RD for my award and paid for shipping. Not sure what it is but I’m interested to see.
I might return to this race to ‘crew’ for a friend who wants to do it. I’ll run a shorter distance and be her driver and save us some plates of food. But I’m not sure if I will do the 51k again just because the sleep deprivation is real.
And with that… I’m off to daydream about my bed some more.