This past weekend I ran the Oil Creek 50 mile Trail Run in Titusville Pennsylvania. As you will see from both my pre-race and race reports – it sure was an interesting journey!
First of all, what was I thinking signing up for 50 mile trail run when I don’t even own trail shoes- let alone run trails! News Flash - Montour trail is not a real trail run! Anyway, dollar by dollar, mile by mile I proceeded to prepare for the OC 50 mile trail run on Saturday October 10th.
10/1/2009 THURSDAY (One week prior to Race Day)
Why did I have to check the weather? Yikes – 10 day forecast is not only “Wet” but “Very Wet”! Send email to Tom Jennings OC Race Director – Do you think I should buy these for the race $69.99??Product Details Meanwhile you know he is just shaking his head thinking “Who would sign up for a trail run and not want to get wet and muddy”?
10/5/2009 MONDAY (5 days til Race Day)
Begin Packing – lay out everything on my bedroom floor. Yikes! Family is concerned. I think it might be harder going to a race with drop bags – one pile for drop bag #1, another pile for drop bag #2, race day pile, hair net, rain machine and fluffy slippers pile, post race shower pile, drive home/hospital/casket pile- piles everywhere!
It is also Pine Richland homecoming weekend and my son and daughter will both be going to the PR homecoming dance as their crazy mother runs 50 miles. (I did not know that when I signed up for the race - lots of guilt.)
Note to Husband: Thank you Tom!
10/6/2009 TUESDAY (4 days til Race Day)
Started to review the course and prepare for the race. Send another email to race director – confused about add -on section for the 50 mile run. Race director replies nicely but puts a * by my name (loony bin – high maintenance!) More concerns reading the race website – elevation, bear sighting, porcupines and a last place finisher award – Yikes! This really caught my attention.
§ A helicopter and ambulance will be on hand as well as a rope rescue team, ATV "mules" for transporting injured runners, and an EMS worker at each staffed aid station in the park will be provided to assist you in an emergency. However, these are very remote locations that are difficult to get aid to in a short amount of time so please read the waiver on the race registration website very carefully.
Note to Self: Paint Toenails Hot Pink – Critical for rescue. Casted/casket legs look better with painted toenails!
10/8/2009 THURSDAY (2 days to Race Day)
Note to Self: Do Not- I repeat- Do Not send another email to the race director – relax, breathe and start getting excited. Add more items to drop bags.
10/9/2009 FRIDAY (1 day to Race Day)
Time to put on my game face and get the car packed. What to wear to packet pick-up? Hmmm “stilettos” were really not cool for Boston packet pick up. Yikes all my extra tennis shoes are in the drop bags! Better go with the low heal loafers and anything camouflaged -try to look like you are a real trail runner??
Note to Self: Wear sunglasses at packet pickup. Introduce yourself to race director as Jeff Gleason.
10/9/2009 FRIDAY (Packet Pick-up)
Arrive in Titusville. Attend pre-race dinner/meeting. Win an Ultra Fuel pack door prize! Say hello to Rick Freeman. He is running the 50 mile run. Get lost finding the Comfort Inn hotel. Stop at gas station and follow two local runners to hotel. They laugh because they are from Titusville and can’t see how anyone would get lost in Titusville! Check-in and obsessively begin watching the weather channel. Race outfit dilemma – should I wear shorts or long pants?
Race Outfit #1: Pants – safety pin race number on pants.
Note to Self: No rain machine tonight – plenty of rain outside already!
Finish laying out race items and early to bed!
10/10/2009 SATURDAY (Race Day!) 6 am Start Time
Wake up call 3:30 am. Turn on the weather channel. 47 degrees!
Race Outfit Change #2: Shorts – un- safety pin race number from pants and re-safety pin on shorts.
Get dressed and take 8 of 16 suitcases to the car. Walk out of the hotel- Yikes! It is cold, raining and dark, very dark! Get coffee and head back to the room.
Race Outfit Change #3: Pants - un- safety pin race number from shorts and re-safety pin on pants.
Take 8 more suitcases to the car and head over to the middle school (race start). Walk in and 100 milers run off into the dark. Check-in and drop off drop bags. Two women in the locker room ask – “are you wearing pants today? (5:30 am) Head to car for shorts. See Rick Freeman and he just smiles and says you have plenty of time. Out to the car, dig through 16 bags, find shorts.
Race Outfit Change #4: Shorts - un- safety pin race number from pants and re-safety pin on shorts.
(5:45 am) Pre- race meeting. Don’t really care what the race director thinks. Go right up to him with my laminated race map and ask him about the 50 mile course add-on section.
(5:55 am) Exhausted from changing outfits. Walk to the start line. Click on flashlight 20 times to make sure it is working.
(6:00 am) – Race Begins!
Race Start (Darkness 6:00 am – 7:23 am)
The OC 50 mile run starts on a bike path and I think to myself this is not too bad, I can do this. Then I see a line of runners and a set of wooden steps heading up into the trails. I click my light but it is already on (did I mention it was dark). One by one into the darkness and straight up we go. I have never run trails in the dark but I quickly learned to stay with the group because it is even darker without the group. My feet quickly became coated in mud and there were roots and rocks everywhere. However as I slowly became acclimated to the trail I realized the darkness was a blessing because it made me appreciate the trails in the daylight and I set my first race goal. Finish in the daylight!
Desert Hero Jeff
It was not until the sun came up did I realize that the blazes on the trees marking the trail were no longer yellow but were blazing red! Wow – then I saw the trail was lined with cheering people. Who was that masked man? Desert Hero Jeff was here an hour or two ago -blazing the trail. I never saw him on my run but when I touched the ground it was still warm from his footsteps! Jeff ran the OC 100 and finished first place masters and 12th overall.
Drop Bag #1 Egbert Farm 13 Miles
As time went on I got into my own rhythm and pace. I met and talked with many runners. Everyone was so friendly. The course was so well marked and the aid stations were wonderful. Even though I was wearing shorts, I was soaked from the rain, sweat and mud so I was so excited to have a drop bag with dry cloths. I quickly changed and regrouped then headed back to the trails.
50 Mile Add-On Section
This section was a little cumbersome but was marked very well. I had my laminated map just in case. As I was starting the add-on section – Rick Freeman was finishing! He ended up finishing 5th overall for the OC 50 mile run.
Drop Bage #2 Titusville Middle School 36 Miles
Nothing like coming into the finish line knowing you are not done! I was getting tired but grabbed some things from my second drop bag and decided not to take the head lamp. I was going to finish before dark if it killed me. I met a nice group of South Park runners and we all headed out with the same goal. Of course they knew Lou D Angelo so I was quickly included in the group.
The Finish Line !!
Finally I am near the finish line. Somehow I thought the finish was at Aid Station #4.” Isn’t this the finish? No – It is around the corner.”
Remember I was the one that got lost in Titusville. My watch time was 11:03. I still don’t know my official finish time.
As you can see from the bottom line – all the money I spent getting ready for this trail run…there is not a price for describing how I felt when I crossed the finish line. However more importantly my son and daughter made it to the PR Homecoming dance and had a wonderful time – now that is surely Priceless!