Just about a month after our DNF at Pinhoti, Carrie and I had signed up long ago to run the GUTS Pine Mountain 46 Miler. (Lisa was always the more cautious runner and thought we would need more time to recover and opted for the shorter 19 mile distance). We had heard it was a tough race but that did not stop us. We had both felt strong after Pinhoti because of course we only ran 65 miles not the 100! We were ready to tackle this tough course and get a little redemption for our Pinhoti DNF!
The race started early and in the dark but we lined up at the start line in good company with many of our friends. A couple we would run with for section but Carrie and I were so focused on our redemption at this point we didn’t want to commit to going someone else’s pace, this was our sweet redemption to get.
We fell into a good pace early on, again starting far enough up that we didn’t struggle to pass runners and settled into a good pace. We quickly cruised through the first AS and both felt good and had a positive attitude. We were on part of the course that had been added onto the previous year’s 40 mile course. We enjoyed the views of this section and weather was perfect. Quickly we dropped on the 40 mile course from the previous years and got to the next AS. Carrie and I had learned to manage AS stops very quickly, usually we chatted before getting to them about what we need to do, we would focus on those things and quickly be gone.
The trails from here became much more rocky and technical. We ran what we could and were careful through the tricky sections that were rocky. When we got to the next AS we had drop bags here and both dropped our lights off in them. We would head out from there and when we came back through this AS on the way back we could retrieve our headlamps for the finish. It was a long section out from here and we began to see some of the first runners headed back from long loop we were headed on. It included a very long, steep downhill section which a quickly mental note, you had to climb back up later. When we got to our next stop I was greeted by a running friend of mine, Della and it was so nice to see a friendly face. She cheered us on and sent us on our way.
The next section was a loop that would lead us to the Radio Tower AS. We struggled some through this section and it seemed difficult to follow the trail through some sections along the creek. Finally the Radio Tower AS was not far off but we were now just on the verge of the cutoffs. While we were with several other runners at the time, Carrie and I both knew we were running it in. It wasn’t over and we would not do a death march. How did we get here again, we could not figure it out. We ran well all day. We came running into the AS seeing familiar faces and friends. We were just minutes behind the cutoff but because we were running great, they sent us on. Carrie and I had gotten a pass and we weren’t wasting it. We knew we could get our redemption. Determined more than ever we ran well from there to the AS where my friend Della was still working. We had gained some time and were now ahead. We could do it. Again we were off. We knew we had some work ahead of us but aside from that one good climb we knew we could do it. Carrie and I powered on passing several other runners out on the trail but the end reward was ours to get. Once again we felt good and we were so proud of how hard we were pushing and climbing. We saw the next AS and knew we needed our headlamps from our drop bags. We had little time to spare so we ran in straight to our bags to get our lamps and were then told “your done girls.” What? “You missed the cutoff by 2 minutes.” We had run hard, we had put all we had into it. But we knew she was serious and wasn’t letting us go on.
So we are back on the DNF bus. We may have picked a really tough race to try to get off the bus but again we sit in good company with lots of other runners. If you are a runner or competitor you can imagine this begins to shake your confidence. But we awarded ourselves the “most determined” award because we never gave up or stopped until we were pulled! And we will keep that determined award and get ourselves off this bus! Soon…