I did not get to camp (Luciana Park) until after midnight. Lanesboro is a borough in Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania with only about 500 or so residents. I was worried I would wake up the ultra runners setting up my tent so late. I tried to be as quiet as I could and finally got my tent up in time for about four hours of sleep. I woke up to some runners talking at 4am and headed out to the start after getting myself ready to run. I received a warm greeting from the guy checking in all the runners.
At 5am sharp we all started the Viaduct Ultra Marathon, some running 50 miles and some 100. My goal heading out was to just run and keep a steady pace. I always run with my phone, which surprises other veteran runners, when they notice. My phone has my music and Nike app with my GPS, but this time there was no signal in the mountains and no music or any way to track my time. I had only one song and there was no way I wanted to hear the same song over and over again, so for the majority of the race I ran with no music, a big first for me.
There were rocks to run on but it was not so bad once I got used to it. I did fall and Vicky, an amazing lady at the aid station, noticed this right away and said, "Here is a sponge. Wipe it down; you will feel better". Vicky changed the whole experience for me. She was very encouraging. Since I went to this race alone she really had an impact on my ability to finish and I am very thankful for her and all the volunteers and runners.
At the 12.5-mile turn around point there was a sheet of paper waiting for me where runners used the honor system and wrote their times down. I wrote 8:30am and gingerly headed back to camp with a plan in mind on how a finish might be possible for me. Mentally and physically I needed a break from running. So my plan was to walk up hilly parts, run as fast as I could downhill, and take a 3 to 4 hour nap after 25 miles. Around noon I finished 25 miles and got in my tent to start a nap.
With my knees hurting and how I felt as I laid my head down to take a nap I knew there was a possibility that I might DNF, but I did not want to make a final decision until after my nap was over. Four hours later I woke up and I felt much better, my headache gone and my body ready for more miles. Carl and the other race director warned me it would be cold and I told them my long sleeved shirt and headlamp were at Melrose Inn, the aid station. After chatting with me and making sure my knees would be OK they let me go to attempt another 25 miles.
I hit the trail again around 5pm and all the 50 milers were finishing up their 50 miles. One guy named Michael was so fast that he would pass me coming forward and going back. My friend Jenny said, "He is built for speed." after I showed her a picture of him.
He is the course record holder for the 50 and on this race day he was racing to do the 100. This race is very family-oriented. There were lots of children on bikes pacing their dads running. I used to think that trees and other stuff that was in the way of your running path were to be jumped over, but Maggie, the only female 100-mile finisher, was like..."More like you walk around or over them". It's funny how you can form misconceptions of a sport when you don't really know a lot and you are just starting out.
Seeing the other runners out running in the dark to complete their 100 miles was instrumental to my finish. I am not much for running in the dark. It was a little scary. I saw a porcupine and waited until it went in the bushes. All you really can do is look at the ground ahead of you for 12-plus miles. At this point I reflected on why I even ran in the first place.
Finally, the last 25 miles were done. I checked in at 12:30am and I received this cool rail spike for a finisher’s award. Thanks again to all the volunteers and runners; it was an amazing experience.