Guys, I did it! It was tough, challenging, unique, and fun. Potawatomi Trail Runs: 30 mile “fun run” is officially in the books. I conquered my fifth marathon/ultra and also my fifth state in the US.
The race had several distances ranging from 200 miles all the way down to 30 miles. The folks that were brave enough to face 200 at McNaughton Park started on Thursday, while the less crazy people (like me) started on Saturday at 8pm to run 30 miles.
Each loop was 10 miles long, which meant I had to run the same loop 3 times.
I arrived 30 minutes before the start time (I know, I was almost late). It started on the dot, and went through a dirt road toward an open field with green tall grass.
A runner behind me started giving me some advice on what to expect and what not to expect as we were crossing a tiny creek. At this creek, my right shoe got wet and muddy when I crossed stream of water and I asked him: “How many of these creeks do we have to cross?” His response was: “Wait until you see the real creek.” Ahead of us there was a sign that said “Beach” which I found odd as there are no beaches in the Midwest. After running half a mile through a sandy trail, I saw the real creek, which was an actual river. “Socks will get wet” read the sign before the river, and it was right. I just ran the river as fast as I could. At first, the cold water coming through my socks was unpleasant but as the water started evaporating due to the heat coming from my feet, it turned into the most relaxing feeling I had that day.
I finished loop 1 in 2:10.
Even though I felt I had not pushed myself hard enough on my first loop, loop two was not enjoyable. My body was moving, but my mind wanted it to stop. I kept asking myself “Who runs 30 miles at 8pm on a Saturday night?”
I knew I was 3 miles out to finish the second loop. My motivation to keep moving was really low at this point. I was getting tired and I just wanted to sleep. I felt I was about to hit the famous wall that most runners are afraid of, but thankfully the downhill section called Bluebell Hill was ahead of me. Suddenly, I saw I was falling as I hadn’t seen the branch in the middle of the trail. It was painful, and the right side of my body was covered in mud and leaves. I looked around for help but I was alone on the trail. I had to shake it off and keep moving.
I finished loop 2 in 2:50
I was hesitant to continue as I was wondering if I could run 10 more miles at 1 in the morning. I decided to keep moving and in the event of needing to walk, I would just go ahead and walk.
There was a hill called “Golf Hill” 3 miles into the trail that had a rope attached to three of the trees to help support the runner climb the hill. After 23 miles of running almost without stopping, I used the rope, and all the muscles in my arms to move myself up. At that point, I was alone, there were not runners in front or behind me. The night was pitch black. The owls were starting to show up on top of the trees. There was a sound coming out from the forest. I heard it. I was not hallucinating. I heard the sound of a creaking door on my right. Followed by the same sound over and over again. My hands started to shake, my heart was pounding out of my chest, and my legs were tired. I had to climb that hill to get away from there. As I ran, the noise went away.
Finally, I started seeing some lights at the finish line. I ran as fast as I could feeling the throbbing pain from the fall going down my right side, and the soreness in my ankles after 30 miles of crazy running. I crossed the finish line in 7 hours and 50 minutes. I was 7th out of 23, and 3rd woman out of 10.