Saturday, June 29, 2019

Black Mountain Monster Race Recap: My First Official Ultra

Well dang it!! I had my entire recap written up but somehow I lost it!! So here is my second attempt to recap this amazing event! I hope I give it as much accolades as I did the first time I jotted all this down. 

Oh man there’s so much I want to say about the Black Mountain Monster 12 Hour Ultra! You can read all about my training and lead up to the event here.

On the Friday before the race my friends, my husband and I all headed up to Black Mountain for packet pick up and some yummy dinner! We met at Vertical Runner for the packet pick up and then we headed to My Father's Pizza after!

Kim and Nikki were planning to pace me and John was running the 24 Hour. 

After dinner we headed over to the race start and set out a regular tent and a pop up tent that John and Kim brought to serve as our home base. We then headed down the mountain and got some sleep. We planned to drive back up in the morning. Black Mountain is only about a 45 minute drive for us. 

The course was a 3.125 mile loop that is a combination of single track trail, wide trail, grassy trails, some gravel, and a short stint of paved path. Upon the completion of each loop we would pass by our tent.

We got up to the race with planety of time to spare, grabbed our gear and headed to the tent.

I had worked the night before to pack up all my gear! I will share another post in the future about this. It worked out incredibly well!! When we got to the race start we set up our table and chairs and hung out for a bit before heading to the starting coral.

My friend Kim S. was also there running the 6 Hr. event so she and I started off together and hung out for the next several loops!

I actually lost track of loops... The loops, miles and hours all seemed to blend together pretty quickly!

I specifically remember being about 10 miles in and feeling as though we had just started. I seriosuly felt like we were still on the first mile.

My husband reminded me that I would be running longer than I typically work in a day and it was so hard for me to full grasp that but honestly the time flew by!

I loved the fact that every 3ish Miles I was near my gear!! Having never done an endurance event like this before I had no idea how to plan and I had no idea what I was doing but I was super organized with my gear and very quickly developed my system on the course! Every two passes around the loop I would stop at our tent. I decided to fuel with what I knew so I packed everything I might need! This was a good plan because my stomach as per usual did cramp up one or twice during the event. 

Before the race I had one waffle and a cup of coffee at home. I had a little bit of a tortilla with Nutella before starting the race and took a GU with me to take as I began my second loop. I carried my water bottle with 1/2 Nuun Sport and 1/2 Nuun Sport with Caffeine. This proved to be a good combo. 

Every other loop of the course I would swing out to our tent, swap out my water bottle, fuel with either the Nutella tortilla or a Honey Stinger Organic Waffle, grab my bottle with GU for the next lap and head back out.

Kim came and stayed from the start until 4 PM when she could begin running with me (after the 6 Hr event had ended). She was so helpful at the tent, she would have my bottle ready for me to go back out and was willing to help me with anything I needed. Next year she has to run this with me the whole time so we are taking applications for next years crew lol! We will have to have auditions though, you will have to be as good as Kim! LOL!!

There was one main aid station at the tent city and a table set up with water containers on the trail as a re-fill station. 

My Nuun mix bottles lasted me 1 1/2 loops and I filled up with water and the water station on the trail 1/2 way through my second loop which would easily carry my to the every other pit stop I would make. 

There were porta potties just before coming into tent city which was also super convenient. 

Each loop we made we crossed over the timing mat. I loved being able to see my time and loops on the screen they had displayed each and every loop I made. 

This video makes me cry everytime I watch it! The girls voice, the song, the fact that there I was doing the thing I wasn't sure I'd really ever be able to do and Kim's voice full of joy and emotion for me...

The weather forecast was 100% of rain for 100% of the time. Luckily the rain held off until around lunch time. 

The course was muddy from the start and the air was cool with a ever so slight mist in the beginning. I found it to be perfect!!

I also pretty quickly developed my strategy for on the course. My goal was to FINALLY get my 50K after two previous failed attempts. I listened to so many ultra running podcasts and read so many endurance run race recaps and blogs leading up to the event. The overwhelming pattern I saw was to start slow and then slow down. That really is kind of a hard concept to grasp but I knew I wanted to be able to sustain for the long run. Kim S. and I decided to start toward the back of the pack. For one reason, I didn't want to get pushed or trampled and for the second reason I did not want to deal with getting left in the dust as soon as I started. 

If you read my ultra preparation post you will understand where I was at mentally and emotionally going into the event. 

The first lap I established my pattern. I would run at a conversational pace and I would walk the hills. I did that every single lap and surprisingly all the way to the end my laps I stayed pretty consistent. You can clearly see my lunch and dinner breaks in the lap details.

Unfortunately my Garmin died about ten or so hours in and so I lost several miles but my official report also indicates my official average pace so I was pretty spot on.

I LOVED the course!! As I mentioned before there was a mix of single track trail, wide trail, grassy trails, some gravel, and a short stint of paved path. the bulk of the course was through the trees with a few shorter tints on the grassier parts that were more open. 

I took my headphones thinking I would need them to keep me powered up but I never even got them out. I had the company of other runners all along the way.

I was pleasantly surprised to also see a few volunteers along the course giving high fives to the runners and remind me that I was "killing it".

My daughter and her friend came by and saw me around lunch time which was great!

I then grabbed a quesadilla at the main aid station which was delicious and headed on back out!

The rain began right around that time. I stretched out my arms to welcome it and it was as if this song, this lyric, was stuck on repeat in my head: 

"Let the rain fall down and wake my dreams"

It is as if the rain rejuvenated me and gave me energy to power me through the rest of the race. 

The rain poured down the rest of the day and night. The mud puddles turned into small ponds and the dirt paths turned into mud slides.

It was amazing!!! I loved it!! I felt so alive and had so much fun!!! I felt like a little girl splashing around in all the mud puddles!!

In the first lap most everyone gingerly skirted to the sides of the puddles that had already formed from the night before but by the second pass we were all just charging through them!!

At 4:00 pm my friends Kim, Nikki and Sandra joined me, I was around mile 24. They ran with me until the second to the last lap.  

It poured and poured and poured.

I still had not decided if I would stop at the 50K or keep going. Kim felt certain I could get 40 miles. That felt like pressure to me a little bit but I decided I would keep moving for the full 12 Hours to see how many miles I could get. I am so thankful for that gentle nudge to keep going and again I was reminded of the question "I wonder what would happen if I didn't give up". Stopping at the 50K, although a huge accomplishment, would be selling myself short so to say. 

Nikki's husband Josh came and brought Pizza and cupcakes for dinner. That was a nice surprise!! 

I never sat down the entire 12 hours and I tried hard not to stop for long either. I had read in a blog post somewhere to just keep moving and that tip served me well. 

My Husband came around 8pm to cheer me into the finish!!

It started to feel as if we were swimming. The rain barely let up the rest of the evening.

I of course did not take many pictures because of the rain but it was intense! Even still I loved it!! 

It's true what they say:

As we approached the second to the last lap I saw that I was 6th Female. I had already lost more time than I wanted to when we stopped for pizza and my runner girls needed to stop for more lights and chargers but I really wanted to stay in 6th and shoot for a couple extra miles before the cut off so I kicked it into high gear and took back off for another lap. I ran the entire last lap! I knew I would only make it one or two more miles before the 12 Hr cut off and I was right! I got to the one mile mark in 11 hours 34 minutes and 58 seconds. I never saw another timer after that! I feel certain I made it to the second mile within the 12 hours because I made it back to the finish line and the clock reflected 12:23:02! 

My official time and miles:

Deanne Avery
Time on Course 11:34:58
Overall Place 17.
Gender Place 6.
Distance 44.750 miles

I ran a total of 47ish miles overall in the 12:23:02 time to get back to the start. 

I maintained by 6th Place Female out of 33 and 17th place overall out of 71 runners!! I could not believe it!! 

I feel like I totally could have gotten 50 miles. I only needed 6 more miles and there were 4 laps that I took pretty slow, most likely stopping a little longer than I needed to. I can't wait to see what I can do next year!!

I honestly would not change a thing about this race! I wish I had camped the night before and the night after. Maybe next year. 

After we left the 24 Hr race continued for a while but around 3am they had to make the call to cancel due to rapidly rising water. 

The race organizers were awesome!! Directions were clear. The course was well marked and well maintained. I give this race a BIG 5 GOLDEN stars!! 

I can't wait until next year, I hope it rains again too, maybe not quite as much but enough to bring back all the fond memories of this race!!

I think 12 Hour Ultras are now my favorite. I also think looped courses are now my favorite!! The Black Mountain Monster will forever hold a special place in my heart!! 


Check back soon for my upcoming post on how to pack for the 12 Hour Ultra!!

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