20 Miles at Twisted

Twisted Branch was everything I expected even in the rain. I knew what was coming and how hard it would be. I knew my fatigue level and the status of my ankle. With that knowledge I started the race with an open mind and an acceptance of the possibility of dropping.

I had my friend Jeff and Danielle out there crewing. Jeff would pace me from the Bud Valley aid station (mile 40) to the finish. They were amazing. I felt so taken cared for and safe with them. I couldn’t have picked a better crew. They knew my situation and how I felt going into the race. They knew not to press me if I dropped. It wasn’t that kind of day.

The race began at 4AM and it was actually a good temperature. Immediately I noticed my headlamp was shit. I haven’t used it since I used to run at 4AM, and it worked for where I was, the roads in Ithaca. A familiar place. It didn’t work for dark, wet trails.

After realizing this, I tried to stay near someone with a good light, but still my tripping was apparent. I hoped the sun would come soon.

Then the rain began and the shit show got worse. I was pretty scared for my safety actually, but just slowed down and made my way through the early hours. I think the Lord heard my prayers because at a turn, someone handed me a headlamp (it was the RD Scott who is an AMAZING guy) and I was able to see. That was a pretty big boost, one I needed as the rain began to pour buckets.

I felt alright making my way through the trails. Legs and heart feeling alright. Better than I expected. I ran with Pete Kresock for a while and then another guy I don’t remember. After Aid station 2 at 12 miles, we started a climb up a hill. By this point the course was flooded and still coming down. I missed a turn.

Instead of starting a windy descent, I made my way up to the top of a mountain and ended up at a pond familiar if you’ve run the muddy sneaker course. Realizing I must’ve made a mistake, I turned around and proceeded to fall down the wet rocks on the descent. I got so lucky I didn’t break my ankle. It was after the 4th or so fall that I knew it wouldn’t be my day here. The question was, did I want to walk the next 40 miles and 14 hours?

No. I did not. That is not my style. That is not how I race. I felt the chance to really mess myself up for longer was high, and that was not a chance I wanted to continue to take. I felt mentally checked out. Like I could plod along and finish, but this course deserves more respect than that. I felt like I could give it a real go, but not in the state of fatigue I was in.

I also felt at peace. I felt happy that I came to see what this amazing race was all about. I felt confident that I would finish it one day. But today was not that day. I simply am not ready to run a 100k. Maybe if I took MOTG and CT50 easier I would have been in better condition, but I didn’t. I’m also not mad I didn’t do that. I finished MOTG feeling strong and great. I finished CT50 in 3rd with a bum ankle. I am proud of those races.

I think my season ended at CT and the past month, although fun because I just love running, wasn’t what I needed to do well at Twisted. In hindsight, I’m glad I ran last month because I had fun on the roads. It felt good for some reason even though my ankle was sore.

With each race I learn more about my style and what I need. I am someone who races pretty hard each time (even if I don’t think I do) and I have a physical job. It takes me longer to recover. That’s my life. Now I will recover.

I feel at peace mentally, tired and sore physically, ready for a break to heal my ankle fully. I don’t have any races scheduled when I get back. I’m taking it one day at a time.

I’ll admit that last night I went to bed thinking “great, it was only 20 miles so I won’t be sore!” This morning I was reminded how hard my falls were and that volunteering for the hours post race is actually pretty physically demanding.

With that, I’ll end my season on a beautifully hard 20 miler, a long day of cheering and helping and hopefully a speedy recovery.

Thank you to Scott and all the volunteers at Twisted Branch. You made it fun and thank you for letting me crash the Bud Valley aid station to help. Thank you to Ian and Red Newt Racing for believing in me and helping with my crazy. Thank you to Finger Lakes Running for all the support, shoes and laughs. I have the best running store in NYS.

Until next time, I gotta go to work cause running don’t pay my bills ya know?

3 thoughts on “20 Miles at Twisted”

  1. Such a smart move and your mental attitude about it is so inspiring and healthy.

    I hope some time off and rest helps your ankle feel 100% better. Nagging pain can be a drain. <3

  2. I’m just doing a big catch up on all your recent posts. This post had my heart in a knot. To me, this experience sounds terrifying. The running in the dark, and then the rain, the turn off the trail… man Ellie. I would have been an emotional wreck if this were me.

    But you held it together, and you made an extremely courageous and wise choice that, most likely, saved you both physically and mentally. I am very happy you did what you did. I honestly think it shows both your strength, your smarts, and your maturity.

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