Misadventures with wine, weights, and running shoes.

Rosaryville 50k: A Bittersweet Experience

Saturday, November 29, 2014
Photo Credit: Jon M. Valentine
Rosaryville State Park is a beautiful park in Upper Marlboro, MD. Still considered a baby trail runner, when I found Rosaryville, with its rolling hills and beautiful scenery, I fell in love!

It’s a wonderful break from road running.

In November of 2013, I volunteered for the Rosaryville Veterans Day 50k at Aid station #2. I wanted to see Ultra Racing up close and personal. At the time, a 50k seemed impossible, yet as I watched runners of all backgrounds and ages test their mental and physical capabilities, I knew I would be doing it next year.

Early this summer, Theresa texted me looking for a voice of reason. Friends had suggested she do Rosaryville 50k. I simply replied “OMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMG.”

Seriously, it was my response. Followed by, “OMG we can do this together!”

I was already adding trails to my marathon training this year, and this added to my excitement about Rosaryville. I now had a partner in crime to join me in this leap into uncharted territory. Helping her train for her first marathon was awesome, but this would be even more special.

During training, we had great trail runs where we bounded out of the loop, high fiving each other and thinking we could do more. These were paired with ones where that humbled us due to asthma, allergies, knee, and Achilles troubles.

We discovered how very well we worked together on the trail. We were so excited for this adventure and felt as ready as we could be.

Race Day

We packed my van as if preparing for the Apocalypse and then arrived early armed with Starbucks. We hit registration, dropped our drop-bag, checked our gear, stocked our hydration packs and met up with friends.

Over 150 runners stood at attention in the frosty grass at a pavilion for the National anthem, and then with a simple- “Go” we were off.

With less than a mile of road and meadow leading to the perimeter loop, the experienced fast trail runners were off quickly to secure their position on the trail. We stayed toward the middle of the pack.

Our plan was to keep the effort even and steady for two loops; conserving energy for the last loop. No time goal, just a finish goal.

The first loop was crowded. Some passed us and we passed some where we could. It is a single track; many times there were 6-10 runners in single file, pace dictated by whoever was in front. One strider friend, Melissa, stayed with us here. We dubbed ourselves the “Three Musketeers”; all first time ultra-runners.

It was during my first lap that I took my first fall. Trying to not follow too close to Theresa, I caught my right foot on a root and went flying, literally like out of an action movie. I curled, rolled and popped right back up into a walk. I have no earthly idea how I did that, but by Theresa’s account; it was “spectacular.”

At aid station #2 we felt great. We grabbed some food, and headed back out. This is where Theresa rolled her ankle. She didn’t fall, but I knew by her gait that it was not good. We got to the aid station #1 at around 2 hours and Theresa was limping. We wrapped her ankle to try and stabilize it. She said she felt better and, although frustrated, said she was good to go. We shot some pictures and headed on our way. Less than two miles into the second loop, the pain was intensifying and that the wrap was getting tighter as her ankle was swelling more. Down hills were very rough and we walked more than we ran. Every step I knew was painful and I had visions of fireman carrying her out of the woods under protest.
Photo Credit: Denise Hyde
When we got to a clearing, there were volunteers and Theresa knew it wasn’t smart to continue. This was gut wrenching and heart breaking for us both. After a tearful hug, Melissa and I went on.

Then there were two.

Not wanting my partner in crime to wait longer than necessary, I picked up the pace a, conserving energy by powerwalking uphill. While my body felt good, my heart was broken. Melissa and I hit Aid station #2 again, and I knew my pace was too fast for Melissa. She told me she was good and to go ahead. I fueled up and set out again.

Then there was one.

Dealing with tons of emotion, I continued on. I passed by the creepy alter and placed our Halloween rubber duckies to the mix, shot pictures and moved on. I knew some friends were up ahead, so I had hoped to find them as well. I caught up to them, got a pep talk from my friend Lara, and kept moving.

Two laps down, one to go.

Photo Credit: Kit Yan
I arrived back at aid station #1 to find Theresa waiting, hobbling on a newly wrapped ankle and arms outstretched to give me a huge hug that I desperately needed. Emotions overflowed - the happiness of seeing her and Jill and the heartbreak that Theresa wasn't with me.

Jill hugged me and then helped roll out my tight hamstring/hip. I re-stocked my vest and grabbed food. I hugged my soul sister again and told her, I was now running for both of us. With an emotional departure, I took off again.

Fueled by the Rice crispy treats that Theresa made and my heart, renewed by the support, I ran that last lap in almost complete silence. Other than an occasional biker crossing my pat, and a couple of volunteers on the trail, you were left to yourself and your thoughts.
Photo Credit: Kit Yan
I saw Jill one last time at aid station #2, giving me a mental and moral boost. No appetite but I still managed a banana, chips and a coke. My hands were swollen, everything was sore, but manageable. No energy boost from crowds or signs like a road race, I had no one to push me forward but me, the beautiful sounds of the woods and the sun peeking through to light my path. It was an amazing experience. Despite the pain, I was completely at peace.

My last fall happened within a mile exiting the loop. Ttrying to avoid a family with small kids, I hit a root jammed my toe and face planted. I got up, brushed myself off and kept going. The pain in my foot was pretty intense, but eased off after a while. I came out of the loop to the last remains of aid station #1, grabbed a Gatorade and trudged up the road.

Less than a mile to go.
Photo Credit: Jon M. Valentine
I crested the top of the hill and I could see far in the distance, my soul sister get up and hobble towards the finish line. When I crossed the finish line, she came over, placed the medal around my neck and hugged me telling me how proud she was of me. It was an extremely emotional moment, happiness, pride and bitter sweet sadness all rolled up in a tearful hug from my soul sister, team mate, and one of my dearest friends.

Will I do this again? I am sure of it. Not sure when, but definitely something about this type of race that makes it a unique and amazing experience worthy of a repeat.

Love, Cindy
2 comments on "Rosaryville 50k: A Bittersweet Experience"
  1. Congrats on finishing! I know it must have been tough to do it without your friend, but it was awesome she was there for you at the finish line! Great job!

  2. Thank you so very much!! It was, but overwhelmed at the support of my friends. I'm sure we'll do one together sooner than later!