This race only gave me two options: finish or die. Dramatic, perhaps.

In my wildest dreams, I often think that at some point writing these race reports can land me a sponsorship and maybe, I can finally afford to buy some running shoes that are Danielle -proof. Then, reality hits and I realize that no shoes will ever be Danielle-proof. Anyways, in response to all my free time (and secret desire of sponsorship), here is my race report:

Adventure: “an unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity.” That definition pretty much sums up my weekend of racing Cat's tail Marathon. In order to really explain the Cat's Tail Marathon, I should start this tail (har, har) a few weeks prior to the race. I had convinced my good friend, Stacy, to run the race after spotting it on facebook and hearing that: “the Cat’s Tail is a rugged mountain marathon” (which is just my style). My usual MO prior to a race is to show up on the day of the race without much knowledge. However, due to the strict requirements of the race and the special hand-written request of how to enter; I decided this race called for some extra planning. I shockingly actually read the waiver prior to signing it and learned that I would have to pay for my own rescue. I am sure I have signed waivers such as this before but have never actually read them. With this knowledge, I realized with my lack of current funds (due to my big upcoming move), this race only gave me two options: finish or die. Dramatic, perhaps. But, really I could not afford that type of rescue! Prior to leaving Thursday night, I actually printed the race maps and “laminated” them (aka covered them with tape). I actually even looked at the course, which for me is quite impressive.

Sweet shower curtain. 
Late Friday night, we pull up to the inquisitive and eccentric Colonial Inn. Now, I have stayed in some creepy places over the years through my adventures but this was like something I have never experienced. We walk onto the front porch which seems like a hoarders paradise and walk right into a bar filled with townies. An older gentleman flashed a toothless smiled and asked us if we were spending the night. As he drunkly sways over to us, I say yes and he informs us he is the owner. Stacy and I look at each other and I can read her mind : “WTF”. He brings us to our room and I think camping would have been a more solid option. The toilet doesn't work and it appears no one has slept in the room in years. The inn does pride itself on being open since the 70's. The owner insists he buys us the first rounds of drinks which we quickly decline. I sincerely considered putting a bed in front of the door but then decided if I die tonight, perhaps I wouldn't die during the race. After a fitful night of rest with my towel as my pillow, I inform Stacy that we should not use the water in the sink for our packs. Instead, I have a brilliant idea to find a gas station (and also for my much needed coffee!). We hit the road and I have this brief thought and think, oh, it is probably too early for gas stations to be open. Needless to say, without much options, we decided to look and subsequently, fail. I have done some stupid things during races but starting a gnarly marathon, in the middle of nowhere with no water is not going to be one of them! We rush to where the buses are located and asked people if there are any gas stations. Everyone looks at us like we have five heads and inform us, “None that are open.” Finally, we run into the race director who informs us that ending hall is open. We rush there, fill our packs and head to the spot where the bus picks us up. Luckily, badass superstar, Jamie Hobbs and his father find us first and give us a ride to the start. I always get nervous before races, doesn't matter the distance, how much I have put into training or the terrain. This race was no different and my nerves were present. Also, starting a race without any coffee seemed like horrific punishment. Cat's Tail is known for it's minimal trail markings and with my limited knowledge of the Catskills, some of these nerves seemed quite legit. I actually wore my RoadID which is usually only brought out on my toughest adventures. I am placed in the 6th wave and happy about this, I like the number 6. I keep my warmest clothes on until the last possible second, as it is raining and pretty gross out. Prior to stripping off my pants, I announce that for the next race, I am going to find rip off button pants and my fellow racer's faces illustrate their uncertainty about this crazy girl in their wave. We are given the signal to go and I bound down the hill. Within a few minutes of the first climb, I have lost my entire pack and see runners ahead. Confused on how I caught them so quickly, I continue on with the excitement of seeing who I can catch next.

Following up to this week, I had taken it easy to prep for the marathon. However, this summer has not been an easy one on my body. I have pushed it to new limits: running my first 50 miler and 100k, traveling to the mountains every other weekend and upping my mileage. My body the week prior to Cat's Tail was tired and I was nervous about starting so “fast.” However, I look down at my watch and see that I have only gone 2.7 miles and the mileage average is slower than my entire average of my recent 100k. I think to myself, dang this race is not going to be a joke. I reach the top of the first summit and my body is finally warmed up. It is pouring rain and I am in my glory. All of my pre-race jitters have diminished and I think: “I LOVE THIS SHIT”. I keep finding new people to pass and talk to along the way. It begins to rain harder and I actually laugh, thinking about how I wouldn't want it another way. I try to catch a view at the top of the next summit and am surrounded by fog. But then again, I am in the Catskills, should I really expect anything else?! The trail zigs and zags through the mountains and I am struck by how mentally exhausted I am by needing to concentrate on every step. I am used to zoning out eventually during races and Cat's Tail does not give you that luxury. A couple of times, I ran a few minutes off course but as the trail patters off, I quickly realized my mistake and head back for the main trail. I am enamored by the Fall beauty and the colors on the ground. Wishing I had my camera, I take a mental picture of the glory that surrounds me. I hit the second to last aid station and they say something about 8-9 miles left. I debate my goals for the race ( seems appropriate with it being three/fourths done) and decide that I want to finish in top five girls. As I run, I debate this goal, as I have no idea how far in the pack I am or how many women ahead of me there are. I forgo that goal and decide that my new goal is to see a dog by the end of the race. Clearly, I have my racing priorities in check.

I turn a corner and run into my friends, Don and Emily who surprised us! They were (unknowingly to me) spending the weekend in the Catskills and came to cheer us on. They informed there was a huge group of guys walking just ahead, so I take off hoping to catch them. I never found said group of guys and realized it may have been a ploy to have me run faster. I liked it. I hear cars and look at my watch, realizing I am almost done and speed up some more. I quickly stop at the last aid station and they inform me less than a mile to a finish. For the first time EVER, I am thankful for the road and the ability to coast to the finish. I pull up to the finish and am told that I am a possible contender for third place. At this point, I somehow forgotten about the waves start and this means I get to take time off of my finish. I was informed that the third place female beat me by minute   or so and then I was introduced to her. Automatically, I was impressed by her cat tights and honored to be beat by someone with clearly such great taste. I changed, chatted with other runners and waited for other's to finish. I am once again overjoyed to be such a part of an amazing and inspiring community. I get to run along some of the baddest ass people, who not only run some of the most toughest races but also help each other out. If you are considering this race, stop considering and do it.

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