May 31st, 2014
"No Distance Is To Far If You Love What You're Doing"
Saturday Morning rolled around. I was about to embark on one of the hardest 50 mile Ultramarathons in the unforgiving terrain of Pittsfield, Vermont. I just laid in bed thinking about how absolutely incredible this day was going to be, for I would never forget this day for the rest of my life. The race count down that I had for months had finally come down to a few hours and I was anxiously tossing and turning in bed when I finally decided to get up at 3:30am to start the day. As I proceeded out the door I noticed it was a cloudy/foggy day, which I was okay with, better than humid and sunny and or torrential downpour which was my typical race luck (but regardless of what the weather would have been I’m a runner and there’s no such thing as “bad weather”). I was just focused and ready to head down the street to the start line. 5:45am rolled around and Race director Andy Weinberg called us over for a pre-race meeting, I was trying to pay attention as best I could all I got out of it were “follow the pink ribbons” and “be back here by sunset or we’re kicking you off the course” the only two important lines that I really needed to know, but I just wanted to get the race started! I wanted to be out there! 6:00am came FINALLY and before I knew it I was running with 54 other Ultra runners heading into the unforgiving mountains of Vermont. Within the first few miles they had us cross a short riverbed, they wasted no time getting us wet that’s for sure (typical antics) it was cold but refreshing. We then headed out of the woods and ran on the road for a short mile or so and then ended back up into the woods where we would stay for the remainder of the race to start our climb up one of the first steep assent.
The assent felt like it was the longest assent of my life, at first the steepness was pretty grueling but after a while like any typical race my body just went into cruise control and I just kept trucking along, one foot in front of the other, smiling and laughing with my two good friends Ben Lehman and Morgan Mckay we kept our minds off the pain and just enjoyed the journey which made this day so much more enjoyable with them! We then hit the “bushwhacking” section where we were headed though a lot of brush and fallen tree branches, I was very thankful I decided to wear long compression pants so the branches didn’t cut my legs as I was making my way through so early on in the race. This went on for a while then after that we hit the hour mark or so and(I wore my Garmin 910 which tracked miles, pace and time basically my lifesaver)every 45 min to an hour we would eat something to keep our energy levels up.Nutrition is 100% important for any ultra event and it’s very important to know what is right for your body to keep you going for a long period of time, my recommendation is to eat every 35min-hour, it’s also important to stay consistent so your mind and body is 100% for the task at hand.
After reaching the summit we of course made out way down, and around, and up and then back down through the thick forest but we were always looking up every so often to make sure we can still see the very important pink ribbons to make sure we weren’t lost. My favorite part was that it felt like we in the middle of no where just the 3 of us hiking in the woods with no civilization in site, that’s what I loved the most, we would look out and all we saw were streams, wildlife and trees after trees it was quite an amazing feeling.
Coming up on mile 12 was really nice because we new the first aide station was coming up quick, at mile 12.5 we stopped for a short time, I grabbed a watermelon slice because in 3.5 miles we would be right back here so we spent no more than 3 min before we were off on the short run down and back. Once we were back at the aide station at mile 16 we were told we wouldn’t be back here for a while because after this we had a 20 mile hike with “no aide stations” so at this point I ate SO much watermelon and a PBJ, made sure my bladder was full and I brought the appropriate nutrition from my drop bin, I then used the Porto potty I grabbed 2 more watermelon slices to run with (SOGOOD!!) the next time I would be reunited with the watermelon was at mile 37back here (Motivation at its finest) and before I knew it, Ben, Morgan and myself were back out into the deep forest for countless hours to finish the grueling 20 miles to get back to this aide station! These next 20 miles had its ups and downs, terrain wise and mentally for sure. We were all feeling so good,motivating one another, laughing, singing countless songs, just over all having fun in the woods with my crazy ultra friends. We were always going up hills and saw some beautiful views out looking Vermont (JUST THE BEST), down hills through streams, over rocks,over rocky terrain, through thick mud patches, sometimes we would sink down halfway through our lower leg in mud, but it felt good because my feet were hurting and the coldness of the mud was refreshing. We then hit the famous BloodRoute and OH BOY it was just DANDY. Very steep, Very grueling, Very painful, and also very Rewarding, but the 3 of us got through it we never EVER stopped, never took a break, never looked back we always kept moving forward no matter how difficult the terrain was or how much our bodies were screaming for us to stop, I was so proud of us!(YOGGING FA DAYS).
SURPRISINGLY along the way we hit 3aide stations and they were the BEST things on earth LITERALLY! Being told we wouldn’t see anything for 20 miles and then out of nowhere coming up to each random aide station was better than Christmas morning! HOWEVER at mile 31 the last aide station we hit before making it back to the main station where our bin drop was, BBQ chips were staring me dead in the face and I ate more than I should have (mind you I NEVER eat chips), at about mile 32 I felt like I was going to throw up, the mere thought of food made me nauseous and I was being very diligent about eating something ever hour to keep my energy level up but I just could not get myself to eat anything. So from mile 32-37 I ate nothing because I felt so ill, however I do remember craving watermelon that was the only food I wanted and the only thing that kept me going! I could feel my energy levels falling quickly, throughout these miles I became a bit more delusional and I highly regretted those BBQ chips but we live and we learn, NEVER AGAIN!
At this point I was at a low moment during the race, there was nothing I wanted more than to make it to that aide station, my dad popped out of nowhere and said the aide station was coming up I was very happy to see him and the news he delivered, I was hurting pretty bad,my body hated me for those damn’ BBQ chips but no matter what I kept going, AND BEFORE I KNEW IT BAM!!! Aide station was just .3 miles away and I couldn’t be happier! I WAS REUNITED WITH THE WATERMELON!!! I’m not sure why but during this race watermelon was the best thing I have ever tasted haha At the aide station my sister was there and helped me fill my bladder and everything I needed along with my father I was very thankful to have them there for me! I didn’t change my clothes, kept everything on from the start of the race. I always hear about people changing socks or shoes or whatever during a race butI didn’t see it was necessary because I was either going to be getting wet and or muddy soon after anyway and nothing I had was of discomfort so I just kept on going with what I had. I don’t know how long we were at this aide station for but it was longer than I would have liked to stay so Ben and I were then on our way out, my sister told me the next 3 miles were basically down hill which was wonderful to hear, and downhill/straight they were!
During the pre-race speech giving by Andy he said we needed to make our way back to where we started before sunset so these last 3 miles were headed back in that direction and we had all the time in the world, this was quit a relief! However we still had a half marathon (13 miles) left total and I knew the last 10 miles were not at all going to be easy to get through! We made it tot he start of Joes mountain where we would finish the remainder of the 10 miles and I honestly believe that these 10 miles wouldn’t have been as bad if they were the first 10 miles of the race but the steepness of it was just awful at this point. Making it up the mountain to the cabin was a great feeling especially to see my sister and my dad up there again they were very encouraging and it’s always nice to have the support so far into an Ultra event,it means more than the both of them know! Once we left the top Ben and I made our way down OR SO WE THOUGHT would be “Down” the mountain….OH NO! , we went down for a little bit then back up NUMEROUS times, more times than my body wanted, Ben and I were in a lot of pain at this point and just so very ready to finish the race. The last 10 miles and especially the last few miles were easily the worst part of the race, I was at my lowest point, but no matter what the finish line, the 50 mile mark was the only thing I had on my mind and nobody was going to stop me. “Pain isTemporary” is what I always repeat in my head, I find it’s very important to trick your mind, and boy was I desperate to.
Every mile my Garmin would vibrate indicating we reached yet another mile, another mile closer to the Goal, I looked down at my watch saw mile 49 and desperately started to increase my speed, at mile 49.5 all the pain I had experience suddenly disappeared, all I remember was it felt like I was flying to the finish line, desperately heading in the direction to the finish, to reach glory to reach the END of this incredible, unforgettable journey. And before I knew it I bowed my head down and my sister placed the medal around my neck, Best feeling in the world!!! MyFinish time: 14:42:06, I placed 4th female and 25th overall. 54 people started the race and 46 finished, I am proud to be amongst these amazing group of athletes. If you want something bad enough, if you are willing to push though physical and mental pain, you are capable of anything.Tell yourself you will, believe you can do it, and I promise you Glory.
I can’t thank my amazing sponsors enough, R&M Plumbing & Heating, Non-Tox-Pest management for supplying my footwear (Bob &Laurie-Jean Hannon) the Salomons Speed Cross 3 my favorite trail running shoe, they are very comfortable and reliable, have amazing grip for the grueling terrain. Sport Nutrition 1 for supplying supplements for my post race recovery and race shirt, My Running Sponsor RunjunkEs (Rununkees.com) Headband to keep the sweat from my eyes, Gu Energy #GuCrew energy during the race, Mud and Adventure, Hylete #HyleteNation your compression socks were awesome!
Sport Nutrition 1- http://sportnutrition1.com/
Gu energy- https://guenergy.com/
Also a special shout out to myFather Richard Ricciardi, who is beyond supportive not only helped me out but also volunteered and help everyone else out going above and beyond to make this experience even more incredible, thank you for taking pictures of the racers,and capturing these moments that will stay with us for a lifetime. My awesome little sister Adriana Ricciardi for trucking her way though the mountains, for being at the aide station and helping me out with food and filling my Camelbak, also my mom who was back home and lord knows praying for me every step of the way you all are the best support system I could ask for thank you so much for being there for me, you won’t ever know how truly grateful I am to have you!Also for my two close friends Ben Lehman and Morgan Mckay you both are incredible people so genuine and I’m so glad that this racing journey of mine has lead me to good friends like the both of you, I couldn’t have asked for abetter Ultra crazy crew to go on this journey with, We pushed each other, we pushed past limits, we were singing crazy songs, laughing and enjoying every step of the painful way, I will always cherish this day and I’m so happy to have shared it with the both of you. #Ultrabeast #YOGGERS FOR LIFE
I highly recommend this race the terrain was amazing, the aid stations were beyond what i expected for this kind of an event, and the people involved are just amazing supportive people! There's also distances of 15, 30, 50, 100, 200, 500 mile ultramarathons! I will be back next year and i encourage anyone who is looking for a crazy challenging event to check out the web site below and sign up!!!
-Any questions please feel free to message me i could talk for hours about racing :]
-Amanda Ricciardi (Manz)
"If you think you're beaten, you are, if you like to win and you think you can't it's almost a fact you wont, success begins with a fellows will, it's all in the state of mind, You have to think high to rise, you've got to be sure of yourself before you can ever win the prize, life's battle doesn't always go to the stronger or faster man, but sooner or later the man who wins, is the man who things he can".