Saturday morning I managed to pull everything together and get to the ferry station before the early one left at 8:15am. Unfortunately, it was already completely full. So I booked a ticket on the next one (11:30) and camped out at a coffee shop to chill.
They had a drink on the menu I had never heard of, so I asked the barista to tell me about it. After she had launched through the whole description, I decided to go ahead and order it.
To which she replied: “Oh, I’m sorry, we don’t have the stuff for that drink ready right now.”
Maybe she should have mentioned that from the start.
Anyhow, I sat around eating simit (it’s bagel/pretzel-ish), sipping my over-priced coffee, and drinking water LIKE IT WAS MY JOB. Because this is what all the “How to run a distance you are in fact not prepared for,” blogposts had said to do.
Made it onto the ferry. I have ridden a lot of ferries since I moved here, and I’ve thrown up on a lot of different types of transportation, but this day was the first time my two hobbies got to collide. The water was so rough you could hear the boat creaking, and people were stumbling around like they were in a bad crash scene in Star Trek.
I made it about halfway through the trip listening to music and doing my “keep calm and don’t puke” breathing, but finally it got so bad I knew I had to find the bathroom. I stumbled around for what felt like FOREVER and when I found it all the stalls were full. I could tell from the trashcan I hadn’t been fate’s first victim that day.
I managed to keep it together until a toilet was available, and it was just in the nick of time. What really bothered me about the whole situation is I didn’t want to lose all the hydration I had been pumping into my body all morning, or the pack of beef jerky I had eaten as I took my seat on the boat (ok, so that might not have been the brightest idea).
So after the initial heave, I strictly order my body “Enough! This stops here!”
And surprisingly, my body listened. It was great! I shuffled back to my seat and made it the rest of the way with no further incident. I was pretty happy to be back on dry land however.
I disembraked and followed the signs to the minibus depot. Unfortunately I turned the corner and found a parking lot filled with identical buses, most of which appeared not to go to Iznik.
“Excuse me,” I asked a driver standing near the entrance. “Do you know where the bus to Iznik is?”
He responded in the affirmative, and then proceeded to walk around asking people where the bus to Iznik was. We found it, standing empty with the door open, “Iznik” written on a little sign in the windshield.
I plopped down with my stuff to and waited the hour until our actual departure. The bus weaved through some of the most adorable little orchards and incredible vistas I have ever seen. Much of the drive was spent looping around Lake Iznik. As we pulled into the town, I was encouraged to see billboards for the race all around advertising the event. The only thing missing was the actual race.
“Do you know where the race is?” I asked the driver. He didn’t, but as we were driving through downtown he said told me I should probably get off there.
Thankfully I was right next to the town’s tourism center. I asked the woman inside if she knew how to get to the race. With the help of her colleague she tried to explain how I could get there, unfolding maps and pointing out streets. Then her co-worker got a phone call.
“I’m actually going to the race in a few minutes,” he said. “Just wait, and you can come with me!”
I thanked him for the invitation and hoped his ride wasn’t a windowless van. When it pulled up it was actually a cute little compact that already three other people in it.
Registration was snap, though there was some confusion when several people had no idea where the guesthouse I was talking about was located. They finally hooked me up with a shuttle driver who was also toting two race volunteers who looked like middle-school girls.
The guesthouse was both incredible and hilarious. It turns out it is an old sports camp right on the lake. The view was incredible, and everything was clean, despite looking like it hadn’t been remodeled since the ‘70s.
I wandered around the grounds a little and then made my way back to Race Village. People were arriving in a steady stream, mostly from the 46K, but a few from the 80K and 130K. I started looking for a place to have dinner and stopped to talk with a finisher who was sitting by the side of the road. She had just completed the 46K, and we soon discovered we had the same first name! She joined me on my food quest, and everything I had heard about friendly ultra-runners was proved true. We had a great time talking about running, races, and travel, among other things.
The next day I found out she had finished 4th among women in the 46K and 3rd in her age group. Also maybe I should mention that one of the races she had run was a marathon down from the base camp of Mt. Everest. So yeah, she was a lot cooler than me.
Full of delicious food and all revved up for the next day, I went back to the dorms for some sleep. It was only a slightly sketchy situation, as I was alone in an 8-bunk room on a floor where three other women were staying in similar rooms. Before I went to sleep I slipped a nightstand in front of the door. I’m not sure why, because it wasn’t really heavy enough to deter someone from getting in, but it helped me fall asleep a little easier.