The last time I posted about this race I was trying to decide whether or not to do it. I had decided I definitely was not going to. I hadn't trained and the furthest I had run since my half marathon in May was 10 miles. I was in no way prepared for the race. Then I got an email from the race director informing me there were still slots open. I must have been on drugs that I wasn't aware of because I signed up. I decided I would do it just to do it and who cares what the results were. I could do 20 minute miles and still finish in a little over 5 hours, so why not?
Why not indeed. This was hands down the most difficult thing I have ever done in my life. And I've given birth to two children. And for some reason I'm already thinking about next year. While it was difficult, nothing can compare to the feeling of crossing the finish line. I'm not sure if I've told you how hard this trail is, but it is ridiculous. Here are some good pictures from another year.
Friday night is packet pickup and a pasta dinner. When I got there to pick up my packet and said my name race director Eric Steele said, "oh, you're from Elk City!" This race has been going on outside of town for 17 years and no one from Elk City has participated. Until now that is. Anyway, it was cool that he knew who I was. Also, the spaghetti was the best spaghetti I have ever tasted. Ryan was with me and he loved it as much as I did. Here is a picture of us filling our plates:
After a little bit of running on the road we hit the trail. Right away you start going up. And over, around and through rocks. Big rocks, little rocks, sharp rocks, round rocks, moving rocks, etc. Rocks are the theme of this race. Note the name. Except I'm not sure where the "Flat" part comes in. Anyway, I was prepared for this as I had hiked this trail before. I'm tough! No big deal. Yeah right. I could not catch my breath. It took me a good mile to level out and breathe normally. By that time my legs were already protesting a little. The first 4 miles of the trail are the hardest in my opinion. This also means the last 4 are really hard as it is an out and back. Right before mile 4 is the first aid station. The aid stations were awesome and the volunteers are really great. I cannot say enough good things about them.
The next part of the race had a lot of flat areas that were pretty runable. I say that because this course is really not runable for the whole distance. I suppose some people can run most of it, but I am definitely not one of them. I read a quote last week and Rick repeated it to me before I left for the race. I said it to myself over and over. "Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if must, just never give up."-Dean Karnazes. My entire goal for this race was just to not give up. I only wanted to finish and prove to myself that I could do this.
I got to the second aid station where I had the best pb&j ever made. Or I was just really hungry. I spent a few minutes shoving food in my face and drinking and headed back. I ran pretty well for about a half mile. At this point I knew I needed to walk more or I wasn't going to finish. Everything was starting to hurt. Hips, ankles, feet, blah blah blah. Everything! I ran probably half the distance to the next aid station and walked half. This was alternating walking/running. It was sometime around here that my garmin became stupid. Right before the aid station it said I had 8 miles to go. It's a good thing I knew better or I might have cried at that point.
At the last aid station I had some more food and drink. Then I was off to complete the last 4 miles! Relief is in sight! While everything was aching I was still doing pretty well. For another half to 3/4 of a mile anyway. Then I just hit a wall. I had no energy left and I was in pretty bad pain. When I got to the point where I had to climb back up through a crevice that I had went down I really didn't know if I could do it. I somehow drug my butt up there and started going again. By now the bottoms of my toes were raw and I thought I would probably have blisters and bleeding toes. About 3 miles from the end I started to hear celebrations from the finish line. It was so neat to be able to hear it. Finally I was coming down a hill that I thought was close to the end. I saw a photographer and knew he hadn't hiked too far, so I must be close. He took this picture:
I sat down to take my shoes off. To my surprise, my toes weren't bleeding. I did have some blisters though. Ryan went to the car to get my flip flops because there was no way I was putting those shoes back on. I may never wear them again.
Here I am with my finishers award. That's right. I finished. Faster than my goal. I ran/walked/whatever 25 kilometers. I expect applause.
I'm still waiting on official results and finish line photos. I will add them to a future post. In the meantime, I will still be running and training for my next race, which is the Route 66 Quarter marathon. Can't wait!