Monday, September 29, 2014

FlatRock 50k...Epic Fail

I went into this race full of confidence. My training has gone well, and based on the first half of the 101K on this trail in the spring, a PR was a sure thing. I had not a worry in the world. I knew that for various reasons it's likely my last year doing this race and I wanted it to be a good one. It never crossed my mind that it wouldn't be. Looking back I think this is the first place things went wrong for me. I failed to take the trail seriously, which is a mistake. I finished the race, but did not meet the time limit. I believe I was 39 seconds over. Yes, seconds.

Normally I go through all the details of my race, but I'm not today. First of all, I just don't want to. I need to move on and not dwell on it, and rehashing the whole day is not going to help me do that. I have discussed getting sick with a couple of people and think I have some good tips for going forward so that stops happening. I'm going to start explaining what happened with two miles left in the race. I had left the person I was running with and was trying to finish as fast as I could, while puking and feeling miserable. Heather and I finished together last year and it was horrible for me to leave here, particularly since she was having a lot of trouble. It really made me feel like a bad person. Anyway, I did go ahead and pull ahead. My watch had died, so I no longer had a running timer. I heard the race had started late, but I didn't know exactly how late, so I was running blind. I looked at my phone and I knew there was no way it was going to happen. Still, just in case I suddenly was blessed with the speed of a cougar, I pushed on. I had to sit a couple of times because I felt like I was going to pass out. I hated to do it, but I know it was the right thing to do.

When I was close to the end I saw Rick Mayo, the photographer. I told him I wasn't going to make it. He told me I still had 10 minutes and to run. I tried. I got to a spot on the course where I could cut the course and knew that would help me with time. I started to turn that way, but I couldn't do it. That is not the person I want to be and isn't honest. I went up and around, as we're supposed to. I got to the road and wanted to run so bad. I was just miserable. I didn't hurt, but I was nauseous and dizzy and just couldn't do it. I got close and saw Rick, Ryan and Adam running out to me. Adam got up next to me and said "You have 3 minutes!" I thought I was already past the cutoff. Rick told me I really had two minutes. I ran as fast as I possibly could. I truly wanted to die right then, I was so sick. Adam said "I'm tired, but if you keep running I'll keep running!" What a little sweetheart. I went around the corner and could see the clock. I was a few seconds over the limit. I kept running and finally crossed the finish line just seconds over the time limit. It was devastating. Just when I thought I couldn't feel any worse, someone came up to me and said "You know you didn't make it, right?" He's right. I didn't make it. That was absolutely not the right thing to do though. There are kinder ways to say that and perhaps maybe 5 minutes later when the world wasn't spinning and I'm trying to hold in my vomit would have been a better time.

I've tried really hard to not make this sound like I'm just bitter and whiny and complaining because I didn't finish the way I wanted to. I could have made a lot of different choices during the race. I felt great after Oak Ridge coming back and could have left Heather behind. She was struggling though and I wasn't going to do that. Please don't think I'm saying this is her fault! It's not. I'm simply explaining one of the choices I made. Heather is one of the reasons I finished last year. She pushed me when I didn't feel like pushing. She's great and I'm so proud of how hard she fought this weekend. Her finish was incredible. She was in extreme pain and she pushed on. I made lots of choices that added up to me not finishing on time. Honestly though, I don't think I'd change any of them. I'm not happy with the result, but if I continue to dwell on it I won't be able to finish my 100. I need to get my head in the right place.

To the people that love me and are always there for me: Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Your endless support amazes me. I won't name everyone because I would miss people. I do want to say a special thanks to Ken and Dana Childress, who have never doubted me and continue to tell me I can do anything I set my mind to. I will see you guys at Pumpkin Holler!

I do need to make a special shout out to Max Walker. He is always at Aid 1 and does a great job. This year my son Ryan was doing the 25k (more about that in my next post!) and is recovering from a concussion. I asked Max to please look out for Ryan and ask him how he felt. He did, more than once, and made sure Ryan was telling the truth. It was nice to know someone was out there looking out for him. That was way above and beyond what an aid station worker should be asked to do, so I appreciate him doing it. He also taught Ryan how to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, which is a story for another day :)

I said in the first paragraph that I went in thinking this would be my last FlatRock. I haven't changed my mind. I'm now more firm in that belief. I won't be back. It was fun, but I want to go back to running that trail because I love the trail and want to have fun.

18 days until Pumpkin Holler!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Second star to the right...

...and straight on til morning! For those of you that don't get it (surely everyone does!) those are the directions to Never Never Land. I think of that all the time when I'm running. It won't really make sense to other people, but that's ok. The first time I ever made a reference to that was during FlatRock 101k. I was telling Jason we had to go this direction, then take a turn, run down the road, turn again, and we were almost to the turnaround. The way I described it just made the directions to Never Never Land pop into my head. I said that. He had no idea what I was talking about. I explained but he just looked at me like I was nuts. Then this summer I did the same thing to Deanna. Often on our runs I'll say something like "we will walk up that hill, then run the flat until we get to so and so point, walk the next hill, then turn towards home." I just always think of the directions that Peter Pan gave Wendy when I do that.

Right now, for me, Never Never Land is the finish line at Pumpkin Holler. Well, maybe the whole race is. It's something that I can't really imagine. I've been at other races where people run 100 miles. I've paced, I've seen the finishers. I even paced in this race last year. It still all seems like this magical, mystical place that I don't really understand. I think I know what will happen there and I definitely know what I want to have happen there. It's really just a great big unkown to me. I've followed my training plan, so I guess I have the directions down. I just need to keep following them and I'll get there, right?

Everyone knows Tick-Tock the crocodile in Peter Pan, right? He swallowed the alarm clock and you can hear it ticking when he's around. Captain Hook always freaks out when he hears the clock ticking. Well, I'm going to think of Tick-Tock and that clock that is ticking down the whole race. See, I think I can run 100 miles. Actually, I know I can. I just don't know if I can do it in 30 hours. My biggest fear is being pulled from the race due to time limits. I also worry that I'll go out entirely too fast because I'm worried about the clock and I'll end up blowing up and not being able to finish. I suppose if I were to continue this comparison, that would make me Captain Hook? Hmmmm. I think that makes Jason, my final pacer, Tinker Bell? I like it! I wonder if I can get him to wear fairy wings?

I guess I'm all out of Peter Pan references. I mean, just how closely can one compare Peter Pan to running 100 miles? I think it's probably weird that a silly quote from this movie pops into my head on a lot of runs. It's one of the things that makes me unique I guess! This post really has absolutely no point and is really not that exciting. It's just something that I keep thinking about, so I thought I'd share it with all of you. The closer I get to race day the more scared I am. 32 days!! As of today I'm officially registered! I put that off for quite a while, because now that I'm registered I suppose I have to do it.

I'll see if I can't come up with a much better post in the next few days. In the meantime, Happy Running!


Monday, September 8, 2014

Birthday Miles

Several weeks ago I was looking at my training plan and realized that on Sept 6 I had 30 miles scheduled. Well, my 35th birthday is Sept 4 and I have the day off work, so I decided I could just do 35 and call it a birthday run. It's something I've wanted to do for years, even before I was running ultras. I made a route, stashed coolers, made plans, etc. I was ready to go. The biggest snafu leading up to it is that my Garmin watch died....again. So I was going to have to run it not knowing my pace. Yay! I was still set to go. The weather forecast looked awful as it was going to be really hot and really humid. I talked my partner in crime, Deanna, into going with me.

3 am rolls around and Deanna showed up. She had a present with her. I opened it up and she had given me the most hilarious present I've ever received. Toilet paper, wet wipes, vaseline, and bath salts. The first three are things I often use on a run and the last was for after the run. Perfect! I laughed a lot. We took off for the first section, which was a 4 mile out and back. Nothing exciting. Just ran. It was really hot. At the end of the 4 miles I was already dripping sweat. I put on my hydration pack, ate a small snack, and off we went for the rest. Within a few blocks my stomach was shaky. I didn't know what was up. I kept running, thinking it would settle down. For a couple of miles I really struggled. I just felt gross. Six miles into the run I threw up. Great. I still had 29 miles and I was already puking. I started again and still didn't feel great. I was worn down, just completely exhausted, sweaty, and my stomach hurt. Yuck. I kept going thinking it would get better. It didn't. I whined. A lot. Deanna finally said maybe I should go home and finish the rest that night. I didn't want to as it felt a lot like failure. I decided I had a couple of options to keep going and at certain points it would be easy to just turn around. By the time I got another mile down the road I just knew it wasn't happening. I could have kept going, but hey, it was my birthday. Why spend it completely miserable? I turned around. I was almost home and had to stop again to throw up, but this time it was mostly just gagging. So much fun! I got 15 miles total and just felt awful. I got home, went to the bathroom, and laid down on the bathroom floor. I was dizzy, the room was spinning, and I was wondering what the hell was wrong and why the hell I do this to myself. I then realized I was super thirsty and my lips were chapped. Had been for days actually. brain wakes up and I realize I'm probably really dehydrated. I had emptied a 20 oz bottle of water as well as a 2 liter hydration pack and a 20 oz bottle of gatorade on my 15 mile run. I had also had water before the run. That's a whole lot of water in a short amount of time, and I didn't have to pee. I kept drinking all morning. Finally at around 9:30 I had to pee a little. For those of you keeping track at home, that's twice in a few weeks that I did this to myself. Will I ever learn?

Late morning Deanna and I headed to Wichita to go to lunch at Olive Garden. My tummy was finally happy and I ate a ton. We also did some shopping and had a great time. I got home, napped a bit, then went to watch Ryan's first football game of the season. He scored a touchdown! I watched until halfway through the 4th quarter and went home to get ready to finish my run. All day I doubted my ability to do it. I know what a wimp I am and how tired I was. I got ready anyway and started. Miraculously, I felt great. I don't know what it was. I just felt good. I decided to just go with it as long as it lasted. The first 5 miles or so were uneventful. I was cruising and felt fabulous. Things sort of started going downhill at that point. The day had caught up with me. I was still doing ok though. Maybe 6 miles in I started noticing under my arms were chafed. I called Rick to see if he'd bring vaseline. He was sooooo excited to do it! Ha! While talking to him and not paying attention I almost stepped on a copperhead. In town. Eeeeewwww. I freaked out, then told Rick I had to go. I'm normally super scared of snakes (shocker, right?) but I guess I was too tired and delirious to worry about it. It wasn't moving, so I threw a rock at it. It didn't move. I decided it was dead. I ran up and through the country club, and Rick found  me. I lubed up and took off again. On the way back past where the snake was I found out it was not in fact dead. It was gone. The only way for it to get off the road was to slither, so that meant it was alive. Aaaahhhhh! I got out of there ASAP. I was 8 miles in by then and just felt awful. I suggested to Deanna that maybe we could pretend I was 25. The meant when I got home I could be done. She wasn't having any of it. I think she was really ready to be done also, but she was kind enough to keep encouraging me. I finally got home and was 10 miles in for that run, 25 total for the day. Just 10 more!

I decided I would run as much as I could for the next 5 and Deanna said she'd walk the last 5 with me. Woohoo! I'd love to say I ran most of the next 5, but I'll be honest, I didn't. At one point I was bragging about my illustrious high school forensics career and unfortunately for Deanna, recited one of my pieces. I also tried to recite the Gettysburg Address, but she shot me down. Who doesn't want to hear the Gettysburg Address at 11 pm? It's exciting stuff! I think I also sang a little bit and who knows what else. I was way past the point of being tired. I just wanted to sleep. There was a lot of giggling. I got the bright idea that we could do the final four miles on the track. It's flat, I wouldn't have to carry water, and well, it just seemed like a brilliant idea. Deanna wasn't convinced of it's brilliance, but like the steamroller I typically am, I just ignored her and forced her to do what I wanted. It's shocking that I don't have more friends. I mean, who wouldn't want to be friends with someone like that? We got to the track and started walking. It was a blast! Ok, not really. I'm such a liar. It was awful. Then it was exciting! We were walking and suddenly see a lawnmower flying down the road away from the schoool. I mean, this guy was hauling. It was midnight. Why would someone be driving away from the school on a lawnmower in the middle of the night? We were sure it was one of the schools mowers. I called the cops and told them what was going on and they hurried to catch the guy. We felt all victorious, and like we had saved the school, etc. I call my husband to relay the news about his wife being a hero. He said "are you sure it wasn't soandso?" Ummm, who? He said the janitors get off work at midnight and one of them often drives his lawn mower to and from work. Oh dear. Well, surely it wasn't this guy! He was acting weird and driving super fast. He must have stolen it. Rick was laughing hysterically and telling me he's pretty sure it was the janitor. Huh. Well, maybe. Then Michael, my friend Misty's husband, (aka one of the cops in town) shows up at the track. The first humiliating part of this is that I wasn't wearing a shirt. I only had on a sports bra and capris.  It was hot and the middle of the night, so who was going to see me? Well, someone did. The second embarrassing part was that it was in fact the janitor, on his very own mower, that we had called the cops on. Wow, this is humiliating. We talked to Michael for a few minutes and then started back on the track for the last couple of miles.

It was FINALLY time to head home. I live just 3/4 of a mile from the school. Longest 3/4 of a mile ever. I think I might have sang a couple more songs on the way home. I don't know. I know I was almost home and got really cold and was shivering. Since it was around 80 degrees outside I'm thinking it wasn't due to the temperature. I finally arrived at home with 35 miles complete!!! Victory is mine! I took a bath and crawled in bed and passed out. It was an amazing birthday! I will NOT be running 36 miles next year. I'm retired from craziness like that. At least until Saturday when I have to run 30 miles.

I wish I had felt a little better at the end of 35 miles. I cannot fathom how I'm going to run 100 when 35 was so hard. It doesn't make sense to me. I know though that before my 50 and my 101k that my long training runs were brutal and I felt the same way. I just can't quite imagine how it's going to work. Maybe it's not? Maybe I'll fail? I don't know. I'm going to give it everything I have though.

Race in 39 days!!!!