I knew I could potentially be in trouble when I started stalking weather.com days prior and saw the temps for race day steadily climbing. Admittedly, I was a bit worried. Forget the fact I wasn't in any sort of shape to even run this thing, which could have killed me on that alone, but I've had one too many heat related running issues in the past and call me crazy but I really didn't relish the thought of another.
Aside from the ridiculous-for-March high temps, there's also that little thing I needed to take into consideration that us Coloradoans lack training in much of: HUMIDITY!!!!
Race day provided plenty of both. Plllleeeeeeenty.
My friend, Tom, came from Grand Island, NE to run the whole shebang with me. Tom runs marathon a good hour better than I do yet offered to stick by my side for this race the entire way. I can't even express in coherent words how touched I was he offered to do that for me. This race was capped at 150 people and probably 100 of them were doing the 25k, so that left about 50 insanies doing the 50k. Considering the lack of proper training or conditioning I was in for this thing, I knew I would be close to the back of the pack (and right I was!); my anxiety of getting lost was sky-high ... I know I couldn't have done this thing without him by my side.
|Thank you, Tommy!!!
|Myself, C2Iowa, Tom
Someone obviously has no St. Patty's day spirit, huh?
At least I was NOT going to get lost in those woods!!
|The calm before the storm
This was the view from the race start. Later in the race, the lake was filled with white-caps
|Meg, myself, Karen: pre-race dinner
The first mile was on trails in a heavily wooded area (see pic above where Tom is standing). Pretty...but lots of tree roots hidden underneath dead leaves and I almost bit it a couple times. The trail here was short-lived and soon we were out on a fairly busy country road. Exposed. Hot. Hills. The absolute worst part of the race.
Mile 4.5 we hit the first aid station. I wore my Camelbak filled with water....remember, whimpy heat/humidity girl here, but I only carried water in it and I was dying to get in some electrolytes. I also grabbed some orange slices and took a salt pill.
I was literally dripping with sweat everywhere and my back under the Camelbak was soaked. Lovely!
|The smorgasbord in an ultra is pretty delicious
Exposed to the blazing sun and a slight breeze or a bit of shade and no breeze. Pick your poison. That was pretty much how the entire race was.
We ran along the lake and across a bank...
|Tom, showing me the way
|Other runners crossing.
When I got there, Tom was ahead of me and I didn't want to get too far behind so I didn't even think about it, I just plodded through, stopping a couple times to throw water on my face and back to cool off. I'd guess the water to be about mid-calf in depth; there was one little section that was a bit deeper at the end and it was filled with algae... but the rocks weren't slick at all and I crossed without incident. Phew!!
On the other side of the water crossing, we literally had to climb on all fours to get up over this cliff and then a steep climb until you came to some dirt trails. It was heavily wooded here ... and also very hilly. I was running pretty well but could tell the heat was taking its toll on me, I was starting to get lead-like legs and I was only at mile 11. Ugh.
Mile 12ish, we come into the starting area before the final 3-mile loop to the half way point.
|Heading up to the starting area with our new friend, Liz
This last section was the prettiest of the entire course; it was starting to turn green and you wandered in and out of the woods. Here, we met up with a group of 3 woman, one of whom had done Badwater. I enjoyed the Badwater chick's company and grilled her all about Badwater, but I don't think Tom was overly impressed with any of them. And made that well-known. Ha.
But .... I was starting to really struggle with the heat. I spent a lot of time at the aid station filling my Camelbak full of more water and grabbing a lot of calories. Tom went over and switched his wet shoes and socks... but for whatever stupid reasons, I opted to stay in what I had on.
Dumb. I was starting to get a blister on my little toe; new socks might have solved that problem. But I just wanted to get moving again....just let me get the hell done with this race and out of the heat!
|Off we go for loop #2
I think I snarfed down 300 salt pills and 160 bananas and begged for some Vaseline or Body Glide for my toe and arm. They had neither. WTH!?! I don't think I was even logical here otherwise I would have asked for a Band-aid for my toe, but I wasn't thinking straing. I had some Chapstick in my Camelbak so I slathered that everywhere. That seemed to work for the moment.
Tom told me it was a good thing I didn't hear someone tell him what the temperature was. I asked, "80?" He said, "No, 86."
Holy hell. 86 degrees in the middle of March!!!! The humidity had to be an equivalent percentage! I lived in Iowa a good chunk of my life, I don't ever recall it so warm and humid this year in the year! But back to all the fun...
After the aid station, we're back on the exposed trails - the breeze felt great.
I started walking a lot here. I kept trying to do the math in my head on our estimated finish time by where we were but I couldn't do it. So I made Tom make sure we were on schedule and I just dragged my feet along. All I could think of was how great that water crossing was going to be when we got to it at mile 25 - I just wanted to sit in that cold water and I couldn't think of anything else.
So we're plodding along at something like a 14+ min/mile. And I was grateful for that. Really!! I'd run a little and walk a lot but at least we were (somewhat) moving forward. We were alone out there; I saw no runners in front or behind us. So grateful for Tom's company!
Around mile 24.5, Tom and I came up on a park ranger. She started speaking ... but I wasn't fully computing the words coming out of her mouth. Tom said a few things to her and then we started moving again and then it hit me what she said:
THE RACE WAS DONE.
A few runners were having heat related issues and a runner had gone down due to heat exhaustion smack in front of the ranger station. Ambulance called (runner is actually just fine now. Phew). Angry park ranger lady freaked and shut the race down.
A few minutes later, the race director's girlfriend came by and talked about the down runner and explained that Tom and I could continue on, but she'd have to pull our bibs and we'd be on our own. Tom and I talked about doing this and Tom was all for it....BUT....as soon as we said we were doing to keep going on, she spits out that Tim (race director) could actually get into "some trouble" if we ended up having any issues.
I signed not one but two waivers and doubted Tim would be held accountable if something happened to me in the next few miles. But I also didn't want the park ranger to continue her freak-fest and not allow Tim to ever hold the race there again. I've known Tim since high school, I didn't want to be responsible for if something happened and he'd never get to hold his race again at this park (damn me for being so nice!) so I succumbed and the race was officially done for me at mile 24.5.
Not really, not at that time anyway. My feet hurt. I was sick of sweating. I was starving. I was sick of my water. My blister was beginning to bother me again. I was soooo tired (the heat just zapped me!) When did I become such a wimp? This wimp thing was really bugging me; I used to have a lot more grit then these lame excuses but at the time, I was almost relieved to be done.
OF COURSE, later when I had time for the dust to settle, all I could think of was how close I was. 5.5 miles was all I had left to do. I was well within the cut-off time and know I could have finished.
5.5 miles between me and that illustrious 50k.
I've been home for 4 days now and have pretty much felt sloth-like for the vast majority of those days. I have been incredibly tired and have done nothing but swimming one day and weight lifting boot camp another (which almost killed me).
It's not his fault and I made him well aware of that. Hell, it's more my fault than any one's. Had I been in better condition for this thing, I would have been able to run faster and could have been ahead of all the flurry of heat incidents. I'm done beating myself up for not continuing on, it was just one of those crazy flukes that life throws at us sometimes. I've had many disappointments in races in my lifetime; I'll have many more.
I loved the race. It was one of the most scenic race I think I've ever run. I got to go back to my roots and hang with some of my favorite people. I got to know my friend Tom a lot better. I got to meet a good friend, C2Iowa. I got to be re-acquainted with Tim, whom I hadn't seen since high school. I got to run 24.5 miles.
Yep, I am one lucky girl.
Today (Thursday) was my first day back running since the race.
I pulled up my Garmin data from the race and the 24.5 mile was on display. I was about to hit "reset".... but I waited a moment..... and instead I hit "start".
I ran 5.5 miles.
And I felt great!
31 miles - done!