We can all sit around and discuss the logic behind me going to this race in the first place...seeing as how Monday I ws not even able to get off the couch, and this week was not a great week health wise but....ultr-runners are not always a logical bunch. :) Once I actually GOT to the race, and the excitement kicked in...I did not regret my choice. Plus, I knew I would be spending the next 30 hours with my cohort Michelle so...It was all good. I had packed everything I needed, knew the kids would be off having fun, had great pacers set up, pus, TARC races are simply THE best around in terms of aid and support so I had NO worries.
AND, even better, my friend Steve showed up at the beginning! I love this guy :) he and I hve run many a mile together nd to see him pre-race...awesome. Getting to see everyone before the race, so many familiar faces, knowing what we were about to set out to do...yeah, its pretty great this thing we got goin' on... :)
But...to say it ws a perfect race...yeah.
Conditions were rough. Brutal at times. This course should have been IDEAL for a first 100 miler. There is not ton of elevation, the trails are nice, aid well placed...but Mother Nature had other plans...the actual wether for the run could NOT have been better. But the trail conditions themselves...yeah. There was mud. Shoe-sucking, thick, quicksand mud. Long stretches of it some with water, some just mud. There were water crossings that, though they felt great, were calf deep up to mid thigh(and higher on the shorter folks)Basiclly this ment you ran with wet feet almost the entire time. That was tough for me.
But really...by mile 10 I ws struggling. MILE 10! We could not move fast because of the mud. I felt defeated before we even started and really questioned wtf I was doing. Breakdown #1(there were numerous others, trust me...). Michelle, in ALL her awesomeness suggested we power hike. Like, all night. And that is exactly wht we did. We hiked, with a few fits and spurts of running for 40 MILES. We were cranking out 4 miles an hour at some points which was pretty good and honestly I don't know that I would have run/walked much faster. It was a rough night for both of us, but I will say I would not trade it for anything. I spent 15 hours with one of my dearest friends and we got through it together. It was REALLY tough...mentally and physically. Though I really knew I was in the best shape I have been in in a long time, this last 2 weeks of health crap took a LOT out of me.
At some point during that 2nd loop I realized there was no way I was going to be able to finish the 100 miler. With conditions what they were, and me not being fast, I could not make up time. And honestly, the thought of running into my SECOND night with no sleep and all the water and mud to navigate...knowing I would be tired and that's when the BIG mistakes happen...I just decided I would gut out one more loop and be done.
We finished our second loop and my amazing friend needed to be done. She has accomplished some UNBELIEVABE things recently...over 400 MILES Of running a week ago and yet she came out here to run this race and be with me...but her body had enough and she REALLY needed to be done. It wasn't safe for her to go on. We had an extremely emotionl goodbye as she handed me off to my pacer.
At this point I changed my shoes and socks which made a HUGE difference as my feet had swollen SO much they were tight in my old shoes. Bigger shoes and some food and I was actually able to start running again. SO, off we went.
Conditions were actually WORSE, if that was possible. After hundreds of people traipsed through the mud and water, each person with shoes that needed to drain...the mud was worse and stretched on for longer distnces. Plus, my reflexes were slower and I was more tentative through these spots. Despite that, I ran more on my 3rd loop than any other time. At this point it hurt to walk, it hurt to run, but running hurt less and was faster so...run I did. My Pacer Mike was mazing. Perfect aount of entertainment, encouragement and care taking. :) He got me to run, kept me running, made sure I was eating and drinking, gave me space when I just needed to cry(which I did, often, actually...this was a very emotional event for me)let me complain and was right there to point out the positives to keep my spirits up... He really and truly got me through that last loop. Man, if you EVER need a pacer, this is your guy :) I wanted to stop SO many times and he just made it fun becuse HE was having so much fun, it was great.
Sometime while we were out there they instituted a cut-off time...which by the time I found out, was 10 minutes off and we were still over 5 miles out. I knew I was not going to make even that...and it was really ok. There were a few moments on tht last lap where I thought about trying for the 100 still...but I knew it was probably not the best idea, plus this was something Michelle and I were going to do together and I couldn't do it without her. And honestly? There is no way I could have. When I crossed the finish line with 75 miles done....I was DONE. I could NOT have gone out again.
So, HUGE thanks and love to my super awesome friend Michelle whom I love more than chocolate, my AMAZING pacer Mike, and ll the fabulous volunteers and of course the GREATEST Rd's Bob and Josh...they are good stuff.
There is a lot of good that happened in this race and I need to focus on that... :)
I set a goal for myself to run through the suck. I have always been someone who would run when its fun and when it wasn't I would stop. I trained for this mentally, as really, running 100 miles is NOT fun. At least not all the time. :) I did this, as the whole race was a challenge for me, and I did not give up, quit or stop. I ran 75 miles in 24+ hours which is not only the farthest distance I have eve run but the longest time I have ever run for. I had NO stomach issues whatsoever. This is HUGE. I took one anti-nausea pill when the heat felt like it was making me roll sightly and it was enough. I ate almost every hour, drank the perfect amount, pee'd often(important ultra stuff, lol) I learned that I CAN actually walk/hike fast and incorporate that into my racing without losing time and it is what saved my stomach. And, I really believe that despite my other issues, had there not been so much mud/water, and had I not had the 2 weeks leading up to this race I had had...I woud have finished. I have no doubt.
As difficult as this was, I regret nothing. It was an amazing experience with some equally amazing people in REALLY tough conditions. ONE loop was brutal. Really. Anyone reading this that chose one loop and to be done, NO shame in that. This was the hardest thing I have ever run through, and I have run a lot of races. Races with elevation can be tough because climbing when you are tired is rough, BUT you know you get to go DOWN too! This mud/water...was MENTALLY just mind-numbing (well, and dangerous which explains all the injuries that took place...LOTS of rolled ankles, sprains, hip flexor strains, oh my...)
So overall I feel as I would expect to feel...tired, sore, my feet are HUGELY swollen, and my neck hurts from looking at my feet for 24 hours :) But I am happy.
So....though I told everyone never again...never say never....