Sunday, March 24, 2013

I'm A Quitter - Prairie Spirit 50

Monday I was overwhelmed - work, being a mommy, Steve's work trips this month, and trying to get in runs. I needed to compartmentalize. I had the itch to run off to a race as a training run - a chance to have some quick time to myself to think. Tuesday I signed up for the Prairie Spirit 50 Miler in Ottawa, KS. It was a rail trail race, which means completely flat, where I'm more suited to small hilly rooted trails. But the terrain would be easy and what's better training for a 50 miler in a month than an "easier 50"? Yes, this is the stupidity ultrarunners go to. And now it was showing awful weather. Great, even better training.

Cutting to the chase here and declaring it!

Shannon and her friend Haley were running it, so I drove the 7 hours Friday afternoon, arriving after the trail briefing about 7:15 pm, and met up with the girls, who were nice enough to make me a to-go plate of the race's pre-race dinner!

Saturday morning, the weather was as predicted all week. A snowstorm was rolling in. Temperatures would stay at 32-35 degrees ALL day. 14 mph winds. And snow and sleet and maybe rain if it got warmer in the forecast.

I was really happy all day with how I had planned out my apparel. Tight baselayer long sleeve, looser long sleeve, rain vest with big pockets, and then my New Balance plasticky waterproof vented jacket I'd been given by the company when I ran the 2011 Hood To Coast. Thursday I had torn up the house when I could only find one glove, so on my way out of town I stopped and bought two new pairs of gloves, which I wore one over the other. Add tights to the mix, along with my Brooks ear warmer and a hat, and everything in black? I was a cold-weather NINJA!

I started with Haley and Shannon and we ran solidly together until mile 5 and then off and on together until right before the aid station at mile 16. At mile 11, I just started to feel really off. I pull into the mile 16 aid station right behind Haley and Shannon. Haley turns to say, "How are you doing?" And then her face immediately changes - "you look awful." I must have been out of it enough because I didn't talk much and I actually left that aid station without filling up my water bottle. Since it was cold I would be okay the next 5 miles.
Picture at mile 5!

But I just feel so wrong. And mentally broken. Within a mile and a half of leaving the aid station, I actually contemplate turning around to go back. I know that it's 9 miles between aid stations here. My IT Band is bothering me from the flat terrain, and I have to walk more, but I'm still moving forward.

By the time I reach the unmanned aid station at mile 21, I've already decided to DNF. BUT I drink lots of water and dig into my rain vest for my cookie stash. I had packed 2 snickerdoodles and 2 lemon ginger cremes for calories and a pick-me-up between the spread-out aid stations. I eat all my cookies in the off chance my DNF urge is "bonking" related, from glycogen depletion. Nope. Still ready to DNF.

The last 3 miles into the 25 mile turnaround of this out-and-back course have heavy sleet with a little snow. Those last 2 miles my IT Band actually relaxes and I can run again. Nope, even able to run again, I still want to DNF. I see Haley and Shannon who aren't far ahead of me. Shannon's mom is okay with taking me back to my car.

I come into the building that is the mile 25 aid station in 5:52. 6 hours with temperatures at freezing. The volunteer says, "You could always walk it back. You have a long time until the cutoff." Me: "No, there is nothing in me that wants another 8 hours on this course." I know the snowstorm will only get worse going back north for 25 miles and I know how much colder you feel the more you are walking than running.

So yes, I'm a quitter. If it had been another 1.2 miles to a marathon finish? No big deal. 6 miles to a 50K? Yeah, I can do another hour and a half in worsening weather. Another 25 miles? No. Done.

And I can't say it was the cold, because my layers were adequate and I was never overly cold. And I can't say it was physical, as by mile 25 a lot of things were numbing up. But the reward just didn't seem worth it - I didn't need the buckle, I didn't need to get myself injured, I didn't need to be stranded Sunday in snow unable to drive home, I didn't even need to cross Kansas off my states list (I had run Garmin Marathon last year to get it), I wasn't having fun, I'd already seen the whole course (which was pretty for what it was - middle of Kansas - and representative of the area).

Some days you're strong. Some days you're not. Yesterday, I was mentally weak, and I've run enough ultras to know when there's a problem in my head that I can't move past. Which in a world of "Death Before DNF" is a complete no-no. But I had 6 hours of mental toughness training, and a good 25 mile training run on my legs physically, so for me, I accomplished everything I wanted.

Immediately after I hopped in the car and drove 7 hours home, without even a shower. It was nice to shower in my own house and sleep in my own bed. :-)

A giant congratulations to Shannon and Haley who stuck together the whole race and finished - it was Shannon's first 50 miler! And for Haley, she got to add Kansas to her state list!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

2013 Race Calendar - This Is What Rugged Looks Like

It's been a busy 2013 this year already. I've already had 2 races and have been so excited about the races I plan to run the rest of this year. Some of these races I've been signed up for since early December, and one even back last September! It was time I put together a list of all the races. If not for any other reason than my mother keeps asking me what my next race is (although I know she has now put them all on her calendar). ;-)

I already declared that for me 2013 would be the "Year of Rugged", and I alluded to some of the races below. This may be a better theme than my friend Brian, who has declared 2013 for him to be the "Year of Stupid." In this list of races, there is 1 trail marathon, 5 trail 50Ks, 1 trail 60K, 2 50 Miles, one crewing gig, and one pacing gig. 319 miles of races. I hope to pick up 6 states too in my goal to complete at least a marathon distance in all 50 states. And this all encompasses my "rugged" theme with frequent challenges, remote conditions, giant elevation climbs, altitude efforts, and technical terrain.

If anyone is going to these, let me know to look for you or maybe we can grab pre- or post-race food together. If anyone wants to join me on any of these, I'm always up for company on these adventures.

January 12 - Bandera 50K - TX  (Race Report)

February 2 - Rocky Raccoon 50 Mile - TX (Race Report)

April 20 - Indiana Trail 50 Mile - IN - couldn't help myself. One more 50 miler after a fun race at Rocky.

May 4 - North Face Endurance Challenge Bear Mountain New York 50K - NY - my first New York visit outside of NYC (1 hour away)

June 2 - Deadwood-Mickelson Trail Marathon - SD - very runnable trail in gorgeous surroundings

June 15 - Bighorn 50K - WY - beautiful technical terrain through the Bighorn Mountains

June 29 - Western States 100 - Crew Chief - CA - crewing for friend Tim Steele

July 20 - Tahoe Rim Trail 50K - NV - altitude and lots of climb will make this a hard race but scenic

August 11 - Angel's Staircase 60K - WA - Runners have to qualify by completing two mountain 50Ks. Race Director has already told me I qualify. The 37 miles are straight up the mountain, circle it, then back down. About 10000 gain/loss makes this a HARD course.

September 7 - Volcanic 50 - WA - circumnavigating Mt St Helens. Remote, lava fields, and I have to sterilize water taken from a brook in the middle of a race for the first time.

October 26 - Javelina Jundred - Pacer - AZ - good friend Lesley will be completing her first 100 miler and I'll be there to help however I can.

I look forward to this year's adventures, sharing some with old friends while making some new ones too!