Yesterday was an incredible day to race. And when you don’t have a clue what to expect…it’s even better!
Waiting for the bus at 5am…it was dark and cool. Swimsuit weather for me, but most runners were in jackets…like the down type…kinda made me giggle a little. It was a little less than an hour to the start. When we got the start area, it was soooo windy! But given Im from WI where winds hit 30mph at 10 degrees, It didn’t phase me. The start was beautiful…around the high school track we went before hitting the trail 2.5 miles later. Taking the advice of my coach, the most brilliant man alive, I was hydrating and eating by mile one. People were looking at me like I was that person that shows up to a 5k with gels and a water pack. I settled into a running pace…
The first aid station came pretty quick and the trail to that point was easy feeling, but stayed at my pace, letting other females blow by. I stopped for a cup of water and just kept going. Onward to the next station. Twelve or so miles in, I again, refilled my pack, has some salt tabs, and kept moving. It was simply beautiful out there. I’ve never seen anything like it. And the course…didn’t seem challenging. Just stayed at my pace, letting a couple females go by and fall behind…kept thinking to myself “it’s early with so many miles to go. Keep your pace….slow and steady wins the race.” At this point I passed some pro females….and thought, “whhhhat?! Oh crap….do I slow down? ” nope. Just do what Tommy says….focus on effort, eat, and drink. Seems easy right?!
On the way to 24 miles…there was a downhill that was, for me, impossible to go down….sharp rocks…I feared my life on this stretch (actually most stretches!). Passed one female hunched under a bush getting shade. Gave her some water and kept going. One female…totally surprised she caught up, passed me and said, “looks like a dry river bed.” Which it did…probably was. And she just sailed through it like it was nothing. This led to the first stream crossing…oh my goodness, thank you for water!!! I was coming to the edge of the switch back and almost kept going so excited to see water…the whole way down was saying, “water water water water, get to water!” Dipped my bandana in it, stepped it the stream with my left foot…whoops…and kept going. Not to worry, it was dry in 45 seconds in the heat!
On the way to 37…I passed the female catching shade again…she seemed down for the count…and then passed a couple pros…excellent runners. Walking. Ummm….why does this all seem so easy???? What’s happening?!
By the time I hit 49…the girl that told me about the river bed was hurling on the side of the road. I was alive and well…again…am I missing something here?! That was a tough stretch for me…couldn’t get into a run. The legs were fine and wanted to go but the terrain was too challenging…fearing my life got the best of me! Onward to the next station…
Still challenging to get a run going but did anywhere I could…running the whole course except maybe a 5k worth. And then it happened….a wrong turn…not paying attention, there were no flags…hmmm…I hate these moments…keep going or turn around?! Turn around. Go back to the last flag. So I did…lost about 1.5 miles of time. And found the trail…and there was the next female! Major downer for me. She caught up to me to tell me…”don’t worry, I’m already in states, so you can take second.” Whhhhhhat. She was told I was in second. That can’t be. And later on, we both found out it was not true. But gosh was that great to feel for about 4 miles!!! She was last years winner and a pleasure to talk to and an honor to run with on course.
The one thing I never wanted to do….poop in the desert. Well of course that HAD to happen! Yep. I did it. And briefly after that, it was time for the headlamp. Blisters were starting…I could feel the sloshing in my heels and between my toes. Go away! But if I ran, I didn’t feel them as much…keep running then. Got to 58….4 miles in the dark to go. And it’s true…the desert is SUPER dark.
On the way to the finish, I could do nothing but feel proud. For the first time in the race, I was ready for it to end. I was ready for the finish. But my legs wanted more. Another wrong turn…half mile, for a totally of two miles lost on course (Annie!!!!)…and a speedy stretch, got me to the finish. It was a bright area with so many people…usually after finishing I’m ready to stop and pass out! Today, I wanted to go for a cool down! Legs felt great. Here’s why…
I wasn’t hungry. Or thirsty. But let the feast begin!!! Breakfast was about two cups of kashi GO LEAN on the way to the bus…20oz of water….and a clif bar an hour before the start. In the first twelve miles I went through 70oz of water, Gatorade chews, and some candy…every station after that…cookies, pb sandwiches, yes double fisting them with one in my mouth…I believe that was caught on film too. And about 6-10 Scaps between aides. I’ve never used so many tabs! But ya know what….it really made for a relaxing and comfortable run in the blazing heat!!! Coach knows best. Always!
The worst part….the tan lines!!! Hysterical! My favorite is the one across my forehand from my bandana! And of course the ALMOST 25 diggers. I almost went rolling down a bluff tripping over a rock. Better pay attention, right?! But no falls for me…total shocker!
So, my cousins asked…what do you think about during so many miles?! Besides the obvious…race strategy and course….well, I feel I’m a weirdo. Ok, there were stretches of making laser noises at cacti, making up songs about the desert, and telling jokes in my head that made me giggle out loud. Thank goodness I was running alone at these movements. The laser pointer finger making laser noises at cacti probably would have been cause for medical attention to most people!
Overall, Black Canyon was an excellent experience and I plan to be back next year!! Huge huge huge thanks to Altra Running….honestly, without these shoes, I woulda been toast!!! I’ve been in many shoes, on the roads and trail…through the streets of Boston and New York for the marathons, and climbing up mountain sides, but nothing has kept me going like this! I was expecting blisters by the 50k….nope, started around 54. That was awesome! Little bit of sand in the shoes even with gaiters, but that’s to be expected. Biggest complaint…the purple didn’t match my outfit :-p if you don’t own a pair…you must…www.altrarunning.com
2015 Personals…5th place female, 25th overall, 12:49. Only Midwesterner in that mix!
Photo by Ultra Sports Live at the finish line!