Nueces is a beautiful, beautiful place. The trails are rocks and big hills. For me, this 50 mile terrain is about perfect. ❤
When I woke up Saturday morning, I didn’t think I would be running 50miles. For a week, I had been having sever tummy pain. Likely, this had something to do with the surgery I had 5 weeks ago Friday to remove my gallbladder. My surgeon made 4 small incisions into my abdomen. One through my belly button, two on the right side of my belly button and one through my upper right abdominal muscle. The pain I was having last week was around the cut through my abdominal muscles and BAD.
Being I wanted to race, I was already there and my stomach felt better Saturday morning then it had a few days before I decided to heed 3 friend’s advice and start the race. But I didn’t think I’d last 50 miles. On Thursday I ran 6 miles and felt lightheaded due to cramping in my abdomen. My plan was to run at least one loop (16.7miles) and see if I could do more. The biggest worry I had was eating. With my tummy feeling like it did, I was super scared to eat!
The race started at 6am, in the dark. Maybe one mile into the race, the runners thinned out and I was running comfortably with Michele. Michele is a fellow Colorado runner who I had never met before Nueces, but we live maybe 30 minutes apart from each other back in CO.
Nueces 50 Miler is a 3 loop course. Each loop is 16.7 miles and you pass 3 aid stations as well as the start/finish every loop. The aid stations are (I think) 4.5 miles in, 9 miles in and 13 miles into each loop.
Maybe half a mile before the first aid station on loop one I took a nasty fall. Basically, I rolled down a rocky hill and OUCH it hurt!!! I got up fast and tried to keep running but it took a bit of work to be able to use my right leg. My “run” was a big limp for a bit. And once I could run, I could tell I was hurt worse then I had been in past falls. My right quad muscle had a nice gouge in it. The bleeding wasn’t too bad but I could feel my leg swelling up in spots. Boy was I grateful to have someone to talk to as a distraction from the pain!!
Truly, I LOVED getting to know Michele over the 5 hours we ran trails together. She is a fun, energetic person and tough as nails. Really good company on the run! Michele and I took turns leading up and down the trails. This is the first time I have ever run so many miles all at once with another runner and I can now tell you- having a training/ racing partner would be great!!
Tummy update- at the end of loop one, I ruled out gels as a possible food source. The one gel I had eaten had my tummy cramping bad. But I was able to eat a few Pringels. So what did I do? Experiment in a race! Better then not eating at all. By the end of loop 2 I had figured my tummy out! VICTORY!!!!!!!!!
I took my 2end major fall about 22 miles into the race. A belly slide down rocks. My hands took the worst of it this time. Thankfully my legs were spared more ouwes. My crew cleaned the blood off my water bottle for me shortly after and gave me a band aid. I made an extra effort to NOT FALL!
At the start of loop 3 Michele and I were still running together easily.My right leg was hurting, but I felt pretty good all told. I figured out I could indeed eat- just not as much sugar as I had been able to eat when I had a gallbladder. I was loving the fatty foods like chips and PB (no jelly). But I had only taken in about 200 calories the 1st 16.7 miles, and I was regretting my hesitancy in eating!
When we got to the first climb of loop 3, I decided to walk it. I knew then that this would likely cost me a chance at 1st place. But I also knew I didn’t have the strength to race Michele like I would have to later on to get the win (Michele is STRONG and a very smart racer, btw). Not eating that 1st loop left me a bit drained. I was certainly under trained (from the gallbladder badness) and I knew digging deep like I would need to to stick with her could lead to BAD injury’s for me. Mainly in the way of falls on these technical trails. I also want to be in top form to race Leona Divide on April 28th. This 50 miler wasn’t a “balls to the walls” race for me. It was a “where are you at and can you pull yourself together post surgery” race. What I learned running out there is EXACTLY what I need to do from where I’m at!
The last loop actually past fast. I enjoyed the solitude and beauty of Camp Eagle. I made a goal to not bite it again and focused on running as much as I could while keeping only my feet in contact with the rocks. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to do that. I had 2 more big falls in the last 10 miles. After the last one, I took awhile to get myself off the ground. I hit hard and cried hard too. Never in my life have I had to slow down to seriously keep from injury. I think this is likely due to the giant tumble I took at mile 4 that left my right quad with contusions. Pretty much, I was crying off and on the last 10 miles. But I was enjoying myself too…something I’m pretty sure other ultra runners can get. My leg hurt, my hands and knees were bleeding but I knew I wanted to finish as best I could on that day.
I finished in 7:45, 2end female and 8th finisher. Splits were 2:30, 2:32, 2:43. A very good time, really, on a very bad (for me) day. Anyone out there who saw how mentally out of this race I was before it even started might know how happy I am with having started this race and sticking it out. A GIANT thank you to Olga for telling me to suck it up and just see what happens when I was debating dropping before the start. A GIANT thank you to Joe for giving me the mantra, “Just do the damn thing” to play through my head when I had so many reasons to stop. There are some times in life when you need to know that you are stronger then your body OR your mind. This Saturday, I needed to know. I needed to run to finish because I could. Not because finishing meant winning and not because I was having a good day. Not even because I felt like going for a run- I felt like skipping the run altogether on Saturday for a lot of reasons. But I needed to find something in me that could and would be bigger then I am. I needed to find perseverance and a willingness to overcome. And I did.