Sometimes, I sit down to write a race report and my mind will not cooperate. I WANT to want to write, but I just don’t want to write…no words…no focus…Candy Crush…here it goes any how.
In Texas, we don’t have seasons like most of the U.S. does. What we have here is summer, and various pollination seasons. Right now it’s Oak Pollen season and my body has decided to revolt. Not the funnest way to go into a 50 mile run. To top it all off, though, I once again had the pleasure of running an ultra during my time of the month. I truly have the worst luck with my hormone cycle and races. I just scanned through Ultrasighup, and of the 37 races on there, only 22 of them where run comfortably in respect to this girly cycle thing. WHY?!?!?!?!? The no fun truth of this is the 24 hour race I am training for looks to land on a bad weekend for me too, as it is 4 weeks out. Ugh. At least this was a shorter race…I was going to leave this part of the story out, but decided not to because of something that I will mention at the end.
The Brazos Bend races are run around alligator swamps at Brazos Bend State Park (close to Huston, TX). It is a trail race, but the trails are not technical or hilly. Terrain wise, it’s an easy race. However! The weather is very hard to deal with. It is hot and muggy, with extremely high humidity. You literally run through swamp lands. And there are hundreds of alligators!!! If you look, you can see their eyes and snouts in all the swamps as you pass. Some gators even come up into the grass and watch the runners pass. I saw a large turtle cross the trail, and lots of gutsy birds dipping in the swamps as well. After the race, I learned that it’s mating season for gators right now. They gather in groups and make a crazy sound, like a honk almost. Hearing them bellow in the 6am dark was eery but super cool!
My 50 mile plan was to not actually race, but use this as a training run and a chance to dial in my nutrition and race strategy for D3 (24 hour race) next month. I need to have a solid goal and be willing to stick to my plan to achieve this goal. Sounds simple, hu? But it’s not, because 24hrs of running is a lot more then 5o miles. Goal setting and pacing for this will be the hardest part for me. So I went to Brazos Bend ready to learn in preparation for my goal race, Dawn to Dunk to Dawn.
I was struggling in my mind before the race on how to “not race” this “race”. Should I really try to run what I want to average in the 24 hr run, or just run it easy pace? My coach said I should run 24 hr pace, but my heart balked at this. In fact, my brain balked too. 😳 In the end, I decide to run easy and take my time in aid stations and just see how that felt.
Truthfully, it felt good. I never ran hard, I stopped for at least a little time in all the aid stations, I took one potty stop and I never felt close to “race effort” coming from my body. This was a 3 loop course, and my splits were 2:18, 2:18, 2:21. The 3rd loop was very hot (the only time the sun was out, which made the swampy humidity feel like a gym sauna) and I had to wait in line at aid stations to get ice in my bottle, which took more time then in the other loops. My running pace slowed just a tad on the last loop too, as I didn’t want to trash my legs and I was seriously HOT so I chose not to push it.
I finished this 50 in 6:57, feeling tired but super good. Some how, I lucked out and came in 1st female, 2nd over all. I’m going to be honest and say that if there had been a speedy gal at this race, I might have run harder then I did and be regretting it now! I don’t like not competing hard when I race, but I so badly need the discipline in pacing for the 24 hour race. So THANK YOU to the speedy Texas gals who didn’t show up. 😉
Things I learned:
1. Easy Pace truly IS faster then I need to be starting a 24 hr race. Though I’m still not ready to run in the 9minute miles from the start!!!!!!!!!!!! Maybe I’ll regret that, maybe I won’t. 😜
2. I HAVE NO IDEA how to do electrolytes and fluids in good weather! I am so use to running in crap heat and humidity, that I over do it in nicer conditions. Please, any one who has dialed in better weather fluid intake, feel free to send me a note!!!! I have had 2 races in good conditions were I way over did fluids and electrolytes. I want to NOT do that again, but when my training is in the bad weather, it’s what I know to do. So, nutrtion not dialed in…
3. Blisters on my toes from Desert Solstices are not all the way gone! But if I put blister pads on them, they are ok. I might need to address this farther during D3 though.
4. My husband is the best. Truly the best. He can make me madder then any one on Earth can come close to doing, but he loves me and I know it! The support I get from him blows my mind, almost every time I hang out with him (which is quite often). And when it comes to helping me at a race, he can’t be matched. From getting us a hotel due to the Oak Pollen problem (we were going to camp) and fact that I really needed a bathroom, to finding me tape for my earbuds (they wouldn’t stay in due to sweat overload on the 1st loop) to bringing me lemon cake after the race to so much more! Having a supportive spouse makes me want to be my best in everything I do. From the running on to EVERYTHING and being a support for him too!
In closing, a story from the finish line. So much of me doesn’t want to put this story in here. But it happened, and I think it’s good to go ahead and share this for any other females who might have this happen to them, or have had it happen to them.
As I mentioned at the start of this report, I was on my period for this race. For me, day 2 is always the worst day. Lots of painful cramping and the heaviest flow. But that was my luck this race (again!!!!). Normally, I can go into 7hours safely without needing to make a long bathroom stop. So I went to the bathroom 10mins before the start and figured I’d at least be ok with all that until I finished. But when I crossed the finish line, I could see blood falling down my legs. Yuck. Gross. It sorta made me mad and embarrassed, because I didn’t even know how long this had been happening or how bad it looked from the back. But then I was just over it- Why does this need to be gross and embarrassing? I certainly didn’t mean for this to happen, but the fact that it did doesn’t need to be an embarrassment. My wonderful husband brought me my drop bag and baby wipes and I took care of the problem before sitting on anything, so I dare to say it isn’t “grosser” then most the sweaty bodies walking around. Maybe I’m wrong in this, but it is my honest take. I am all for using feminine hygiene products and keeping your body clean. But racing is dirty, even without periods. Take chaffing, falling and sweating for instance. All these things are dirty and some of them are even bloody. Seeing dirty and even gory things is often part of racing. As such, I don’t think women need to be embarrassed if a situation arises that gives way the fact that she is menstruating during a race. At least, no more so then the man with the bloody nipple shirt. 😉
Run happy folks!!