Why do I write race reports? I’m really not sure. I feel like I open myself up to criticism and unwanted critique just racing, and then almost ask for more by writing about the racing after. Yet here I go again…
D3. My first 24 hour race. I knew going into this that my A goal was high (145+ miles). Yeah, I’ve never run 24hrs before. Yeah, many experienced 24 hour runners haven’t run that number. Yeah, that is a number more likely to be shot at by a boy then a girl. Yeah, I know how high that number is… but I’ve never been one to let what other people say or do dictate what I think I can do. This has nothing to do with a lack of respect for all the incredible athletes that have run 24 hour races before me. This is most likely due to the fact that I think all people are capable of great things and I am in search of my great thing. I think I can run 145+ miles in 24hours. I STILL think I can run 145+ in 24hours.
This race started at 7am on Saturday, the 14th of May in Sharron Hill Pennsylvanian. If I tallied up the number of hours I spent lying in bed, thinking of every possible reason to start this race with or without music (headphones), I’m sure 98% of the world would think I’m mental. I totally over think everything. Like, Every. THING. And that is why I started this race with my music on. Music on, brain off. I was entering the unknown world of 24 hour racing, but I knew enough about myself before the start to know, for me, to think less was best.
My plan was to start slower then easy and then hang on to what ever snail pace I landed at after 19 hours until the 24 hours was up. The first couple miles went well. But before the first half hour was up, I could feel my lower back begin to ache and knew my gluts were not firing. I’ve been seeing a MAT practitioner, and he has saved my running by helping me feel what my body should be doing when running with all muscles firing. Long story short, I engaged my gluts. This caused my speed to pick up a tad but had my lower back feeling better in no time, so I kept running easy but made sure my gluts were not being lazy!!!!
I thought all was going well and according to plan. But before 5 hours in, I got sick. Pretty bad sick. My intestines were cramping and I had diarrhea. My belly felt swollen and painfully full. I started to cry, but quickly told myself now wasn’t the time for a pity party. I needed to figure out what to do and keep moving forward, or this race would be over way before it should be. I told my husband I was sick and needed more fluids. He gave me pepto-bismol, more liquids and electrolytes and began trying to find things to feed me. I was afraid of sugar (because of my belly), so I didn’t want gels or candies or anything sweet. My belly hurt too bad for real foods (like sandwiches or PB) so it was saltines. Saltines are slow to eat and pathetically low in calories for racing. (Side note: the tummy problems were not what I did, as I did what I normally do and normally do not get sick…must be what I didn’t do….)
Luckily, we had chocolate coconut water that I could drink while we tried to find another calorie source for me to get in and that wouldn’t shoot straight out. I also found drinking seltzer water helped calm my tummy for a little while. During this time the weather went from 75* with soaring humidity and just a tad too much wind to cooler and raining with wind that was now on the yuck-too-high side.
I saw lots of folks in rain jackets and warmer gear. Thinking maybe I’d feel better less cold, I put my rain jacket on. This lasted maybe 2 laps. In my jacket, I felt clammy-hot. Like I had a fever. Without my jacket, I felt cool, but better. Cool is always better to me, so I spent sometime running in just my sports bra in the cool rain. It felt nice, outside of the fact that Snap, Crackle, and Pop had taken up residence in my intestinal track.
I’m not sure how long it rained, but I know it was over 2 hours. Sometime during the rain, my iPod died of drowning. As sad as this was, death comes when death comes. No life is guaranteed. I decided to run the rest of D3 (11 or 12 hours) being grateful that I had Pinky’s perfect company in my head the first half-ish of this race. I also sang my favorite song to myself over and over again to keep my brain on low-to-no function.
When we knew the rain was over, I changed my socks and shoes. I knew from having run 100 miles at Desert Solstices this past December that I blister easier on a track then other terrain, so I started this race with blister pads covering the spots where I get blisters. During the rain, a couple of them came off and I did have blisters. Only one giant bad one though. Scott wanted to pop it, but we didn’t have anything to pop it with, so back on the track I went.
I few laps later, the bad blister popped. OUCH!!!! Another quick stop and I was ready to run on. In one pink sock, one black. This had me laughing some how. Which is good, because my feet felt like butchered meat! Luckily, the blister pain went sorta numb as I ran and never got worst. The temperature continued to drop as the sunset, and sometime in the dark I changed into dry gear. I was cold (it was in the 40s) but my long sleeve shirt felt too tight on my swollen belly and I got that clammy-hot fever feeling again. I asked Scott for cap sleeves, and he went to the car to find me another shirt. I ran the rest of the race in cap sleeves and gloves, even though I was cold, because cold felt sorta numb and better then the clammy-hot feeling I kept getting in warmer gear.
Scott (my husband) eventually gave me salted potatoes. I don’t remember when, but it was just in time to save my race. My legs were cramping (low calories along with the running and tummy troubles) and all I wanted to do was walk. I ate two cups of potatoes while walking two consecutive laps. When I started jogging again, the pressure in my tummy was going down. My legs felt less like lead rocks attached to a pelvic shocking device and more like painfully tired human legs. I asked my hubby to keep the potatoes coming every half hour. Luckily for us, St. Nancy of the Kitchen left a giant pot of potatoes, just for me, on the stove for Scott to grab from all night long. ❤
I want to say, “Before I knew it, the race was over! 24 hours of running, done!! I did it!!!!”
But that isn’t how it went. It was hard. It hurt. I wanted to walk. I wanted to stop. I wanted to sit down and cry. But even more so, I wanted to finish. I didn’t come to quite. I didn’t start this race thinking this would be easy or feel good. I knew my A goal wasn’t with in reach any more, but I knew finishing was still something I could do. 24 hours on the track wasn’t over and I could still keep going. This, I believe, is perseverance. I faced obstacles I had not anticipated. I felt discouraged and broken. But I actively pressed on.
Sometime around midnight I started my period. At least this is something I had expected…maybe someday I’ll think that’s funny.
Around 20 hours in (I think…) I found that I could consistently (with a lot of pain) shuffle-jog 2:50ish laps. So that’s what I set out to do. I told myself, “Over 121 in 21” (meaning over 121 miles in 21 hours) like a mantra in head, just focused in on that one thought, “Over 121 in 21, over 121 in 21, over 121 in 21”, until I got to 21 hours. Then it was, “over 126 in 22…” and so on. The last hour, I broke it into miles, telling myself 4 more laps..3…2…1…1 more mile, that’s…4….3…2…1 . Until finally, finally, I was done. 551laps, 136.94 miles in 23:58:50 (this race only counts completed laps, and I couldn’t get a 70sec lap out there at the end, ha!) I can tell you quite honestly I was too happy and tired and hungry to cry when it was all over. I just wanted food, a shower and a bed. I didn’t want to think, so I left my brain off…or maybe my brain was actually off of its own accord.
I hurt. I felt like I failed and yet like I conquered. I felt proud of my effort and disappointed in my day. I know I made mistakes, but I do not believe my goal was one of them. What does this mean? This means I will let myself enjoy what I achieved and be pleased with the fact that I persevered. It also means I will try again.
See?!?!? I’m smiling. Over 23 hours of track time and I’m smiling. Why? Because in not too much longer, 24 hours is up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Photo by Israel Archuletta