So Tracy and Amara and I had decided to go do Crazy Desert. It would be Tracy's first ultra and Amara's first trail race and first distance over a half marathon (she is her own kind of crazy --why do you think I like her ;-)
|Headed out west...|
Earlier in the week, I had realized that if I could run the race in less than double what the overall 50k winner did it in, I could qualify again for Pike's Peak without having to run a road half marathon. So that became my goal. I did a bunch of number crunching and the fastest this course had been run in years past was 4 hours. That meant I had to do it in 8 hours to qualify - give or take depending on the lead runner on race day. That was do-able.
I had a couple of friends that were both watching the leaderboard to let me know when the lead runner came through off his first loop to give me an idea of what I was up against. He came in at 1:45!!! Holy cow....I knew that put him on pace for a 3:30 50K...which would mean I would need a 7 hour 50k and that was going to happen because a) I was not that fast and b) it was starting to really get hot. So I decided to forget it and just run.
I finished my first 15 mile loop with a 3:15 and realized I might not be totally out of it yet, so I took off on my second loop somewhat hopeful. I switched my run/walk intervals from 5:1's used on my first loop to 2:1's...I was doing good, feeling strong. I hit the first aid station 1t 18.5 - filled my water bottles again ( this had to be done at EVERY aid station because it was so hot), got my buff ice cold with water, poured cold ice water over my head, drank some coke and ate some pickles and took off. My goal with aid stations was in and out - no dilly dallying...I didn't want to waste any time.
Off I go to the far aid station that was 4.5 miles away...by the time I get there, I had finished both of my water bottles and also refilled at a random faucet I found in the middle of the desert by a horse trough of water. I didn't care...I was so thirsty and at that point had 2 more miles until I hit an aid station. So in 4.5 miles, I had 3 water bottles!
After hitting that aid station, I realized the lead runner had just come in and his time was 3:56! He slowed down in the heat on that second loop too! So I knew I had 6 miles to go at this point and a little over 2 hours to do it in to get my time I needed. I had it in the bag!
I got lost...
or at least I thought I was lost.
It turns out I was actually off course my first loop (along with several other 50k'ers. We got onto the 100k course at some point and never realized it.) The second loop I was actually on course, but nothing looked familiar and the course markings were gone. I came to an intersection of trails with 3 options - left, right, straight. Straight was blocked with sticks...neither left nor right had any markings...since I hadn't seen flags in a while, and had a gut feeling this was wrong since I hadn't seen this before, I turned around and went back.
I could feel the time moving in slow motion. I knew if I didn't get it figured out quick, I could easily lose that qualifying time. I started backtracking. I was hot, I was lost, I was down to one water bottle, and I had no idea where I was because no one was around, and my phone had just died.
I came upon another runner and told him the predicament. He said none of it looked right to him either, and when he went up to the intersection I had been at, he told me he had no idea. We both started going back trying to figure out what we had done wrong. Eventually, we met up with another group who had a runner in it that knew the course because he is from there. We followed him, and at the turn he took a right. I asked him how I would have known to do that, and he said if you didn't know - you wouldn't.
I don't know if the cows jacked with the course markings or what because the rest of the course was very well marked. I had just spent 40 minutes figuring out where I was and added a mile to my distance. By then, it was getting super hot. Eventually, I tried to run more with the encouragement of Faith and made it about a mile with intervals and started getting nauseous and cold chills and decided it wasn't worth pushing it to make myself sick. Faith was feeling sick too so we both decided to slow down.
Long story short, I missed the qualifying time by 15 minutes...40 minutes spent thinking I'm lost.
Not gonna lie...it sucked...
But I realized I had several goals for that day...
- Not die ----- guess who is still alive so I can check that off
- Finish ------ brought home a medal so I am counting that off too
- PR ---- did that too...by 8 minutes...could have done much better, but I'm focusing on the fact that it was a PR..
- 8 hour 50K --- didn't meet that time goal - could have, but didn't
- Qualify for Pike's Peak -- nope
So all in all, I am happy with the outcome. The best part is - I feel great! Trails agree so much more with my knees and hips than roads do. Road running kills me. This weekend brought back my love of two things 1- trail running and 2 - going long.
I think my favorite part about the long distance is that it's not easy, but that is what makes it worth it. It's freaking hard. Did I want to quit? Yes. Did I want to cry? Yes But realizing that running is so much more mental than it is physical at that point is the key. I knew ahead of time I would get to a low point...but I also knew it would pass if I just gave it a few minutes...and it did...
I'm so grateful for the adventures running allows me. I am so thankful for my husband and kids for letting me do it and the friends who run with me or support me from afar when they aren't there. I'm grateful for my knee being strong as ever 10 months after surgery.