Sunday, March 23, 2014

Grasslands 50 Miler...

Wow...what an emotional experience...It started off innocently enough back in November when I messaged my girlfriends (Team Cupcake) and said we should do the trail race up in Decatur by my mom and dad's in March.  I remember the text conversation vividly...I know exactly where I was when somehow I agreed to sign up for the 50 miler. I was cooking ground beef for tacos and within a matter of about 10 minutes - not only had I agreed to do it, I had signed up, AND messaged my friend Ninja to enlist his expertise help in training.  HOW DID THAT JUST HAPPEN???? I WAS SUPPOSED TO BE MAKING DINNER!

So it was done...before I could think about it - I had pushed the enter button on my computer and registered for the Grasslands 50 miler...I threw up a little...

I knew going into this that I would be cutting it close on the cutoff.   I had to be at 41 miles in 10 hours and 30 minutes. That's a 15:11 pace overall. I wasn't worried about the first miles. It was more of the last half of the race that I was worried my pace would drop and it would kill my time.  Maybe I should have been more positive about this in retrospect and not worried about it as much...Maybe it would have given me a  more positive mindset for me.

I also was pretty sure that if I didn't make the cut-off that I would/could run the last loop of 9 miles on my own with a pacer if I did it unsupported (without depending on the aid station and help from the race director and volunteers). 

I trained for this race for 4 1/2 months.  I put in 104 training runs, 671 miles on my feet, all totaled up in 130 training hours. Not that I was counting or anything... :-)

By the last few weeks, I was ready to be done...let's get it over with! 

So I packed up Thursday afternoon. I *might* have overpacked a little...4 jackets, extra short, 3 pairs of shoes and socks, food out the wazzoo...I wasn't sure what the weather would be like...It said a good chance of rain and I didn't want to be wet...

Maybe a LITTLE over prepared???
So packed and ready to go -- off we went to Mom and Dad's Friday afternoon to get a good night's rest and get up early for the 6 am start.

Packet Pick Up!

Dinner at the 10-7!

On our way to Decatur!
Cupcakes from my friend Nicole at Jonesin' 4 Cupcakes!
Had a nice time visiting with the family and then it was off to bed with a 4:15 am wake up call! It took us about 30 minutes in the light  to get to the race site so we wanted to allow extra time since it would be pitch black!

4:15 am...get up...get dressed...grab a half an english muffin and some encouragement left from my parents  

Took us about 30 minutes to get to race start...listened to the pre-race briefing for the 50 miler since the other distances would start later.  It ended with "It's going to hurt, but you signed up for it."  Niiiiice...

So off I went with Dk and Teri in tow.  The first few miles were an out and back of 4.8 miles.  Nothing to see except what your headlamp lit up on the that rock...look a dead armadillo...cow stuff..

So back to base camp to start loop 2 with Ninja...Off we went on the Blue Loop...13.5 miles...feeling pretty good at this point...mostly running...some walking but was holding a decent pace...All I had to do was follow Greg...the little red jacket that was bouncing ahead so gracefully.  

Came in for loop 3 and about 18 miles in...pulled in to base camp and all my wonderful friends took great care of me...I got to sit for a second and food just appeared in my was awesome...gave me a great boost!  
Food...yes...thank you!

DK waiting to run with me on some loops...Hanging with Royce! peeps EVER!
So back out on the next loop...White...12.8 miles...woo hoo...I can do a little bit sick on the first stomach just needed to settle...nothing major and I remembered reading that if that happened sometimes you just need to walk a little so your stomach could digest worked...I was fine...Off we go...I knew when I came in off this loop that it would be the longest I had run EVER...including my 50K back in 2011.  There was a little more walking on this loop, but I still felt pretty good...I just wanted to get back to the base camp and see my husband and family.  I started getting excited and counting down the miles...3 miles to base camp, 2 miles, 1 mile...boom...I am home!

Got to see everyone and pick up DK for the last two loops.  
Loop 3 done...2 left...feeling good.

I had no idea this happened...until today...she will pay...

Pringles...the choice of champions...

Couldn't have done it without this lady right here..

Ninja had told me that my next loop would probably be a little harder mentally because it was longest run. He told me that there would be ups and downs, but that I would get through it. I believed him...until I got in the downs and was bawling like a baby off and on for 2 miles...I mean straight up boo hooing....and I didn't know why really...I think just exhaustion maybe...Maybe I was overwhelmed by realizing I had just done 31 miles and still had almost a full marathon to go...19 miles is no easy feat on a good day, much less after 31 on these sandy trails.


and Funner...
So poor Dk had to put up with my off and on crying like a baby and telling me "It will pass.  You got this...12 seconds and it's going to pass."  I know she was making up random numbers, but it would work...and I would be okay....Then after a few miles of kind of feeling sorry for myself and this was stupid, I decided I could either be like that...or I could put my big girl panties on and deal with it and finish. So I felt better and we got going...There came a point on the 4th loop I knew I wasn't making the we went though DK assured me that we would finish the race like we had set out to do.  They could take my chip - no problem.  We would just go run red loop on our own self supported like we had talked about before.  I thought I was WAY behind making the cutoff...Turns out - I only missed it by about 5 minutes...I didn't realize this until we actually started on the last loop.  When I came in to start the last loop, I crossed the timing mat and a volunteer took my chip as I headed to the porta potties.    I wasn't going to argue with her because I knew I had missed the cut off and I didn't want to inconvenience them anymore or make the aid station people stay out longer than they needed to.  I knew DK and I could do this on our own...Or - let me rephrase that- I knew DK would take care of me for 9 miles and we could finish 50.  I didn't so much trust myself at that point.  

Best sign EVER! can you not be happy when you have this at base camp! Love this girl! Thanks Lisa!
So off we go on the last loop.  8.9 miles...41 miles done...I can do 9 miles...I can do this...Then we get to about 2 miles in and we see a van pass by on a road up a ways and there was hooting and hollering coming from it and DK said that we must know them. I just assumed it was someone leaving the race that had to get home and was cheering us as they left...THEN, I see Lisa coming down the trail...Then Fiona and Catherine...THEY GOT MY CHIP BACK!  WHAT???? I am crying again!  The race director had agreed that I should have my chip back since I was so close.  My friends had gone to bat for me when I was gone on my last loop!  OMG!!! Seriously...who has the most awesome friends in the world???? THAT WOULD BE ME!!!  So we put that puppy back on my leg and off we go....they told us they would meet us at the aid station...Then we ran some more and eventually get right before the aid station and see Fiona and she tells us that we are almost there and the race director was up there.  He met us and was checking on me just to make sure I was doing okay.  He told me just to keep making forward progress, walk with a purpose, walk the hills, and get anything I needed from the aid station. Hands down BEST RACE DIRECTOR EVER!  So we did and Fiona ran the last 5 miles in with me and DK. And I'm not going to lie and say I was all happy and spry and fun to be with those last 5 miles...I'm not going to lie and say that there were not times when I was being physically pushed and pulled by them both up the hills...well, really they weren't even hills...they were  barely inclines...but still...I'm calling them hills because at that point they felt like Everest.  I'm not even going to lie and say that Fiona didn't bribe me with M&M's if I could get up to her on my food breaks...she shook that baggie multiple times in pursuit of making me go worked...she even shoved honeystingers in my mouth when I wasn't hungry...

Side note:  It is times like these when you realize who some of your true friends are. Now I knew Fiona and DK were true friends already but holy cow did they show their true colors on these last 5 miles...AMAZEBALLS...thank you for putting up with me when I got a tad grouchy...just a tad... :-)

I don't wanna run...No...I'm not hungry...Where's the stupid gate?
Maybe I was kind of like this...probably not though
I would have no money if I had to pay for the way I acted yesterday...Fiona and DK would be rich...

So true...

There was a certain gate that we kept looking for. I knew when we got to the gate, I would be close to finishing...but I swear that gate took forever to get to...Then all of a sudden it appeared like manna from heaven. I have never been so glad to see a swinging gate in my life...I *might* have cried...Funny as it was, I didn't realize how close we were to the finish at the time. We were almost there...

So off we go...then all of a sudden I see two people up ahead...One in a cowboy hat and one in a green grinch hat.  I knew the cowboy hat was my dad...and I am crying again...then they disappeared around the bend and I knew I was close...finish line close...OMG get me there fast...okay nothing was fast at this point so just get me there...

DONE!  Mission accomplished!

More tears...
OMG that was hard...

Dad hug!

Mom hug!

BEST FRIENDS EVER!!!! (Minus Monica who was so busy taking all these wonderful pictures for me to remember this day!  Thank you so much Monica!)

Who's idea was this? Stupid texting conversation.

Thank goodness that is done...By far the hardest yet most rewarding experience...

So after it was all said and done...I finished...I finished last AND got beat by a stupid pomeranian dog that ran the full 50 --not that I am bitter or anything...or that my friends let me revel in my glory for all of 3 minutes before letting me know I got beat by Roxy the dog...which for the record, I already knew...I might have been cussing that dog the whole last loop and I actually don't think it was my friends that reminded me of that until my dad threw it out there and then it was fair game...cute guys...real cute...I still love you...

I have wanted this shirt from the time I signed up for this race.
I even talked about it on my last loop.
Dk and Catherine knew I wanted it so they bought it for my finish!
I am excited! I can definitely say I have never worked so hard for a shirt.

What did I learn from this...lots...that I can do things that I put my mind to and to always continue to push myself in whatever it is if I want it.  I learned that I am surrounded by the most amazing family and friends I could ever imagine. I knew that, but sometimes you need to be reminded so that you don't forget it and don't take it for granted.  I also realized that sometimes you need your friends to believe in you so you can believe in yourself.  Ninja, Fi, DK, Catherine, Tuck, Lisa, Royce --when I was getting a little worried during my were always there to encourage and tell me I could...I love you all for that and I will do the same for you...always...

Big shout out to Ninja for the training, the 2 loops of over 26 miles, the encouragement, the chip, I mean seriously...I could go on and on...I appreciate you so much.

DK- Thank you for putting up with me at my lowest and pushing me through the hardest 19 miles of my life...and for all the miles you put in with me beforehand to do this...You rock my socks off.

Love this woman...
Foreman -- that's you Cat -- thank you for the encouragement EVERY day.  For being at the base camp, for giving up your Saturday and taking off of work....for the signs, the hugs, the smiles, and most of all the friendship.  I love you.

Tuck -- thank you for your advice of what to do and what not to do...for being my guinea pig and going first and letting me know what to expect...for letting me know I would go to dark places while on the run and it would suck but that I would get through it...that was the most important thing knowing that I would get through it...this too shall pass...I am so thankful for your encouragement, laughs, and some really fun long runs! I look forward to you kicking my butt at biking in the near future...

Fiona- 5 miles, in your jeans, the day before your half marathon, hand feeding me...need I say more...I LOVE you...You know that thankful for our friendship.

Royce --- seriously who has friends that drive up 2 hours to wait for 13 and half hours to watch their nut job of a friend run 50 miles...oh wait...I do...AND I LOVE HIM FOR IT! Again, you always told me I could...always believed in me...therefore I believed in myself...Thank you!  Can't wait until CHUPA!

Lisa-- if I could have cried when I first saw you at the porta potties I would have but I had no tears in my body...I had sweated them all out!  What a site for sore eyes!  A wonderful surprise!  So thankful you were able to come and cheer me on the day before your race!  We have had so much fun the last few months with Waco and Polar Dash and some good runs since then.  We must do it more often!  Thank you so much for everything!

Monica -- I was so thankful when you said you would be there for me after you finished your half marathon.  I had no idea you would be taking pictures! That was the best gift ever!  Your pictures really captured the most wonderful moments and I am so grateful! Thank you for everything!

Teri-  Thank you for the first loop, the laughs, and all the encouragement in the world!  Team Cupcake Always!

Mom, Dad, and Aunt Jan -- thank you for sitting out in the cold and waiting for me on those last loops...I know it was uncomfortable but your support and hugs meant everything to me. I love you guys so much.

Brian - I can't really type or I am going to cry again...I love you so much and I can't even put into words how much I appreciate all your support over the last few months with this nutzo training.  


  1. You are a ROCK STAR!!! This was an awesome read!!! I am so lucky to know you and the lovely ladies that are your amazing friends!!! Way to Go on a great accomplishment!!!

  2. Your story is amazing. Why can I hear DK saying "just 12 more seconds and it will pass"? You're parents are adorable & I know they are incredibly proud of you! Even the critters are!

  3. Just reading about this makes me get happy tears. I am so thankful that I found you guys. Alicia you inspire me!

  4. You are such an incredible person! What can I say? I wish I had just a wee bit of your enthusiasm and drive! You rock! Proud to be your mama!

  5. I envy the super athletic people. They inspire me, but in the "I wish I could do that" way. I RESPECT people that pick an impossible goal and make it possible by months of hard work and determination. They make me feel like with enough work and focus anything is possible.Who came in first at Grasslands? Don't have a clue. Who WON? It was that women that started that last loop with nothing left, no legs, no energy, not even a chip, Nine miles on nothing but HEART and guts!

  6. I read it again...and again...and again...and I just finished reading it, again. Guess what happened?... I cried!!! AGAIN I am so proud of you. You are an amazing lady Alicia and I am overjoyed to call you friend!

  7. Hey there crazy lady! I nominated you for a Liebster award...find it here along with your questions and the rest of the winners -