Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Lou Joline's Blue Springs 50 mile10.30.11

     I decided to run the Blue Springs 50 miler awhile ago, knowing that if I were going to go for 100 miles at Rocky Raccoon in February, another 50 miler or two under my belt would be wise.  My first and only other 50 miler was at Rocky this past February - I crossed the finish line after months of training and in a time of 11 hours and 20something minutes.  Blue Springs 50 mile was on Sunday, Oct 30.  The Saturday before was Lake Perry 50k which I ran almost an hour faster than any other trail 50k I've done (thanks to being led by Ultraphia), and every minute was bought with extreme effort.  The weekend before THAT was the KC Marathon and a hilly 9.5 the day after.  I had been hitting it kinda hard the previous couple of weeks, not tapering. The next evening after Perry (less than one week before Blue Springs), I was unable to run up my driveway.  I was going out that evening and had to come back to my house for something I forgot.  I left my car at the bottom of the driveway, got out, then had my brain tell my body to light jog it up the driveway.  I'm no medical doctor (I'm a doctor of love, baby), but I can feel my powerful brain neurons firing over synapses, sending the signals to all body parts involved in the task. However, my leg muscles were so thick with soreness/overuseness/lactic acid/I'm done with running juice, that even the forceful signals sent by my strength-of-the-Gods brain couldn't penetrate through.  My foot kinda came up off the ground, but wasn't exactly propelled forward with the necessary force and just plopped back down a couple inches in front of where it started.  I started to try again, but then pain became a factor and I just walked up the drive, trying to remember what I was going back for (although an almighty brain, the short term memory part has been compromised with age and various recreational drugs).  I was actually kind of proud of myself, as it was further proof of the greatness of my accomplishment from the day before.  I was also very glad that besides the 50 miler on Sunday, the race also offered a 50k, marathon, and half-marathon distance.  I knew I'd be better by Sunday, but let's face it - the last time I ran 50 miles, it was a target race that I trained months for.  Circumstances were slightly different this go-around.
      I planned a 2 mile run on Monday.  If you don't find this strange, let me introduce myself.  My name is Erica and I am a fucking beast and I can't be bothered to run 2 miles.  My shortest run in my repertoire is about 4 and I only use it when I'm hurting or when I desperately need extra time in the am.  Both instances are rare.  But sometimes I'm able to do what's actually good for me, and I knew 2 would be plenty.  I had the "light and smooth" mantra in my head, but it was clunky.  Did yoga a few more times that week and half-assed a boot camp class.  I also made plentiful good sleep a priority.  It'd been a long time since I've done so little running in a week, but I wasn't itching for a run.  I was trying to rest, recover, and have all my muscles grow stronger like steel. I would be as adamant about getting rest and some active recovery as I usually am about getting in the miles.  That was going to be what was going to work.
     You can choose to start at 6 am or 7am.  A couple of days before the race, I had people (Brian and Ammanda W this means you) bugging me about when I was going to start.  I chose 7 am.  This pretty much cut out me going for 50 miles.  There was an 11 hour cutoff, and if I wanted to run 50 miles, I needed to start at 6 am, considering my 50 mile time was 11 hr 25 minutes and we've established the different circumstances wouldn't be helping any.  I told MY Brian (we will call him Lucky B to differentiate him from Brian W) that if I didn't do 50k, or did 50k and was hurting (like injury hurting), I would be unhappy.  If I did 50k and felt ok, even pretty sore, I would be happy.  Lucky B didn't say anything at the time, but afterward he told me that he knew that if I did 50k and wasn't hurting, um duh, no way was I going to stop.
     I wasn't anxious at all for the race; I had a very HB "I'm just gonna do what I do and it's all good" attitude.  Lucky B and I went to packet pickup Sat night, but we went to the wrong place and ended up going mattress shopping for him instead.  Which meant extra rest laying on beds for an hour for me.  Go home, eat it up, go to bed, wake up and go.  So I get to the race and a great close parking spot and register and hang around for the start.  I had an awesome drop bag packed, perfect outfit on, full waist pack, etc.  I couldn't be more ready.  I saw Brian and Ammanda and she said something about doing only the marathon and Brian didn't say anything, especially when Lou came over and asked for some help moving the porta potties.  I believe Ammanda volunteered him for that.  Later on Ammanda asked him - You didn't really want to help Lou, did you? --  To which Brian replied "Of course not".  Then Ammanda says she knew that.  I love that shit.
     I talked to Dick Ross, ace photographer, then walked over the newly-placed porta-potties, wondering why Dick wasn't following to take my pic in front of them.  I was still in line when I hear someone say they started and looked up to see a group of people running away in the dark.  Oh well - I abandoned the porta potty and trotted after them.  I got my brand new Timex Ironman fancy watch with GPS and heart rate monitor going (I've only used a heart rate monitor before - this was a big step up) and things are feeling good right outta the gate.  I realize there is no Brian or Ammanda to be found.  They went back to their car for something and I figured they missed the start too.  The easygoing, laid-backness of Lou's races blankets everyone I guess.
      The course is pretty much like paved - pea gravel and pancake flat.  I had gaiters on so never got a pebble in my shoe.  Things are uneventful.  I keep checking my Ironman, figuring it out, changing the display, marveling at all the information it provides.  What is cadence?  Anyway, I still had to go pee, but we are out in the open alot - fields on either side, some woodsy parts, etc.  I keep scoping out spots, but end up dismissing them all before I reach them.  I finally found a good one - I see the tree and brush I'm going to hide behind and head for it.  I go pee.  And poo a little.  But I don't have baby wipes in my waist pack - that steel trap mind forgot them.  So I pick up a couple of leaves.  I've never wiped with leaves, but decide they will be better than nothing.  So I start to wipe my ass with the leaves.  But once the wipe process starts, they crumble to pieces.  Really?  That's what happens?  Now I've got little leaf pieces in my buttcrack and nothing to get them out with.  So I just spread my cheeks apart and kinda jump up and down and move by butt around to shake them all loose.  It reminded me of shaking all the loose coins and lint out of your empty purse (or sporran if you're Shawn Walters).   I was worried I didn't get them and would have some weird monstrous chaffing issue, but all was well.  Gross part concluded.
     This pic is Shawn and Jarod - it is the day before Halloween, folks.  I saw Jarod twice.  The first time was right before 26 miles - I looked up and he was there and then he was gone.  He said hi to me like he knew me, but it took awhile to figure out who he was.  The Born To Run sandals gave him away.  The second time was maybe 10 miles later and even though I knew what was coming, it was very disturbing and surreal to see.  I knew it was Jarod, but my brain wasn't able to completely reconcile Jarod with this huge weird why is his face like that in a nurse dress heath ledger suicide creature running at me. 

   Great costume. I never had good costumes.  A couple of years ago I put on blue scrubs, glued cotton balls all over them, and carried a water gun.  People had to ask me "What are you?" and  I would squirt them with the water gun and answer "Partly cloudy with a chance of showers".   Kinda clever.  I would really like the skank early pregnancy stripper with c section scars and that's why she works the Wednesday afternoon shift costume.  THAT would be fun.
     Ammanda caught me about Mile 6 I think.  Brian ended up turning around and doing the half marathon.  There were aid stations every few miles, but the only thing that looked good to me was fig newtons.  I grabbed a few at each aid station.  I also got candy corn around mile 12ish, but they almost broke my teeth and I threw them out for the squirrels.  I was going slow - not too long ago I listened to an ultrarunner podcast with Lee McKinley and picked up some tips.  He's run alot of 100's and he said he doesn't allow his HR to go over 70% for the first half.  So that's what I was doing.  Ammanda had caught up with me, so she had to run slower to stay with me.  Starting slow for a long long run is key for me.  I feel good, I wanna go faster and if I don't have a "rule" like the 70% in place, I'll let loose in my really fast turtle way, putting the dreaded DNF in my sights.  I felt good that day but kept my HR no higher than a certain number.  The miles just kept churning away.  Once Ammanda came on the scene, I stopped listening to music.  We just talked about all kinds of shit until we saw Brian, who had finished his half marathon and came back to run with us.  He brought a jacket for Ammanda in case she was cold, but made sure we all knew he did it.  I had alot of fun running with them - the time and miles flew.  Next thing I know we are at mile 25 and Ammanda is pulling ahead.  She finished her first 50k without a hitch, which is awesome.   I am eating gels every half hour and no caffeine for the first half (also a McKinley tip, but I already learned that one from Brad Bishop).  I am eating alot of real food too.  Except it's all in the form of bananas (which are all gone by now) and fig newtons.  Mel, I too hoarded fig newtons and pulled them out of my clothes like a squirrel.  I keep eating them even though there is no epicurean pleasure in them at all anymore.
     So back to the start/finish.  50k down.  Around mile 26 my phone rang and it was Ashley.  I heard it so of course I answered it on the fly and she asked where we were 'cause her and Matty were coming to cheer us on.  Trail Nerds and Mudbabes are the best ever.  They brought PBR for Ammanda and Brian and Dr Pepper for me.  My first caffeine and it was fucking awesome!!!!  That little thing was so big - no soda around, and all I had were caffeinated gels.  It went down smooth like whiskey.

 A group photo (alot of my day was spent with a fig newton in my mouth) and I was off.  It was back down the path we started on (which I liked better than the path we had just done) - down not to the end, but just 10 miles, then back.  I still wasn't sold on the idea of running 50 miles.  There's a part of me on any ultra that knows the bonk is inevitable and will happen.  Even though that's not true.  Anyway, I had my fancy watch with GPS and knew exactly how far I'd gone, so I figured if I turned around after 5 and got a 40 in, I'd be happy.  Except I never didn't feel good.  Let's reiterate this.  I ran 50 miles because I was never not feeling good.  Entire time.  Huh - who woulda thunk it?  Anyway, McKinley also said that because music has so much affect on his mood (same for me), he doesn't use it for the first half.  Ammanda ran with me until about mile 26 so I ended up kinda unwittingly following this advice too.  I'm running by myself most of the time (almost all the other 50 milers started before 7am, so they were coming back on the path I was running out on, but other than that and the errant non-racer using the trails, not a whole lot else) and the music just carried me along - I got alot more out of it than if I had been listening to it the entire time.  Rick T was at the first aid station you come to and I loved seeing him.  We have a special bond, what with me almost not saving his life and all.  I passed 35 miles somewhere in there and just kept going - I was gonna do 50!!  I had walked a little bit throughout, but starting about mile 31 I was trying to keep a schedule of power walking one minute every ten minutes.  It's hard to practice walking, but I need it 'cause I'll be doing alot of it during my 100m attempt.  Maybe only once or twice did I walk sooner than I wanted, which is not usually the case.  I'm glad I had my fancy watch, 'cause after the second aid station, I knew the sign for the turnaround was coming up -- I had seen it on my way out the first time.  I got to some water jugs, and didn't see the sign.  I remember it being just a little further up.  But it wasn't and if it wasn't for my watch telling me I wasn't at 40 miles yet, I would have convinced myself someone had taken it down already and I had passed it, and been in utter frustration and misery and confusion.  Familiar, but not pleasant.  As it was, I just noticed how fucking slow I was going, thanks to my pace glaring up at me from the face of the watch.  Finally, this:

 I am giddy.  By now, I noticed that when it was time for a caffeinated gel, I would get all excited.  2 more minutes!!  YAY!!!  It reminded me of the feeling I would get anticipating drugs.  I even had a little gel ritual set up just like fiends do -- changing my grip on my water bottle, getting the gel out of my pack without stopping, counting how many I had left, then ripping it open, eating it and squeezing it all out, then putting the empty package back in my water bottle pocket and enjoying the high until it was time to do it all again.  Duly noted.

So I see other normal people on the trail, riding bikes with their kids, other runners, whatever.  I love them and want to tell them how great it is to be almost done running 50 miles especially considering what I've done the past few weeks.   Instead I just grin like a loon at them, spreading joy without Elliot (who was spending the day with Mandy over at Lucky B's eating people food and watching football).  The pic above was when Rick T ran out (his first jog since that Tahoe insanity) to meet me.  I know, I was going slow.  I really tried to pick it up.  Now everyone is out there just because of me (I ran 50 miles faster than a few other people, but they started earlier, so by now I was the only one left out there chugging along) and I felt bad but knew they didn't really care that much and I'm so glad anyway.  It's worth noting that Rick T had the last aid station of the run and for the first time that day I grabbed some pretzels instead of fig newtons.  It's also worth noting that it didn't matter in the least, as those tasted just as much like nothing as the fig newtons.
     After Rick, I think only about 3 miles.  I texted Lucky B a couple of times.  At the very end, you see this overpass bridge ahead.  All you have to do is run to the bridge, turn left and run over it, back the other side just a minute before the finishing stretch on a gravel path behind a shopping center.  I remember coming out and seeing the bridge and telling myself "I'm almost done and I'm fucking walking just one more time goddamit".  So I started to.  Then I saw Brian and Ammanda and had to start running.  Not that I wasn't so happy to see them, but. . . fuckers.  So they had gone home and cleaned up and saw I was almost done and stopped by to see me!!  Like I said, the best.  So we were running the last little bit and I was all giddy and then they stopped and I ran down the last stretch alone.  I sprinted.  It probably didn't look like it, but that was sprinting baby.  50 miles down - 10 hours, 49 minutes, just under (just barely barely itsy bitsy under) 13 minute miles.  I'm down with that, considering.  A few others that had finished stayed around until I finished (do I have to keep saying THE BEST??) and I got pics with the boys.  Lotsa boys.  First, me and Brent (this was his first 50 miler):

Then me and Shawn (I don't know if its his first.  I know the results say he beat me by 4 seconds, but that's not enough in my book and so I'm telling everyone I really beat him, using my start at the porta potties for defense):
Then me and Luke (who ran the 50k in like 10 minutes):

And here is Brian and Ammanda too and Lou on the right, just seconds after the finish of the day:

And finally here is Lou and Sadie because DOGS RULE!:

I ran a smart run, especially eating from the very start to the very end and starting slow.  That's why I was able to do 50 miles and why I am an ultrarunning beast in the making. I had to drive Lucky B's old stick shift home.  I left a can of soda on top of the car that exploded on the ground as I lurchingly shifted from reverse to drive off, completing the Erica Experience.  That evening Lucky B and I ate good home cooking at Niece's on Troost - corn, boiled cabbage, bbq beef tenderloin, yum.  I took it easy the week after and was out at WYCO for a winter loop Saturday, just me and Elliot.  Blue Springs 50 was a great run and I'm happy it went the way it did and I didn't feel miserable or cry and snot all over myself, and finished strong and ready to run another day and great training under my belt for my 100 miler, but it was really everyone there that made it such a great day - I couldn't help but have alot of gratitude for the people out there I knew.  Like I would see someone and think - I am so glad I know them and if I didn't know them, I am so glad they're here.  That feeling is always there at ultras, sometimes not as apparent, but everpresent.  That's part of the lure of ultrarunning and something I never think of when people ask why I run the way I do. 
   In closing, I would like to say how happy I am to have beat Shawn Walters.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

ALTERED - Lake Perry 50K

Not many race reports you will read begin with a Friday night extravaganza. This one does and then digresses and meanders from there before it is over. Settle in. Sophia's Pre Perry Pasta Extravaganza included mounds of spaghetti, a vat of sauce and garlic bread loaves. Even dessert was geared towards ultrarunners as Matty pointed out - the peanut butter in Reese's provides much needed protein. There was also an after-dinner craft project. I was very leery of the craft project, as those two words ring the lame bells in my head. All due to my close-mindedness of course and I'm sure you could find many craft project people that are way cooler than me. I am just as sure you would find quadruple times that amount of craft people that aren't though. Before arriving, Anne and I were given the assignment of coming up with pictures of people at the party. Brian and Amanda Warren, Emily, some other military guy and I had made a bet as to how many people were going to show up. The last person walked in during the craft project, causing Brian to jump and yell "I WON I WON I WON". However, it was soon discovered that yours truly in fact had come closest to the number of people at the party without going over (15 was my guess and 16 showed up). Seeing Brian Warren eat crow really did make victory that much sweeter. Digressing. Sorry. So we had pics of all the people at the party except for one or two that I didn't know and I couldn't steal their facebook pics because they had privacy settings enabled. I keep mine open and welcome all stalkers. Thanks for being there. Anyway, the idea was to cut out the pics and create a collage. Although my extravaganza experience isn't deep, I was under the impression that these events would be a bit more raucous. I don't have a pic of the completed collage, but I do have one of my contributions below:

Perhaps it would help if I described what is going on here. Brian Warren is holding a picture of my ass that I cut out from a Dick Ross photo from this spring's Free State 40mile. After cutting just the right notch in between the cheeks, a picture of Shawn Walters from this year's Psycho Psummer 50k was inserted. For making this ultimate sacrifice, Shawn became the pinnacle of the bottom left "unclean and unholy" corner of the collage - I worked diligently on this portion and it mostly involved people's heads being inserted in photos where they do not belong. For instance Dick Ross is now included in the pic of Haley giving Ashley a hamstring stretch while Ashley is flat on her back. Use your imagination. And learn from this - this is how craft projects become fun.
Emily and Luke and I stayed over at Sophia's which is only about half an hour from the start of the race. We were all leaving in our own cars and after we got everything and everybody out the door ready to go, I can't find my goddamn car keys. I ALWAYS leave them in my car. So I frantically search for them while Sophia waits as I am blocking her in. Luke is gone. Emily is waiting down the block. Sophia says she'll go back in and look inside her house but that's really stupid of her because I ALWAYS leave them in the car. So she goes in and finds them while I got my head under the back seat of my car, searching, and we are off. The first or maybe second turn Emily leads us on she goes the wrong way down a one-way street. Nothing like breaking the law first thing in the morning. We were on it for a bit too. It wasn't a jump on/jump off venture. It was cruising the wrong way for several blocks and a couple of oncoming cars. F U Copper!

After that, the rest of the time up to the start of the race was incident-less. Emily was running with her dog Rory and Sophia was leading us. My faithful hound Elliot and I rounded out the group. Sophia and Emily are way faster than me, but Sophia was running a 50k the next day too and Emily just ran her first 50k a few weeks ago with us at Flat Rock and was just taking it easy. I figured I would keep up with them as long as I could - hopefully at least halfway - then just let it be. I wanted to run at least 9 miles the next day, to get back to back long runs in. So my goal was as it usually is - have fun and finish with a smile. I've done 3 marathons and 5 ultras this year so far and I've had what I describe as a "fun run" at ALL of them. Even 50 miles at Rocky Raccoon wasn't as hard as I had imagined. It was really really hard though, don't get me wrong on that mister.
Lake Perry was a fun run for about 10 miles. For the remaining 21, it wasn't so much fun. At all. That's the Cliff Notes version of the race, so if you want to stop here, you got it. I have the day off though and will continue. The course is described as follows: "Loop course on rocky, root-bound, and hilly trails. 100%single-track trails. Every hill is runnable." Lots of leaves covering lots of rocks. It's pretty out there on a beautiful fall day like we had -- mid forties at the start and I guess it warmed up to the 70's. Something like that. The first few miles I remember fondly. Pretty, not cold, awesome pace, excited for hours of fun in the woods with Sophia and Emily, rainbows and unicorns.

We flew by the unwomaned jugs of water a few miles in, and stopped at the real aid station around mile 6. I was doing gels every 45 min for the first half and then every 20-30 min for the second half and eating all the food I could at aid stations. And drink often - half water half heed or whatever they have. No caffeine until halfway. That's how I roll. I remember once we started running again noticing how sore I was already (I didn't taper for this really - ran KC marathon the Sat before and then a hilly 9.5 miles the day after and a couple of short easy runs and cross training Lake Perry 50k week), and I was going faster than I usually do - my HR was at least 15 beats higher than it usually is at trail 50ks. I had Elliot off leash and after awhile we aren't too far from this lady and her german shepherd. I hear her kinda yelp when Elliot ran up on them and scared her.
Then it looks like he's pestering her (Master Interferer) and we're yelling at him to come back - they're still up there a bit. He kind of runs back and forth between us then finally leaves them alone. F I N A L L Y. That is how it seemed to me at least. So I know we're going to pass her probably at some point and I start working on a conversation in my head that ends up going like this:
Other Dog Lady: You should keep that dog on a leash.
Me: You don't get to control everything lady.
Other Dog Lady: Well, you have no control over that dog. He ran right up and practically knocked us over!
Me: What you need to do is shut it. What you don't need to do is run your piehole making snotty comments to me.
I ran this encounter through my head over and over, changing it slightly each time. Sometimes it even ended with me punching her in the face while I had her down in a big pile of leaves with rocks underneath - I didn't go there very much though.

That's where I am coming from when we meet her at the water jugs at about Mile 9 or 10. This is what happens:
Other Dog Lady: Your dog is so well-behaved!
Me: (I honestly don't remember what I said. What I do remember is trying to keep from falling right the fuck over.)

This whole thing was not fun and started to put me in a funk. But I am a trooper and spent much of the time between 6 and 13 enjoying the beautiful fall day in the woods.

I must admit this was tinged with a nagging voice telling me I was going too fast and was already too sore for this to end pretty. But you never know unless you try. We get to the aid station at Mile 13 and I change shirts and go - Dave Wakefield and Shawn Walters were working it and a bunch of other people were around. I didn't know it was Shawn Walters until after the race. I thought it was him maybe but he had hair and a beard and a shirt on and didn't really act like he knew me and all of that really threw me off. Otherwise I would have a witty quip about his Psummer Psycho pic emerging from my ass in a very Monty Python way. The course leaves the aid station, does a short 2 mile loop and then passes by it again. I now know how far on a trail it takes me to go from "eh" to despair, up to discouraged, then abruptly fall off a cliff into semi-psychosis. That would be 2 miles. Here is how it happened. I'm thinking I'm playing catchup as we leave the aid station and so I slow down a little and let Emily and Rory go by. I've made it to mile 13 with them, but they are looking alot better than I am so I'm just going to hang back with El Dog, turn up the music, and turn it around and have a great second half/loop. Then I fall hard. I caught a rock with my knee and that fucking hurt and another on the same leg on my shin that hurt almost as bad as my knee. So I stand up but it hurts to put weight on my knee and I start crying a little bit and freak out because there are 2 guys right behind me that will be coming by any second and I don't want them to hear or see me crying. I take a few steps and just kinda know that my knee is sore, but it's going to be ok. No real damage done. Just take it easy peasy. Turn up the music and SLOWLY start going along. I yell for Elliot a few times but he has left me in the dust and stayed with Sophia and Emily and Rory. I figure if I can just not fall behind too far, I can meet them at the aid station and reclaim Elliot. Then I fucking fall again. I know. Pain pain pain, then fine fine fine, go slow.
I am now deserted and will have to finish the run without Elliot, which makes me sad but I'm past that and am just fucking pissed about it. Goddamn selfish dog. And I'm pissed my goddamn knee hurts so much and keep dwelling on that. And I'm supposed to run 9 miles tomorrow let's not forget the 50 miler I signed up for next week and how in the hell is that gonna happen? And I'm going to miss my foster dog Mandy when she's gone, and I hate my job but no one else is ever going to hire me, and my dad is dying of cancer, and I keep forgetting to pick up the dry cleaning from over two weeks ago, and my car is going to break down, and I'm not doing enough and I should be working harder, and I am too selfish and don't spend enough time with my boyfriend, and I really fucked up my life and suck at everything and people are just about ready to stop tolerating me. Then I look up and there is the aid station with what could have been 6 but felt like 6 fucking thousand people hanging there, including Sophia and Emily thank you baby jesus for that part. I remember an overwhelming desire to turn and run away. As soon as I saw people the floodgates open - it was that kind of crying. I wasn't able to breathe right 'cause I was trying to choke back sobs that just came on all of a sudden, and my flight or fight response kicked in and I all I wanted to do was disappear. I saw it in my head. But it was too late really 'cause Shawn was looking right at me and I was pissed because this fucking kid that I don't know is staring at me like I'm the freak at the goddamn circus and I will cut you bitch. Same with some two girls that had cowbells off to the right. Sophia and Emily were kind of standing in the way of Dave Wakefield, but I'm sure he was gawking too. I hate them all. Obviously, my mind is not in a very emotionally mature place at this point, considering my reaction to a few people seeing me vulnerable. It happens - although working on these things, I can only claim progress not perfection. Sophia comes over and I head for the trail to get away from everybody and I think I say something about just being a crybaby but I can't fucking control it very well for more than a couple of seconds, but somehow we all got on the trail pretty quick and more importantly, out of the open. I think thanks to Sophia. I can't really remember exactly, but she asks a few questions, determines that I'm not really hurt or anything like that, the worst is hopefully over and it is safe to proceed. So that's what we do. Forward progress.
After all of that, it's not surprising that it was kind of awkward and uncomfortable for awhile, but I am used to that. I don't like it, but it is familiar. I even give myself a pat on the back when I realize that thru it all, I managed to grab a banana at the aid station and eat it on the trail. It was instinctual because I am a fierce trail running beast.
Then a little more time passes and Sophia asks how I'm feeling. I pause for a moment and realize that what I feel now is altered. And that's how I spent the next few miles, which wasn't entirely unpleasant - I remember the aid station coming up before I thought it would at Mile 22ish and at least felt like I would have no problem finishing. I'm sure Sophia and Emily could have gone faster, but they got on the train for the duration so we all kept together the rest of the way. I ran out of water a couple of times and the worst time was between the aid station and the infamous water jugs that should have been no more than 4 miles. That was not 4 miles. It was at least 6 and closer to 20. We even had Sophia relate her mother's tomato canning/red towel purchase/basement flood in true Prairie Home Companion raconteur style. And picture time. The trail just kept going and going. Picture time was the only time I really laughed that day. KU was getting destroyed by KSU in football and someone texted Emily "It's not quite as bad as the burning of Lawrence. . ." which Sophia read aloud when she was getting to the camera. It's not even that funny - I think I was just relieved that other disasters would happen even worse than this trail run (really?) and the world would keep turning. Made me finally realize perhaps I was turning my fairly shitty run into something way bigger than simply that.
It still all kinda sucked and I was drained. I also fell two or three more times. Whatever - Honey Badger don't care. And I was out of water and Elliot had to drink Emily's water and we should have passed the jugs 20 minutes ago. So much whining in my head. Instead of actually whining, I just started to grunt and groan like a fat man climbing a mountain with all the effort of putting one foot in front of the other. I'm sure Emily, who was immediately in front of me, was pleased as punch to hear this new development.
We finally get to the water jugs and Elliot and I replenish. Now onward to the dreaded aid station. More slogging. We arrive and it was quite anti-climatic. Even the crowd had dispersed and it was just a couple of other runners, Dave, and that bearded guy who is really Shawn Walters in disguise. In and out on the two mile loop. I remembered certain spots from last time around and was just like "whoa - that was messed up". That's it. We passed two guys on this part even. That's when my run started to be a fun one again. I was back in the game. Let's rock n roll!! Unfortunately, my broken down body wasn't entirely cooperating and we had about a quarter of mile until the finish. I had done it though. I had turned my race around and had we had 10 more miles, I think I would have thoroughly enjoyed them.
I finished in 6 hr and 43 minutes, which is 53 minutes faster than any previous trail 50k. I felt about how I should - an amazing 50k is much like amazing sex when its over - leaving one sore, happy. . . and a bit altered.

Bad Ben was there at the end of course. He is always there and I find great comfort in that. I know that when I see Ben I am done and can stop. He is a very clever man as now whenever I see him anywhere, I immediately feel relief and a sense of accomplishment and am deliriously happy. He looked at all the dirt besides the intentional mudbabe mud tattoos and asked if I had left any of the trail out there. Ha ha. I did take a pic of my shirt though and sent it to my computer so after all of that here it is:

I had to return to the dreaded aid station. Twice. Alone. The first time I went down to grab my drop bag. I got the no crying allowed admonishment from Dave and escaped with my bag in one hand and Mandy, my cripple dog hobbling on three legs (who will be healed and ready for adoption at SPCA Heartland in a couple of months, just in time for Christmas!), in the other to complete the pathetic picture. When I was ready to leave for good and go home, I realized that my keys weren't in the car like they ALWAYS are. Again. I left them in my jacket pocket that was thrown out of my drop bag when I searched for a different shirt at Mile 13. Gotta go back. So I take my crippled dog Mandy (Elliot came down with us the first time, but it's down a hill, which means coming back up the hill and he chose to wait at the start/finish for us, lying himself down on the ground, finisher medal around his neck, right in front of the doors to the barn building - absolutely done with this nonsense) and head back down again. As I approached I sensed some fear in their eyes (Why is she coming back? She's already been back. Why is she coming back now with that gimpy dog? Is she crying again?) so I let them know the reason for my return and saw the relief that it wasn't for another mental breakdown. Thank you baby jesus again my jacket and keys were there. Shawn (who I still didn't know was Shawn) said he had no problem getting into my car with no keys. I no longer hated this admitted dangerous hoodlum and in fact told him I could get in my car just fine as I didn't lock it, but not much I could do after that. Except make out with him in the backseat (ba da bang). To which Dave Wakefield replied "WHAT?? You're going to make out with your dog in the backseat of your car?" Of course.
It's now been a couple of days. I spent Sunday hobbling around. In the evening I tried to run up my gravel driveway and couldn't. I could run down a flat path, but it wasn't pretty and my friend that was watching asked if I hurt my left knee. Damn. I managed to run with the Mudbabes on Monday 4.5 miles and felt like I was flying. Until I stopped. Then I felt like the Blues Brothers car at the end of the movie when they get out of it at the Cook County courthouse with the Penguin's money and it falls apart. That was last night and this morning I feel no worse for the wear. Once again, this is because I am a trail running beast and recover like the goddamn Terminator and I can't believe I ever forgot that. If you ask me now how Lake Perry weekend was, I can say I had a great time Friday night, and smashed my 50k trail run record. End of story.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Psycho Psummer 2011

This was going to be my 4th Psyhco Psummer. 2008 was my first Psycho Psummer (15miler), and my first trail run ever. It was only my third running race - I had just started running in November 2007 (never ran before in my life, except when absolutely necessary) - I ran .8 miles (yes, that is POINT eight) and worked up from there. I ran '08 Hospital Hill in not much over 2 hrs (I'm not going back to look) and figured this wouldn't take much longer. What I didn't figure was that I had absolutely NO idea what the hell I had just gotten myself into. The first 3 hours of '08 Psycho were great. I was still new to running outside, and loved it (the first 5 months I ran, building up to 11 miles, I ran on a tenth of a mile track at my community center. All I can say about that is that I didn't know any better - the idea of running on an indoor track today sickens me). Not to mention the pure enjoyment of running out in nature vs. suburbia streets. The last 51 minutes were six hours of torture, frustration and despair. I fucking hated every second. I didn't know if I had 1 or 2 or 8 more miles left. The mud was soul-sucking that year. "This fucking sucks" and "I'm NEVER doing this again" were my mantras at the end. After I was done, my dad asked me if I was going to do the race next year. An emphatic, heartfelt "I hope to God not" was my reply. This would not be the first time I had not been a woman of my word, but in this case I couldn't be happier about it.

Sorry - I digress. This is about 2011 Psycho Psummer - we'll get there. I ran the 50k Psycho 2010 in 8:27 - I bonked with about 4 miles to go, cried for joy at the end, then sobbed uncontrollably in the shower once I got home for about 20 minutes from exhaustion and pain (or just being a baby), but was pleased as punch with myself for completing my FIRST ultra!! Since then, I've done other ultras - another 50k, a 50 miler, and a 40 miler. But this was WYCO. Enough said. Lucky for me, things went my way at many turns. At packet pickup I was able to get a good idea of the course from Bad Ben. He said I would love it. I didn't believe him. I'm used to running the "old" winter loop - that's what I do when I run WYCO. As much as I may give lip service otherwise, I don't like change and avoid it at all costs. Ben was forcing change on me and I was none too pleased, but know enough not to throw a public fit about it, even though that is exactly what I wanted to do. As it turns out, I thought the course was absolutely fantabulous and hope I can remember it so I can run it again on my own next time I'm out there and think Ben is the coolest thing around for choosing it - I think it's alot more "runnable" than the old course. Perhaps I will not resist change so vehemently in the future. Perhaps. Also, the weather cooperated for the most part. It was a little muddy, but not nearly as bad as it could be and although hot, it's been way hotter. That is all the credit I am giving the course and the weather and let it be noted even if conditions were worse, I would have still prevailed.

I wasn't going to bring Elliot - he had a rough time the week before, when he bonked on our two-loop run and we had to walk it in. HE has nothing to prove and I felt like a royal ass for making him go out for an afternoon-20 at WYCO in 94 deg weather. Please don't call PETA. He came out and ran with pretty girls (I was only one of them) at the Summer Fire 5k the next day after that - got his mojo back. I'm always concerned when I bring him out on races about pissing people off - as hard as it is to fathom, I've accepted it as fact that other people may not be as fond as Smelliot as I am and I always fear he will get in the way of somebody good's (read a fast person's) race. He is a Master Interferer. But I am nothing if not selfish and I am nothing if not very attached to him, so Elliot came on out with me (shocker). Fuck everyone else, I'm running with my dog!

I pull up to the park and got a good spot - I saw Shawn and Matty sitting in the back of their vehicles, getting ready. I realized I had forgotten my handheld, but Matty saved the day and let me use an extra one he had. All Shawn did was make some wiseass remark about my parking job. A few minutes later he must have gotten bored and decided to look for trouble as he told me to let my damn dog go already 'cause his crying/whining was intolerable. I put up a feeble argument about how Elliot bothers people, but let go of the leash anyway. Elliot shot out like a bullet, out of sight in a black and white blur. About 20 seconds after that, we heard barking and a little yelling - that's my dog!! Turns out he just met Lisa's dogs, El Dog style. Butt-sniffing was still going on when I made my way over.

I had lots of time to kill, so I rearranged my drop bag, wandered around, and eventually managed to get an even cooler, brand new jet-propulsioned handheld from Shawn to run with - nice. I had filled up Matty's with coconut water, which I gulped down in between loops. Finally - lineup for the start. I get right behind my fellow mudbabes Ashley and Haley. There is power in numbers. Plus, they are used to having hot dog breath on their heels. Start is slow because it's so crowded - but eventually we all spread out - everyone I know is ahead of me, but that's the way it should be. I was really trying not to keep up because I know where that gets me and I don't want my 3rd loop to become some neverending waiting room in hell. First aid station is Indi's. Quick hello/goodbye. The boy scout part was next and it was my favorite - I remember from last year the first time I went thru it I loved it and the next time. . . well, I didn't love it. I loved it all three times that day. The guys at Shelter 11 were fantastic and made sure Elliot was well-hydrated and cheered on. I think this is where I took El Dog off leash. He is a pro trail runner dog and behaved as one all day. Then of course Darin at the next Shelter - he looked out of place just standing around. He is usually a running blur. On the three hills part I passed Haley - El Dog ran by her and nudged her a little - his way of flirting (Elliot has always had a thing for Haley). She was all "ugh" already. I wondered what would happen and sorry Haley, but I wouldn't have been surprised if you dropped. I know she's tough but. . . well, it turns out one should never bet against Haley - she finished 50k with a smile - one thing when you feel great, but something else entirely when you don't. Hard as nails. And speed demon Ashley tore up that course in stellar fashion. But this is my race report so we're not dwelling on others, no matter how tough or cool they may be. Next up was the Wakefields (Jess and Dave) at Shelter 14 - Jess also took special care of Elliot. My first time volunteering at an aid station I was with her out at Lake Perry. We need to work one again and make it a party - I'm ready. Anyway, on a more race-related topic, I had Nuun tabs to put in my water, and was topping off (sometimes with water, sometimes with Succeed) at all the aid stations and drinking alot. I would grab at least something at each aid station - watermelon, banana. Plus taking a GU every 40 minutes. At Jess' aid station, I got tortilla rollups. All told, I probably ate about a dozen of them throughout the day, which is why I'm ashamed to say I don't even know if they were nutella or jelly or pb & jelly. I do know they were delicious. Elliot thought so too. 1st loop down in 2h 19 min. YAY.

LOOP 2: I wasn't sure if I was going to leave El Dog or take him out again. Thankfully, Dave (Lisa's Dave) was around and said he would take care of getting him tethered if he stayed. So I didn't have to worry about that. I didn't have to worry about that anyway since Elliot decided to go for two loops. Only a couple of differences on the second loop - first, I spent alot of the middle part of it leapfrogging this guy and girl. I got all worried Elliot was bothering them. It took me awhile to realize that A) he wasn't getting in their way and B) even if he was, they are big kids and can deal with a dumb (but very handsome) dog themselves - or at least should. I even spent some time in C) I'm fucking Erica and this is Elliot and this is OUR HOUSE. If you don't like it - get the fuck out.
I wasted alot of time worrying about that crap in my head. ugh.
I did fall in the Boy Scout part - a very slow, awkward fall. Tripped, fell to my knees, then the face decides to follow. It didn't hurt and my beautiful face and knees made it thru unscathed. whew.
Finally, when I got to Station 14, Dave Wakefield took my handheld to top off. When he saw that it was still full, he made this snort of disgust and told me I better drink before leaving 'cause I wasn't drinking enough. First of all, duh. I knew that. Second of all, thanks for telling me 'cause I wouldn't have done it if you hadn't told me. These things happen after a few hot hours at WYCO. A couple more miles and Loop 2 is in the books - 2 hr 30 min. Elliot Snickerfritz official 20 mile time: 4hr50minutes.

LOOP 3: I am happy to report that Loop 3 was a blast. For realz. I was hurting the normal marathon-and-beyond-hurt and my feet were getting beat up, but felt strong otherwise. Which is a very nice place to be at after Mile 20. I had to leave El Dog behind in the capable hands of Mel - who totally over-catered to him. Gave him cups of water 'cause he didn't want to drink out of his bowl, etc. He had it good and if he had any money, he would buy you a thank-you card Mel for taking such great care of him. His job-skill set is limited though, as you can imagine and he is already into me for well over a thousand. As soon as I'm into the trail at the beginning of loop 3 I realize I have ONE caffeinated gel left. I was so busy worrying about slathering on diaper cream that I forgot to grab more gels from my drop bag. godfuckingdammit. As soon as I get to her aid station, I'm asking Indi for caffeine gels - I had started taking caffeine about halfway through the second loop and knew if I quit, I would bonk. It happened to me the week before when Elliot has HIS bonk. This one girl there looked and found a gel she had but no caffeine. I told her she was of no use to me. Then this angel found caffeine gel. THEN RMR gave me magic chalk pills with caffeine and other great stuff - they kept me going for a LONG time. He told me what they were later -- I still have to go back and look so I can order some. Loved them. After leaving Indi's aid station, I felt fantastic again. All my worries gone. The best way I can describe my relief and comfort of having caffeine gels (plural!) in my buttpack is refreshing. Fleeting thoughts of "I'm going to bonk anytime now" kept coming up throughout the last loop, but said bonk never materialized. Go me.

Right before coming to Darin's aid station, I came up on some guy who stopped to tell me - "I just got bit by something, so at the next aid station let them know to look for me". Turns out he is allergic to bee stings and when he took a drink, something on his bottle bit the inside of his lip. I closely examined his lip but could offer no medical advice as I am a CPA, not a doctor. He was right behind me anyway for awhile, but by the time I got to Darin, I had forgotten all about it. In fact, I hate to say it, but it wasn't until I was driving home did I think of him again. I understand that I was not really "with it" 100% at that point, but is that really any excuse to completely abandon any thought of a fellow human being who may be in dire need of my help? Seriously Erica - you are THAT self-centered? What if the roles were reversed and some dickwad sat there, nodding his head, yes I feel your pain, yes I will look out for you, and then turned around and POOF! - all thoughts of you are gone. Let's hope it's a lesson learned. For the record, I just looked him up (I DID remember #81 and the only reason I'm looking him up now, days later is that I knew he was fine. If someone ended up dead, I would have heard of it) and it's Rick T and he finished and I probably even saw and talked to him at the end, if not at Darin's aid station. In fact, he should thank me for forgetting all about him. Well, perhaps that's a stretch. Once again, I digress.

Anyway, I also made sure to chug as much water as I could after leaving Darin (too bad El Dog wasn't with me - there were people having a party at his aid station pavilion and they had a bouncy castle thing - just waiting for a muddy dog). When I saw Dave and Jess again at Shelter 14, I proudly handed over my nearly empty handheld. Although he didn't show it, I know Dave was very proud of my hydration efforts. Once again, a couple more miles and LOOP 3 was in the books - 2 hr, 49 minutes. PSYCHO PSUMMER 2011 in the books at 7hr 39 min.

I love when races at WYCO finish the way Psycho Psummer 2011 did - within steps you go from being in the thick of the trail to BOOM!! out in the open and FINISH!! Got my medal from Ben and was able to laugh and talk - no hitched breath from trying to choke back tears. What a wuss I've been. Ben said something about Elliot eating it up. I looked over, expecting some kind of Marmaduke cartoon with tables overturned. No, there was El Dog, sprawled out in the shade under the pavilion, water by his head, and no less than 2 people either talking to him, petting him, or both. Eating it up he was. Saw Indi and she was nice enough to get this post-race pic of the two #1 Champions.

Although I am a turtle, I love running ultras and am pleased there is much room for improvement - my splits could have been better. I feel like a toad talking about splits when I am so slow, but a toad it is then. I still owe Matty his handheld. I saw Shawn hanging around and after giving the mouthpiece a big slurpy lick (to make it more valuable) I handed back his handheld. Guess what? He GAVE it to me!! A brand-new supercool handheld. He probably did it because he's in love with me - shit like that happens all the time to me. Seriously, it was a fantastic race and it wasn't until I was writing this that I realized how much help I had - from all the fantastic volunteers - I've never relied on their encouragement and aid so much and couldn't believe how much easier they made my run - not to mention having ice every 2 miles - HEAVEN!!, fellow runners who gave me help, everybody that helped looked after Elliot (that's a pleasure though) plus just seeing familiar faces gives me a lift. And of course Brian (my boyfriend). Also known as The Luckiest Man In The World. HA!! He's always supportive of my running and not once have I gotten any grief from him for it. I can honestly say that would not be the case if roles were reversed. I have an awesome stud boyfriend. I believe that is all. till next time.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Rocky Raccoon is a 50 mile and 100 mile trail run in Huntsville, TX. A couple of days after running Rocky Raccoon, this is what comes to mind upon reflection. It’s not all relevant to the actual race, and it's peppered with cussing. There is no test at the end though.

The few weeks preceding my first 50 mile run were not good ones. I doubt I’ll ever be the poster child for mental health, but over the past few years I think I’ve achieved a stasis that warrants at least a pamphlet. Generally, I sleep well, wake up excited for the day, and am happy and content. A few weeks ago I noticed it’s been awhile since I had one of those days. There was a lot of restlessness and discontent, yet I couldn‘t pinpoint a single reason for my malaise. My life has its problems, and I ended up identifying all of those and probably made up some, not knowing which ones were the source of my unhappiness or if it was something else entirely that I was completely missing. It was more than just a funk, but not enough to be put on suicide watch. My emotions were all over the board - crying at one of those neglected animal commercials one minute and manically dancing around the next is one example. After a troublesome incident in the grocery store parking lot which started with me being an asshole to some chic and ended with said chic chasing after me on icy roads in her vehicle (once I ripped the side mirror from her car with my bare hands, a peaceful ending was pretty much out of the question), I realized I must take some drastic action while I still had the choice. So I started going back to recovery meetings, which I had been neglecting for a couple of years. Just having a plan of action and taking the first steps helped matters considerably. But before I could really start the work necessary for getting back my serenity (those rainbows and dancing unicorns are just ahead!!), I had this fucking 50 mile race to run in fucking Texas - rather, attempt to run. I had spent a lot of time training for it, and a lot of time talking about it, and a whole crapload of time worrying about it over the past few months. The final exam was just days away.

I like it hot. I love summer. I hate winter. Cold sucks. I would rather be burned alive five times than frozen once. My training for Rocky really got kicked up at just about the time winter hit. Getting up super early on Saturday mornings to leave a warm boyfriend and a warm bed and a warm breakfast and drive out to the woods (eating cold, congealed oatmeal on that last stretch of road before the park entrance, usually with my finger ‘cause I forgot a spoon) in all kinds of cold and run 20 miles (plus one epic 30 miler mid-December, just me and the El Dog) with all the hills and cold and rocks and wind and cold and roots and mud and cold and ice and more goddamn hills wasn’t always the best of times for me. My fingers (encased in 2 pairs of gloves) would be so cold that it caused pain. I would almost be crying because my fingers were hurting so much. Sometimes I fall and that doesn‘t feel too fantastic either. And this was out at Wyandotte County Lake Park (WYCO) - 20 miles at WYCO is much more difficult than 20 miles anywhere else, except maybe hell. Saturdays were hard work. Sundays were easier - just another 12 miles out on the roads. Day of rest my ass. And don’t think of catching up on sleep during the week either because that’s when I got to get up at the ass-crack of dawn when it’s really cold (and dark to boot) and run 5 miles before coming home and getting ready for work. Cross training and a few afternoon runs completed my workout regime. I had no fucking clue if I was doing enough or not.

The week before Rocky, as mentioned, was weird. But I was in a good place about the race - I‘m just as surprised about that as you. I wasn’t sure of my chances of finishing and was scared of failing of course. But my prevailing feeling was one of super excitement. If I knew anything for certain, it was that I had an adventurous day ahead of me. The race is in a 2,000+ acre park in Huntsville, TX. Huntsville has a big prison. I didn’t see the prison. I did see a statue of Sam Houston in Huntsville though. It was HUGE and on the side of the highway all lit up and it was eerie. I am glad we spent a bit of time in Austin beforehand, because Huntsville does not leave a visitor with a favorable impression of the great state. The 50 mile run consists of three 16.67 mile loops. The 100 mile run is five 20 mile loops. It’s wide dirt trail - kinda rooty, and also really wide dirt jeep roads. Most importantly, it is flat. I’m not used to flat. I usually do not like things until I get used to them. This was different. Bring on the motherfucking flat baby! Every few miles there are aid stations with water, Gatorade, pretzels, PB&J, M&M’s, candy, fritos, soups, even quesadillas. I burned about 5,000 calories during the run so eating is encouraged. And they are manned with helpful volunteers who are usually ultra runners themselves. It’s great support. There were about 500 people in both runs combined - 60% finished the 100 miles and 85% finished the 50. The 100 milers start at 6am on Sat and the 50 milers at 7am on Sat - everyone has until noon on Sunday to finish.
There is a group called the KC Trail Nerds who, surprisingly enough, run trails. They put on races on trails in the area and that is how I know about ultra marathons. Ben and Sophia are the king and queen of the group - they were both running the 100 mile race and there were several other trail nerds who ran this year at Rocky as well. I picked a good year - just knowing they were out there too helped any kind of race nerves. I had spent the week prior to Rocky resting. No running at all. I knew I was going to feel strong as fuck in the beginning. Except I didn’t. As a matter of fact, an old ITBS injury that I hadn’t even felt a twinge of in months started flaring up. For non-runners, ITBS injury means my knee hurt. Annie Wheeler, who I ran a 50k with down in south KS this summer with, came up to me just as I was settling in. She is a machine and this was her first 50 miler too. I wasn’t sure if she was going to be there or not (icy roads kept a couple of hundred registrants away), and was so very happy to see her - this is the third long, hard run I have run with her and every one has ended with her successful finish and my (much later) successful finish. I like the system we got going. I would see her a few times, as I would Ben and Sophia and Brian Brooks and Helen and John and Danny (once) and another guy with a trail nerds shirt I saw once when I had my trail nerds shirt on. It made my day every time I saw another Trail Nerd - I got the biggest kick out of it. You’re never alone on the trail (I caught a lucky break and the one time I peed behind a tree no one saw me), but it’s not crowded either. People are coming and going from all parts and the scene is always changing - I really liked the course and parts never seemed to drag on and on like they have before at other long races.
The first loop was the worst. Actually, a quarter of the way through the first loop until the middle of the second loop was the worst. My fucking knee hurt. Sometimes a lot and sometimes not so much. At the end of the first loop I went to the Trail Nerds tent and Brad Bishop was hanging out there to help. He’s run a gazillion ultras at ungodly speeds and is only like 28 years old. He is also indirectly responsible for Elliot, the SuperDog, being in my life, so there is always a special place in my heart for Brad, even if he hadn't saved my ass on my first 50 mile run. I told him my knee hurt and he offered ibuprofen. He remembered to offer Desitin for chafing (I had lubed up pre-race, but missed a couple of spots) and told me about not stopping caffeine once you start (I had already started and was planning on stopping - huge mistake avoided). I would not have remembered to get/do any of these things and in super long runs like this, the littlest mistake can turn into a DNF (Did Not Finish) result. My brain was already fairly disconnected from my body. I’d been sick for a few days - coughing, sore throat - and had been downing TheraFlu and Cough Syrup as my main liquid sources for the previous 24 hours. I bet I snot-rocketed a good 3 pounds of phlegm all over that damn trail. I started out on the second loop, and had to stop a few hundred feet down the trail - my knee had stiffened up while standing around at the trail nerds tent and was KILLING me. I was quite desolate. I figured I was going to have to walk much of the second loop and then probably quit. I didn’t like that idea, so I stretched out my ITB and turned up the music. I tend to be overdramatic and figured it might go away. Get this - it pretty much did. I can pinpoint exactly when the ibuprofen kicked in/miracle happened (you choose). Whiskey In My Whiskey by The Felice Brothers played on my ipod. My sprits soared, my attitude turned around, and all fell into place. From then on out, it was the normal ups and downs, coupled with all kinds of dull pain, found at the end of marathon and longer runs. I saw Brian about half a mile before the end of the second loop - he was by the car off the side of the road and I ran over to him and blurted out nonsense. Then I ran away and finished the loop (I had to run back to him at the start of the third loop and kiss him because I forgot before). I really ran about 50.6 miles with all that going back and forth extra. Coming in to the trail nerds tents at the end of the second loop, I changed shirts. I told Brad I wanted my shorts and my tank top and he suggested that may not be the brightest idea, as it was only going to get colder. But my thermal shirt was choking me. Luckily, Haley (who paced Sophia on her successful 100-mile finish) dug around in my drop bag (which had about 87 articles of clothing in it) and found a perfect shirt for me to wear. I know it sounds retarded, but that was HUGE. My other shirt was choking me (so I imagined) and I was going to grab a lightweight tank top. I would have been cold, and we’ve established my feelings in regards to that. The last loop was fairly uneventful - did a lot of walking and suddenly hills appeared on the trail that weren’t there 8 hours earlier. I went pee in a port a potty right before the last aid station. It was quick, but enough time to realize everything was swimming in front of me - it was exactly like when you’re tripping on acid and go to the bathroom and the walls are breathing. Exactly. I loved it. But it fucking STUNK in there. Right at the end of the final loop, my absolute favorite song to run to came on (Wolf Like Me by TV On The Radio). Unbelievable. I don't even have it on my running playlist so I don't "ruin" it. I jumped and waved my arms when I passed Brian and tried to shout, only to double over in a coughing fit that was very close to ending in vomit. It was all good though. One more stretch of trail and I would complete 50 miles. In my mind’s eye, I was flying down that goddamn trail to the finish. Flying like the motherfucking wind.

As soon as I finish a lady grabs me to cut off my chip and put my medal around my neck. I gave her the best hug since I was absolutely bursting with happiness. After that, my memory cannot be relied on. Brian and Annie and Brad and Erin and some other guy with a beard were all there and talking was happening. I really can’t be much more specific. Looking back, I was just stunned. Within minutes, I was sitting in the car, starting the 3 hour ride back to Austin in the very same clothes I had just ran in (it seemed perfectly normal at the time). I ate a bag of beef jerky and a footlong turkey sub on the way. Perhaps not the best post-50-mile-run first step for recovery , but I was with Brian and extremely happy. It’s been 49 hours since I finished and I got two sore quads. The first night any lower body movement caused great pain. Going to the airport the next day and sitting on two different planes for a few hours sucked as well. I got home in time to watch most of the SuperBowl. I was very aware of all the pomp and circumstance, hoopla, buzz, worldwide attention, the largest amount of confetti I’ve ever seen, etc. All for a football game. One may realize at a time like this “Gee, here’s a perfect example of how millions of people in the world couldn’t care less whether I ran 50 miles or not because it‘s the big game don‘t you know?” and keep their ego in check. I saw the game and when it was over thought “Wow, this is a copious amount of celebration. I just ran 50 miles. Coincidence? I think not.”

My race reports are no longer complete anymore without mention of Elliot. With the exception of just a very few, he was my running partner for every single run of my training. And he’s the best running partner hands down forever and ever. Elliot is always so happy just to be outside running no matter what (except when it‘s really hot - he must get that from his dad). He is pestering me right now - he likes to throw your hands off the keyboard with his nose when you’re typing. He’s the best dog that ever lived. And Sophia who is the coolest badass mudbabe and ran her first 100 mile run this year at Rocky and I am so glad I was there and did my first 50 on the day she did her first 100 even if I was 130 miles away when she actually finished - with a smile.

I believe my training was adequate. More than adequate. I love WYCO and its toughness even if I don’t always act like it (I’ve cried out there a lot in frustration, and have mentioned more than once how much it “fucking sucks“). I want to run more 50’s ASAP. But I promised I would not train for anything for two months at least. And I won’t. So I won’t say anything now about the possibility of running 100 in the future. Of the 196 runners who started the 50-mile race, 166 finished. The course record was broken by some guy who ran it in 5hrs and 43 minutes. I finished in 11 hours and 26 minutes, good enough for 90th place. It should be noted that the 100 mile course record was shattered this year as well - Ian Sharman finished 100 miles in 12 hours and 44 minutes. That means he ran 7 minute, 38 second miles on average - FOR 100 MILES. I don’t get how that is possible. Also, the next day there were tales from the 100 milers about runners passed out in the middle of the trail, vomiting off bridges, etc. etc. during the night. Just like in non-ultra-runner world, shit gets crazy after dark!

So this is what spewed forth as I sat to reflect on the race. Most importantly, it was a fantastic experience and I would not change one fucking second for the world.