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.