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.