Friday, July 12, 2013


   The Keys 100 and 50 mile ultramarathons were held on May 18.  They are both point to point races - the finish line is actually on the sand of Higgs Beach in Key West.  The 100 starts at Key Largo - the northernmost key and the 50 miler starts 4 hours later (10am) in Marathon.  The race is run along the shoulder of US1 aka Overseas Highway - the only road in and out of the Keys.  The relentless sun (we had a 20 second break - I'm not fucking exaggerating.  20 seconds of sun relief all day) and humidity are brutal.  I dig tough races.  That was just one of several good reasons to go down and run the race.  The $200 entry fee was not one of them (I wondered how I was going to work in the exorbitant entry fee into the report - not so hard).  They do have big fundraising for prostate cancer - education, screenings, etc.  So some of that $200 went to charity.  I still feel really gypped though - I'm no doctor, but I'm pretty sure I don't even have a prostate.  If it was prostate cancer in dogs, I would get behind that.  Frankly though, based on the douchebags I've recently had the pleasure of welcoming into my life just to fuck it all up thanks to dating, I'm thinking a few more awful, long, miserable prostate cancer deaths just may be what's in order.
   My training was another non-reason as my training was non-existent.  The last race I trained for was Rocky 100 in Feb 2012.  My training (I've written that word four times now and every time I notice what a joke it is me using that word) has been inconsistent and ill-suited.  In fact, during the last couple weeks leading up to the race I found myself having to stop and walk for a minute or so on my morning 5 mile runs before my heart beat out my chest.  It really wasn't even that warm.  So that inner voice would speak up and say - Gee Erica, don't you find it concerning that you can't run 5 miles in Kansas without stopping  yet are signed up for a 50 miler in heat unlike you've been in for a year? - and then I would respond to myself, saying - Yes, cause for concern indeed.  But maybe I'll just start the race and magic will happen.  What's up with those Royals?  --
   Back to the good reasons - the 50 miler would be an excellent recon mission for the 100.  Combining running and vacation is right up my alley and since I have family and friends down in S Fla, it would be nice to go down and do the 100 in the future.  This could be a great "trial run" for that.  My ex-sister-in-law Uma (she is Russian and very cool and as I learned on this trip, quite the freak) and her brother Sean (I knew he was a freak prior) and my beautiful 9 yr old niece Vivian
Freak In Training
My old apt in Victoria Park
Elbo Room = 151 floaters
(I'm sure she'll be a freak) live down in Key West.  My mom was going to be down there that weekend too as the aforementioned beautiful niece was in a ballet.  Back in the day I had a time share down there- I used to live in Ft Lauderdale and spent a couple days there prior to the race, visiting old playgrounds and playmates.  The night before the race I drove down to Key West, arriving fairly late. My mom is a baller and got a 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom suite at the Key West Marriot.  It was sick.  I was thankful as this would be by only good night of sleep since Tuesday night.  Pulled the all nighter Wed night before missing my flight (yeah I did - and left my running shoes at home too).  I stayed out late with my old friend Freddy and his girlfriend
How long does it take to not cook a turkey burger?
Thursday night, enjoying salmonella turkey burgers.  Up early for manicures with Christy, who was my first and best Ft Lauderdale friend (due to a recurring traumatic childhood event I am stronger for surviving, I am unable to get pedicures as people touching my feet is intolerable.  I just sat by and yapped while she got hers).  Beach and shopping and mango smoothie drinking the rest of Friday day.  Friday night was reserved for the Joinson clan.
3 pretty girls all in a row

Little kid and two pretty girls all in a row - f u Jimmy!!
Jimmy is always good for a night of belly laughs.  I haven't seen any of these people in over a decade.  I can't believe I had such great amazing friends - every one of them.  Anyway - the race.  So I catch a few winks at the hotel and then drive up to Marathon the next morning - I get there at 8:30am - race starts at 10am (the 100 milers started 50 miles north in Key Largo at 6am).  I have gobs of time to hang around.  I got a dog fix.  I got a photo session fix.  I missed the pre-race meeting during the dog fix.  I tried not to let the following thoughts take hold in my brain.  I did pretty well.  However, fleeting as they were, they did come often.  They were all thoughts such as:
  • Wow - brand new outfit.  Cut the tags off this morning.  Never ran in it before.  Half the time new shit chafes me horribly - I've had shorts that after 4 miles are like razor blades cutting my thighs with every step.  Hope that doesn't happen today. 
  • And wow - brand new shoes.  Never ran in them before.  Gonna head out in 50 sweaty miles in them now.  Hope they're comfy the whole time.  
  • And wow - everybody else has a crew.  What the f is that about?  I thought crews were just for 100's.  I know I read somewhere that you get ice and water every 5 miles or so - that's all I need that I don't have, right?  Right?
  • And wow - in the last 72 hours I have gotten 11 hours of sleep. . . and it took me a few tries to get the math on that right.  I had to bug eye myself to keep from nodding off on the drive up here this morning.  I don't think that's such a strong place to be coming from, mentally.   
  • And wow.  50 miles in the killer heat/humidity.  Probably a good chance you'll die from heat exhaustion, knowing you.  Maybe shoulda gotten laid one last time before that happens.
There were a few others - getting hit by a car, stumbling and toppling off a bridge, etc. etc.  Not worth mentioning.  They are with me until the start.

   So we start - we run a few miles and then we get to the 7 mile bridge (yeah, it's 7 miles long). 

We run on the shoulder on the left.  Everything is measured by mile markers down in the Keys.  So the 7 mile bridge starts at about MM 47.  MM 0 is where we finish in Key West, where there is a MM 0 sign on the beach but I guess it always gets stolen.  Anyway, after the bridge (MM 40) is the first full aid station.  After that is aid every 5 miles.  Right away I notice how fucking hot I am.  For the record, there will be lots of discussion involving hotness and hardness.  I'm putting out a blanket TWSS now.  Anyway, I'm hot and can't breathe and am going soooooo sloooooow.  I have fallen into place with an old man.  And am having trouble keeping up.  I refuse to look behind me, lest there be nobody else there.  It's not long before I walk.  Fuck this shit.  Oh oh - gotta get outta that.  Waaaay too early for that.  Besides, it's gonna get way worse before it even starts getting better.  So the 7 mile bridge is probably where some of the worst happens.  Not the worst,  but bad.  First, I can't fucking keep my eyes open.  I had sunscreen on my face for the first time ever - well, not ever but the first time running.  I was already drenched in sweat, had no hat or headband and the combo of the bright sun and sunscreen in my eyes was not conducive to sight.  I had to hang on to the railing on the side of the bridge to guide me and walk/shuffle run with my eyes closed, tears streaming down my face (I wiped my face with my arm once which just made things worse as that too was slathered in sunscreen) feeling my way.  A little interjection here -- if you don't know me, you may be wondering, who is this chic?  Does she not know anything?  The one bag with the shoes gets left at home? Who hasn't figured out that sweat and sunscreen in the eyes burns them?  Is this like her first run or something?  Is she retarded?  Maybe she's retarded, that would explain it.  Poor girl.  -- No, I am not retarded.  I may be stupid, but that's why I'm so tough - I gotta be.  So suck it.   You see those light poles in the pic above?  I was already doing the run two, walk one thing.  They are not that far apart.  I don't think the entire 50 miles I ran more than 3/4 of a mile continuously.  Yet every time I walked I would freak out that I wasn't running and pick it up again as soon as my heart would allow.  A few people slowed down as they passed me to tell me how red I already was and I should put shirt on when I meet up with my crew.   I have a drop bag at the end of the bridge - I'm pretty sure there is a shirt in there I can wrap around my head.  I also ended up throwing one of my contacts into the ocean after it came out on the bridge - not too good for the ol' depth perception, but after everything else that's pretty bottom-of-the-list stuff.
   I finally see the end of the bridge and the little aid station table.  I go to my drop bag and a volunteer immediately comes over with a bottle of sunscreen and pity in her eyes (for the record, I didn't even really burn - just got pink - the American Indian in me allows me a great tolerance for sun exposure with no burn along with the predeliction for firewater).  As it turns out, there is no shirt in my drop bag.  There is nothing that can be used as a sweatstopper at all (I didn't know the chapstick trick then, and I know I had some).  I ask if anyone has got anything I can use and am met with silence (there's like 10 people around). It's amazing how quickly my issue becomes their fault.  They are all stupid and mean and if they can't help me fine, but they should be very upset that they can't help me.  I can't handle all this misery by myself, you know.  I decide I just have to leave that place pronto before I behave badly.  Luckily this dude who I kinda met in the parking lot before the race gave me a supercool bandana you can put ice in and it was blue just like my outfit.  It saved my race.  I wish I remembered who he was so I could look him up and return it.  I'd even throw in a bj next year.  No, I wouldn't.  But I am really grateful.  I leave (I have a feeling if the people at the aid station had odds on me finishing, it wouldn't be good) and immediately notice the improvement.  I kept waiting for my doo rag to stop working but it never did.  Only had to squint against the sun and looking down solved most of that problem.
     So I was able to keep on keeping on.  I stopped to take pics of the scenery:
Dead lizard

Dead furry thing - probably a Florida cougar

Dead Alligator or lizard if you don't have any imagination

Dead turtle. 

Not a good road for snakes

Like a bloody dead fish out of water

Snake guts

Death is not kind, beauty-wise

About 3:30pm things started to get touch and go.  I was really hot and really brain fogged.  It would get better then worse then better, etc.  The chills came and went as well.  I just needed to hang on until sundown.  It helped that every other person I came across was miserable as well.  I would chat with them and then they would leave me to go meet up with their crew and sit in a/c and get ice and whatever else they felt like they needed until the next mile when they got to do it all again.  Pansies.
   The traffic really started to get to me -- at one point I did put on some music to try to make the traffic less of a nuisance, but the music was too much of a distraction and I couldn't handle that for long.  The cars were close and noisy and distracting and I could feel their heat and exhaust in my lungs.  A couple of times I caught myself meandering into traffic.  Like on purpose.  Sometimes when I'm a passenger in a car on the highway I get an overwhelming urge to open the car door and jump out.  So I lock the doors for safety when that happens.  I thought everybody did this but I asked a couple of people down at Syllamo this year and they couldn't relate.  Anyway, this was like that.  Except I couldn't trust my sane mind to control my body so I had to repeat to myself "Don't jump into traffic, don't jump into traffic"  I swear the heat was making me crazy.  I think that may be why if someone is gonna get on the news for chewing a guy's face off, it's in Florida.  Not an excuse, just a reason.  I already  saw a guy about MM30 get taken away on an ambulance and at the aid station ran into the guy who just dumped a bag of chips on the table from droppers.  Saw him twice and both times with a full bag. 
   I was chugging along.  I know I was calculating my time and seemed to be right on schedule but honestly can't remember what that was.  I think a 12 hour finish.  It ended up being 14 1/2 hours.  I would run into people and chit chat.  Most were from Florida and would say -- it's hot where I live, but not hot like this. I actually threw my hands up and lifted my face to the heavens when that weird 20 second cloud cover passed over.  People would offer me ice from their crew but I only took it once -- from this one lady who I think slowed down to stick with me.  She started to steal my energy - I was fading fast.  I stopped to take another pic of a dead thing and my phone was all wet - it wouldn't work.  When I gave up (no more dead animal pics the rest of the way) I realized I had zero energy left.  None.  Empty.  I actually had to stop and squat as I couldn't take another step.  Seriously, that's exactly what I did.  She may have been mid-sentence and I turned to her and said - I'm really sorry but I gotta slow down and you have to keep going.  And I squatted down.  And wasn't sure I was gonna be able to take another step.  That was as close as I came to actually stopping.  Never before have I seriously doubted my ability to take another step.  It was a little after 4pm at this point - I was dying.  Things got better when she left.  It didn't last long and by better I just mean I could move forward again. 
    The sun finally went down.  I was so very aware of it - that relentless beating of the bright heat subsided and it felt fucking fantastic.  I ran more.  It was still - run to "x", "x" being not very far ahead at all, but there was more of it.  My mood elevated.  That lasted about an hour.  My lower back started hurting, which is normal once I go past 20 miles.  But it was hurting alot more than usual.  I would get relief if I held on to the side of a bridge in front of me and then squatted down.  So I started to do that, even though it looked like I was peeing if you were driving by.  Then I started finding anything to hold onto so I could squat down.  Same with actually sitting -- I would see the end of a bridge where the cement juts out and I would sit on that corner - just big enough for a butt cheek.  Towards the end I remember seeing a cinderblock at the edge of a pile of junk.  I kept saying to myself - don't sit on it Erica, don't sit on it, you just sat, don't sit on it, walk right on by.  I walked right on by. . . then turned around two steps past it and sat down.  When I would sit or crouch down it would feel so good, but then I would realize I wasn't making any forward progress and I would jump up after just a few seconds.  But, unlike the stretch my foot move at Rocky, I didn't stop doing it when I realized it wasn't really helping, just slowing me down.  I guess my willpower is getting weaker with age.  Fuck that - I blame the heat.
  Just a couple more things happened until the end.  One is the puking.  I took a chocolate gel around MM15ish? and as soon as it went down I knew it wasn't gonna stay there.  It lasted about 62 seconds.  Here it is on re-entry:
Don't puke on your new shoes!!

So that was troubling -- 15ish miles to go and I could hardly keep down water.  Sometimes I would take a drink and it would just come back up a few seconds later.  I would just take another drink.  I had it in my head that I needed energy in my stomach so I just kept drinking little sips.   The whole - is this drink gonna stay down - was just another thing that sucked, no more no less.  It eventually got better.
   The second is the light police.  So it's dark and I have another drop bag at MM10, where my light is.  Except I'm wrong and I already passed my drop bag back at MM20.  I'm walking on this path (towards the end you actually get parts where there is kind of a walking path that puts space between you and the road) and I hear some girl yelling at me.  I say "what" a few times, but can't hear what she's yapping about but she sounds kinda frantic so I wait for her to catch up to hear what she says.  She tells me I don't have any lights and they'll DQ me -- they apparently made a big deal about it at the pre-race briefing I missed.  Which I get - it's dark and Saturday night in the Keys and if you're gonna be running around on the fucking road, have light and reflective gear.  If you don't, you should get hit just on GP for being such an idiot.  Have some smartass run by and stop to take your pic to post in their race report.  So after being all snotty about my light like a Miss Priss, she asks me if I think she'll finish and I tell her I know she will - we're so close.  I don't say - if you have enough energy to catch up to me and get in my shit like a little troll, you certainly have enough to get another 10 miles - but I think it.  There's some more back and forth about that and then it's back to me getting DQ'd for my light - I tell her I got my light in my drop bag up at MM10, which shouldn't be too far.  She starts telling me how our drop bags were at a different aid station we already passed.  She didn't even have a drop bag because she has a crew so what the f does she know?  At one point she says to me "You're wrong" in the same fucking know-it-all tone that I have used crapzillion times to a crapzillion morons I've met in life.  Why is this happening to me?  Why won't she fucking die already?  No bitch, I'm not wrong.  I'm ahead of you and way cooler than you and if I wasn't on the verge of puking I'd punch you in the face.  Now there's a couple of back and forths about the light and drop bag locations.  I explain to her that our drop bags were at MM40 and ...fuck.  Somehow I got the 40 and 10 confused in place of the 40 and 20 (pretty sure it's because it's all about the 50 and 40 and 10 make 50).  I realize my drop bag was back at MM20 right in the middle of the explanation and say fuck and stop talking.  She takes that as I stopped talking because I'm not dealing with her any more and says she's sorry if she seems rude, but she has heat exhaustion and threw up earlier and is absolutely miserable.  Well, join the fucking club nancy.  I'm all that AND I got no light.  It's really superdark now and superdangerous and I know I'm not going any further without a light.  Fuck me.  So now I all of a sudden am nice to her 'cause I need her light to get me to the next aid station, which luckily was like just another minute or two.  Even more luckily, someone turned in a light they found that had been dropped so I had that.  I took it and fled, leaving the troll behind (I could hear her tell her "I have heat exhaustion and I puked earlier and do you think I'm going to finish" bit to the volunteers).  I really don't know why it's so hard for me to have compassion for other human beings - it's so easy for me to care about dogs.  I am very well aware of how awful I can treat other people for no good reason and I'm sure that's just one of the reasons I'm going to hell (unless I can con my way into doggie heaven, which I'm betting on).  But in any case that's why this happens:  another path veers off from the road so I go down it.  Then I see three guys (another annoying thing - the relay teams flying by you all fresh and happy) on the road pass above me.  Oh Oh...I sure hope...yep - path dead ends.  There is a 4 foot high wall to scale to get back on the road.  We're about MM6.  I can't be climbing up walls like a goddamn circus monkey.  Then I hear the troll ask if there's a way up.  I didn't know she was so close.  If I turn around to walk back to get on the road, she'll be ahead of me.  I tell her you can climb a wall and I see her turn to walk the other way.  So I climb the wall and get on the road and start running, laughing like an evil maniac on the inside.  All fueled by disdain for a comrade-in-arms.  Not at the time, but now I do feel shame.  Well, slightly embarrassed.  FYI - she got ahead of me -- I was really superdying at the end and couldn't eat or do anything about it.  So she was ahead of me until she stopped to see her crew and then I heard them say there was only a half mile left and I saw her turn and start booking it so I started booking it but no way either one of us was running a half mile at that point - what a joke - so it was an eternity that I was chased by her.  She was on my heels the whole time -- I could hear her behind me.  Then all of a sudden she was gone.  I looked back and couldn't see her.  I still booked it - we were so close and besides, she was probably gonna try to pull something tricky.  As I enter the beach I see my mom and all the Russians and some other guy I don't know and everybody is clapping and cheering - as it should be!!  Anyway, we snap some photos and then have to get out of the way - my nemesis was arriving.  She was like a couple minutes behind me - tops.  Still, if it was just us two in the race I'd be the winner and she'd be the loser. 
   We go back to the baller suite, I go to bed one really happy and satisfied honey badger, and I have a killer time the rest of my time in Key West.  So killer that decorum prevents me from saying more, other than it was hot and hard.  The End.

Starting a trend - finish line balloon bouquets.

So, let me tell you all about what I just did.