El Scorcho weekend arrived without much fanfair.
I slept in on a Saturday until 8 am (that never happens!) and headed to Fort Worth to pick up my packet. I used this as an opportunity to figure out how to get to the park. Fort Worth is about an hour away from me so I wanted to make sure I really knew where I was headed come race night. Picked up my packet and received what had to be the best swag ever. Nothing. I got a shirt and a bib. No samples of Aquafor that I won't use. No handfuls of brochures for races I won't run. Just a souvenir shirt and the bib I needed. Love it!
I took the day pretty easy Saturday, trying to stay inside, stay cool and stay hydrated. I've been drinking so much water and Gatorade the past few days, I swear I pee every five minutes. Napping was pointless, I had to much excited energy I only got in about an hour. But my alarm was set just in case! Def the latest I've ever set an alarm for race day.
Saturday night I took my ritual Epsom salt bath and packed my pink things. Cooler held: Gatorade, water, ice, chocolate milk, a Dr. Pepper, biscuits and a peanut butter sam. It was weird to be getting ready to leave the house knowing I'd be up all night, not returning until the next morning!
Once at the park, I very much felt like the new kid at camp. I had my cooler and my lawn chair in tow, but no where to put it. I knew a lot of people running the race, but it was dark and I wasn't sure how to find anyone! Eventually I spotted Derek and his wife and set up camp there. I got to meet Gretchen, Greg and Michelle so that was fun! Yaaay for blog friends! Eventually Sare Bear and Matt showed up and we all got settled. Ideally, I would have taken pictures of everyone. Howevs, I do not own a camera (I know!) and my phone does not have a flash. Do you now how dark it is the park at midnight? Exactly.
I did manage to snap one at the start line. Recently, Bart Yasso tweeted,"Half marathons are like e-h@rmony for guys. 60% women, bonus they are all fit and fast." The converse is true for the ladies, ultras are over 60% men for sure! However, unlike e-harm, they can't lie about their fitness level, ha! I met a couple of the other ultra girls and we chatted it up in line.
I felt great. My legs were strong, no more phantom knee pain. I made the last minute decision to wear new shoes after all realizing my knee pain just might be due to old shoes. That mileage sneaks up on you! There was a nice breeze in places and although my head lamp died about 5 minutes in (with new batteries!) the dark was quite peaceful. After the 5th loop, out of 10, I was still on pace to finish around 5:45, my goal. Sare Bear shone her headlamp on me after the 5th loop at get a picture. She is an awesome crew!
And then, the wheels fell off. I yakked at mile 20. That's so fun, let me tell you. Drawback to not wearing a shirt is that you have nothing to wipe your face with. Gross, I know. Hey, you're getting the real deal here. I collected myself and kept going. And then yakked again at mile 22. I think my body pulled every last drop of liquid from the past 3 days and left it in the park behind a tree. Fun times. I knew I was in trouble then. Now, not only do I feel like crap, I have nothing in my system. I kept sipping water and it kept insisting on coming back. My eyelids were getting heavy and I started making deals with myself. Close your eyes for just a few seconds. I'd open them and find that I had veered off the tails. (no kidding?) Grabbing a cold towel around mile 23 and cleaning myself up, I hoped the cool "bath" would help. It didn't.
There was a water stop at mile 24, the volunteer called out "Oranges! Bananas - get your potassium! Water? Electrolytes!" I stopped right in front of a sweet older man. He held out an orange and a banana. I eyed them both and felt that familiar rush of yuck. When he asked if I was okay, I honestly replied, "I'm not sure."
Well, lemme tell ya, THAT is an answer that will have the medical cart over in a flash. Before I know it, I'm sitting on a cooler having my pulse taken by a medic and she's feeling my skin for my body temp. It took her a while to get my pulse it was so faint and the final number? 24. She took it twice. 24. Yeah, you don't have to be a paramedic to know that for a girl who has been running in the heat for 4 hours, a non-resting heart rate of 24 is bad news. "Don't be dumb" she said, "24 miles in and you are still a bad @$$." I sat there sucking on ice weighing my options. I knew I didn't have the energy to finish 7 miles running. I could walk it, maybe. But I didn't want to end up in the ER on IV fluids. So, defeated, I climbed in the gator and allowed myself to be driven back. DNF.
Sare Bear and Matt took care of me. I sat with cold, wet rags on my head, sipping alternately water and that Dr. Pepper for sugar. (it was a Dublin DP, bought specifically because it's made with real sugar) DNF is no fun. Terribly disappointed, I knew I had made the right choice. Urgh. After about an hour, I wandered over to find a race official to make sure they weren't out looking for me after the race. He asked what mile I made it to and when I told him, he reached over and handed me a medal, saying "You more than finished the 25K girl!" The look on my face said it all, that was not the race I came to run. A runner himself, he chuckled and said, "Well, hey, use it as a coaster." He knew I didn't want that medal; I wanted to finish.
So there you go. 24 miles at midnight, no 50K finale. As painful as it was to make, it was the right choice. There will be other races, other 50Ks. I learned a hard lesson; stay on top of your nutrition. I tried to eat my biscuits, but my mouth was so dry from the dusty trails, I spat out every bite. At one point I switched to old faithful Shot Bloks, but those all ended up on the ground too. Not an option, TPG, a girl can't run 31 miles on water and Gatorade alone. I've got to force that food down. I knew that. It was a dumb mistake and totally avoidable. Sigh.
The dusty trails made a mess of my new white shoes. And the rest of me! I can only imagine what my lungs look like...my hair was caked with it, my face, the inside of my mouth. Dirty girl for sure.
Here is what I know, endurance sports are humbling. You can't fake your way through a marathon +. I was trained. My knee felt strong. I was acclimated to the heat. The weather was great. Well, you know, considering. I just made a stupid mistake and didn't stay on top of my calories. Won't happen again, that's for sure.
But I learned an important life lesson. Sometimes in life, not just running, no matter how badly you want something, it just isn't going to happen. No matter how hard you long for that, no matter how hard you are willing to try for it, sometimes, you just have to know when to walk away.
El Scorcho, we have a date for next year!
Saw this beautiful sunrise over Dallas as I was coming home. One of the things I love about running is getting to witness the miracle of a sunrise on a regular basis. Only usually they are at the beginning of my run, not the end!