Monday, April 7, 2014

American River 50 Mile Endurance Run

 I did it, 50 miles officially crossed off my bucket list. Truthfully I don't even know where to start in my explanation of what happened on Saturday, I'm sure my account of this event will take more than one post to cover fully.

I ate 4 consecutive In N Out meals to prep for the race. It is the one thing that I know does not upset my stomach...and it is delicious.
I'm going to start with this:
If you know someone who is an ultra marathoner in any capacity, you need to immediately meet them with a warm embrace. I now speak from first hand experience that you may think you know what "hard" is, or how "sore" have no idea. No frickin' clue. These people are a special kind of incredible crazy that deserve your support and praise, because never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined any event so mentally and physically demanding as a 50 mile run. Send these people your love, that's an order.

Roughly 1,000 people signed up for the event, around 850 finished. My wave began at 6:15, immediately following the first wave at 6am which mostly included elites. I pushed off the line and never looked back, rolling through the first 25 miles at around 8:30-9:30 pace. The first half of the course was flat, primarily road or bike path, and relatively easy to pass other runners. It wasn't until I hit that aid station at the 25 mile mark that I hit my first (of what would be many) wall.

Mile 12 - Willow Creek Aid Station
My feet started to ache so bad, I could hardly stand it. I typically run with orthodics, well...I should say that I used to run with orthodics. Those rigid little bastards were killing me! Thankfully it was my mom's time to shine. She and I wear the same size, and subsequently, the same shoe. I told her to strip the insoles from her shoes and toss them to me. A noticeable relief, but sadly not enough to make me pain free.

By this point I had caught much of the back-half of the first wave, which was good news because we entered the single track trials for the remaining 25 miles. Around mile 30, my knees started to go. Aid stations were doubled-edged swords; a sight for sore eyes and a place to make sore legs worse. Exiting the 30-mile aid station was the beginning of the end for me.
Mile 25 - Granite Bay Aid Station
The single-track trial got increasingly more aggressive and at some times, quite treacherous for waning muscles and limited fine motor control. My legs completely rejected any attempt at downhill "running." My muscles were in great shape, but my joints...most notably my knees, straight up and quit without warning. It took me 3 hours to complete 10 miles, and at that point I still had 10 miles remaining.

Runners with high spirits and all their mental faculties were blowing by me at mile 40! What the hell? That's when I almost lost it. Rolling into the aid station at mile 40 - my folks looking helplessly on as their daughter rode the brink of total meltdown - knowing I still had so far to go, yet was entirely too close to quit... It was all I could do to keep from bursting into tears. Not sniffles, not "woe-is-me" misty eyes...I'm talking the ugliest of the ugly, inconsolable sobbing. But I choked it down. Swallowed that lump in my throat. Bit my quivering lip until I tasted blood. To cry would mean wasting precious fluids, not to mention what it would mean for my mental state. So I pressed on at 13 minute pace with my head down and 10 miles to go.
Mile 40 - Rattlesnake Bar Aid Station
At mile 47 we began the ascent. When I say ascent, I mean mountain. The last 3 mile are entirely uphill, at some times a considerable grade. Let me tell you this though, when you've gone 47 miles, a handicap ramp might as well be Everest...

Everyone walked. We'd been out there for just about 10 hours, and no one was going to attempt to run up Everest and risk rolling all the way back down to Sacramento.

"3 miles left," the sign read. "2 miles to go," said the next. I was barely lifting one foot in front of the other. There was no daylight to be seen underneath my feet. Relentless forward motion. I started jogging, taking my 15 min walk to a 14:30 "jog."

I saw the "1 mile" sign off in the distance. That was it. This had to be over. I could hear the roaring crowd at the top of the hill, but the announcer on the microphone was still to far to discern his words.

My knees were shot and I was fighting hyper-extension with every step. But suddenly I didn't give a f*ck anymore. I ran. I ran fast. I picked up my pace to a swift sub-8, rolling up a steep grade of probably 4%. I blew by competitors who'd passed me 30 minutes prior.

"You can do anything for a mile," my coach used to say. I believe him now. I was yelling to myself, "You CAN DO THIS!" And I did, sprinting up the steep hill, burning around the corner, hitting the grass and never looking back until I cross the finish line.

10 hours. 24 minutes. 20 seconds.

People tell me, "I can only imagine how hard that must have been." No you can't. You can't even begin to fathom the gravity of that type of run. I trained 35 miles and still had no clue what I was getting myself into. Totally surreal that I completed it.

Getting in that 1 mile...reluctantly.
Two days later, I can barely function. I was running the day after my 35 miler. I had to push, with every fiber of my being, to get in a 13 minute mile the last two days. I refuse to break my streak. Any type of motion that requires a squat deeper than 75 degrees, isn't happening. This includes sitting on beds, couches, chairs, cars, and toilets. I get to 75 degrees and my muscles give out, all I can do is pray that after my free-fall my ass finds a seat instead of the floor.

What a triumph. Braving physical, emotional and mental fatigue. I couldn't be prouder of myself. I trained for 4 months....from scratch, others were worried they'd cut it way too close with only 6 months. I have never run a marathon. In fact, I've never raced over a half marathon. I had no nutrition help, no training program, and no pacers during my race. The odds were against me and I beat them. That's my take-away, even when the odds are against me my feet always find the ground.

Go right this second and give your ultra marathoners some love.

Thank you +Oiselle for giving me strength beneath my wings. Thank you to Jill for being my constant support from the start of this outrageous journey. And thank you to all my friends and family for offering encouragement when I needed it most.

More to come. Until then, my streak continues. Day 97. #streak 365

1 comment:

  1. Outrageous and awesome. Nice work. I owe you a hug next time I see you. :)