Monday, October 29, 2012
Cactus Rose 100 ~ Through My Eyes
Driving up on Friday, I was really nervous: it was cold and pouring in San Antonio. I could already envision running cold, wet and miserable. I'm a pretty wimpy runner when it comes to running conditions, I'll admit. Surprisingly, it was not like that once we got to Bandera. It was cold, but no rain.
We drove around to the aid stations and dropped off our drop bags with goodies. I had tried to remember every single thing I've ever craved during one of our trail adventures. Plus, my bins had been ready for several days in my living room, and I'd fought the urge to get into them the days leading to the race (Note to self: having bins full of junk food in my living room is not a good idea).
The course would consist of four 25 mile loops - finish a loop and start the next one in the same direction you just finished. My biggest concern (from looking at the course map/elevation): the 1st /3rd loops would end with a really hilly and rough 8 miles section, and the next loop would start with this same stretch. So basically, it'd be a tough 16 mile stretch. Doubt had been creeping in all week: did I train enough? Did I train hard enough? Did I taper too much? Did I eat right?
Loop 1: I started a little faster than I would have liked, but I blame it on the excitement, adrenaline & seeing so many awesome runners that I hadn't run into in a while. I spent the latter part of this loop taking pictures and taking in the sights. I teamed up with Frank Sizemore most of this loop, and i was able to run the flats and walk the uphills with him as we discussed who was the biggest running nerd. Surprisingly, I finished this loop in 6:15. I was really happy w/ that because I was expecting to finish it between 8-9 hours. "It's just extra time I have to play with" I kept telling myself.
I got into the lodge and had a pretty nice breakfast. I may have overdone it, actually, but I was so hungry.
...and off I went for another round.
Loop 2: Frank and me had agreed to meet to start the 2nd loop together, but it was kinda hectic and we lost each other. It makes it easier to run with somebody else sometimes, but oh well...gotta keep keeping on. I was also pretty excited that at the end of this loop my pacer, Judy, would be waiting to run with me. I purposely became more conservative this loop. I kept reminding myself that there was still alot of mileage to cover. But I felt really well. I ran/jogged/walked the last 5 miles with David Jacobson. He was also pretty excited that his pacer would be waiting for him. He said he was saving a bit for that ~ good idea.
I got into the lodge and decided to take about a 15 minute break and just relax for a bit.
Loop 3: The 1st part of the loop seemed to be very runnable, so I wasn't surprised that my pacer took off pretty quickly, but we were all feeling pretty strong, so we kept up. Initially, I did not know what to expect from the CR course, so I wanted Judy to pace me (since I know she is a fast runner) in case I was in danger of missing the 7am loop 4 cut off. (FYI - We were 3 hours ahead of schedule). We ran the next 15 miles pretty well - thanks to her. When we got to the dreaded 8 mile stretch, we took it easy, though. I have to admit that I was worried about ending with those and then starting with those again. We made it back to the lodge at around 3:30am. I had told my pacer that I was going to take my time and wanted to be outta there by 4am.
At this point, my calves were really tight. It made it uncomfortable to climb. Not the time to be feeling that considering what was coming up.
Loop 4: I told my pacer, Laura, that I thought I'd have to do quite a bit of walking this loop. She said you call it (and THAT's why she's the best). As a result, we spent most of those tough 8 miles at the start joking around and snapping pictures. We ran what we could but fatigue and the need for a nap were creeping in. Around 5am, I started dozing off for split seconds at a time while running. How could I fall asleep for a second while running? I can vouch for it being a possibility.
We made it to Nachos (aid station) where I ate a little and made my 1st mistake: I took off my socks to get some dirt out. What did I see? The gnarliest blister I've ever seen on my toe. It was like my toe had a baby or like my foot had a double toe on the same digit. That was good for some laughs. My pacer thought this was hilarious and began taking pictures of it (which I will spare you from). A couple women at the aid station (whom I assume were waiting for their runner friends saw us off by saying "10 more miles!!!" 10 more and i'll be done!!! Little did I know that these would be the toughest 10 miles I've ever run.
On our way to Equestrian, we crossed a road and ran into Judy (who had paced me from 50-75) along with a couple other friends of ours who said they'd be waiting at the finish line. This was a morale booster. I'm almost there.
We ran/jogged to Equestrian, and I had told Laura that I just wanted to fill up my handheld with water and take off immediately. By this point, I just wanted to finish. I knew that I'd just have 1 more climb, lucky peak, to do before it was over. I had a really difficult time doing this. My calves were killing me at this point, but I was sooooo close.
With a few miles to go, Nancy Marks, passed me and gave me a hug and a pair of shoelaces with some metal buttons that said "ULTRA" and "100M." She said she'd meet me at the finish line (and she did). Her positive and cheery personality is contagious. As she passed me she said "Make sure you take the wannabe out of your blog title!!!"
With less than a mile to go, I told my pacer to go on up ahead. I'd get there in a second. It was almost as if I needed a little bit of time to comprehend what was happening. I was on the verge of running 100 miles!!! Getting to the finish line and seeing all my friends there, the race director handing me my finisher's belt buckle, was surreal. So many emotions: I wanted to laugh, cry, I'm not sure, really (I remember 1 of my friends asking what I wanted to drink, and I said "a glass of milk." Milk? Really? I musta been delirious.
I wouldn't have been able to complete this race without each of my friends that was there. They all played an important role in this adventure.
What's next for me??? For now, rest. Just rest.
Oh yeah, the only complaint I have is that the sotol tore the awesome running sweater that came in our goodie bag...damn, you sotol!!!