This post won't have anything to do with fourth grade or a jungle. I just need a spot to dump some thoughts.
As many of you know who will read this post, I've spent my days since the middle of May training for a 50 kilometer (31 miles) race through the Flint Hills. The cray cray folks from the Dirty Kanza are widening their scope and opening up more events for people to test their limits. Cool. Cray cray.
|Here's a shot of my running calendar for the past few months.|
I probably put in about 10 training runs at the Tallgrass and I'm confident saying that two of them left me satisfied, as I loaded back into my car, ankles covered with dust and ticks, that I'd be able to rock and roll for 30 miles on some of the most beautiful hills people forget to respect.
|Elevation profile from my Garmin of Race the Chase 50k.|
Scratch every part of that.
My first 12-13 miles were terrific, like always, as I felt like I was passing the time easily while skirting along the newly trimmed trails (big shout out to the DK folks for making that happen), dodging spider webs, and keeping my mouth moistened with water every one-to-two miles.
My mood shifted around mile 10 when the heat started becoming more pronounced. If I had my druthers, I'd order up 45 degrees and clouds for a race like this. In Kansas, though, you get what you get and you sometimes throw a fit. When the race started, it was 68 degrees and the observed high yesterday was 88 degrees. More appropriate for backyard pools and barbecues if you ask me.
To make things better (not really), my blindness took hold of me and I missed a turn around mile 12, adding on about 1.5 miles with a doozy of a hill. Going up the hill, I took a spill when I caught my toe on a rock that didn't get out of my way. I completed the entire loop before I got back to the sign I'd missed and realized what I'd done.
Next came the demise of my race. The Prairie Fire Loop, my favorite section of the trails, was waiting for me. According to the volunteers at the aid station, I was in the lead by a good 10-15 minutes entering the loop. But, while on the loop, someone began constructing invisible walls in front of me every time I tried to start running. I was only running about two minutes at a time, followed by stretches of 4-5 minutes of walking. It was the worse five miles of any race I'd ever done. I kept checking behind me for competitors and couldn't see any bobbing heads (but, I did miss a very evident sign just minutes before). At the end of the loop was an aid station, and I stopped there for a solid 3-5 minutes. In that time, the second place runner started coming down the hill and I knew I was going to be caught soon.
I fought her off for another two miles or so. After she passed me, I admitted to myself I was toast. The rest of my focus was simply on getting to the finish, regardless of how long it took, and keeping out of sight of any runner behind me. I mixed about minute-long spurts of running with 30-second-long walks as I slugged my way back to the finish. Pretty miserable.
|While that looks like a grimace on my face, it was actually a smile. I was more than happy to be done.|
It's odd, though. The friends that showed up at the beginning or end of the race, just because I mentioned to them that I was doing it probably don't understand how special that is. There was no invite with an RSVP that would give the ladies a reason to sport their new dresses and there was no free food or beer to make it worth the 40-minute drive. They came because that's how our circle rolls -- we support each other. At times we're the the spokes and at times we're the rim, but we're all a part of the wheel.
In all, thanks to everyone who came and supported. Thanks to Lyndsey and Hilary for giving me peer pressure to wake up at 4:00am on weekdays to get my runs in and for acting like I know what I'm talking about when it comes to this sport. Thanks to my family for making it to the race. Thanks to the volunteers who were so helpful when I'd rather have been curled up in a ball until the sun went down.
|About 11 miles in and feeling fresh. Things quickly deteriorated.|
|I was smiling because I was able to get myself onto the podium even though my muscles were in knots.|