“She’s ten minutes behind you!” That’s what my father in-law yelled at me around mile 42. Five miles later “She’s eight minutes behind you!” It was down to “Six minutes!” nine miles before the finish. Sheesh. There are worse things than running a 100k race with Meghan Arbogast and Pam Smith gaining on you each mile, but they certainly didn’t come to mind yesterday afternoon 50 miles into the race. (Giardia? Giant silverfish?) I really wanted Meghan and Pam to pass me and get it over with. I can keep things in proper perspective like a good adult, but it’s nice to have a little time cushion for that perspective to kick in before you’re socializing at the finish line. Right?
In case you’re unfamiliar with Pam and Meghan, they are very (very!) fast and strong runners. (Oh, and wonderfully nice too.) Pam ran a 6:57 at the JFK 50 and, among other amazing feats, I think Meghan’s marathon time is 2:45 or something crazy like that. That’s a 6:17 pace. I think I ran that pace once for 5 miles — and then laid around on the couch for the rest of the day. The only thing I had going for me at Bandera was the rocks. I’ve learned how to careen down them at a good clip. (Utterly, utterly useless skill most days of the year.) My feet felt solid all day yesterday and I was thankful for every rock — though I did almost take out two 50k runners who didn’t get the implied “I’m totally out of control!” when I hollered “Coming down behind you!” If the last miles hadn’t been quintessential Bandera, (a friend describes some of the downhills as the “place rocks go to die”), Pam and Meghan would have left me in the dust — trying to keep things in proper perspective. 🙂
Bandera is a hard course. It’s hard because, ultimately, it’s all runnable. There are a fair amount of smooth, flat trails that you can run as fast as you want to. And the hills are steep and rocky, but they’re short and you can push up them pretty quickly. The technical downhill running is challenging, but you can run down that quickly too if you’ve practiced. Every time I stopped to hike a hill or slowed my pace, I thought, “Come on, you should go faster.” (Then I thought, “Oh SHUT up!”) I was just on the edge of being out of breath the entire race and I just really wanted some section that would justify a rest. Couple that with the speedy ladies who kept gaining on me and I was really racing the entire time. And, I’ve got to say, I don’t like racing. I don’t like thinking about how fast other people are running. I don’t like thinking about how I’ll deal with the let down of being passed. I don’t like having to open and suck down gels while I’m careening out of control downhill. I’d like to stop and take a gel like a civilized person. I think racing is good for me. (Working hard is good. Learning to be more at peace is good. Blah-di-blah.) But it feels like it’s good in the way drinking castor oil is good.
Ok, storytime. I know some folks will write a mile-by-mile, blow-by-blow of the race, and I’m looking forward to reading those accounts a lot, but I’m just not excited about writing something like that myself. I’m really happy to answer any questions though; I’m chock full of geeky thoughts about different sections of the course.
So I ran with this fellow from Alabama for a good number of miles. He was shirtless and small short-ed and, when I mentioned how hot it felt, he said, “Yeah, I’ll have to strip down to my speedo soon.” I honestly wasn’t sure if he was joking or not, so I didn’t know how to respond. (“Oh yeah, speedos are great.”) I did want to see someone make their way through the sotol cactus in the trail in a speedo though. (I also like to drown kittens.) There were some pretty scratched and bloody legs at the end of the race. Sotol exfoliation. I’d have taken pictures for you, but I was too busy looking for places to vomit. I only got to chat with folks for a while before I was relegated to lying in a ball in the back seat of my small car with a plastic bag in my hand. Eating gels for hours at a time is surprisingly hard on my stomach.
But, back to nakedness… I had no intention of running this race in a sports bra (Check this post if this seems like an odd topic), but it felt really hot midday and I worried about overheating. So I ducked behind a tree, threw vanity to the wind, and pulled off my shirt. I was much more comfortable and was feeling pretty good about my decreased self-conceit, until I looked down and noticed the effects of my low-riding compression tights on my belly. I am fairly sure this was not documented in a photograph. Thankfully it clouded up and cooled down soon afterwards and my crew was quick to respond to my call for a shirt when I ran into the next aid station.
My friend David helped crew for me and he told me later that some of the people at the aid stations assumed he was my husband. (Probably because I was so kind and sweet to him when I asked for gel and water refills.) David’s still in college. Sadly he did not think to respond, “Yeah, I’ve always been attracted to much older, grouchy women.” He was a prince all day and Eliot and I are blessed to have him as a friend. My in-laws also drove in from Houston for the race. They are wonderful cheerleaders. Honestly, they should hire themselves out. They know just what to say and what to ignore. At one point, when it was obvious I was really struggling, P. told me, “I’m proud of you” I can’t tell you how much those words buoyed me the next five miles. I’m a sucker for “I’m proud of you.”
It’s late and Asa’ll be up soon, so I’ll leave you with this post-race image. We pick Asa up around 9pm from a friend’s house and he’s bouncing off the walls with energy. He finds an unopened Christmas present I’d been saving for a rainy day and opens it. Amphibious remote-controlled car from Auntie C. So there I am, 9:30 at night, salt still encrusted in my eyebrows, searching for two AAA and three AA batteries and a small screwdriver to assemble “Morphibians.” It was just the right end to the day really. Motherhood is nothing if not a direct road to proper perspective. 🙂
And for those who are interested:
Shoes: New Balance MT101s. They were awesome. No complaints. My footing felt solid on the rocks and my feet weren’t sore at the end of the race. New Balance was kind enough to send me two pairs when I told them I was planning on wearing them for the race. I am very much hoping this “supplying” will continue. Keep your fingers crossed for me.
Socks: Drymax. Nary a blister.
Nutrition: Gu gels every 20-30 minutes and water. (And a liver-endangering amount of Tylenol for leg pain.)
Coach extrodinaire: Amanda McIntosh
Thank you to Joe and Joyce Prusaitis for this wonderful, humbling race. Thank you to the gracious and skilled volunteers. Thank you to Dr. Offenburger for the pre-race Airrosti tune-up. Thank you to Team Traverse for supporting me and helping me run “for a reason.” Time to figure out how to make this win useful, right? Send ideas.