Went for a five mile walk down the greenway yesterday.
Had to use Fall Risk and Rogue as handrails. When I stepped down off of sidewalks. Or embankments.
Because my body was in full revolt. After spending the entirety of Saturday running. Up and down mountains.
And just to add insult to actual injury. I made it wake up at 1am. On a Saturday. To do this.
Ultramarathoners are dumbasses. We are a collection of dumbasses. Waking up a one o’clock in the morning. To go do dumbass shit.
Because I. Am. A dumbass.
Rolled through the McDonalds’s drive thru around 2:30. AM. For some coffee. And an Egg McMuffin.
They don’t serve breakfast at 2:30am. They’re still selling their late night menu at that time. For the stoners and the walk of shamers. I assume.
I’m not sure which category he thought I fell into.
“Enjoy the rest of your night.”
But it’s…morning…I’m not…I haven’t been…*sigh* Thanks. You, too.
And apparently there were bets going around Promiseland camp. Among the other dumbasses- I mean runners. Who’d thought sleeping on the ground in the cold the night before a 50k++ was a good idea. That I wouldn’t show.
It was a safe bet.
If Beautiful Beastie hadn’t told me to meet her to ride in with her that morning. I would absolutely not have gone.
I spent Friday night whining to Rogue and Fall Risk about how much I didn’t want to go. Fall Risk was willing to let me off the hook.
But Rogue pulled out her best dumbass ultra runner and listed all the reasons I’d be happy that I did it.
It doesn’t even matter that I’ve run a few ultras recently. Or that I carb loaded all week. And didn’t eat an entire steak the night before. And I hydrated. And mostly rested. And didn’t strength train. And did 420 yoga.
I wasn’t ready.
But I showed up.
Because BB made me.
It was cold. And I knew it was going to be cold. But not, like, Terrapin 28 degrees at the start cold. So somehow I thought it would be better.
But 38 degrees at 5:42 am is not much better than 28 degrees at 7am.
And BB made us these bracelets for this race.
That’s the route. Up. Down. Around. Up. Down.
That’s the whole race.
So, I’d spent Friday night putting alarms on my phone. Alerting me to when I needed to be at each aid station. To make cutoffs. And finish before the 10 hour limit.
Which is important. Because I am not internally motivated in a normal year. This year? I’m like, fuck. We’re all just lucky I’m still putting pants on most days.
And I’d had to pee before the start. But didn’t want to miss our wave. So I said, it’s fine. I’ll just pee on the course.
So then what happens. After the start. Is you…run up a road. For 2 1/2 miles. Except about 1/2 mile in. I don’t want to run anymore. My body’s all “well, this was nice. Let’s go on back to bed now.”
And I really should’ve stopped then. To pee. When it was still dark. And there was plenty of area to squat in.
But I wanted to get through the initial climb first.
So, two and a half miles up the road. And then onto the trail. And I hit Aid Station 1 at the exact time I’d planned to. Ultra race planning level = expert.
Still had to pee. But at this point in the race. There is a sheer climb on your right. And a sheer drop on your left. So peeing is out of the question.
Another 2-3 miles climbing up this trail.
And here is how my ultra brain math works. I’d remembered this course being 35 miles when we ran it last year. (It’s only 34. “Only.” But for the purposes of my ultra brain math, we’re believing it’s 35.)
Ok. I know the course finishes on this last 5 miles of downhill trail and road. And even though I’ll be hurting. I can at least use gravity to get me to the finish. So I won’t even count the last five miles. So, I’ve got these first five done. I’ve only really got 25 more to go. That’s less than a marathon. I can run less than a marathon.
I don’t know. It works for me.
So you get up those first five. Then you have a nice 2 1/2 or so of pretty easy gradual downhill. Until you hit aid station 2. The aid station of the gods. Because they had every damn thing.
Still had to pee. But the few areas that offered some level ground had very sparse tree cover. So I’d have to just expose my ass to the world. And I’m a lady. But then I came up on this dude that had just whipped his out right on trail. And I don’t know why that shit pissed me off. Because I honestly don’t care about seeing men’s little things. But in that moment. With my full bladder. I wanted to push him the fuck off the mountain. And make him climb back up again.
(It’s possible that re-bingeing Handmaid’s Tale over the last two weeks was a mistake…)
Somewhere just before the aid station. GJB ran past me. And I considered picking up my pace. And running with him. But I had a plan. And I’ve already heard all of his Promiseland joke material anyway. He gave me a quick preview during the short time we were together and it was the same stuff as last year. So I just kept my pace. And let him go.
Got myself some potatoes. And sausage. And coke. And peanut butter and jelly.
For the next climb. Over to aid station 3. The first cutoff.
Finally hit my breaking point. And just stepped off trail. Behind a rock. And wrestled my tights down.
Peed for several minutes. Because large tank-low psi.
Definitely exposed both my back and front ends to some poor guy. Who was passing by as I was spinning around trying to wrestle my tights back up. But I’d at least had the decency to squat behind a rock. And not just in the middle of the trail. So I get kudos for trying.
And I’d set my alarm to tell me when I was 15 minutes from the cutoff. And thank fuck I did. Because I absolutely would’ve missed it. But I kicked my ass in gear and started real running. Like a real runner. And ran through the aid station just under the wire.
Didn’t even stop for food. Because now I was in a panic. That I’d miss the next cutoff. Which was 25 miles in. And fuck if I was gonna run 25 miles just to DNF. If I’m gonna DNF. It damn well better be at the 12 mile mark.
So I ran down that creek side bullshit. Faster than I would’ve liked. Because rocks. But thankfully my ankles are pretty bendy these days. And they managed the rolls and awkward landings pretty well.
Hit the 15 mile mark. Good. Ok. Only 20 more to go. Except the last five don’t count. So only 15 more to go. Psht. That’s only a little more than a half marathon. I got this.
Hit aid station 4 well ahead of schedule.
Where AD and CJ were waiting. To take care of me.
“What do you need?”
“Here have some chips.”
“How is your pack?”
“Do you need water?”
Seriously. Ultramarathons manned with volunteers who have run ultramarathons are the best. Because they will mother the hell out of you at the aid stations.
But I was still feeling pretty good. Sixteen-ish miles in.
Took off for the next two mile stretch of road. Which. Two miles of road. Smack in the middle of a trail race. Is not awesome. But I ran it nonetheless.
And that may have been what did it. What finally pissed my body off.
Because as I was running/walking/whining through this next part. The 6 mile loop around part. That I think people call the Cornelius Creek Loop. My body started aggressively trying to get my attention.
My hip flexors were starting to hint at an impending boycott. From operating. My ankles. Both of them. Were no longer bendy. They were just kind of…stiffening up? Like…rigor mortis, I guess? And the inside of my left knee was doing something it’s never done before. Not painful. But there was definitely the threat of something just snapping completely in two leaving me stranded miles away from anyone or anything.
Messaged Rogue and Fall Risk.
I’m only 22 miles in. And I’m dying.
One of y’all come get me.
Being a four wheeler.
And a hot paramedic.
But Rogue had already given up on me. “You’ll already be dead by the time we gather all of that.”
And Fall Risk threw out some bullshit phrase designed to pacify whiney ass runners like me. “You got this.”
Fuck you I got this. I’ve got nothing.
But I threw down some ibuprofen. And reluctantly ran. So reluctantly. Because honestly. I would’ve been so ok with missing the next cutoff. At mile 25. And begging CD to drive me back to camp.
But I was still well ahead of schedule.
Even with the last mile of pure mud.
Seems like it would be more efficient to just sit down and mudslide back to the aid station.
But BB had driven. And it felt like it might be disrespectful to cover all of myself in mud. Before getting back into her car.
So I awkwardly picked my way through.
Got back down to the aid station in plenty of time. Dammit.
Where CD again mothered the hell out of me.
I just need some water and maybe….TWINKIES! Exactly what I needed to power me up this mountain.
Did my ultra brain math. Twenty five miles down. Ten more to go. But the last five don’t count. So just five more miles. Easy.
And then headed my reluctant ass on up to the falls.
And I should have at least power hiked this part. But I didn’t have any power left in me. So I normal hiked it.
Made it up to the falls. And kept going. Up. And the woman behind me says, “Wait. Why are we still going up? Everyone talked about getting to the falls. I thought this would be over after that. Are there more falls?”
Oh honey. No. We’re not done climbing. Just. Just don’t think about it. Look at the pretty mountains.
Except this was about the time that my watch was like, “whatchu mean we’re not done?” And just slowly began to die. Like my soul.
And dammit I’m getting credit for the entirety of this race. So I quickly saved my run on my watch. And started Strava on my phone.
And then the rain started. At the exact same point that it started to rain on me last year. And the wind was picking up. And the ibuprofen had kicked in. And muffled my hip flexors. But my ankles were definitely no longer bending. And my feet and calves were absolutely threatening to start cramping. And my Twinkie fuel had run out. And this. This was the misery that I remembered from last year. This was the misery I’d been anticipating this entire race.
And y’all. Point seven miles is a fucking eternity.
But I finally. Finally crawled up out of the mountain. Back to Sunset Fields. And the final aid station. Where those poor volunteers were taking the full brunt of the wind and rain.
I don’t know why y’all still here. I would have abandoned us hours ago.
But thank you for volunteering.
Crossed the parkway and started my way back down.
Twenty nine miles in. These last five don’t count. So I’m basically done…
Just five more miles. Of downhill.
Except. Ok. There’s, like, a quarter mile or so. Of slight uphill. Before you get to the trail. And fuck if that 200 feet of elevation gain isn’t fucking Everest at that point.
But I finally hit the trail. And just let gravity go ahead and pull me down the mountain.
Passed some dude that told me I was doing great.
Psht. I ain’t doing shit. This is all gravity doing this. I’m just trying to stay upright.
Hit the road. And told myself. Ok. Last two and a half miles. Of road. So you don’t even have to think about where you’re stepping. Just keep running.
And there wasn’t a damn thing pleasant about this stretch. Of road running. In trail shoes. After 32 miles.
But eventually I had to see the giant squirrel. Signaling the approach of the finish line. And this would end. It couldn’t go on forever.
But it was going on forever.
And I was about to just stop and walk this in.
And then I saw her. And heard her. My Tiny Brazilian.
And she was screaming her ass off. And jumping up and down. And running towards me. And then hugging me. And then pushing my ass on down the road.
And that, y’all. That is exactly what an ultra runner needs to get their ass to the finish line.
And she wasn’t letting me half ass it either. Homegirl was making me run.
And she ran me into the finish.
Over nine hours.
7400 feet of climbing.
“What do you need? You want some food? Dry clothes? Do you need to pee?”
I would like to go home now, please.
I didn’t even care. That I was soaking wet. And freezing. And actually did have to pee. And absolutely needed food. I was just basking in the realization that I was done.
So, I’ve got my Promiseland shorts. Which I will now wear for every damn run the rest of the summer. Because I earned the hell out of those.
Went straight to my momma’s house. To see my uncle. And showed up smelling like corn chips and expired human.
So my mother sent me straight in to take a bath.
And sweet mother. Have y’all ever tried to enter and exit a deep claw foot bath tub? After 34 miles of running?
So I almost died.
But once I realized I would not, in fact, be able to lift one leg out. And then rely on it to support me while I lifted the other out. I opted instead to just kind of belly crawl my way out.
Just. Super graceful.
But once I was clean. And clothed. She agreed to feed me. And all was right in the world.
And today I dare one of my track children. Who complain about having to run the 2 mile event. To ask me why I’m so slow.
Thirty four miles, young ones. Thirty four miles.