#ECSUT: Mother Nature is a bitch

Nearly a year I’ve trained for the North Face Endurance Challenge Series 50k.  Injuries couldn’t stop me.  My asthma couldn’t stop me.  I was GOING to run this race.  Right up until Mother Nature decided to into full bitch mode.  Every time we checked the weather on Friday it changed.  When we attended the pre-race discussion Friday night there was a discussion of the weather.  The race was going to happen.  Period.  All we knew was the there was going to be something falling out of the sky on Saturday morning we weren’t just sure WHAT.

Saturday morning dawned and it was raining with temperatures hovering around freezing.img_0774 If this were any other day I would have done anything else other than run outside.  This was the perfect cocktail for my lungs to be miserable.  Luckily I had packed all of my gear so I could cover my mouth and try to warm the air.  I suited up for battle and we all piled into the car to the start line.  As soon as we got dropped off we found out that there was an hour delay of the start.  Apparently there were blizzard conditions up the mountain.  Oh boy….so we waited.  Then came the second new bomb.

We were NOT running the 50k course. We would be running two loops of the half marathon course.  I was crushed.  Not only because the distance was not actually going to be an ultra, but it was loops.  I hate loops.  Loops crush me mentally.  The pull of the start line is always exceptionally strong for me.  My inner sloth just wants to stop.  “But it’s right there why can’t we stop?” I had to come up with a new game plan on the fly as my previous plan based on elevation profile and training just got toss out of the window.

Now, I completely understand safety first.  We heard of snow drifts up to the thighs of the scout runners.  We also heard news of aid crews being stranded at the top. Throwing runners out on a course where they could die would be bad for business.   However, I had a serious beef with Mother Nature.  Seriously, I mean WHY??? Last weekend it was sunny and 70.  Next week, sunny and 70. GAH!!!!

When we finally left at 8 it was STILL pouring and cold.  I kept my face covered in an attempt to warm the air.  The first 6 miles of the half marathon course were straight up hill.  Nothing like a good air and soul sucking climb right off the bat.  Even better we were sharing the course with the 50 milers so around 3 miles in the elite runners came blasting past us.

img_0800Grind, grind, grind up the hill.  The trail was definitely wet, sloppy, and slippery, but still  gorgeous.  The leaves on the trees were amazing colors.  Every once in a while we’d get an amazing view. I’d use the “on your left” from on of the fast 50 milers or 50k folks passing me as an excuse to look around.  I spent most of the race looking at the ground trying not to slip and fall on my face.

My first lap I did really well following the nutrition plan that Sainted Mary and I had laid out.  I used the aid stations to fill my water bladder.  As I finished my first lap and headed back around for another 6 miles of grind I zoned out.  Like REALLY zoned out.  I had to.  The pull of the finish line and being done was strong.  I had to block it out.

As Windchime blew past me all of a sudden there were flashing warning signs on my 8925342-standardproverbial dashboard.  We had been keeping pace with each other why was she blowing past me? I dug under the 3 layers of clothes that I had on to get to Coconut.  Holy f*%& stick I hadn’t eaten in over 2 hours.  It was at that moment I realized the wheels had not only come off the bus it was skidding down the road on its undercarriage on fire.  Sigh.  I knew that trying to recover from a deficit was going to be exceptionally hard.  Crap.  My feet were still moving forward this was good.  I reached in for a snack of banana chips and Justin’s honey peanut butter (on of my favorite go to snacks) and made the goal of hitting the next aid station.

At the aid station I sucked back some broth to help warm me up and scanned the table for something that I could eat.  In my calorie deficit those pb&j sandwiches looked amazing.  I was with it enough to know that was a bad idea.  Unless of course I wanted to be on the side of the trail puking my guts out.  I grabbed a handful of frozen skittles and kept marching setting up my new goal; next aid station.

This continued on until I hit the final aid station.  When I rolled in my fingers were so swollen I couldn’t slide my hydration bladder open. The volunteers were so sweet and did it for me.  I sucked back more broth, some potato chips and grabbed another handful of frozen skittles.  This was the last of it and it was all down hill.  I picked up from my march to a “run”, ok it was more of a quick shuffle, but it was faster than my march.  My lungs were on fire.  I was barely breathing.  The cold air and being out in it was starting to take its toll on me.  I just had to finish.  I WOULD finish.

The last .2 miles of the course is all switchbacks, but I could see the finish.  There was even a trail that went straight down the hill.  My inner monologue slapped my inner sloths face.  NO! Do the course as marked.  NO cheating.  My inner sloth was not pleased.

img_0804I honestly don’t remember the finish. My lungs were on fire so bad I was barely breathing. All I remember was crossing, being in tears and repeating to my friends, “my lungs hurt”.  That’s it.  That’s what I remember. Next thing I know I’m at the condo, stripped, and in the shower.   As you can see from the picture (that I don’t remember taking) I’m not exactly what you would call in good shape. The lack of oxygen I’m sure had nothing to do with that (sarcasm).

Results came out and the total distance run was 26.5 miles.  Technically an ultra.  I’ll take it. Granted it wasn’t the 50k I trained for, but perhaps the Universe threw me a bone.  Wet sub-40F temperatures at elevation.  Perhaps the Universe knew that if we had done the 50k course and pushed the extra 6 miles something bad would have happened.  Who knows.  All I know is that Mother Nature threw just about everything but the kitchen sink at me and I survived.  Take that Mother Nature.  Suck it.  (Ha, an asthma joke!)

 

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Absolutely not

I am a good asthmatic.  Most of the time anyway.  I take my meds.  My bed is allergen covered.  I have only 1 room of carpet in my  house (and that’s only because it would echo SO bad if I didn’t.)  I do what I can.  I also try really hard not to let my limitations stop me.  Summer in the mid-Atlantic is awful for me.  Training for #ECSUT has been nearly impossible.

Friday I went and saw Doc and we got to talking about weekend plans.  I happened to casually mention I was going to do two 10k races this weekend.  The response I got was immediate and visceral.

“Absolutely not.  If you want to be healthy for Utah, absolutely positively not.  The air quality is going to be shit and the humidity is going to be worse.  If you want to push your luck and wind up sick less than two weeks before the race you’ve been training over a year for you go right ahead.”

Wow.  OK.  Doc normally gives me a very very long leash.  Apparently my piss poor judgement this spring is coming back to bite me in the butt.  This morning at 6AM when I checked the weather (you know just in case a miracle happened) the humidity was 86%.  Ugh…..Then I checked the American Lung Associations Air Quality app.

 

Yeah it was ugly.  There are times when I am really thankful I’m stubborn.  Then there are times I am thankful that I do listen to ration and reason.  This is one of the latter.

So, instead of running 20k this weekend you can find me at Biker Barre.  Hey, a girl  still has to burn off all of the already allocated calories AND get cardio training in for Utah.  Can it be fall and winter already?  Please?

 

DC Spartan Sprint: Well that wasn’t fun

Almost a year to the day I did my first Spartan race with Shadow.  Before WHAM! there had been a discussion about which races we were going to do together in 2016 to get our trifecta.  I had already registered for them (to save some money) so I (wo)manned up and did them anyway.  Whether it be to spite him or in spite of him.  The DC Spartan Sprint was to be my last race to get my trifecta.  I had already done the Super in Texas (and subsequently made myself SUPER sick) and the Beast in Ohio.

Whomever in Spartan Corp who decided that doing a Sprint in southern Maryland in the end of August was a good idea needs to be f-ing fired.  At 90+ degrees with 90+% humidity it isn’t a sufferfest it is downright dangerous.  I was incredibly lucky that I managed to get an 830 start time because I registered so early.  If I hadn’t, I definitely wouldn’t have run it especially after what happened in Austin and with #ESCUT coming up so quickly.  I knew I was going to have a hard time breathing to start with just because the air quality was shit.  I was NOT about to get sick right before the 50K.

I was supposed to be running with a couple of friends, but due to life circumstances I wound up running it alone (again).  I wasn’t thrilled with my situation, but it is what it is.  I lined up at 830 and off we went.  The minute we stepped foot into the woods I knew that this was going to be a miserable slog.  Humid does not even begin to touch how damp and awful it was in the woods.

The only good thing I can say about the course is that 85% of it is set into the woods meaning one thing; shade.  The downside is that because we were in the woods and they were cutting their own trails there were lots of 3″ landmines everywhere.  These are the little saplings or other weeds that they cut to “make” the trail but they didn’t cut all the way to the ground.  This meant for some really tricky going.

What was really interesting about this course was the warning signs that were everywhere saying that if you didn’t have the strength to do the obstacle or don’t feel comfortable don’t do it.  I’m fairly confident that it had something to do with the woman who sued after being paralyzed.  Anyway…..

As I was picking my way through the course I started to feel worse and worse.  Like I want to throw up and was super dizzy kind of worse.  I was wearing my hydration pack with 57c26ac9a0898a921101a971-oTailwind in it with 70oz of water and I was STILL feeling like crap.  You can even see it in the pictures.  As MSB put it, “You’ve got crazy eyes.”  I’ve seen that look before; the “lights are on but no one is home” at my first half marathon.

After I finished because there was 0 food for me to eat (because everything had gluten in it) I wound up getting this Italian ice type thing.  It’s not my normal food, but I needed to get something in me.  I was hot and running on fumes.  As I later told Sainted Mary I have never EVER felt that bad after a race, well, EVER.  As I sat in the car the air conditioner on high waiting for the sugar to hit my brain it finally hit me; I finished.

For the next few days I increased my asthma meds trying to get my lungs to heal and be happy again.  Thank God I didn’t stick my face in the grass or push myself too hard pace wise.

Honestly,  I can say I have no plans to do another OCR again.  If I’m going to suffer in the woods I want it to be running in the mountains not carrying a bucket of rocks in the middle of Ohio (or Maryland, or Texas, you get my point).  Spartans don’t give me that same feeling the way that running does.  Maybe it’s the fact that I did all of my suffering as a child stacking wood and other manual labor.  Who knows.  All I know is that I finished.  I have my trifecta.  All of my medals then promptly got boxed up and send to the kids that I run for. They can have them and play with them.  I’m ready to move onto my next challenge and next chapter.  Bring on #ECSUT!