Thursday, November 12, 2015

GOATZ 50k, The Race

You've waited patiently for my GOATZ 50k race day report and it's finally here. 

Unbelievably, I made it through the taper time with relatively little craziness although there was definitely a touch of moodiness. I was feeling good and ready to go and not too nervous. Or so I thought. After Luke's final soccer game, I started packing and bam! It hit me- the nervous poops. I'm not going to go into it all (Audrey's comment after reading last year's report "I didn't know you pooped so much.") but I will say this year was not nearly as dramatic as last year. Bill and I loaded up and left, leaving the kids at home. While I was glad they were there to see me last year, it was kind of hard. I had to work hard at not thinking about them or worrying about them. And after I finished, while they gave me time to cool down and such, they were done and ready to get home and I really needed more time. So I made the decision that Bill would be the only one going with me. (Thanks, Julia.) 
We made it to packet pick-up and I happened to meet an Instagram friend in person. Then we grabbed supper and met up with Amanda and Micah before checking into our hotel. My supper of choice is a chicken burrito bowl with guacamole, in case you're wondering. I explained to Bill how I wanted him to crew for me and made it simple for him to do so. I got a good night's sleep and woke ready to run. Breakfast was a banana and almond butter (I'm in love with almond butter!). I had brought more but knew I could only get down that and called it good. 

Brr! The morning was cold. Fog rolled off the lake and the grass was crunchy with frost. I kept my winter coat and sweatpants on until the last minutes. I met some familiar faces in the crowd and that's such a nice feeling of not being quite the stranger anymore. Then with a shout, the race started.
Here were my race goals: 1. Finish (not always a given) 2. Finish faster than last year. 3. Come as closet 6 hours as I could.
Other race goals: Be relaxed yet mindful. Run a smart race. Not get screamy at Bill. 

The start of a good day
Even though the start was definitely chilly, I knew it would warm up. Because I didn't want to take time to take off my vest to remove layers, I wore what I planned on for the weather later in the day- a tank top and shorts along with arm sleeves. Arm sleeves are kind of weird but work well. They slide up over your arms kind of like socks with a thumb loop at the end. I've worn the same pair for a couple of years and I think I need a new pair since mine don't stay up over my wee arms. I truly didn't feel cold once I got running except for my feet, which I didn't notice were numb until about a quarter mile in. After 5 or so miles I was able to feel my fingers and toes again. At the start I placed myself around the front of the middle. With a different start than last year, the course quickly narrowed to a wide trail before turning to single track. A lot of people passed me, which I didn't mind other than overhearing the occasional comment from someone saying they should have started further ahead. I agreed but didn't say anything. I wanted to be relaxed and run the pace I had planned and so far I had been able to do so. Since I knew the course, I knew when I should walk the hills and how long they would last, etc. It was tremendously helpful. I struck up a conversation with another runner and helped her get a feel for the course. I headed into the aid station about halfway through the ten mile loop to cheers by my friends from the Capital Striders Turkeys running it. I grabbed a bit to eat and kept on going. The next five miles found me striking up conversations with other runners or getting high fives from spectators and volunteers. I finished the first lap just under 2 hours, which had me delighted but concerned about holding the pace for the next two laps. Bill crewed me, filling up my bottles with my Tailwind mix, handing me more GU gels and untangling my earbuds. I grabbed bananas, quesadilla wedges (so good) and those peanut butter, oatmeal, chocolate chip energy balls and headed out for the next lap. 

Hey there
It was the start of the second lap and I was feeling good. The weather was so great and I had been hydrating and fueling well. My conversation partner and I swapped back and forth but this didn't bother me. I felt like I was in a bubble, able to go in and out as needed but always within myself. One of my goals this lap was to go to the bathroom. Ha! The line before the race was too long and I didn't feel like I really needed to go then but it's really no fun running feeling full. The other was to remember at the Turkey aid station to ask for ice. I was getting warm and thought it would feel really good. I was surprised that I had to purposely remember to ask for what I wanted when coming into the aid stations. It was so easy to get distracted and forget. I asked Amber if there was any ice and she said there was and then we took our friendship a little deeper by her filling the back and front of my bra with ice. I left feeling cooler and had grand intentions of keeping the pace going. But within a mile my right knee was tight and I was down to a power hiking/walking. It wasn't what I wanted and I was frustrated. I had gotten through my entire training season without any knee pain. I was frustrated and expressed it to Bill via text. He was perfect in replying with keep at it and walk it out as it seemed to work itself out over time. I was fighting to keep it all in perspective but I kept moving. At about 17 miles, I was lapped by Kaci Lickteig, 2nd place women's finisher of this year's Western States 100 and cheered for her. I kept up my walk/run, remembering to stop at the gross porta-potty. My conversation partner and I met up again and we finished the second lap together. As Bill filled my bottles again and I snagged more food, she asked me if I was going to continue. We were both hurting but I told her I wasn't quitting. She was a little incredulous and I know now that she didn't continue. 

Only Forest, the dog, wasn't a fan of the cowbell
It was hard heading out for the last loop. I knew each loop was ten miles but to be honest I never thought of it in terms of miles done or miles to go. I broke each loop down into sections- get to the dam, get to the aid station, get to the bridge, past the last parking lot.  But the beginning of my third loop was a dark time for me. I didn't know how my knee would fare for another 10 miles and I just didn't want to be out there. Food was hard to get down mostly because psyched myself out of eating it. I was in a funk and it was all mental. I passed another runner and heard her ask a friend to slow up as she was about to have a meltdown. "Gosh, I'm glad I'm not her." I kept going and pulled out my phone to take a video (because that's a logical thing to do at a time like that). It was then that I saw the texts and messages popping up from family and friends. I didn't read them really but knew their sentiment and heart felt wishes and I burst into tears. I guess some runners swear up a streak and others just have straight out fit so I guess mine is having just a good sob. I turned to look back at the trail and a woman was coming up behind me. She was very concerned for me and put her hand on my shoulder asking if I was okay. I assured her I was and she continued on. (No offense, but I'm guessing she was close to ten years older than me and ran beautifully.) I've cried hard on runs before and knew I could either cry or I could run/walk so I set my resolve to be strong and finish to my best ability. I didn't know how the next nine miles would go but I was going to get after them. I ran when I could and walked when I had to. But I had learned my lesson from last year- this was not a pity walk. This was not an injured walk. I dropped my head down and got moving. At this point I pondered how I would pray about the situation. What I wanted to pray was "Lord, please make it go away." but what I prayed was "Please help me to endure this well." Walking, I passed a few people and at one point another runner observed my walk was faster than his run. I hobbled into the aid station for the last time and Gary forced me to smile. Amber sprayed my knees with BioFreeze. I left with them still cheering for me. How amazing to have people believe in you all the way through! 

What a day!
I had hoped to run these last five miles as a celebration. Instead I fought for each power step of a walk and each shuffle of a run. I entered the last section of trail and attempted to run it in to the finish. I came across the finish line to cheers by a group of volunteers and spectators and raised my arms in victory. I always have visions of doing something wild like clicking my heels across the finish line but when I get there all I really want to do is cross it and then stop moving. I scanned the edges of the crowd for Bill and finally saw him and saw that Amanda came for my finish. A volunteer handed me my medal and I stuck that thing around my neck because it was mine and I earned it! I was so happy, so tired, so everything. Another volunteer immediately came over and gave me a huge hug. It was such a good hug I can still feel it! I came out of that hug restored and ready to celebrate! 

Which I did. I huddled around with Bill and Amanda and looked at my watch. Not only did I finish, I beat my time by over an hour and I finished within the 6 hour range I had hoped for!!  6:40 is my time.

Me and the Pixie Ninja Runner
While talking, I noticed Kaci was still there. I really wanted to meet her but funny thing, I never really took a step to start going to her; my brain was a little fried. Thankfully, Amanda ran over to her and Kaci graciously said hello. (I had started walking by then.) We chatted a bit, me congratulating her on her win today and her Western States placing and her congratulating me over and over about my efforts today. I had brought a Sharpie to have her sign my shoes I was wearing (Twitter joke) but didn't have it on me so we took a picture instead, which is better anyway. She said she had noticed my shoes while out running but didn't want to say anything because that would be weird. We laughed because I wouldn't have thought it weird at all and because I do that kind of stuff all the time. She was really a delight to meet. 
Amanda took in my race details as I hobbled around. After she left, Bill and I headed out to the other aid station to say hello to everyone there. It was good to talk with them and encourage the very last runners as they gutted out the last miles. 

I raced smart, going a lot by feel and confidence and being relaxed. It was my best race in this regard. I did the best I could about my knees, given the knowledge and experience I have at this point. Bill points out that I managed an entire training cycle and halfway through the race before the issues came up so that shows progress. He's right. I will continue to pursue this as it is my main issue. I also am thankful that this happens to be my issue and not other things. I'll continue to learn about nutrition and hydration. I experienced some light-headedness and upset stomach towards the very end. I must remember I've been at this a very short amount of time. 

We make a good team
I must mention that I did not get screamy at Bill, meaning I didn't expect him to solve my problems and then get mad when he didn't know the answers. I'm learning to be strong and independent about my endeavors while still needing and wanting support around me. Bill did a great job! 

I am very thankful to be able to run and chase after dreams. I'm thankful that I have such great support and encouragement. I'm truly humbled by all the well wishes and congratulations. 

The goat is jealous of my medal. Run your own race, buddy.

Here are the other two posts about this training/racing season.

The all important video. Ha!
(Which might not work after all.)


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