Saturday, November 20, 2010

Can't run, then volunteer.... November 13, 2010

 I have been looking forward to this race because it is 10 minutes from where I use to live (and only 40 minutes from where I currently live).  It's the last race of the season for the series that is put on by the local Trail Store.  It's the Siltstone Half Marathon located in Jefferson Memorial Forest in the South end of Louisville.  Since my foot was still not 100% and I also had a doctor's appt. the following Tuesday, I sent an email to Jim Ball asking if they still needed volunteers.  (Jim owns The Trail Store and puts on the races, but also is a heck of a nice guy.  I enquired a few months earlier about any local trail running groups
around and he told me where he and few other guys ran on Saturday mornings.  He was kind enough to plod with me around the loop so I would know my way for future training runs.)  Anyhow, Jim said yes and to come on out. I have to say, I have never volunteered for a race.  I've volunteered for walk events and other assorted things, but was a little nervous.  I pulled Big Bird in the park right at 7 and found Jim and Karen setting up the tent.  I met a couple of other guys, who I can not remember their names, but one I met before with Jim at the group run.  Dang- I've got to find a way to remember people's names!  I mainly
stood around, wanting to be helpful, but there didn't seem to be anything really to do yet.  Jim did tell me I would be working the Bearcamp aid station.  The runners would come through our aid station twice, since it was an out and back.  Another runner was sidelined with a cold and she was going to be with me.  She, Valerie, helped me load up the bus and with the written directions in hand, we headed off to our destination.  Like I said, I use to live by the area, so I was familiar with the area.  We quickly found the trail head and we unloaded the table, coolers, water, Heed, and our chairs before I parked the bus in the
parking lot down the road.  I set about putting water in my cooler and Valerie measured and mixed the Heed for her cooler.  We quickly had our station set up and awaiting our first runner.  We weren't sure how many runners had signed up and we were going to try to keep count of how many come through.  That way we'd know about how many we were waiting on when they came back through the second time.  We sat and chatted and about 45 or 50 minutes, the first runner came through- shirtless even!  (I had a long sleeve shirt on, my jacket, hat, and gloves.)  He was cruising and Smiling!  It was about 5 minutes later before another runner came through, but after that they were pretty steady.  Everyone seemed to be having a great day and the last gentleman that came through (guy in white shirt above)- it was his first ever trail run.  Tom was enjoying his self so far.  After Tom went through we settled back into our chairs.  Valerie had brought a book to read (clever chick), but luckily for me, my Blackberry was with me and I caught up on some email reading.  (I tried to take pics of more runners, but stunk at moving objects- do better at landscapes apparently.)  Our only concern was that we might not have enough cups.  We discussed strategies and decided to try to refill people cups if they wanted more than one.  Which was way better than reusing-which was suggested.  (I'm sorry but to think that if I was in a race and then I found I had drank from a cup that someone else drank from- yep, that grosses me out.)  Not long, the shirtless guy came back through, still leading, still smiling.  Not as many other smiles on the way back through though.  This course has some hills that can really take their toll on you, and it was taking its toll.  We soon heard that there was a runner at the top of the hill with a possible broken foot.  I called Jim to let him know.  He was going to try to get the other aid station (which was the turn-around, and where the guy was closer too), but apparently they didn't have service.  So I volunteered to drive over to the aid station and see if we could get the guy down.  By the time I arrived, another runner had gave them the heads up and she was waiting for them to come down with the guy.  So I turned around and drove back to our aid station.  When I parked, I decided I better tend to nature.  (I have tp in my glove box.)  Soooo I found a good hiding spot, or the best you can in the fall, and watered the land so to speak.  I headed back to Valerie and she was still there reading her book.  I decided to check the trail for trash from our cups while we waited for our last runners.  Finally, we saw a white shirt at the crest of the hill.  Yep, Tom was coming down the hill.  He was still looking pretty good and smiling, but he asked if we had a vehicle there.  I told him yes, and he asked if he helped pick up, could he have a ride.  He had enjoyed his day, but he was ready to call it a day.  I went and pulled the bus up and we quickly had everything loaded and headed back to the start/finish line.  (Incidentally, I took the back roads to get back and almost ran a stop sign.  Think I scared my 2 passengers- oops.)  I quickly had Big Bird unloaded and the last finishers crossed the line and I stayed and help Jim and Karen pack up their stuff before heading home for a nap.  (Incidentally, did hear that another fellow broke his toe about 2-3 miles into the race- ouch)
  Although, I didn't get to run, I was glad I got a chance to give back to the sport and help other runners enjoy their race.  Turned out to be a really great day!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sigh...good, but not great. November 6, 2010

So I went to bed Monday evening debating on whether to run a half marathon or the 50K this upcoming Saturday in Owen Putnam State Forest in Spencer, Indiana.  I looked again at the weather report and saw that it was going to be in the 50's on Saturday.  So I got back out of bed and went to see exactly how far I was from Spencer.  A little over 2 hours.  Then Ii decided to check again to see how much it would cost.  When I clicked on the website, there was a race update from the RD.  He stated that the trails looked great, had finished marking the course, little to no mud, and the temps were looking great with no rain.  Great time for a PR or a first timer.  So then I get to thinking, which always gets me in trouble, what if I attempted my first 50 miler since this race lets you drop down to the 50K in the middle of the race.  My first 50 was suppose to be in December at Lookout Mountain, but I'd been becoming increasingly concerned over the cold weather and it being so close to Christmas.  I have exercise induced asthma, and although it is controlled mostly, I usually have the most problem in the cold.  So I try to avoid it.  Give me 90 degrees to plod in any day.  Anyhow, I turned to my husband and told him of my plan.  Although this 50 mile monkey was put on my back by me, I'd sure like to get him off.  Work had slowed down, so it looked like I could make sure I rested enough before Saturday.  The plan sounded simple, right?  It always does at night, getting ready for bed. 
  Work started picking up, went in early two mornings, had to go to a funeral one evening, etc.  So come Friday night I'm trying to get my stuff packed, I'm tired and not feeling very good about the whole situation because in my excitement to bag my first 50 miler, I neglected to pay more attention to the temps.  The high for Saturday was 50, but at 7 when the race was to start, the temp was going to be around 24 degrees.  I didn't even have any running tights and I didn't want to wear jogging pants for fear of getting too hot and too heavy.  I needed to go to Wal-Mart for a couple of things and I told hubby I wanted to swing into Hibbet's Sports to see if they had anything.  I finally found a pair of men's Underarmour pants that fit pretty good, but cost $50.  Now I remembered why I didn't have any running apparel.  I'm cheap.  My favorite running bottoms are Danskin capris from Wal-Mart.  I finally crawled into bed at 9 that night with my alarm set for 3:45.
  I could barely drag myself out of bed the next morning.  I almost forgot to make me a PB&J, but by 4:17 I was climbing in the bus when my phone rang.  I tried to answer it as I realized I had just squeezed my frosting for my toaster pastry all over the place. was Pat.  I told him I was running behind and I would call him once I was on the road.  I jumped in Big Bird and fired up Penelope and keyed in the address.  "Road not found."  What?  Come on Penelope, you're killing me.  I tried again.  Nope.  So I put in Spencer, Indiana.  She had it but when I flipped through the directions, US 46 was not in them.  That was the road my printed directions said to turn off of.  So I ran back in and tried Mapquest, no luck there either.  Trying to get in a better frame of mind, I decided to wing it.  I keyed Spencer, Indiana in and pulled out of the drive.  I figured once I got close, I would just stop and ask.  The comedy of errors was in full swing by now.  Friday night for dinner, because it was fast and easy, we had fish sticks and fries.  Let's just say number 2 came twice that morning, once before leaving the house and once in Spencer when I stopped for directions.  There goes most of the Vaseline.  Sigh...the clerk was all ready to draw me out a diagram of how to get to the Forest and explain it to me like a two year old.  All she had to say was stay on the road your on, veer right, and watch for the sign.  I finally got away from her and headed on down the road.  I turn with another vehicle in front of me with 25 minutes to get to the race.  We catch up with another car who was in no such hurry.  It took everything I had to keep from laying on my horn and the guy in front of me was swerving like a Nascar driver at the beginning of the races.  Apparently he was wanting to get to the race on time too.  We finally pull in with a few minutes to spare, but the start is on up the road.  So I park and just grab everything out of Big Bird and take off walking trying to catch up with another person who had his light on.  It was pitch black and I didn't take the time to get my light out.  Sigh...I walked up and they were getting ready to start so I threw my stuff on the ground and went and picked my packet up.  I couldn't see anything.  I hear him giving directions on where to go to get to the trail, but I was trying to find my headlamp, flashlight, anything that would get me some light.  I hadn't even filled my bottles yet.  Normally I do that the night before, but I was too tired and just wanted to go to bed.  I finally find my light, get my number pinned on, my toboggan on, and head over to the RD and ask again which way to go.  Sigh...take a left, then a right, and then watch for the white sign that will lead you to the trail.  Okay, I can do this.  I head off down the road, trying to stay in a good frame of mind.  I remembered the last race I was at, several people came upon me that had arrived late, and they fared well.  So being late is not a big deal.  I looked at my watch, it was only 7:08.  So 8 minutes couldn't make or break my race.  It's pitch black, the stars are shining, and I'm giddy too be on my way.  I hear dogs barking on my left.  I hope they eat the other runners and their bellies are full by the time I get there.  I come upon the left hand turn.  Okay I'm good so far, no dogs, not lost.  Wonder where I'm suppose to take a right at.  He didn't really say.  Am I looking for a sign or is the white sign on the right.  Hey a stop sign, this must be my right hand turn.  Now I'm looking for a white sign.  There it is, good, not lost yet.  I head back on what is called the 'Powerline Trail'.  It is exactly what it is called- it follows the large powerlines up and down hills.  At one point, I hear something rustling in the tall grass beside me and I start thinking about the RD and his mention of mountain lions in his pre-race email.  Geez, now I'm scaring myself.  Get a grip doofus!  I think I see lights dotting ahead of me, but can't tell how far away I am from them with the hills.  The frost makes the footing a little slick and I try to take a sip of water but my bottle has frozen shut.  Owwww....briers.  Not my new pants, I think.  Then a think Ii hear a man named Laz laughing in the wind just as I free myself and catch up with 2 guys.  I follow them until they head down hill, but it doesn't look right and after a couple of steps I turn to go back up and they decide the same thing.  We make our way down another slope and I am feeling pretty good that I actually caught someone. I've seen orange markers, and I'm not lost.  The only thing I can notice is my right heel is tingling  every so often.  I ignore it and catch up with another runner who offers to let me pass, but I'm good and fall in step with him.  Him is Tom from Columbus, Ohio.  We chatted about where we live, his son and where he goes to school, what got me running ultras, and it was nice.  We talked about the chilly morning and he said his car temp read 21 degrees.  Sigh...I told him I was attempting my first 50 miler and he told me the course was pretty tough. of these days I really need to look and learn about elevation charts.  A threesome passed us and called out to Tom and I introduce myself, but I did not get their names.  We finally made it off the Powerline loop and back to the starting line/AS to start the main loop (~13 miles).  I took off my headlamp, debated about going to the bathroom (no), and then made another mistake, I changed hats.  For some reason, I thought with the sun coming up it was going to warm right up for me.  Wrong.  Also, in my heart of hearts, I know I just wanted to wear it because I just got it at an adventure race I did.  It was the cool white hat with the mesh top like you see many runners wear.  It's something I would never buy myself- me being cheap and all.  I hadn't got the chance to wear it yet though. soon as I took off down the trail, I realized I had made a mistake.  I could feel my ears getting cold and the cool air going through the meshing on my hat.  Dumb, dumb, dumb.  I always keep my head covered in the winter to keep from getting sinus headaches and basically being a whiner because I always end up sick.  My nose was already running and I was constantly sniffing to keep snot from running down my face.  Which in turn made my nose start burning.  When I'd reach an uphill and start walking I would cover my nose with my hands and try to warm my breath up and my nose.  Not much luck.  My head was just beginning to hurt, but not too bad yet.  If I can just get around this loop and get my toboggan back on, it's all good.  I notice my right heel is still feeling funky.  I figured it must be the cold, having all my muscles tight.  I just can't seem to get warmed up, nor get a good rhythm.  I plow ahead beating myself up over changing hats, when a hear a voice behind me.  I didn't catch his name, but I heard from Fort Wayne.  So we chatted for a while and I offer to let him pass, but he says he's fine.  We come upon two more runners, Jerry and Emily, and join them for a minute until a downhill and I go around them and keep plowing ahead.  Jerry keeps his pace, but Emily hangs with us and we carry on.  Turns out Emily is shooting for her first 50 miler after having a hip injury.  Fort Wayne gentleman says we're doing good, keeping good pace as we enter the AS.  I grab a few pretzels and they both get some caffeine.  I always try to get in and out of the AS's fast, but I didn't want to be rude and head out without them.  Still not entirely sure of etiquette at times, so I wait while they drink their cokes, even though I feel myself getting stiff again.  We finally head out and Fort Wayne takes the lead.  I stay up with them both for a little while, but my headache and foot has been getting worse and I start walking more.  I watch as they keep going.  I'm still not feeling to bad, not completely in the dumps yet, nor giving up on my first 50.  I know that I'm closing in on somewhere about 15 miles.  So I know I'm gonna be going through a lull.  I usually do around 18-24 miles.  It hits and eventually it passes and I get my second wind and the pity party passes.  I eventually catch up again to Emily who is having a little bit of trouble with her hip and we leap frog back and forth with each other chatting when we pass.  I eventually get it together a little bit, especially after I start seeing familiar landmarks and I know I am on my way back in from the first loop.  I soon come out on the road after seeing Fort Wayne pass me heading back out onto his second loop.  My plan is to potty, get my toboggan back on, grab a PB&J, and get out of there.  I felt good getting in and out and I'm soon munching happily on my sandwich headed back out on my second lap.  Emily and Jerry pass me coming
in from their first lap.  I soon finish my sandwich and start to jog.  Uh-oh.  My foot is not cooperating.  The whole outside of my foot is painful and now the arch is tightening up and rebelling with every step.  I slow to a walk again.  I'll wait until some flat to get warmed up and try again, I think.  All the while, I'm trying to go back and see if I can remember if I twisted it at anytime, but nothing comes to mind.  I felt like I was my usual graceless self out there this morning.  I try to jog again and go for a little bit before I'm forced to walk.  Okay, so I can walk alot of this loop and then see where I'm at.  I start calculating in my head.  If I can get done with this loop by 3:00, then I'm heading back out, otherwise, I'll have to call it a day.  And 3:00 will be pushing it.  Ever so often I will try to jog, but it's not more than 15-20 feet.  The thought of walking for 13 miles is worse than not completing the 50 miler.  Sigh...I soon began to watch the uphills.  If I keep my foot fairly flat the pain lessens when I go uphill.  So then I start favoring my right and using my left leg to push me uphills.   Time is ticking away.  I haven't seen any runners though, so I feel I must not be doing to bad.  Then about 7.5 hours in, my phone rings and its my dad (His ring tone is "Trouble No More" by the Allman Brothers cause its always trouble when he calls).  I answer it because I haven't talked to him in about 2 months.  He sounds pretty good, so I chat for a little while until I come to a huge uphill and I can't waste my breath talking any longer.  I promise to call him on the drive home.  Yes, I always carry my phone with me, but mainly it is to take pics.  I will say I did text my hubby and let him know by now that it looked as if I would be home sooner rather than later.  Seeing as I how I had no time to spare at the beginning of the race, I had not even let him know I made the drive okay.  Sigh...A couple of the 50 milers had already paced me.  Talk about really putting the knife in now.  It was 3:00.  I was done for.  I was walking into the last aid station and she asked if I was going to keep going.  No, it's not my day.  I chatted with her for a few extra minutes.  She was really great, as all of the volunteers throughout the chilly day.  Bless their souls for being out there.  I couldn't do it.  Brrrrr....she let me know I had 2.5 miles to the finish.  I thanked her again and headed toward the finish line.  I had already come to terms with this not being my first 50 miler, so now I was just trying to get done and head home to a warm bath.  Then I came upon Ed.  Ed lives in Louisville, KY, and I have been following his blog because I use to live near him.  I knew that he had surgery and he was back to running again.  So I was super happy to see him heading back out on his 3rd loop for his 50 miler.  We chatted for a few minutes, but I didn't want to hold him up too long.  I wished him well, and he was off.  Not long after that, here comes Emily.  She's looking good and seems to still be aiming for the 50 miler.  I didn't think the RD would let her continue, but he may be lax.  I didn't know.  So I kept trudging ahead.  I heard her say that it was just around the bend.  Thankfully, she wasn't too far off.  The trail soon opened up to the road and I was able to plod down the road trying to smile without grimacing.  I crossed the finish line and I heard the RD explaining to Emily that he didn't think she could make it out and he was including me in the conversation too.  I just looked at him and said, "I'm good with that.  I've already settled on good instead of being great today."  I went and sat in my chair and chatted with a fellow that had run the 1/2 marathon.  He asked how it went.  You know it didn't go how I planned, I learned that I still don't tolerate cold weather, my foot is a little funky, but the course was great, the day was beautiful, people were great, I got a medal. and t-shirt. is good.  I DNF'd my first 50 miler, but I completed my first 50K.  I trudged back to the bus and as soon as the heat was going I cracked open a cold Yoo-Hoo and called my husband and then
my dad.
  Although I made several mistakes, the biggest of all is being undertrained.  Ever since I ran the Air Force Marathon I haven't been able to get back on the training wagon.  I was unprepared and tired.  Physically and mentally tired.  I usually pride myself in being mentally tough and finishing strong, but today was not a good day for either.  At least I know that Lookout Mountain is off for now and until I learn some techniques to get me through the cold weather, I will await warmer weather.  If the foot is fine in the next couple of days, the Harpeth Hills Monkey Marathon in 2 weeks will be my last race for the year.  Considering my first marathon was last April, I'm good with that though.