07 June 2012
50 Miles of Birthday Fun: Race Report of the North Face DC 50 Miler!
I set out to run my heart out, and I fully did that. Even if I didn't go as fast as I wanted, I ran fast, I ran with my heart, and I ran through the mud.
This was my way of celebrating my birthday.
Mary and Erin agreed to run their first 50 miler, and Iliana of course couldn't resist signing up too. The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 miler in DC would be fun!
The course was full of ups and downs, and stream crossings, and an absurd amount of mud. Unfortunately for me, it was also full of nine bathroom stops.
I started out as fast as I could, running below 9:30 pace. It felt good. I felt great. I ran, smiling, felt alive. There was a bunch of mud, I plowed through it.
Ups, downs, along the river - "Is this the Potomac?" "Yes." So pretty! What - this hill, the mud, I'm slipping - I'm sliding, AUGH!
Then I got to the 15 mile ish mark, where I would then do 3 7 mile ish loops, and then run back the 15 ish miles. Wayne was there, and I requested a 5 hour energy shot to be purchased for mile 40. He was all hyper, for some reason. He also asked me, "Is it muddy?" I simply stared, not sure why he couldn't see the mud on my shoes, legs, skirt, shirt, face, arms, and hands. "Yes."
The 7 mile loop was nice. Not too much mud, and I smiled, really enjoying it. The second loop was fun, and I saw Tennessee, who was running her first 50k. I got a giant hug, which lifted my spirits. I felt good, strong.
Oh, but I neglected to mention my tummy troubles. I kept stopping...to go. I stopped a total of nine times during the race. UGH. Why??? I ate everything "right." Who knows why I became the Poop Queen. Oh well.
The third loop, Wayne decided to pace me. He turned his ankle twice. Then he limped back to the aid station after only four or five miles.
The funniest thing about Wayne pacing me was when a woman with two dogs off leash (not sure why she had two dogs off leash in a national park with lots of hikers and runners?) couldn't control her dogs when they began chasing me. "Wayne, do something," I said, pushing ahead. I'm afraid of dogs, especially strange ones that could bite me. Wayne bent over and began barking like a dog, out of control. It was pretty hilarious. Later, he wondered if the ankle turning was karma for barking at the dogs, but I told him it couldn't be.
I ran on. Through the mud and the streams and the pit stops and my hamstring was sore and oh god, the pad of my food and I ran on.
And then I saw something that made me quite angry. I kept seeing this man doing what he could to avoid running through the mud (which was hard - there was mud EVERYWHERE!) and the stream crossings. (At one point, he crossed a stream barefoot, shoes in hand, then sat on the bank, dried off his feet with a towel he carried, and put his shoes back on!) He spent so much time avoiding the mud and wet - but then he'd get all annoyed and want to pass me and I kept having to pull aside to let him pass. Well, I looked up at one point, and we were all struggling and could not run b/c it was so muddy and slippery and we were struggling to stay upright - when he was on a parallel paved path. I was so angry, I called him out on it. "You're not on the course. That's not fair! You're cutting the course!" He sweetly smiled, "Have a great race."
What a complete jerk.
But I pushed on. I ran my heart out, as usual.
I finished, tears in my eyes. It was my birthday present to myself. Through the mud and nine pit stops, all by myself (not counting the 5 miles where Wayne was running ahead and having his own fun in the woods, which I don't really consider pacing), I did it. Not my fastest, or second fastest, but third fastest. Still, pretty respectable. So happy - I'm getting back to the runner I used to be, the runner with so much heart.
I rinsed off and waited for Mary and Erin. They came in, side by side, spacey but so happy, followed soon by Iliana. I was so proud of all of them, so happy for all of us.
It was a wonderful birthday present.