17 February 2014

Iron Horse 100k: A Good, Painful Kick in the Butt

Tears. Pain. Suffering. Agony. Swollen feet. Sugar sand. Palm trees. Friendship. Getting lost.

And that sums up Iron Horse 100k!

I went into the race, thinking it would be my kick-my-butt-back-into-shape race. When I was in Colombia, I ran daily but minimally; I ran generally around an hour a day. I ran 90 minutes once or twice. Then I flew back into NYC winter of snow and ice and cold cold cold - so training was greatly reduced and miserable. Very sad.

I headed down to FL to visit my Gram, see some friends (Jessica & Chris) and help with a Chaos Cooking

As Jessica and I drove to the race, it began to downpour. I could barely see the road; I didn't want to run in it. Ugh. Luckily, the rain had stopped by the time we began running.

Jessica was to crew me and pace me at the end and chill out with the runners; she hadn't been running for a while so was looking for a bit of inspiration. Chris let me store my gear in his car during the race (so it wouldn't get soaked on should it downpour again) and was also the Medical Director of the IH100.

The course was different this year. You head out and run 1.75 miles on a paved bike path, then turn around. You arrive back at the start and run about 2 miles on the same paved bike path (but in the opposite direction) and then turn and head onto a sandy trail. Then you do two different lollypop loops in the woods, and then head back out on the sand trail to the paved path - and that is a total of 25 miles. If you do the 100k, you have a weird turnaround but everyone runs the same race.

The aid stations are pretty basic, the volunteers uber-polite high school kids ("Can I get you water, ma'am?" Ma'am? What?! I'm such a New Yorker.), the trail pretty and a little static scenery. It was a nice race; I did it last year and I wouldn't mind doing it again.

I started out feeling good. It was a little chilly, but not bad. I had arm warmers on, and a long sleeved tee that I took off after a few miles.

I felt good and then after around 20  miles, I was running with a girl named Megan in the 100 miler. We saw a pink ribbon on a tree on either side of a gap, so we assumed we entered and ran on in. After a while, we saw some other pink ribbons so figured we were on course. Not so. According to my watch, we ran over 2.22 miles extra. Ugh. It took us a while to figure it out, and the ribbons I saw were faded pink - so probably up from last year or another event. UGH.

After getting lost, despite having led the 100k that entire way, I felt mentally defeated. Being a lollypop course, I saw how many people had passed me in the time I got lost. My head was lost.
I really was miserable but Chris made me smile.

I got back to the start/finish in tears. Jessica and Chris cheered me up and I was pretty low. I headed out for another loop.

I started to perk up. This wasn't so bad. I'd pick it up. Maybe even get my 100k lead back if I really felt good? Unfortunately, I crashed into the second loop. I had my ipod in my pocket for "emergencies" such as this. I slipped my headphones into my ears as tears pricked the corners of my eyes.

I ran. I stopped and stretched. I walked a baby hill. I stretched. I ate a gel. I ran, walked, stretched, cried.

And then Major Lazer came on with "Watch for This" and I began dancing. Why the hell not? My race was shot. Why not have fun? 

I came into the aid station again with just 12.5 miles. I asked Jessica to please pace me the entire rest of the way. "I'm run-walking. Please. You can keep up."

And she did. We talked, told stories, chatted about Burning Man, about running, love, families, work, life. The moon rose in the sky as we plodded on and I felt sick. Thank you, Port-a-Potty-Gods (or the RD, Chris) for placing a port-a-potty right by the aid station.

And then I stumbled into the finish. I was so relieved to be done. I think I was second woman? Another buckle (yep, this 100k gives you a buckle), some food, and of course, a mandatory stop at Dairy Queen.

What did I learn? I'm out of shape. I'm going to use the next few weeks to gear up, to train myself as hard as I can. Also, when it sucks, blast Major Lazer. And dance when you can't run.

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