After all of the craziness of this summer I still had a few big events planned. I went from hardcore Denali training to summitting Denali May 25, 2010. I returned to Connecticut a week later to finish a 26.4 mile trail running race. The Nipmuck is my favorite race and I knew this would be the last year Dave would be running it and wanted to be there. I am glad I went because the race now happens in October and I usually do ultra runs in the fall and won’t be able to run it. The year continued with multiple visits up north to do Traverses and loops. Some of them hiking, some of them running. The biggie was running the Pemi Loop in 9 hours 21 minutes back in August. I continued to train as well during the week by running and biking. I also registered for the Lake Placid Iron Man competition in July 2011 and needed to learn how to swim.
So, as usual, I jumped in headfirst. I bought a swimsuit, wetsuit, goggles, cap, and tri suit. I did a lot of swimming and “pretend” triathalons with distances close to that of an half iron! September came and I ran the Virgil Crest Ultra which was my goal for the fall. I had worked on running a lot this year to prepare for it and it paid off. I did really well and had a ton of fun. The week after Virgil I rode my first Century ride (102 miles) on my bicycle. It was not easy but I had fun. I could feel myself getting more tired, but kept on training.
I began to notice myself riding slower, running slower, feeling more tired, and losing weight very quickly. I was not in the mood to run Bimblers but signed up for it and figured I would get more excited as I got closer to the race. I was getting excited until I started to feel bad on a bike ride last Tuesday night. By Wednesday morning I had serious issues with my stomache and spent a lot of time in the bathroom. I was too sick to eat much more than bread and apples for two days and I just couldn’t seem to hydrate. My pee was very brown and I just felt off. By Friday I started to feel normal again but was still terribly dehydrated. I got as much rest as I could and by Sunday morning I just had a gut feeling that running was not a good idea. I am a very stubborn person and have a lot of self pride. When I say I am going to do something I do it and I finish it unless I can’t move.
I arrived at Bimblers 50k race in the pouring rain. I was very nervous because I felt awful and wasn’t sure how I would do. Some of my friends were there and it was nice to have them out on the trail with me. My friends are faster than me on a good day and way faster on a bad day for me. I wanted to finish in 6 hours which is a reasonable pace for me at the 50k distance.
The race began and I did not feel so good. I figured I would sink into a nice pace and feel better as I usually feel bad for a couple of miles and then start to feel awesome. It didn’t happen. My stomach was acting up again and I wasn’t sure how it would hold up. I felt very tired and worst of all, unmotivated. I ran straight through the first aid station. Soon I was being passed by John, Deb, Ryan, and Rob. I didn’t understand what was up until I found out they ran the wrong way and were trying to regain lost time. There was a pie plate with an arrow pointing to the right. I almost went right but someone who knew the trail stopped a few of us and told us it wasn’t right. He tore down the sign so others would not get lost.
Soon my fast friends were in front of me again and I was coming undone quickly. Then we hit the dirt roads, never ending dirt roads. I hated it! I wanted to quit right there. My right hamstring started cramping and I felt nauseous. This was not my day. The other thing that was strange was that I could not get my heart rate up over 160 BPM which is not normal for me. I usually average around 170 with peaks up to 180 during ultra runs. Something was up. I started to get really cranky and right before I totally flipped out I found myself running with Rob and soon at the halfway point of the race.
Running with Rob gave me a bit of a boost to just hang in there. He had gotten lost twice along with several other runners and his motivation was sinking as fast as mine. We both whined a bit but decided that we would finish even if we walked the rest of the way. The highlight of the run was the top of the cliff. I am a mountain climber and the hills at mile 10 were wonderful! I am not a fast runner on flat terrain but I can motor up and down the hills. The views from the top were spectacular! I had to stop and stand on the edge of the cliff and look down, wondering if we could rock climb any of them. I also took in the lovely views of the fall foliage and lakes.
I had a bit of a second wind and ran a decent pace until I had some major cramping in both my hamstrings, my hip, and both arms. I started to get some chest pain and had trouble breathing. I had a serious panic attack and had to run off into the woods to take off all of my clothes and kick the attack. I couldn’t take my sports bra, heart rate monitor, socks, shoes, or tights any longer. This has never happened to me before while running! I started wondering if I was having a heart attack or if I was going to pass out in the woods naked, never to be found again. I put on my running skirt and upper garments, loosened my heart rate monitor and hip pouch, put on my socks and sneakers, tied my tights around my waist and headed out to the trail where Rob was just coming through. He asked if I was lost or crapping. I told him I had to take my clothes off for a bit and we carried on.
Just before mile 21 I decided I was done, quitting. Everything hurt, I was cramping, crying, and wondering what the heck was wrong! I can usually suffer really well, but today it was not happening. I have a way of focusing on my breathing and putting myself into a semi hypnotic state where I forget about the pain and my thoughts become clouds just passing through my head. Today I just couldn’t find that place. When I came out to mile 21 Ryans girlfriend was cheering me on and helped me fill my water bottle and made me eat. She encouraged me to keep going. I can’t thank her enough for what she did, even though it was probably nothing for her, it meant the world to me. I took a deep breath as she said she would see me at the finish and ran on. I had just met her that morning and I couldn’t believe how helpful she was!
The thought of only running 10 more miles would have been wonderful if it weren’t for those stupid dirt roads. I got so frustrated at one point that I started walking and pulled out my cell phone to text Don and tell him I wanted to just die on the trail. He encouraged me to keep going. I only had about 6 miles to go at that point. We sent texts back and forth and it helped me pass the time. Soon I was back on some trail and put the phone away and started running again. When I ever got to the last aid station and knew I only had about 2.5 miles to go I just wanted it over. I must have looked terrible as the aid station workers seemed concerned but they let me continue. I think I blabbed something about doing lots of ultras and knowing what I was doing and that I would be fine. Honestly, I didn’t know if I would be fine but I just wanted to finish. I sent Don another text to tell him I should be done in a half hour.
I ran as fast as I could for the last two miles. I just wanted to have this race over. I started to hallucinate and see black spots moving around me. My cramps were really bad, my feet hurt and I wanted to cry. I blasted the most aggressive music I had on my ipod and pushed on through. When I ever saw the finish line I was so darn happy. I had blisters all over my feet from loosening my sneakers after my panick attack, but I was done. Ryan and Rebecca were at the finish with big smiles and congratulations for finishing! It was so nice to see them there! Shortly after I came through Rob came through and we were all happy the race was over!
I was really mad at my time, 6 hours 39 minutes. I placed 10th out of women and 43 out of 111 overall. I really wanted a 6 hour finish but that was not in the cards for that day. This was my first 50k. I have run marathons, 50 milers, and 100ks. I was surprised at how similar the 50k is to a marathon distance. I think I prefer the longer races where you knock the pace down a bit. Right now I don’t even want to think about running, but I am looking forward to trying to run the Massanutten 100 in 2011 with some of my friends (if we get in!)
Last night was just terrible. I was up all night with a pounding headache and violent cramps. I just kept my Nalgene bottle in bed with me and drank as much as I could. I would have short moments of sleep and nightmares only to be woken by cramps in my arms and legs. I am not going to be getting a lot done today. I almost passed out in my yoga class and my resting heart rate still hovers in the high 90’s. Drinking lots of water and eating are my goals for today. I learned a lot about what my body is capable of and even when I am feeling my worst my mind is still stronger than my body. My stubbornness is my best friend and my worst enemy. I also confirmed that I am not a quitter and that it is time to give my body a rest. I never feel like I am an athlete and my biggest dream is to become a strong and very fit athlete. Soon enough I will get there! I have only been formally training for 2 years now so I can’t expect too much, yet. 🙂