Dances with Dirt would be a fun race to test my limits, push me, see what I was capable of. After two months of backpacking (Hostelling, drinking, dancing, beaches, new friends, that sort of thing, not climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro or anything, though I did do some volcano hiking!) around Central America, going through a heart-wrenching breakup that made running difficult at times, I figured I’d see what I was capable of. Ouch.
The course is a fast one; a five mile loop, a twenty mile loop, repeat that twenty mile loop, another five mile loop. This year, there was no water on the course (compared to the rivers of trails last year), and it was mainly flat. A few ups and downs, some running in sand (one step forward, half a step back), and a river crossing. (Me to the photographer: “Are you here for my Glamour Shots?” I got my feet wet, laughed, there was nothing else to do really!) I saw a snake, three armadillos (one dead, two alive), and I screamed at each sighting. I’m a New York woman, and we don’t take kindly to wildlife. It did up the adrenalin in my system, and you can bet I ran a lot faster.
I started the race feeling strong. The first fifteen miles I felt great; I suppose one always does in a 50miler. I met lots of great new people, including a federal agent who I chatted with about Central America. I ran with the guy who won the race last year. I ran with other interesting people; I ran alone. Miles 1-26 flew by.
Though that’s why so many people do marathons…
Because once you pass the marathon mark, that’s where the real pain kicks in (though I do know how marathons can hurt).
I essentially ran alone the rest of the race. A small race means a smaller field, which means less people to run with. I tried not to feel lonely; I enjoyed the scenery. My hamstrings were in excruciating pain, which is weird, something I’ve never dealt with before. My shins felt sore. My head, well, it was dizzy. I was hallucinating and not seeing things clearly the latter half of the race. Nothing was satisfying me; not gels, not Powergel Blasts (my fave), not pretzels with creamless Oreos (I couldn’t deal with the creams so I scraped it off before shoving the naked cookies in my mouth with the pretzel rods). I craved homemade cookies, real M&Ms, real food. I craved sanity. I was not taking my endurolytes, and it clearly showed.
The pain grew on. The last five miles flew by, but dragged. passed me. My asthma held me back; I had to stop and walk, puffing on my inhaler, crying, wishing for a regular breath.
I finished. 6th woman overall, 3rd woman in my age group, a slightly slower time than last year. I tried not to be too disappointed, but there were tears of frustration in my eyes. I collected my age group mug prize, and limped to the rental car to experience the arduous, painful drive of 4 hors to my grandmother’s house on the East Coast…where I went straight to a Valentine’s dance with her, in my Odwalla jacket, scrapes, mud, and sweat. The old people at my grandma’s retirement community were amused, and amazed, and perplexed. I guess I still am, but mostly, I impress myself when I push myself past my limits.
My hamstrings are still sore, and I’m realizing I need to up the miles. I will. And Umstead, you beast, I’m getting ready for you.