Here’s how today’s training race went down…..

Today’s 50miler was to be for training only. In my head I knew I would try and be consistent and strong. Troy’s California Trail races is new to me, and I figured a good trail run in the heat with the elevation (9k) would be great Badwater training. 50 miles ? ..sure no problem, I had 12.5 hours if I needed. As I drive up and park, I see a handful of runners…as we are getting ready checking shoes, filling water bottles and slapping on sunscreen I’m analyzing the course entrance, looks like it’s going to be tough! I’ve never been to this trail head before, so it should be interesting. As we get ready for the start, the RD is debriefing us and telling us what color ribbons to follow and oh by the way there could be possible encounters with Mountain lions, and rattle snakes. 😳 great, really hope I don’t run into either ! And with that we were sent on our way.

It’s a 16mile loop and then you repeat counter clockwise. The last out and back is 9 miles. As we all head out, not realizing I’m in front we take off( not intentional) . The first 4 miles was through some rolling hills nothing yet too intense , before I knew it I was in waist high grass and weeds. Single track, rocky, technical and plenty of bugs. As I’m making my was through the bush, I feel an itchy and burning irritation on my legs ( hope I don’t end up picking up a tic) who knows what’s in those weeds ?! I ignore it and keep moving, doing pretty good, the sun hasn’t come out yet, but it’s going to be over 100 today. Finally out in open trail, I make it to the first aid station. As I continue on, I’m falling into a good pace and keep moving. There was definitely some hills with a STEEP grade, my strategy was to still jog em up as not to lose time and the sun hadn’t hit yet, so I was making good time. As I get to mile 14 I see the speedsters heading back on the return loop. In my head I know I’m training ONLY, but I couldn’t resist counting ..hmm 5 men and no women yet ? ….I would be the first one!! So I push a little harder and sure enough when I check in, I’m told First female and in top. Heading back out, I’m thinking I can keep this up, I’m conscientious of the ribbons ( follow the pink ones ) I proceed to make my way back passing the water stations so feeling like I’m on route, I am still making good time and excited about the possibility of winning first woman in. Two hours pass I’m at 10 miles, great only 6 left !
I hadn’t seen anyone for a while, but I start to notice runners that were in the 50 miler event passing me from the other direction? .. I said well maybe they are dropping ? I keep moving and a runner I had talked to in the early part of the race, told me I was going the wrong way ! What ?!!
How could that be, I was following the right loop ?! Feeling frustrated I turned around and retraced the last 5.7 miles to try and figure out what happened and where I missed a turn off. The sun had come out, it was blazing hot, and it was in my head. Mentally I kept thinking about the time I wasted, and I could kiss number one female in good bye. I was frustrated, and tried to get it out of my head, just shake it off and keep moving. I hate the idea of wasting time, but tried to look at is as extra mileage for training, I tried to move faster, I was able to maintain a bit quicker pace, but lost that battle to the reverse extra hills and technical terrain. I couldn’t make up time like I could in a road race, I was seriously struggling. How did I go from doing well to fighting to meet the cut off ? I had to make it to the check in by 2:00 in order to go out for the last loop. I finally came in at 2:15, starving and thirsty and at mile 37.5. The assistant race director told me I didn’t make it and it’s not recommended I go back out, I would need to make 9 miles by 4:30 before I would get swept. I stood there for a minute and looked at all the 50k peeps sitting and relaxing and while it did seem tempting to quit, I couldn’t, I had to try. I refilled water, downed a Gatorade, grabbed a sandwich and went out anyway. I was mentally drained, I ate as I ran and realized the last 9 miles was TOUGH ( I found out later NOBODY attempted to finish ) the sun was beating down on me and I had no ice to keep my temperature down, I was feeling fatigue and my legs were itching and red from the earlier bushes. As I was making my way up hill, I calculated if I hiked the uphill and slowed down the run on the downhill, I could make it. I fought mile after mile and what seemed like an eternity made my way to mile 4, I was feeling nauseated and tired and could feel myself slowing down. More uphill in the open, I kept thinking to myself this is what you need, this is how you will feel in 6 weeks in DV fight it off and push, and I felt myself fall into a low and dark place in my mind. Full of self doubt, I kept moving and poured water from the water stations on my head and switched to my lucky hat. Unfortunately, there was no ice and the water was warm, I tried to make the best of it, and knew I wasn’t going to make the cut off. The next 5 miles were the longest miles of my life and I knew if I could refuel and rehydrate I could finish the last 9. I swear I was hallucinating as thoughts of how and where i messed up earlier replayed over and over in my head. I was mentally torturing myself and I happened to glance down at the ground and a rattle snake went slithering across the trail, I jumped and screamed. Luckily it didn’t bother me and I quickly moved past hoping that was all I would run into. Finally I saw the entrance to the aid station to check in. I looked at my watch and saw that it was 5…the RD was walking toward me, with concern and asks if I’m ok, what do I need ? Apparently they were going to start searching for me. I felt the waterworks start, as he stated the obvious and said I didn’t make it. I said ” but I can finish.” He said ” no my dear you are done, you are the ONLY one who made it this far and the ONLY one who tried. You got some serious guts kid and I’m proud of you” he sat me with the paramedic, and said to eat and drink, and make sure I was ok, someone would drive me in soon. I’ve never been driven in and I felt like a failure, I was so close I had made it 41 miles plus the extra 5.7. I only needed less than 4 miles. I sat quietly and tried to accept it, one of the other runners who was helping with the race kindly drove me back, he said ” your daughter is waiting for you.” That was the best news and unexpected surprise. As we drove back he filled me in on how tough this race was and all the 50 milers dropped down to the 50k. We pulled into the race start I thank him, and get out. I see my Shell and the tears start rolling again, she comes and gives me a hug ” it’s ok mom ” all I needed to hear. We sat and I rested a bit my head still racing with what just happened. The assistant RD asked if I needed anything, I was still thirsty so I drank more Gatorade. As we waited for the RD to come back we all chatted about other races, what to eat for dinner, and it felt good to get my mind off it. I knew I needed to shake it off and I will. ” Turn the page and move on” as my coach @Dave said. I was happy to know that they moved my DNF to a 50k finish. I look at this as a learning experience and accept that sometimes things happen. I need to remember that, and know I’m not a failure, 47 miles is pretty darn good, for a training run, and after all, that is what I came out here for, and In my heart I know I didn’t quit💪🏾 Tomorrow is new day. Maybe I will ride my bike 🙂

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