Thursday, April 26, 2012

Labor Of Love 50 miler Weekend and Race Report

Warning: This post will be long as I recap the entire weekend as well as write a race report for my first 50 miler. I finished up teaching my bootcamp Weds night by running a 5k with the gals I had been training for the past 6 weeks, then headed home to shower and off to my brother and sis in laws to stay and they took me to the airport Thursday morning.  I arrived in Vegas around 10:30am due to the time change of 3 hours and got my rental car and on the way to the excalibur hotel found an In and Out Burger!!! YUMMM.  I got settled in the hotel room and discovered there was no fridge so I found a walmart and bought a nice size cooler for $25, some water and diet dew, crunchy jiff peanut butter and bananas.  I headed off to Henderson where the packet pickup was that evening and there was a panera bread there so I went ahead and grabbed a cinnamon crunch bagel so that I would have that for breakfast on Saturday morning. They had a plastic bag so that it wouldnt get too dry and stay semi fresh. I went back to the hotel and started sorting the items to put in my drop bags.  I had brought the XXL ziplock bags with me so they were see thru and then I wrote on the front with a sharpie key items in each. On the course there were two drop location and then your starting point so I had made 2 bags with mostly the same items because I didnt want to get to past the one stop and say damn I wish I woulda grabbed this or that.  In each bag I had extra socks,long sleeve shirt, body glide, extra hat, tylenol, motrin, sample packs of biofreeze, bite size payday, swedish fish, jelly beans, and gum. The things that were different and only in one bag were items like headlamp and knuckle lights, one in one bag one in the other- I had no idea how long it would take me so I was prepared for a night time run if needed. My knee brace was in one bag while my IT Band strap was in another. One had my ipod shuffle with yurbuds and the other had my bluetooth headset and armband for my iphone.
I also decided to bring a bag that I left at the start and we came back here at mile 22 and mile 44 in which I had things I may want before the race like banana, I also put my foam roller in there in case I had any issues.  That evening I ate the buffet at the hotel and went to bed around 9ish but was midnight my time. My plans for the next morning were to drive to Death Valley California. I planned this to be an all day event to keep me off my feet as much as possible and also to feel the unseen encouragement on part of the Badwater 135 course from one of my all time running idols who has also become a hugh mentor for me while training for this 50 miler Marshall Ulrich.  I woke earlier then anticipated and decided to go ahead and get on the road.  It was about 6:30am and for me this is early unless I do have a race!  I got into the town of Pahrump and my garmin gps died and the charger wouldn't come on after plugging into both outlets in the rental car.  I found a wal-mart and bought a new charger opened it and it didnt work either, now I realized it wasnt the charger but the car.  Phone service was in and out so I couldnt rely on my gps on my phone to get me to and from where I was going so I called the rental car company.  They directed me incorrectly however to a rental location in this town to trade in the car, it was actually across the street from where I was calling them from but they directed me well past the area and didnt tell me it was an enterprise not an alamo! This took about 90 minutes of my time and it was getting hot hot hot outside but I wasnt really in any hurry.  I had already pre-paid for my rental car to be refueled and this place gave me the car on about 1/4 of a tank and they said to tell them when I returned it to give me credit for my prepayment. Onwards I headed to Furnace Creek and Badwater.

I arrived at a beautiful place that read Exploring the Badlands. I walked up the mountain a bit to find gorgeous landscaping and in every direction I looked it was completely different. Absolutely breathtaking. At this point it was only around 10:30am and already in the 90's."but it's a dry heat" I don't know how many people would say this to me as I was watching the weather forecast for the weekend and I couldn't get through to them that I do understand the dry heat verses humid heat but hot is hot and 90-100 degrees when you are coming from temps that are in the low 30's to high 50's all month you better watch yourself.  Also dry heat sucks the moisture right out of you so I had brought with me a cooler with some water to drink all day.
 I continue on and I arrive at The Inn At Furnace Creek, talk about being overcome with emotions, it was really strange I just teared up with the reality of knowing where I was. I am at Furnace Creek, I am only 17 miles away from Badwater Basin where the Badwater 135 begins each year and all the stores I have read from those who have finished and attempted this run and inspire me daily have all been in the exact place where I was standing! It was kinda surreal and I found myself overcome with emotions many time through out the day but it was all in a good way. The beauty I was seeing and the indescribable feelings that almost left me in a trance.  I got out of the car and went inside the Inn, walked out on the patio and just took some deap breaths and admired the scenery.  Then it was off to Badwater Basin, I made a couple of the different side stops off the main road, the "devils golf course" was really interesting to see as well as some other areas but I don't recall their names.  When I got to Badwater Basin it was now 101 degrees, these were record temperature in the area this weekend also. Another thing I noticed is when you look out onto the dry desert you will see different vortexes made of dust just spinning around, makes you wonder why the wind is picking up in just that spot?
devils golf course

I decided to go on to Stovepipe Wells and as I left badwater basin on the way I stopped at The Ranch at Furnace Creek and decided to eat breakfast at the 49er Cafe. They were just getting ready to open and the area was quite busy. I ordered a pasta and chicken dish that was very tasty.  I asked my server if it was worth the drive to Stovepipe Wells and he told me about the sand dunes. I didnt fill up my rental car at Pahrump like I should have and one gas station was 5.71 a gallon!! I found out there was another place right up the road but still is was around 4.90-I asked the man at the gift shop what was up with that and he said the place that is 5.71 is privately owned and they are not regulated on pricing and theirs is 4.90 but it is regulated by Death Valley, he also said they usually get there gas in Pahrump.  I didnt have enough gas to get to Stovepipe Wells and back to Pahrump so I had to put enough in it to get me back to less expensive gas.  When I got to the area with the sand dunes they really were just amazing.  I got out of the car - gasping from the "dry heat" and walked on out to check them out.

 After Stovepipe Wells I decided to head on back to Vegas.  The drive back was uneventful except for the occasional powerless tear that would come from my eyes. I did take something for sleep on the road back around 4:30pm so that it may kick in by the time I got back and got settled.  I ate dinner and laid down.  I actually slept pretty well that evening, a typical nights sleep for me has me up and down 4-5 times during the night anyways and with a big event the next day usually it's tossing and turning all night long.  The race started at 7am and it was about a 30-40 minute drive to the parking area then they bussed you to the start.  I got up around 5am and ate my bagel with crunchy peanut butter and drank a diet dew. I was unable to go to the bathroom so grabbed my gear and headed off.  I started drinking water and diet dew on the way over as it was to be another record breaking day of heat. I arrived at the parking lot and met a couple folks there and it was around 70 and I put on a lightweight jacket just to wear while we waited for the run to start and then took it off. Before the run I spoke with some folks that were planning on doing the hundred miler I wish I would have gotten their names and such cause I really enjoyed their pre race stories.  Through out the run when we would cross paths we always spoke and sometimes a high five.  I recall one guy who was a super cutie from LA, I was coming in from my second lap so about mile 36-40 and he was on his way out for lap 3 and he said "this is starting to kick my ass" I know he was in the top for the first couple laps but by looking at the results I can't tell how he finished as it doesnt list where people are from. There was several different distance going on-at 7am the 100 miler, 50 miler and marathon started then at 7:30 they started the half marathon and at 8am started a 10k. The elevation at the start of the run was around 4662 and I was coming from an elevation of about 530. The run started and it was a gradual 4.6 mile climb up to about 5350 feet and I just took it nice and easy, I had decided I was going to run for an hour unless there was a big climb then after an hour I would go to a 5 min run 1 mil walk game so I started this after stopping at the first aid station.  This station was at the bottom of a mile long 500 foot drop, from the top of this hill you could see way down in the distance the camper and tent for the aid station. I already had a headache, not sure if it was due to elevation or salt loss and asked a guy if I should take tylenol or motrin at this point and he asked if I was already hurting and I said no just a headache and he then said he used advil and he too kinda had a headache.  I took 2 tylenol since is was so early in the game. I made sure I had plenty of gels, got 6 salt tablets and grabbed a payday to bring with me as the "dry heat" was sucking the moisture right out of me. Here we begin another long gradual climb for another 5.5 miles up to the 11 mile marker turn around...this is about 6000 feet.  I was feeling really good and was excited about getting to gradually go downhill for such a long time and even described this station as the half way of the half way before the quarter remains-atleast that sounded great in my mind.  I usually dont listen to music but went ahead and took my ipod and headset and turned it on.  I was just singing my heart out and dancing around, those that I would cross paths with seemed to enjoyed it or their big smiles made me feel like they were. I got lots of high fives and encouragement and I also gave them in return. Even though this was a gradual downhill I decided to try my best to stick with my plan of 5 min run 1 min walk until I got to the aid station before what I named to be "hell hill" A couple of these miles I was pulling off some 10:20 min mile pace! I got to the aid station and looked to see if I needed anything, drank a few drinks of a cold diet dew, my ice in that cooler was almost melted at that point but the diet dew was still cold, I wish I had asked them to re ice the cooler at that point so that I would have a nice cold COKE ZERO for my next trip up "hell hill"
looking up hell hill
 I grabbed my ITB strap incase it would act up I would have it on me and talked to a few folks there and then it was time to climb 500 feet in just a sucked but I made the best of it.  Once I hit the peak I started my run/walk and here kept a nice 11 min mile pace, I was really feeling great.  When I hit the mile 22 point I checked in grabbed a half of pbj sandwich, thought I would love to roll out my legs with the foam roller  but there wasnt really anywhere to be able to roll on it so I just took it and pushed it up and down on my quads to get myself pumped, one more out and back then a quick 3 miles out 3 miles back. I also decided to grab my iphone and that way I could text my son and some friends and let them know where I was.  As I headed out on this lap I noticed so many folks just walking ahead of me and it was getting really hot so I too decided to walk quite a bit. I got to the aid station and for some reason I decided to change shoes and socks? Maybe cause my feet were hot, they were not hurting at all and even though they were the same style shoe those had a different insert (I was use to both the insert and the normal insert) I thought maybe as I went further that little bit of extra support that the insert would give my arch may be important. By this time the marathon aid stations folks were finished so it left us with 5.5 miles between each for fluids and such.  I refilled my 2 bottles for my fuel belt and due to the heat had them both drank with still 3 miles till the next station!  Others were running into the same problem.  I made it and spoke with them about it and they were aware and were working on fixing this problem, one lady took some water with her and drove her car down a mile and was there for people then they put pitchers of water unmanned at several more of the tables that were remaining from the earlier manned stations.  This was mile 34 and one of the ladies working this station said it looked like I was starting to burn but my sunscreen was at the next stop, she said oh I have some but it was the rub on and she started to run it on my back and it was solid salt-you could actually hear her trying to rub it on my skin "scratch scratch scratch" I never really paid too much attention to my garmin on this second loop, I didnt want to see where I was even though by the course I  knew where I was, I didnt want to see my time I just was having fun and taking it all in. Here I was again at the bottom of "hell hill" It was kinda exciting because I knew I only had to go over it once more then just out 3 and back 3 and I was done!  It was so hot my food in my special needs bag had melts, I grabbed a couple more paydays and when I opened one I had to bit it off the wrapper.  I also grabbed a couple swedish fish, or should I call it a clump of swedish fish since they were melted together.  They asked if I wanted some pasta salad and they put some in a cup, I got a cup of ice and poured some of my coke zero on it and that was heavenly. I had just sent my mother and son an update telling them I was getting ready to climb that monster hill for the last time and that I was feeling really good and my hands were full from a cup of pasta salad, a coke zero and cup of ice so when I was climbing the hill trying to put my phone away it slipped and down it went, totally breaking the glass front. Good news is it still works. I made the crest of the hill and then just ran when it felt good walked when I needed to.  I had about 4 miles left to the mile 44 check point and I could feel a major blister coming on the toe next to my big toe on my left foot.My friend Lara had arrived from California and I sent her a message to see if she could find my blister kit as I knew I had a good one coming on.  They had not returned my drop bags from the course yet so it wasnt there, a few minutes later I could actually feel the blister taking over the entire toe and each step I could feel it squishing around in my sock.  I then messaged her and said I think its gonna be a bad one so see what you can find out. I made it to the check in, only 6 more miles to go. I sat in the chair and Lara friend Hector started taking off my shoe, the medic seemed preoccupied telling the race director about locking her keys in the car so Lara and Hector became my medics.  Finally I got the race directors attention and asked her opinion and she said it was so many layers of blister and so deep that popping it shouldnt be considered, instead she put a bandaid on the top of the toe then wrapped around the toe to keep the toenail from falling off over the next 6 miles and to try to keep that squishing sensation away.  It was painful at first because of the compression and the 3 mile uphill I struggled alittle, I hit the turn around mark and refilled my water and knew I had 3 miles to go.  I did look at my garmin and it told me I only had 2.5 to go but I was just past the mile 3 turnaround so my dancing back and forth on the course added some distance to my run. :-)  I got to mile 50 and I just stopped I thought ok Im done! Its mile 50 come get me!!! But I was actually feeling good so good that I averaged a 12:30 min mile for those last 3.5 miles!  I finished at 50.48 miles in 12:10 I couldnt believe it but in the back of my mind I was hoping to be around 12 hours but never dreamed it possible.  I also had the preconceived notion that I wouldnt be able to even walk afterwards and I was feeling great!  I sat down and we had to wait for my gear bags to be returned before we left, I ate a small cinnamon roll and drank some ice water. One thing that was kinda a bummer is that all the shirts and the medal was the exact same for all the distances :-( so someone that did the 10k got the same shirt and same medal that I did, dont know why thats important but it did kinda bum me out.  There was a guy that came in just in front of me getting ready to leave and he had an orange bib this was for the 100 miler, I about dropped my jaw and said you did the hundred in 12 hours! He then said no he had dropped to the 50, the heat was too much for him.  My bags arrived and we headed back to the hotel, Lara drove my car even though I felt ok to drive I think this was the best thing to do.  We made it to a Mcdonalds and all I could think about was an Iced Carmel Frap! So I got that and a double cheeseburger.  When we arrived back to the hotel, Hector brought my drop bags up to the room and we all hung out talking for hours.  There wasnt any rooms available but I had 2 double beds so they just stayed with me.  I had some humas dip and triskets left in the cooler and ate that and later ate some peanut butter pretzels, I still didnt have a big appetite.  We went to bed around midnight I guess but I couldnt sleep, tossed and turned alot and had some muscle soreness but not at all what I was expecting. My knee and joints felt fine, my toe was nasty and it was hard to sleep due to the weight of the sheet just touching it.  By 6am I was thinking about an In and Out Burger and Hector said it's Vegas they will be open so he headed down the road to grab us some, they were closed! When he got back it right at 7am and the buffet was just opening downstairs so we headed down to that.  I had some bacon, tator tots, some little breakfast burrito, a pancake, piece of french toast and little waffle, then a couple of apple things with some icing on them.  I didnt over do it and felt ok.  I decided since I don't know when I will see Lara again that I didnt want to go back to bed instead lets go do something so we headed to see Pawn Stars place then to old Vegas to the Golden Nugget and such. Leaving our hotel was a challenge as Hector couldnt remember which door he came in after looking for In and Out Burger earlier so we walked around and around the hotel till he finally asked where the garage was that he parked in.  My left side of my stomach had been cramping alot especially when I walked, I think it was due to some gastral and bowel issues since I really hadnt had any. When we got to The Golden Nugget I was super thristy so we found an open bar and I guzzled about 3 or 4 waters then  we snuck outside "hotel guest only" and got a closer look at the shark tank.  We walked around for a good couple hours and by this point my legs were still not bad but I could feel the tiredness in my eyes so we decided to go back to the excalibur and hang by the pool in the 99 degree heat! Once we got to the pool I had a couple frozen drink (the yard kind) and that was enough of those.  Met a super nice couple and hung with them till Lara and Hector had to head on home, they left around 4. I realized that I hadnt eaten since 7am and my tummy was starting to feel sick, I was still thinking about an In and Out Burger but my tummy was feeling so bad I didnt feel like driving anywhere so I stopped at a burger joint just off the elevator at the hotel, ordered a cheeseburger and fry.  The fries were really tasty and ate about half those but only took a couple bites of the burger and was feeling alittle better and decided to go get the In and Out Burger I'd been thinking of all day.  I only had 2 more bites left on my burger and I am the type that eats around something and saves the best for last and my tummy really started to cramp I knew at that point I wasnt going to get to eat those last 2 bites! Off to the potty I briskly walked but was disappointed, nothing and still cramps.  I got back to the hotel and got an ice cream from Coldstone Creamery and also some cinnamon nuggets for later from Auntie Annes Pretzel.  The ice cream tasted great but when I got back to the room my tummy was still bothering me and I lost my ice cream and my burger :-( atleast ice cream is smooth coming back up!! I went to bed and the next morning the only plans I had was to lay by the pool.  My friend Trixie had suggested a short run to flush things out if I felt like it and I got up at 7am feeling great.  It was already warm but I decided to take a slow run and see how I felt, I wrapped some tissues around my toe and off I went.  It felt surprisingly great!  I ran about 3.5 mile in about 40 minutes then went back to the hotel and walked over to the Luxor for their breakfast buffet.  It was really good! They had different pasta salad, humas dip and pita bread which was perfect. I had on pancake and wasnt that special but loved the pasta and pita bread.  I sat and drank my drink and just relaxed to let settle what I had just ate because I didnt want to stuff myself and get sick. I spent the next couple hours poolside and met a couple gals from Vermont.  When they came back with their lunch consisting of a pretzel dog and something else I had a craving for a hotdog?? I remembered seeing a Nathans sign at the Luxor which was just across the street so I headed that way.  I turned the wrong way when I got inside and it ended up taking me almost and hour and a half to get to it!  Again these fries were really good and so was the hotdog.  Once I got back to the pool I hung out till about 4pm and Lara had texted me and suggested I go to the Mirage for Carnegie Deli, she said I could take a cab or walk and that it was a good walk.  I decided to walk, I wasnt in any hurry but it sure looked closer then what it was.  Once I got there I ordered the turkey bacon club, side of fries and (a piece of cheesecake to go)  I ate about half the fries and half the sandwich and took the rest of the sandwich back with me.  I decided to hit run keeper on my phone to see just how far of a walk this was and it was 3.5 miles each way but it was worth it and my body was feeling remarkably great.  I flew out the next morning and wore my compression sleeve due to a long flight.  On my way back from Columbus I stopped at my favorite place for dinner and when I was in the middle of dinner I decided to see if the results were posted yet and they had them up. I started searching from the bottom because I am usually at the back of the pack and I saw a Jennifer age 44 with a different last name placed like 4 from the end and thought they got my name wrong, when I looked over at her time I realized nope keep going!  There were 36 people in the 50 miler and I placed 14th! I started crying again! There were 6 women in my age bracket 40-49 and I placed 2nd! HOLY COW.  There were 15 women in the 50 miler and I was 5th overall woman!  I have no regrets I feel fantastic and know I coulda pushed myself harder if I wanted to but it wasnt about that for me, it was like all the events that I do FUN. Enjoy every minute of it! Im not real good at adding these picture in the middle of my blog so I will add the rest here at the end.
the heat burnt my bananas

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