Friday, February 8, 2013

St Croix Scenic 50 Miler

 I went into this run with total self doubt....I've never ever felt this kind of self doubt since I started doing "races"  I think a lot of it started from the beginning of being asked to do this race in November knowing it was prolly too many miles on my schedule at the time while training for Umstead 100 which will be coming up in April. I also think when my friend that invited me to "come along" and do this event with her bailed on me just a week before Christmas played with my mind as well.  After the JFK50 on November 17th I had some major foot issues in which we thought was a navicular stress fracture, after only a few short runs and an Xray and MRI several weeks after the run we did rule that out.....RELIEF! I still couldnt get my mind to start putting the miles in that I was use to putting in? I had dropped down to 110-130 miles for the month of November and the month of December where my mileage for the past 8 plus months had been 190-220 miles per month.  This also plays on your mind....did you do enough - are you ready - gosh I dont wanna hurt that bad again right now :)  Then the added stress of how to come up with the funds to do this trip that were not expected....especially right after Christmas and right after my sons Spring College semester is due. I bit the bullet and just decided it will all work out. As the time got closer I got a little more anxious and more self doubt and even started allowing myself to believe that I can take this as a vacation and when I want to drop just drop out of the "race" and then go enjoy the rest of the day on the beach.  The good news came to me just a week before I was to leave, a friend from school whom I knew but not super well due to the fact that she was 3 grades ahead of me but she was living there and had been since 1990!! Awesome I wont be alone!  I was told she was on facebook so we connected and exchanged info and we were both looking forward to catching up......she graduated 28 years ago and me....well if she is 3 grades ahead of me I dont need to type that out :) We went to dinner the night I arrived and on Friday I had planned a half day snorkel trip with Mikey from Jolly Rogers who holds the course record for this run...he has lived there since 1984 and it was his birthday on Friday...47 years young and was in amazing shape.  I then started looking at past race results, not many have ever signed up for the event and this is still a very young venue.....this was the 4th year for it.  When I saw that Mikey's first year time was 10:47 and the 2nd year of the event the Race Director had a DNF at mile 38, and all 3 previous years had 2-3 DNf's with the max participants being 10 I was now allowing myself to have more self doubt.  It was so nice to do the snorkel trip with Mikey since he had done the race for the past 3 years and each year he did improve becoming the record breaker the year before with a crazy time of 8:18!  After snorkeling I had a late lunch then a couple hours later Michelle picked me up and we went to super. On Saturday morning my friend was working a Cruzan Rum factory so picked my up on her way in and gave me a nice tour....super time!! Then it was back to the hotel for the race meeting at 4pm.  I was concerned about the organization of the race as I had not been getting any updates, one site showed the race started at 5am one showed 6am....I didnt know what the sunrise sunset situations were and nowhere did it list what you should a light if it's dark!! When I did Labor Of Love 50 in NV even though it started early it was already light and didnt get dark till later. I did find out that yes....I needed a light cause it is dark and we start in a kinda shady area of town.  This is also when I found out the race started at a location almost 3 miles from the finish which was at our now the stress of how do I get to the start! YIKES. Everything always works out......there were 5 of us staying at the hotel and the RD picked us all up at 4:30 am the morning of the race, the RD also found a local lady that gave me a handheld light to get me thru the dark....ah I can "relax" now.  The nice thing was this year they decided to open the run up for 4 person relay teams and I believe there was 3 teams so this was 3 extra people out of the course at all times and there were what I was told 11 solo runners.
We got to the fort and put our drop bag in the back of a van and chatted and met everyone who we didnt have a chance to talk to at the meeting and wished everyone well......the start was with a whistle being blown. I stayed in the back with another gal and felt pretty good for the first 6 miles, the humidity was horrid already and I was drenched by the end of the first tummy started to bother me - mostly due to my silly race morning Poo anxiety so I was hoping for a porta potty....ahhhhhh there is was right as we were out of the downtown area and starting up our first big climb.....I stopped and was soooo glad I did.  I took my time to be sure that I could get my belly under control, this was way too early for belly issues. I knew the gal that I was ahead of would pass on by but I've never been one to worry about what place I am in it's all about finishing and having a great time.  Still my head was trying to figure out at what mile was I gonna drop? Should I get to the half way and call it quits then? The roads were steep and it was still dark and by the time I got to the first climb I had this view

  I looked at how far I had already climbed and asked myself...what did you sign up for!? hahaha But it made me laugh and started helping my mind to not just think about stopping instead I had small thoughts of wondering what this view will be like on my way back since it will be light at that point....but I still wasnt at the point of convincing myself I wanted to do this.  I started posting some photos on my FB page and my friends would start encouraging me and motivating me and nobody had any self doubt and I tried not to portray the feeling that I did at this time either.  As I got onto a dirt road with a little bit of technicality but mostly just from some washed out ruts and larger gravels a man on a bike came upon me and started to keep me company, turns out he was the RD for the St Croix 70.3 which he still owns but now WTC promotes it as well.  He was telling me about what was to come, he described some downhills that would be steep and then another couple inclines then it would level out with rolling as we got back down to ocean level and onto the turn around in Fredericksted....he then proceeded to tell me about the inclines on the way back being 27% grades and his words exactly was almost too steep to even walk! More words out of his mouth were this is probably the toughest 50 miler around....due to the heat humidity time of the year and the nasty grades of the hills....not only are they nasty grades they are long hills....soon I found myself on the steep hill but I was going down it first, it was so steep I had to turn around and go down backwards to save my knee - There was a young girl walking up at this time from one of the relay teams, I asked how much further was this hill and she but didnt give me a real answer..
by the time I got to the bottom and it leveled out I think I looked at my watch and figured I was only about 6 miles or so from the turn around and at this time I decided I was going to change into my HOKA's since they would be more cushioning for my feet and knees for these steep grades....It was such a pleasant view at the bottom, the crystal clear waters of the Caribbean gave me something to daydream about.....

now I wasnt thinking that I was calling it quits at the halfway point, now I was thinking like Jennifer....You finish what you set out to do unless you will risk major harm to your body. There was no major harm that I could foresee at this time, however I did have to really watch the heat, I had to stop and sit (yes beware of the chair) but that was the smartest thing I could do if I were to finish this bastard. Sit with an ice covered wash cloth and joke around to keep my spirits high with those in the aid station.  Matt the RD was everywhere!! He had a jeep and would be on the back road always checking on us....well I should say me since there was really never any other runners around and I am sure he checked on all runners the same.  The heat was so bad that sometimes my 22oz handheld wouldnt keep water for 3-5 miles so he would show up out of the blue or someone else that had just come out to help and check on the runners and they would have water or ice for us.  When I got back to this hill but this time I had to go up I was just hoping the entire time that THIS was the hill the guy from the 70.3 race was telling me about not that I had another one like this!! He was right...I wanted to crawl!! I found myself having to stop from getting so hot and my legs would just shake, I remembered to take my S caps the best i could trying one every 30 min but I know I missed several because I would look in my bag and had counted out enough for 2 every hour of the run if it were to take the entire 14 hours and I had plenty left.  I stopped and stretch on a guard rail and just stopped and laughed a couple times cause it was just freaking insane!! This incline lasted for about a mile and half from what I judged and then there was prolly another mile or so on the dirt road again till we got to an aid station....

this is where I sat and just cooled off a bit, they had a wash clothe with ice and we put it on my head with my visor on top.  I asked if that was the nastiest of the climbs and they said yes but there were still plenty ahead and once the largest climbs were done we had a little over 7 miles on the road roads, the traffic drives on the wrong side and we are required to run with the traffic, these are very very narrow roads and no sidewalks so it is super scary!!  When I hit mile 34, I had remembered seeing the marker on the way out thinking seriously I will have 16 more miles when I get here but that was also when I was still trying to convince myself to not finish but it was also another mental time for me that said when you get here you will have less then 4 hours to go and I think this is when I posted on FB that IF I finish this run I am seriously thinking about legally changing my name to Jennifer BADASS Hatcher.....notice I did use the work IF.....those that know me the words Can't, Quit, and If  are NOT in my dictionary.  There was still lots of nice long climbs that I walked up and another that I had to go down backwards in certain areas, I knew I was getting close at this time to my first aid station where I had stopped with tummy issue in the was mile 5 ish on the way out but I knew on the way back there was an extra 2.8 miles from the fort to the hotel.  I got to the bottom of the hill and the aid station sat across the main road this time....had a blast with these folks too.  The 2 guys were drinking beer and the girl started telling me about the big climbs still yet to come and I was like thanks A LOT!!! She said Im only telling you this to be sure you stay hydrated because there was prolly a good 4 miles till another aid station. They refilled my handheld and she said take the rest of this gatorade with you.  I felt a little dizzy from the heat so I decided to sit down on the guard rail for a moment and cool off with some ice and cold rag while who knows what stories came out of my mouth...I tend to tell a lot of jokes and make stupid comments at the aid stations cause it boosts my mentality as well.  This last stretch was uncomfortable mostly due to the narrow roads and having to run with the traffic and you are sooooo worn out from the sun and there is not much shade if any to be found.  At one point I could feel how close the cars were and I chose to jump across to the other side to run into the traffic-there really isnt a berm or anything and if you get on the side it is not level so you risk twisting an ankle..especially at mile 43 plus! When I jumped over I heard a truck honk at me and an older lady said come back over here and we will follow you....not really comprehending what she meant I said Oh thanks so much for the offer but I dont want to slow the traffic down behind me that much cause I will be running walking...she and her husband then said it really is safer for you over here and they want you on this side of the I headed back across. They stayed behind me and were on/off the road to where folks had to slow down and go around them but it didnt cause a hugh line up of cars.  They had water and would refill if I needed it and were awesome! They got me to an area that then had a sidewalk for a mile or so and before i knew it I was back in downtown where it started in the dark so I got to see this area in a different "light" it was tricky here with trying to stay on the sidewalk and the street because it was a slight downhill so the sidewalks had step downs at each block and that didnt feel real good on the knees. I got to the fort and now knew I had less then a 5K and had plenty of time to finish....I couldnt help to think "boy wouldnt it be wonderful if I could run my normal 5K pace...then I would be done in 26 min instead of 45!! Last aid station was here and this is where Jason's (another runner) his wife was there with the RD Matt and he said Jason is only ahead of you a couple will probably catch him. The last 2.8 miles were kinda rolling but I tried to shuffle thru as much as I could, i was ready to be finished.....nothing was hurting too bad but I would stretch my hammies out every so often.  I heard Matt the RD come beside me in the Jeep as I was shuffling and Jason was walking and he was in site....Matt said something to the words of you got him.  As I approached Jason I was shuffling and said we got this and he was shaking his head murr murring words like what the heck you are still running! hahaha I just knew I wanted to get done. I got to the hotel entrance and now we had to climb again.....not a long long climb compared to what we had but long enough to still keep saying over and over in my head "Dont hate the Hills Hate the Race Director" I reached the top and I could see the finish on the beach and they directed me in which way to go.....I crossed the line and immediately sat down to take off my shoes!!!
 I could see my feet throbbing which was really cool, dont remember ever seeing them do that before.  I sat for a moment and about 10 min later Jason came across. It was getting to be about 45 min or so till sunset and the sand fleas start to come out and eat you up so I walked to just soak my feet for a moment in the salt water, I really wanted to shower but knew I had to climb up the hill to get to my room!!  After the shower and all I debated whether to order room service but the menu was kinda limited so I took my butt up the other hill to the lobby and had a great meal!! I kept thinking it may hurt having to go back down to the room cause the hill there is steep but it really wasnt that bad. I didnt sleep super well and usually dont after these long ones, my mind doesnt shut off and you are so tired you cant sleep.  I tend to move a lot as well so each time my body rolls my legs would feel the soreness. The next morning we had the awards ceremony and breakfast at 7:30am at the lobby so up the hill I went and then decided I wanted to go into town for a bracelet and just chill for the day until Michelle came over after work and we got to spend that last evening together. My bottom lip got a bad sunburn but other then that I felt really good.  After I got back from town I laid on the beach and every hour I would take a noodle into the salt water and do some legs kicks, I did frog kicks both directions, I did flutter kicks on my belly and back and then did some water jogging....I think this helped with the recovery because that evening when we went to the crab races and dinner I was walking and feeling great. My flight had 2 layovers which I was ok with, that way I wasnt sitting for long periods of time, what I didnt realize is the connecting flights were sooooo far away from each other.....again a good think because it kept my legs moving and helped flush out that lactid acid.  I wondered if I would do this race again not due to the difficulty but I usually dont go that far away twice but now that its been almost 2 weeks this could be a repeat for next year....due to the beautiful location and the wonderful volunteers that made this an amazing experience.