Well, as said in my last post, I decided to plunge on ahead with the plans of running the challenging McDonald Forest 50k. The course is 6,700 feet of ascent on looping trails and logging roads-no pavement here folks. And yes, I broke my rules and finished. A very slow 7:11:28--but I finished!! Yay!
Perfect. That is what it was. Clear skies, the sun was already smiling on us as we began. I believe it was into the 70's by early afternoon but much of the race is under the forest canopy anyway so it was never too warm.
I took the early start at 7am. I was pretty sure I wasn't going to make it all 50k, but if I did, I figured I needed that extra hour. I was in good company as there were somewhere between thirty to forty early starters. Unfortunately, I was too distracted to have remembered to carry my camera during the race so I don't have race pics.
I started very slow and conservatively right from the get-go. Walking hills, taking my time, not over striding. I probably made it a good 7 miles or so before I began to feel the first twinges in the IT band. Just little warning twinges, no real pain. By mile 9 I began to feel uncomfortable, and by mile 11 I was skeptical as to whether I could hold out to finish the race.
The hardest part, emotionally, for me was not being able to barrel down the hills like I'm use to doing. Lord only knows how much time I gave up just not being able to run well downhill. The pain on the downhills was downright excruciating. Awful. It was just so hard to be hurting to the point of needing to quit when I wasn't even tired yet. I was fine on the level sections (there were very few of those) and I was good on the climbs, but there was no escaping the pain going downhill. On one stretch of logging road I tried going sideways (didn't help) and finally backwards. Backwards really wasn't a plausible method unless I planned on breaking bones (neck?) somewhere along the line. All downhill sections hurt.
So I would tell myself "time to stop". So why didn't I quit? Well, other than the obvious reason of hating to quit there were a couple other reasons. Obviously, I needed to get to a stopping point in order to quit, so I would agree to run on until the next aid station. By the time I reached the aid station I would have also been back to some climbing and I would be feeling better, so onward I would go. Gosh, after all, I was having a good time! Yes, I had pain but all my joy in life seems to be mingled with pain.
Then out of the blue, I remember reading something a runner said, (I wish I could remember who)-- about not assuming that pain is progressive. Just because you are hurting bad at 3 hours doesn't necessarily mean it will be worse at 6 hours. So this idea is what I survived the middle miles on. And, the pain did not worsen (it stayed about the same). Looking back now, I see I forgot a little something in this equation....Pain killers.
I'm not sure how much ibuprofen and Tylenol I consumed. I actually only have a ballpark figure on the ibuprofen because I lost track, but it was enough to put a horse down. I'm not even going to tell you-- lest you decide to pull such a stunt on your own. ("Don't try this at home, performed by trained professionals.")
Fueling: I did keep on good track with taking S-caps, I took one about every hour and fifteen minutes. I also took one Hammer Anti-fatigue cap once hour. If you've never given those a try on a long run I recommend them. I notice the difference if I'm not taking them and I'm running longer than three or four hours.
I had no fueling problems. I stayed away from Heed and put my own NUUN tabs in water. I ate orange slices and a few potato slices from the aid stations and I carried a package of GU chomps. (kind of like clif shot blocks) I ate one gu packet and half a powerbar. I also had a chocolate Ensure bottle in my drop bag at 18 miles. My stomach stayed good--only a little sloshy at one point, so I had some potato chips and cut back on water but I had no problems, never got too hungry, finished with 5 unopened gel packets in my pocket. The homemade cookies at the last aid station, (Thank you Crescent Valley Cross Country!) were delicious. Kind words were to be found there as well. Much appreciated.
I was quite elated around mile 22 or so when I had given up the idea of quitting and when I realized I was going to finish. There is a lot of mental fatigue when you are trying to decide what is best to do, and it was easier for me when I knew I was just going to battle through to the end.
It is funny how you begin to think things out. Shortly after I left the aid station at Dimple Hill (where white russians were being served! ..no, I passed) I told myself, "Only about 4 more miles and you will only have about 10 miles left, and 10 miles, well you can do 10 anytime."
It was strange being so content and happy on all the ascending hills and so apprehensive at the crests where I knew a downhill section was sure to be coming . I'm sure that was quite the opposite of how most people were seeing it-- but there were some sections where I wished I'd had a sled to get into to get down the slope.
The knee would feel so tight on the steep down
There was mud. Not a lot, but I could see how a rainy day could make it into an absolute mudfest. There was enough to sink my foot all the way into the mud a couple times. My foot was wet but my drymax trail socks came through for me and I had no feet problems. A girl in front of me lost her entire shoe in the mud and had to stop to fish it out while trying to keep her foot clean enough to get it back on.
I also slipped and nearly fell into the creek. ("No, thank you not today, I have other problems", I muttered.)
I did feel worn at the end, but it was mostly all about being tired of
fighting the pain, I actually felt like I could have run another couple
It was a great day, and (as usual) everyone I encountered was so friendly and supportive. Trail runners are just a great crowd of people! The crowd support at the finish was truly great - many runners hung out long enough to cheer other people in at the finish line.
At the finish line, live music, food, many roaming happy dogs and free massages. And yes, there was plenty of food, drinks and coffee left for all the runners, even those who were the tail end.
It's a race I hope to return to.
After taking advantage of the food (soup and homemade bread), free massage and some conversation with fellow runners I headed home. The couple hours in the truck felt fine, but I did not feel fine when I got out of the truck at home. I hobbled in the house straight to the shower, attempted to stretch a bit, ate dinner and went to bed where I sweated out ibuprofen all night. ;)
This morning I hobbled back to the shower, wrapped my knee with an ace bandage for support, and headed to church where I hobbled to the platform to play guitar and attempted to hide how much pain I was in. (I hate explaining to people why I would do this to myself.)
Was it worth it? You bet it was!
Now, to heal again cause I can't wait to going running....