December 2, 2012

Texas Trails Endurance 50K

Like I said, I signed up for this race on a whim, but was really looking forward to it and my trip. Every time I visit The Woodlands and my Texas friends, I fall more and more in love. Such a great place and such great people. THAT is what made this experience for me. Adrienne I had tons of great girl time, and I got to visit with my friend Mary, too. Friday night she cooked me a pasta dinner, and we hit the hay early.

Saturday morning brought warm and humid weather, but being that this wasn't an "A" race, I wasn't too concerned. I mean, I'm from the Gulf Coast. You don't know hot and humid until you train here for a summer. I was still very nervous about my gut. Coach and I had talked about fueling products and my projectile vomit that happened in P'cola. He thought the problem was likely too much sugar added to the carbonation of the Nuun. So... I decided to use Hammer products, which have very few grams of sugar compared to Gu and Power Gel. I did eat a Power Bar 2 hours before the race, and washed it down with some water and Gatorade. I brought two bottles of Hammer Perpetuem and two Hammer gels for the race.
First things first when I got to the race, I had to find Roger Soler! Hahah, I am such a running celeb stalker. 
Then Adrienne and I wandered around talking to a few people and getting my supplies ready.
 And yes, the race shirt is brown with a horse on it. AWESOME! I had to wear this thing home on the plane, too. Haha! I am so klassy.
Before I knew it, we were OFF! I started pretty easy at about 8:25 pace. The trail was more technical than I expected, and I was really having to concentrate on where I was stepping. The course was one 6 mile loop (that actually measured 7) and then two 12.5 mile loops (each measured 13). Do that math on that and you will see that I ended up with a Garmin distance of 33 miles. DOH!
For the first loop I was hanging with the first female, but I then decided I needed to slow down to avoid  a major bonk later (which happened inevitably anyway). I was also running with a guy that had a vacation house here on the Gulf; so we chatted about cool local hangouts for awhile. A friend of Adrienne's ran with me (a man), and he literally complimented me for half the race. (He's a FB friend of mine; so knew some stuff about me.) I ended up leaving him on the last 13 mile  loop.
I finish the first loop, and Adrienne decided to run part of the 2nd loop with me. We had a great time talking and such in the woods. I told her then that I was  not feeling my best, and that this would be more about survival than anything. I decided to run by feel and stop paying attention to the Garmin. One thing that I love about trail running is that you can be running in the 8s one minute and the 10s the next with fairly equivalent effort. The terrain and hills do that. Somewhere near the start of Adrienne and I running together, she tripped and fell. However, this was more of a performance. I've NEVER seen anyone fall so gracefully and pop up so quickly! It was pretty amazing, actually. We later decided it was a combination of experience with that particular trail, her amazing flexibility, and the fact that she's short (sorry, A). Take note, that I am the opposite of all three of those things. About 4 miles from finishing the 2nd loop, I hit a root. Yep, and SPLAT! I hit my knee pretty hard, but no blood there. My elbow was bloody, but nothing serious. It mostly just hurt like a bruise. I walked it off for a minute, regrouped, and carried on. When I stopped after the 2nd lap to switch out my bottles, Adrienne got me a towel and water to clean up a tad. (Dirt was EVERYWHERE on me, including my face, and EVERYWHERE.) I actually hit a very dark place at the start of the last loop. I had only been 20 miles, and I was already struggling. It was getting HOT, over 70 at this point, and my knee did not feel good. I kept looking at it, but I don't know why. People always tell me how tough of  runner I am, but here are some of my dark thoughts, proving to all of you that I am nothing but a big baby.
*Oh great, there goes Sub 3. I just ruined my knee on some stupid trail race.
*This totally sucks. I need a new hobby.
*If one of those freaking mountain bikers hits me, I am going to chase them down and beat them to a bloody pulp.
*This totally sucks. I need a new hobby.
*I'm washed up. I've been doing this for too long. I'll never see another PR. Maybe I should just quit this sport all together.
*I wish I could carry my cat while I ran. I miss her.
*Why is my boyfriend in the woods killing innocent animals right now? (hunting)
*Why do people love college football so much. Football sucks more than this race.
*My ex husband is such a bastard. *insert mean chuckle here* So funny that he is so fat and miserable now. Why did I ever marry him? Ugh. Life fail.
*I kinda think I'm going to throw up. Don't throw up. Throw up leads to dehydration which leads to an expensive ambulance ride.
*I'm never going to get married and have babies. I'm just a failure at life.
And then at about Mile 24, my spirits lifted. I started thinking about these things.
*Wow, this isn't so bad.
*Walking/jogging isn't too bad.
*My time sucks, but at least I'll still snag 2nd place.
*I can't wait to see Bill and Mary (waiting at the finish line).
*Was Roger Soler hitting on me? He was very friendly...
*No. Roger Soler just isn't an a-hole like a lot of elite athletes.
*I'm totally going to wear that horse shirt. Haha!
Then I tripped on what I believe to be the EXACT same tree root! This time the fall was pretty bad. I hit hard. Unlike Adrienne, I fell like a huge sack of flour from a 30 story building. The same knee hit, and the same elbow. This time, I cried a little. I hit my other knee, too. Same thing, though, no blood, just two knees becoming more and more swollen. This time I was in some kinda intense pain. The knees wouldn't loosen up. I was barely moving. Less than a freaking mile later, I fell AGAIN! This time I just laid there for a few moments with my face in the dirt/leaves, wondering why in the crap I couldn't stay on my feet. All those jokes about "stick legs" from Bill and Adrienne, but damn it, this wasn't funny. This HURT! I thought about those drills that coach has had me do since May. I thought this was supposed to cure my stick legs? More dark thoughts and I walked to the final aide station.
*Coach is fired.
*I'm going to kick Bill and Adrienne's ass with my stick legs.
*None of them are my friends anymore.
*I hate this.
*Dear lord, my knee is getting huge. There REALLY goes Sub 3.
*Will I ever be able to run again???????
I made it to the final water stop. I thought I was only a mile from the finish, since my Garmin said 30 miles. Nope, 2.5 more miles. I nearly cried. I nearly died. They asked me if I needed a medic. I said, "Do I look like I need a medic?" They laughed. Then they asked me if I knew some man named Tracey. Tracey would carry me the rest of the way? They asked if I was single, and if I wanted to meet Tracey. I was really kind of not in the mood for jokes; so I just took some water and ran off. Oh and in that last fall? My water bottle got cracked. Yep, fell so hard it broke. Haha. I ran off, and some of the runners behind me started making up these weird cheers with my name. I know they were trying to be funny and cheer me up, but I had that distance-fatigue brain going on and couldn't comprehend anything. One of them made mention about "the dirty girl from Alabama." I was actually pretty insulted for nearly a mile, but then realized how funny/ironic that was when I was near finished.

And then I finished. 4:50:XX, 2nd female, 3rd overall person.
Good grief, that sucked. But the moment I finished, life got good again. I love Adrienne, Bill, and my coach. No one is getting fired, and I am keeping all my friends. Stick leg jokes and dirty girl jokes are funny, and yes, I do think Roger Soler was hitting on me just a little bit. He insisted on HUGGING me at the end of the race. However, he may just be a super nice, happy guy. I can understand that because I am, too! Which at this point, I didn't want anyone touching me or mostly I just didn't want anything within feet of my knee.
I saw Mary and Bill, and did want to hug them. I drank some Diet Coke, because I am an addict like that. We iced my knee, cleaned me up, and went and ate some Mexican food. YUMMO!
The plane ride home was uneventful except that I nearly choked a woman for bumping my knee with her gihugic suitcase, and I laughed at myself the entire time in the airport as I was this stupid girl limping around with a horse on her shirt.
What's next? Well, recover this week. The knee is not broken. I can walk today without limping, and I have full range of motion. It is just VERY bruised and still swollen. It really only hurts if something touches it. That should be interesting tomorrow at school. 
I have my eye on a 4 mile race at the end of the month, and then gear up for the half in early January.
Run Happy, friends!


  1. Congrats!!! Holy trails, that sounded hard. But awesome finish regardless.

    After now having finished my first ultra trail race, I totally get the falling aspect and how mentally and physically jarring it is. My husband tried to warn me, but falling is just something you have to do (unfortunately) to really get it.

    Glad no "serious" damage and wishing you a solid recovery :)

  2. You rock, babe! What an amazing race. Love those photos, too, so gritty and tough. Hope the knee settles down quickly.

  3. I laughed out loud at your thought re your ex husband :P Well done on toughing it out, it was hotter than normal yesterday, I only had 16 and had no water and regretted it a bit towards the end. I had a friend who ran the same race and twisted his ankle 3 miles from the finish, he's out for 3 months :( Hope your knee is a quick fix, sounds like you need to find a teaching job in the Woodlands and make it your home! We nearly moved there but chose Kingwood instead, I am jealous of the running scene they have going on up there.

  4. Um, you thought about kicking my ass during the race?!!? What did I ever do to you?! LOL I kid! The things the "bite-me zone" does to your brain in races!

    Even though the time wasn't what you wanted, I think you were tough as nails in such a difficult course and conditions. I think I owe you some falling lessons when I come visit is a bit of an art form:)

    Regardless of the race results, conditions, blah blah-your post conveys what running is all about: overcoming challenges- notably yourself-new experiences-and of course, the relationships along the way. Ditto Vicky!

    Lots of love, charger woman!

  5. I am not going to lie but this post sure made me laugh. Sorry.

    Have I told you that YOU ROCK!!!! You are awesome!

    I see you carry a hand held water bottle. I have one but don't like it so you can have it.

    Hmm, makes me want to maybe do another ultra. However, no trail for me.

  6. Anonymous12/02/2012

    I laughed, I cried, I rolled my eyes. Good on you for finishing (and so well! Congratulations!) despite all the crazy, mean, sad, bad, loopy thoughts in your head. I hope your knee heals up quickly!

    Oh, and PS you are SO TOTALLY NOT a failure. ♥

  7. Oh my gosh this was such an adventure to read! All those thoughts at the end of a long race...and your 50 k was LOOOOONG....isn't it the truth? There are two sides to everything, and an endurance race really brings out all we feel. Funny to look back later over it and see how our perspectives change as we finally finish.

    The tree root! ARG!! They are so SNEAKY.. and the same one can hide twice. Hope your knee is OK. That sub three is still there- I know it.

    I have been contemplating an ultra..This post really makes me think more about it. Don't really know what my next goal is though. But you inspire me :)

  8. Hysterical - I was laughing, crying and thinking of myself during some of my ironmans with your dark, then cheery thoughts. You are everything but a failure. Congrats on a great race and for hopefully figuring out a better nutrition strategy :)

  9. Oh man. I love ya! I love the thoughts - I was totally giggling at all of them. You were such a rockstar and you ARE a super tough runner. I love that you kept going and fought through, and um, HELLO. You had an awesome finish!!

    I am proud of you. :) Hugs!

  10. Great 50K recap!! It had me smiling the whole time, even when you fell in mud ;) your dark thoughts were interesting only because I remember going through a similar phase in my 50K, crazy how the trails and distance can mess with us. By the way, I love that last picture of you!! The mud and determination in your face is fantastic. Congrats!

  11. Awesome job!! And a great recap! Don't worry...I cannot stay on my feet on trails...even if my life depended on it. I fell on Saturday just HIKING.

    I do love the highs and lows during long races. It's like "I hate everything..." and then one mile later, "running is awesome!" It's a little bit of a bipolar sport. :)

  12. Man, that sounds tough. Really interesting the thoughts that go through your head. You look fierce and powerful in those photos! Congrats on a huge achievement!