All About Angela

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Pooping in the Woods.... (Trail Rail Run 50 Race Recap)

I would speculate that I sign up for more races than the average runner. My irrational fear of wildlife limits my willingness to spend time on trails alone.....Yes, this is embarrassing for a native Idahoan to admit. Trail races give me the chance to have valuable training experiences in a supported environment while providing the comfort associated with an organized event. Generally, I have only a couple races each year that I'm particularly stoked about and/or that I consider a "goal race"...The Trail Rail 50 happened to be one of those races.

One week prior to this event, I ran the second trail 1/2 marathon in a local State Park served as a wonderful confidence builder. I felt AMAZING the entire time....and not just physically but mentally. In spite of stomach cramping from mile 8 - 10 that slowed me down, I maintained a positive attitude and felt strong. As we crossed the finish line, I joked to the runner next to me, "We should do another loop!" He responded with a grunt, "Beer." While I totally understood his sentiment, I seriously would have done another loop had I not abandoned Jeff with an impatient Colton for over two hours.

Leading up to the race, I decided that I would not taper dramatically. I've noticed that I'm MUCH stronger on race day with a shorter taper....I continued to run each day but eliminated doubles and reduced distance.

M: 10 miles *only double day
T: 6.5 miles
W: 4 miles
Th: 6 miles
F: 3 miles

The stomach cramps that plagued me during my half continued to be an annoyance throughout race week. Because they didn't interfere with running, I just wrote them off as race-related nerves / stress. 48 hours prior to the race, I noticed that I was losing weight and started becoming concerned but focused on keeping optimistic.

The morning of the race, I had to wake up at 3 AM in order to catch a shuttle from our hotel to the start line; this is the earliest that I've ever woken up for a race (or anything)....Even my digestive system knew that I should be sleeping and failed to function. I crammed down my usual breakfast and took my caffeine with me on the shuttle. About ten minutes before arriving at the start, I started feeling that familiar feeling....I needed a bathroom ASAP.... Of course, the bus driver got lost which created quite the internal panic as things became more urgent. Then the worst possible thing happened....As soon as we arrived, I realized the RD failed to order port-a-potties....there was ONE pit toilet for all the 50 mile racers and I was smack dab in the middle of the line. If you're in the dark about this fact, let me shine some light....every runner poops before a race (or at least desperately tries). A pre-race bathroom line moves slowly because everyone is attempting to pinch one off. My stomach was SCREAMING....Suddenly, I knew that I had to do something.... Before I knew it, I was rushing off into the forest and pulling down my pants.  The text message that I sent to my husband, "I just pooped in the woods. I'm not sure whether to be proud or mortified." And that was the moment that I finally became a true ultra runner.

I wrote this long-winded, detailed recap BUT ain't no one got time for that...

The highlight of this race was absolutely the course....What a breath-taking adventure! It was a point-to-point journey from Idaho (Mullan) to Montana (Saint Regis) utilizing old rail trails. I can see this being an excellent first ultra marathon. You're surrounded by nature without having to battle technical terrain. Aside from the gentle 1000' climb that occurs over the first eight miles, there's an overall downhill trend. A well-trained beast could easily run the entire 50 miles. Aid stations were plentiful - the longest stretch between was 8 miles (AS #1). After that, they were no further than 6 miles apart. I was able to run with a single 20 oz handheld.

My stomach DID NOT grant me any favors. I would approximate that I spent a good 1/2 hour utilizing the bathrooms along the course. I battled horrendous stomach cramping that I can only liken
to labor contractions one might feel when birthing the spawn of Satan. During the last 10 miles, I was overwhelmed with nausea unlike anything ever experienced in a race before....I was gagging with each sip of Tailwind. At mile 46, I vomited up hours of precious calories on the side of the trail....Already depleted from having explosive diarrhea, I was now literally running on empty. For a minute, I was scared....Was it safe to continue? Should I just lay down and wait for someone to come along? I decided just to walk the final five took forever....I wanted to scream....I cursed repeatedly.... I continued until I passed through that glorious finish line....Where I proceeded to immediately curl up in a ball and thank the universe that I no longer had to move.

So where were the positives?

1.) I ran 50 miles with a stomach virus....That makes me pretty bad ass.... or insane....

2.) Jeff reminded me how AMAZING of a husband (and person) that he is. A man who spends their birthday weekend shuffling from AS to AS in order to support and encourage their partner.... Well, that's a mighty, mighty good man.


3.) I learned that when you hit a mental low, turning on really horrendous 90's pop and serenading the bears helps immensely (Thank you Beyonce)

4.) I have the ability to run through tunnels without a headlamp WITHOUT falling on my face

5.) I PR'd in the 50k distance (5:15) AND the 50 mile distance (10:43)

6.) I figured out a walk / run interval that works when I'm physically struggling

7.) Again....I RAN 50 MILES (actually 51) WITH A STOMACH VIRUS.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Riverside 24 Disaster

Early May, I spontaneously registered for one of those 24 hour races.....And it was the stupidest registration decision that I've ever made. While there was never an intention of running for 24 hours straight, I had ambitious (insane / stupid / delusional) hopes that I could throw down ten loops (six miles each)....Keep in mind, I just ran a 50 mile mountain race....

As the event neared, I was aware my endurance had not been restored....Even short runs were leaving me feeling on the brink of death....I'm sure that my suffering made me a joy to run with (Sorry Katie). I lowered my expectations...I figured I could feel pride about finishing five loops (50k). Furthermore, I'm super cheap so I wanted to justify the registration fee somewhat.

One super rad thing about (most) 24 hour events is that there is virtually no pressure....You can run what you want and how fast you want. I wanted to prepare like the Running Gods would be in my favor....You never know how a race is going to go down. If I was having a rare day where running felt effortless, I was going to go with that for as long as humanely possible.....or until my husband knocked me out (he was super concerned about pushing my body too far).

We packed a cooler full of the typical ultra yummies....Brownies, Soda, Chips, Candy, Sandwiches....We booked a hotel about ten minutes from the race venue so that Jeff (and the hooligans) would have somewhere nearby to chill out while I was torturing myself.

From the moment that we woke up on race day, I was overwhelmed. Children complaining and arguing for 70 miles in a car = STRESS.  I'll be real with you....Sometimes being a parent sucks. This was one of those days.  Even before the race started, my stomach was in knots that resulted in terrible cramps....and not the empty promise kind....

The adrenalin of the race beginning helped my stomach temporarily. The first loop went really smooth - I was the first female to finish, which was an ego boost. Because the race started at 11 AM, it was already HOT. I'd rather run 100 miles in the Arctic than 10 miles in the Sahara Desert.....and that is for real.

Winter running is the best....
Now this is where things get a bit.....embarrassing / deflating..... About 2 miles into the second loop, I couldn't run anymore. My stomach cramps came back with a vengeance. My legs felt like lead. I was feeling dizzy. My heart rate was out of control. I began a shuffle that was similar to what one might witness in the later stages of a long distance race. People were zooming by me, casting sympathetic glances in my direction and offering encouraging words that makes a suffering individual want to violently punch one in the face.

I knew that my day was done.

I had promised that I would run a loop with my oldest son...I knew hours into the race, I would be hobbling along at a pace that he could easily manage....I just didn't know that would happen 12 miles in. After chugging an ice cold Coke, we set out on what would be my final loop. The real victory of the day was that he conquered six miles....longer than he'd ever ran / hiked before....He's going into track next year and this was a great experience for him. Over the course of the summer, I'll be working with him on going through the Couch to 5k program in order to build up his endurance.

Band. Track. Math Club.
So proud of this dude.
Four days out from that disaster....I can now feel my endurance coming back. I'm running double digit mileage again comfortably. I'm even running long distances at the end of the workday, which I tend to avoid. My next major race is three weeks from now....I'll be running the Trail Rail 50....I will be running from Idaho to Montana and I am EXCITED.

On a side note.....

I took my first running tumble. I'm surprised that I made it this long with how insanely clumsy that I am. Oddly, it wasn't even on a trail where one might was a road loop that I've ran so many times that I could navigate it with my eyes closed. My foot caught a loose rock as I was coming around the corner....and before I knew it, my face was colliding with the pavement (literally). I was 1/2 mile from home...The old me definitely would have called it a day, returning home in order to nurse my battle wounds and bruised ego....The new me squirted the gravel out of my bloody road rash and soldiered on. Proudest running moment of 2015.