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.


  1. Whoa, congratulations on managing a PR while being that sick! I think most people wouldn't have even finished the race - you ARE a badass! I hope you're feeling better now.

    I have my eye on a rail trail ultra next year for my first 100, for all of the reasons you noted above as to why this one was a good first ultra - it's relatively flat, relatively straight, and non-technical. The one I want to run is point-to-point between two towns with each back and forth stretch clocking 15 miles, and people can drop at any 15 mile interval they want, but most go for 100 miles (obviously the last bit is a special 10 mile loop because 100 is not a multiple of 15.)

  2. Thanks! Generally, I am a tad more humble but man....I felt like a beast after finishing this one. I will return to this race...I need to know what I can accomplish when healthy because I felt physically strong the entire time in spite of the whole stomach issue.

    What 100 mile race are you looking into? I have my eyes set on Burning River 100 next year