Guest Post: First timer account of 50K Trail Race

   October 21, 2011 4:21 am    4

 

Today’s post is by Christine Vassen, who you might remember as 1/2 of the marathon mammas who blogged here on Runners Notes about their experience in running their first marathon.

Well, Christine has since upped the ante and recently completed a 50K trail run in Titusville at the OC100. Here, in Christine’s words, is how she made the leap (uphill all the way) to ultra trail running.

 

Photo by Charlie Haupt

By Christine Vassen

My adventure to the starting line on October 8, actually began on the 2nd of February.  It was a snowy day and I had talked Theressa, my Marathon Momma partner into doing on what was supposed to be an ‘easy’ 5 mile HIKE around Oil Creek State Park in Titusville.

Our Cleveland Marathon training schedule had us going 18 miles that particular day, so I had us ‘skip’ the mid-week shorter distance run and figured we’d easily be able to do the 18-miler the next day.

When we got there, well, let’s just say – Easy wasn’t part of Theressa or my vocabulary relating to trail running after that day.  The hike that Tom Jennings took us on that day changed my perspective on running.

Interest peaked

After that day, I started reading up (OK, reading everything I couldfind) on Ultra Running  and how people train to run 100 miles.  Most of the training was far beyond what I could fit into my daily life.

Theressa and I ended up volunteering at Oil Creek last year.  It was a cold October day and we got to see the ‘aftermath’ of the very distinctive hobble walk that many runners had afterwards.  Having completed two marathons at that point, I was completely intrigued by these runners who call the marathon a “warm up” run.  We saw people pass out and people barely able to walk, but we also saw people celebrating life and crossing the finish line with exuberance.

Can it even be done?

After that experience, I wanted to run an ultra—the 50K distance.  But, I have a full time-job, two children (6 and 8) and a loving, but non-running husband. Training would take every weekend (running Saturday, recovering all day Sunday). I spent months trying to figure out  how to create a training schedule that  1.)  Was challenging/strengthing enough to get me to the starting line at Oil Creek ready for the challenge?   2.)  A schedule that I could actually follow without getting bored or injuring myself.  3.) And, most important, could I come up with a training schedule that my family would find acceptable?

By Thanksgiving, I had calendar and pencil out.  It looked scary.

Going it solo

I knew going into Oil Creek, I would be alone.  Solo.  On 80 percent of the training runs, I would be alone, too.  Theressa had a significant work commitment and would not be there for this adventure—at least physically. I run slow so on most training sessions down at Oil Creek, I would be quickly outpaced.  Thinking about 10 months of solo training was pretty scary since Theressa and I had trained for most events together.

Would I have what it takes to make it to the starting line?  That thought dwelled on my mind way too much.

I split the year into sections,  My first area, ended around St Patrick’s Day, then the July ½ marathon then the Oil Creek Race day.

Putting my heart (rate) into it

Meanwhile, Tom Jennings, OC100 Trail Runs race director, kept talking about  heart rate monitor training.  According to Tom, it would make me feel like Super Woman.

There were two catches: I had to blindly give it 4 to 6 months before I would begin to see results and it entailed running slower.  I thought he was nuts. He obviously didn’t know how slow I already was. But, it nagged at me because  Oil Creek’s SHORTEST race is 31 miles.  It’s not a 5K that I could just pull out some magical reserve of energy.  I would need to figure out how to get solid endurance if I was going to do the 50K.

The heart rate training wasn’t complicated – at least physically.  You wear a heart rate monitor and based on a relatively simple calculation – you just stay below the “magic number.”

I started  in December and decided to try it until the the St Patrick’s Day race.   My first outing with the heart rate training was ugly.  I came home ticked at Tom, ticked at the heart monitor, ticked at myself and ticked at running in general. My poor husband, Bill,  had to listen to me rant for hours about how the  heart rate thing was for the birds.  There was zero way it would build up my endurance.  It had taken me almost three hours to cover 10 miles.  People can run whole marathons in less time.  I was cold and dejected.  But still, I had told Tom I would give it the full 4 months.  Poor Bill.

Fools rush in?

In January, I realized that Theressa and I couldn’t run the Cook’s Forest ½ marathon due to a work conflict. I found another option in an ultra running newsletter — the Fool’s Day race (obviously because it was close to April Fool’s Day)—a 25K trail race in Ohio.

The name Fool’s Day seemed oddly appropriate for Theressa and myself.  I’ve often thought we entered races as unknowing fools – not realizing what we’d signed up for, like our first Cook’s half marathon.

I’d looked at the course photos online,  it didn’t look bad.  No raging river crossing, just some small foot bridges and a tunnel. ( I should mention at this point that Theressa is terrified of tunnels.)   After an ugly personal training session at the gym, Theressa agreed and I signed us up before she could second guess her decision.

I talked Theressa into it. We were doing the race  in late March.

10 weeks to a 25K

I kept heart monitor training and ave Theressa a calendar of 10 runs that I thought would get us through the race.  The race had a 9-hour time limit.  We knew we should be able to cover 17 miles in approx. 9 hours.

We trained hard. There were days in January when we had to start running at 4 a.m. (yes, FOUR A.M.) to get our run in (had something to do with Steeler’s football and kids’ birthday parties).

We did a lot of 4 AM runs in January and February.   Dark, Cold – you can guess – we had a BLAST.  The moving was slow with the snow, and because I was trying to stay within the heart monitor range.

It was annoying — staying in the zone. I remember one morning we were in the middle of an open field with blowing wind and snow. I yelled to Theressa that my heart rate monitor said I had to slow down. She gave me a few icy stares and mumbled…fine, we’ll slow down. This had BETTER WORK!

We did a 5-mile hike in late February at Oil Creek in an ice/rain storm.  We got there and just weren’t sure we should go out on the trail in the weather.  I remember Jeff Nelson (who placed 3rd in the 100-mile OC race this year) telling us that it wasn’t the time that matter  —  it was the mentally endurance you will build by doing the tough runs. Jeff, and all the 100-mile runners I’ve encountered, always have some great  Gems of wisdom!

St Patrick’s Day race was very emotional.  We ran together and talked a lot about what we knew would happen over the summer.  Our times were slow and it was just emotionally draining acknowledging what we already knew was doing to happen.  Post Fool’s Day, I would be off training by myself and Theressa would be buried at work.

Fools Day race

They say you never forget your first race of any distance, so you should make them all memorable.  We did just that.  We took the weekend of the Fool’s Day and make it a mom’s weekend away.

Knowing the summer of 2011, we wouldn’t see each other much, we both needed some girlfriend bonding time.

As for the race? There were more bridges and two more tunnels than I realized.  Theressa was a trooper.  Around Mile 8, she was flying alone and I had hit the ugly wall.  I was falling apart.

How could it be that Theressa was fine and I was busted at mile 8?  If I’m mentally done at Mile 8 – how will I ever make it through 31 miles at Oil Creek?  Around Mile 12, I got over my wall and realized we would finish.  Meanwhile, a stick had ‘attacked’ Theressa and her ankles weren’t happy about all the uneven running surface.

We finished the Fool’s day race is a little less time than it took us to complete the Cleveland Marathon.  At the finish line, we both were emotionally spent.  We sat down (which we knew not to do, but did it anyways) and watched the 50K come in.  It was a good event and I’m really glad I peer pressured Theressa into doing it.

Summer memories

The spring and summer are a blur of cutting short sleep and trying to balance mileage, cross-training and normal life.  Significant things I recall about the summer that I think were important on the way to race day:

* By April, I had a solid love/hate relationship with the heart monitor training.  I loved that it really did seem to be increasing my endurance.  However, I hated that it was making what felt like every aspect of training take 1.5 to 2 times the physical amount of time to complete a task.  More physical training time meant more juggling of time scheduling.

* The people in the neighborhood around my office must have started to believe that the redhead is crazy.  They would see me out during hot summer lunches – dressed in long sleeves, running on the grassy area between the smooth sidewalk and the road.  If they looked closely enough, they even see me periodically running with my eyes closed.  For some reason, I thought closing my eyes periodically would help with the potential of running in the dark/practice low lighting tripping.  I pretty much conjured up a variety of crazy things to do in attempts to mimic the fact I couldn’t get on the trails every weekend.

* 4AM gym sessions with the heart monitor.  My personal trainer had left the gym by this point so I not only was a solo figuring out my running but also my cross-training.  This wasn’t bad but I had to watch closely that I didn’t ‘slack off’ at the gym.  At 5Am in the gym, slacking is easy to do.  I did what felt like tons of Ab stuff.  Just kept thinking about those lung painful hills at Oil Creek.  The heart monitor kept me in check when I’d push my limits working with the medicine ball.

* I was frustrated with the heart rate monitor training. I’d start out for a longer Saturday run and think I was just hitting ‘cruising’ pace when I’d max out at the heart rate and need to slow down.  As the miles increased, the time did as well.  I was doing 5-hour runs in June.

Lost in the woods

One weekend, Bill, the kids and I went to our family camp in near Titusville.  I really wanted to go over to Oil Creek but Bill was adamantly against it.  He said I should just run the fire trail near the camp. He gave me directions on what he figured was a 12-(maximum 14) mile route up the mountain.

The idea was simple on paper.  I’d start out around 7AM – go up the fire trail and he’d pick me up at the top around noon or 1 and we’d have lunch.  Simple enough.  I took enough supplies with me to go the 14-mile max distance.

I started out around 7:00 with a lack sleep – I thought – good Oil Creek practice.  I waved at the neighbors and was off for an adventure.  Less than ½ mile in, the bugs were completely ignoring the high volume of bug repellent I had put on.  I seriously thought about doing back but, no, Jeff had said something tough runs would make me stronger.

I was doing  OK until I hit an intersection Bill hadn’t mentioned.  About 30 min. later, the trail dead ended.  Back I go, take other route – this had to be right.  I’d be out soon and having lunch with the kids. In 40 minutes, it dead ended as well. I started to freak.

I call Bill in a panic.  I was at Mile 16 and lost.  We determine we don’t know where I am.  He suggested my best option was to retrace my step back to camp.

Good idea, except I’d only taken supplies to hike/walk 14 miles.  It was now closer to 1:30 p.m. and I was out of water, and had no flashlight.

Bill comes to see if he can find me.  I blow the whistle Tom Jennings said to never go into the woods without.

Nothing. I am officially lost in the woods and need to retrace my steps.

I drank ‘ditch’ water – knowing I shouldn’t, but also knowing dehydration would make things worse.  It was in the 90’s that day and the bugs pretty much didn’t care about my mental breakdown.

Around Mile 24, I started to really collapse.   I wasn’t as much physically in trouble as mentally.  I was completely out of supplies, the ditches were dry, the bugs were ugly, it was starting to get dark, I had no clue how close I was and, worst of all, I had less than a bar of signal left on my phone.

I told Bill it was time to call 9-1-1.  The fire, ambulance, search and rescue folks arrived at camp, but the ATV they’d brought go up the mountain wouldn’t start.

Meanwhile, at Mile 25, I’d stopped and planted myself between two road signs figuring it would be easy to find me.  I was physically  OK, but worried with a low  phone battery.  I’d talked the 911 center – who couldn’t locate me with the GPS because my cell phone was not registering right.  I talked to the Game Commissioner and told him about the road signs.  He said he thought he’d be there in about 15 minutes. Sure enough, he rolls up in 15 minutes and says – - aaaa are you the lost little lady I’m looking for?   I hopped into his truck.

He turns around and we start down the mountain. He tells me I had about 6 more miles to go.  It would have been dark in 6 miles.  While driving, I ask him if the reflective gear I was wearing would’ve been helpful to find me.  Not really, he said.  Was the road sign helpful?  No – some group had illegally put them in and they meant nothing to anyone. That was when I started to realize how much danger I had really been in.

He says, “Do you know where are Rattle Snakes out there and you were running in their sunning areas?”

He left me back at camp with the parting words, “You were damn luck girl…..”

When I go back to camp, it was surreal.  I had a protein bar, recovery drink and shower.  40 minutes later, I was acting like it hadn’t been a big deal while everyone else was still hyped up….

Several days later, I realized how much worse that day would have ended.  However, I knew I could complete Oil Creek if I could survive that weekend ordeal.

Job switch throws wrench in plans

About a month before the actual race, I had an unexpected opportunity to change jobs.  I’d been with Zurn Industries almost eight years and it was a very difficult decision that was poorly timed with my big race day so close.

I choose to take the position and the last four weeks before the race was not remotely within any form of ‘normal’ life.  Definitely not a good way to go into a race.  My gym schedule as well as my weeknight runs in those 4 weeks were just thrown into upheaval as I transitioned.

Adrenaline surge

The weekend in between jobs, I talked Theressa into doing the 12-mile loop at Oil Creek —  just to get out one last time before the race.  I wanted one last visit with Theressa before I’d not be able to see her at all during the week.

It was a nice beginning of fall day and our goal of the day was simple – celebrate our friendship.  I knew the route and we plugged along.  We saw more animals that day than I’d seen all summer.

Around Mile 9 of the 12, Theressa screamed and jumped behind me.  Meanwhile, my brain starts processing that if there is something ‘bad’ – I have turned my back on whatever it is to look at her….

She finally mouthed SNAKE….S S S N N N A A A K K K E E E

I turn. Where? I don’t see it. Oh, I see it, it’s about a 6-foot long black snake – just lying on the trail.

I look at Theressa and say – You know I never see any animals when I’m alone.  Theressa turned paler.  After a 15 min stand off and throwing a stick at it, the snake moved and we continued on.

We learned the effects of adrenaline on the body as our remaining 3 miles was at snail pace.  But we finished and I knew I was ready for anything that might come on race day.

Race day questions

My biggest ponders doing into race day.

* Should I wear the heart monitor?  It tended to rash/cut into me but it also kept me on track.

* Would my Garmin last 17 hours if I was out there that long?

* How unprepared was I to run on a trail in the dark?  I’d done lots of dirt road dark but woods-dark is a whole other thing.

The Garmin problem was solved by Theressa. She let me borrow hers to leave in my drop bag.  As for the monitor, I decided that race day should match training, so I wore it.  As for the dark, there wasn’t much I could do.

It’s all in your head (cold)

Race weekend.  I finally made it to race weekend.

The plan for race weekend was simple.  Volunteer, sleep at school, run, sleep a little then volunteer until Sunday afternoon and go home.

Friday night, Theressa and I helped with the set-up and then did packet pickup for the 100-mile runners.  These runners are SO beyond calm.  I was freaking out for them.  They were going to run 100 miles the next day and they were all mellow like it was just no big deal.

At 9:30 p.m.,  it was lights out in the gym.  Theressa and I finished up organizing items and it was almost 11 p.m. before I hit the sleeping bag.  At 3 a.m., Theressa was up making coffee for the 100-milers.

By 4:00AM, we were both up and registering the 100-milers.    The morning was a blur.  Checking in people, answering drop bag questions and trying to not have a complete freak out.  I watched the 100 milers leave.  I was in awe of them.  Watching the 100K folks left me breathless.

Time to run

Then it was time to change into my running gear.  I left the main area and went to a little-used bathroom  and quietly changed.

Oddly, I wasn’t freaking out at that point.  It was more just a well-rehearsed checklist that rolled in my brain multiple times.

I  looked in the mirror when I left and thought: Well,  I at least look like a runner.  Theressa took some photos. Then Tom Jennings yelled “GO” and we were off into the dark.

The race is broken up into 4 sections starting with a bike path leading to the trail.  While on the bike path, my heart rate was—well—very high.  I wasn’t going fast but my heart was in full panic.

As I moved along the bike path I kept thinking – what happened to a 5K being an impossible distance??  At the trail head, I continued using my flashlight.  It helped.  Not as much to physically see but I think it helped keep my hands focused and kept them from shaking in fear.  It seemed like a long time before I turned off the flashlight.  My heart rate finally settled in and my fears were calming down.

First aid (station)

Then I got to the first aid station—about 6 miles into the race.  TOO Fast – Way too Fast – Panic started again.   Did I want anything?  No – except for a sanity check.  I grabbed a couple strawberries and headed up the hill.  I’d traveled most of the race course so I knew this hill and tried to just maintain a steady/calm approach.  Section 2 went well.  I wasn’t feeling tired yet – I was semi-alone and I hadn’t started to panic about being in the dark yet.

Station No. 2

I got to Section 2 aid station.   I am semi-afraid of aid stations because that is where you DNF (Did Not Finish).  Stay too long at an Aid Station and you may not get moving again.

My plan for each aid station was simple – get out fast before the DNF idea could pop into my head.  As I came in to the station, I knew I was still going to fast.  Tom Lane High 5’d me.  I wished I’d appreciated that moment more.

I grabbed my drop bag and headed to the bathroom.  Change shirt, change watch, refresh hydration pack and more Gel’s and a new pack of gum.  I took extra Gels because the next 2 sections were longer and I knew I should be crashing and burning soon.  I came back out and left my bag with someone and then proceeded to ram my leg into a picnic bench hunting for a PB&J sandwich.

Things get ugly

Section 3 was ugly.  I walked and ate my sandwich, trying to feel refreshed.  New shirt – new watch – just another 2 sections and I’d be there.

But, I let the ugly thoughts creep in.

I would probably finish in the dark and alone.  Alone because Theressa would be at her sister’s wedding and alone because my husband probably wouldn’t be there because he had to go see his mom.

A few times over the summer, I’d thought about the finish line moment…I’d thought about Theressa and I doing something silly – like pushups or running across the finish lines with my kids.  Both ideas planted in my head from the Oil Creek 2010 video.

During Section 3 I resigned myself to the fact that neither would happen.  I’d finish in the dark and although R.D. Tom Jenning would be thrilled to see me – it just wouldn’t be the same.

In the meantime I discovered my waist pack was open and my fresh pack of gum was gone.

No gum, no run

I had a full panic then.  I have no gum.  I’d trained closing my eyes – in the heat – in the rain – with music – without music – on sleep deprivation – but never without gum.

I stopped dead in my tracks.

That was it. My goose was cooked. I was done.  There was absolute no way I could finish.  I’d never make it.

The ugIy voice turned to full volume. I wouldn’t even make it to the next aid station . I would die out here and no one would know.  I couldn’t run—what,  10 more hours?  I couldn’t rationalize math at that point without gum.  I couldn’t walk in the dark without gum.    The ugly voice just continued chatting away.

After a minute,  I realized I had to move – either way – I had to MOVE.

OK, you can do this; you don’t need gum.  You might die but it won’t be from lack of gum.  I can make this tiny stick of gum last 10 hours—no problem.

What if I swallow it?

Then I thought I heard something and swallowed the gum.  F*** comes out of my mouth just as the first 100 miler passes me.

I try to apologize  and say it wasn’t meant towards him but I doubt he heard me – he was moving that much faster than me.

No gum! I’m doing to die.  I’m never getting off this trail.    This is All Theressa’s fault for ever letting me e-mail Tom Jennings (displaced fault finding at it’s highest).

When I let the negative voice go unchecked – it’s ugly and vicious.

WHY DID I EVER REMOTELY THINK I COULD DO THIS???

Cow Run

I finally got to Cow Run – which is the ½ way point to the next aid station.  It was a semi-manned, non-formal aid station.  I get there and yell, “I need to know if ANYONE has a pack of GUM.”  They all stare at me.  They have bandaids and water but no gum.

I explain that  it’s not a standard aid station thing,  it would be something you just happened to have on your person.  Meanwhile, I know I need to get out of there quickly.  DNF DNF DNF DNF is ringing through my head.

The aid station leader pulls out a rumbled piece of gum and says – well I have this….

I almost kissed him!  I say – PERFECT – that will get me to the next aid station.

I ration it into pieces and off I go.  Crazy amazing how a 2 -inch piece of gum can alter your world.  With the gum, I suddenly felt like everything would be just fine.

I kept plugging along and cheering any 100-miler who passed me.

Final Aid station

As I hit the dirt road towards my final Aid Station, Jill Perry passed me. She was flying, and I was walking.

Aid Station #3 – my only question: how much farther?  I must have asked the person helping me that  9 times before I left.  I filled up my water and I left without asking anyone if they had gum.

I get to the stairs – which aren’t that far away – I realize my error in not asking for the gum…no going back.  If I go back – I’m toast – I’ll DNF. So, up the stairs I went.

I was shortly at the top of Cemetary Hill and had a thought: Where is Dr. (Dan) Young?   He should have passed me in Section 3 – I’m in Section 4. This is the first time in the race that I really really needed Theressa.  She’s can do math in her head – even when she’s exhausted.  I was tired and couldn’t quite do any math calculation relating to 8.9.

Then Dr. Young passed me. He looked great.  He was moving along well and I was, at least, still moving.  Around that point, I’d met up with another runner.  We kept each other moving along until we got to the final unmanned water stop.  I stopped to fill my bottle and then a 100-miler came along.  I pumped the 100-miler some water and encouraged him along.  I saw another 100-miler coming and opted to wait for him as well.

I ended up pausing probably less than 5 min and filled four 100-milers’ water bottles before I headed out.  A short while later, I was off the trail.  I paused as I crossed the railroad tracks.

Off trail

Wow – I’d actually make it off the trail. Yet, dang, I still couldn’t figure out how far I had left.  I knew it was less than 5 miles.

Around the Drake Well Museum, I had nothing left.  I wasn’t running, just walking as fast as I could.  I had probably six 100-milers pass me.  I cheered for them all.  Bike path.  Still nothing. My legs were fried.  I was exhausted.  I also realize it was still daylight (????).   I had carried extra flashlights since Aid Station 2  needlessly.  At the end of the bike path, you go down a short road and back to the school.

The big finish

I rounded the corner and could see the school driveway.  I started running.  I wanted to run across the finish line, especially if I was doing to be alone.

I could hear something and thought I was hallucinating.

But it was distinct. People where cheering—lots of people. I was running and only focused on the finish line.  Yet, the cheering was getting louder and I could start to see the people on the corner — they looked familiar.

It was Theressa – she’d make it back in time!   Wait – Who is that with her?  It’s Bill and the KIDS!  He brought them —  he actually brought them!  I recognized Ana jumping up and down in her dress.

I threw my flashlight toward them and yelled at the kids – “Run with Me?”  Both kids jumped out and grabbed my hands.

I crossed the finish line in 11:24 with both kids holding my hands.

After thoughts

What a rush!

I did it! And, I did it faster than I expected.

As I stopped and started looking around, I realized something HUGE.

My parents were there.  In my exhausted stupor at the corner, I hadn’t even seen them! I sat down for a moment and then realized they were just standing there smiling.

I walked over and gave my dad the longest hug.   I just stared at my mom —how did you get him to come?  I can’t believe they came.

They knew how important the race was to me but I never in my wildest thoughts imagined they’d be willing to drive two hours to watch me cross the finish line – then drive home.  But that’s exactly what they did.  I have the most amazing parents.

I got my belt buckle from Tom Jennings and just stared at it for a while.  Meanwhile, Theressa forced on my recovery while I was more dumbfounded that I actually had finished.  Bill and the kids ate with me.  I showed the kids how I’d sleep at the school, which just fascinated them.  They left about an hour later and headed down to Bill’s mom’s.

I showered and went back to volunteering for a few hours.  I put on compression pants afterwards which helped me to not hobble-walk as quickly as I expected.  I then slept a couple hours, but not too many because I wanted to see Dr. Young cross the finish line.  He finished the 100 miles looking like he had barely run a 5K.

Theressa and I continued to volunteer the rest of the early morning and took a few hours nap around 7AM.  We were up soon afterwards to watch the last ten 100-milers finish.  Watching the last 100 milers finish—it’s hard to explain.  Just being there and watching them cross—it is just a huge motivator.

We then helped with teardown and around 4PM – it was time for us to depart.  We drove home and I was feeling very emotional.  I actually did it.  I set a tough goal and actually accomplished it.

I was proud – yet wondering – what’s next? Before I left for Oil Creek, I had already registered for the ERC’s Turkey Trot which probably means the Winter series and I’d registered for January trail race – Run the Regis.  I’d talked Theressa into the Regis race.  I got home and no one was home.  Bill was still at his mom’s.  It took me awhile to actually step up into the house.

Back to normal?

I returned to work on Tuesday, barely able to sit.  Sitting down wasn’t pretty.    Wed – I could fake sit down but my walk was off kilter.  I was also still mentally  – I don’t know – I just felt changed.

I remembered that I had also signed up for the Endurance Classic on Saturday. I wasn’t back to running; I was just barely walking normal again by then.

So, I loaded up the Jeep with my warmer clothing and several pair of shoes.  I knew I’d be walking and getting mowed down, but I like the Endurance race.

Except the weather was awful — windy and raining. I started at 6:30 a.m. and wanted to quit by 7:30 a.m.  Darkness can play tricks on the mind.  I decided to tough it out until daylight and see.  At daylight, I changed out of my first soaked outfit and hoped the new warmer gear would energize me.  Mentally, it did energize me, but nothing would help my t-band.  They were still shot and completely unhappy about the extremely minor downhill slope on the course.  I kept plodding along.

Once that outfit was soaked, I was done.  It was still early in the day but mentally I was DNF.  Ten miles.  I’d covered 10 miles and went home depressed.

I got home and tried to think positive – I did 31 tough miles the week before and 10 wasn’t bad for the weather.  But still, I was mentally defeated.  Bill and the kids came home from bowling.  I was still bumming.

Then Bill surprised me, yet again.  He handed me a box.  Saturday was Sweetest day.  Inside the box was a bracelet that he’d had custom altered to include an Achilles running charm.  It was a present from him and the kids for my completing Oil Creek.  I stared at the bracelet for a long time.  The DNF of early that day  no longer matter.  I was surrounded by the people who loved me and put up with my silly need to attempt to cover longer distances.

Today, I ran 4 miles.  Not far compared to other runs.  But it just felt different.  The Oil Creek adventure definitely changed me for the better.

Will I do it again?  I don’t know right now.  I do know Theressa is talking about the 50K option for the Fool’s Day………

 

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4 Responses to “Guest Post: First timer account of 50K Trail Race”

  1. Tom Madura says:

    Congratulations, Christine!

    That’s an amazing achievement – you are an inspiration to us all.

    And what a great write-up – I felt tired and emotionally drained just READING about it!

    Tom

  2. Rhonda says:

    Congratulations Christine! I’m so glad that your loved ones were there to celebrate your big finish with you. Good for you & thanks for sharing the experience with us.

  3. Thea says:

    Christine, Great write-up. I did not realize how huge this was for you. You were already a part of OC when I came along, and I would see your name in other events, so it never occurred to me what an accomplishment this was going to be. Besides, I saw you all over the place afterward looking like you just finished a walk in the park. You are as amazing as a volunteer as you are an ULTRAMARATHONER!

    Congratulations!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Michael Moran says:

    I LOVE your story. I can imagine you typing this story, your fingers not quite moving fast enough as the emotions came rushing back.

    And you went back to volunteer?!?! Oh, how I wish I could hug you right now!! That, to me, says as much of your personality as the fact that you pushed through 50k and all of its challenges.

    I am happy that your family was there to see you finish and experience first-hand the emotions that I am SURE flooded your face when you made that last turn; when you saw the finish line; when you saw them cheering for you; when you crossed the finish line; when you got The Buckle. WOW!! Again — CONGRATULATIONS!!!

    (So….? 100k next year??)

    I hope to see you in October, 2012, you 50k finisher-YOU!

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