Today we have a Guest Post by ERC runner, turned bad-ass endurance trail runner/OC100 50K finisher, Christine Vassen.
By Christine Vassen
I ran the Oil Creek 50K in October of last year (photo above), you may remember reading all about those 31 miles, including my full-blown gum crisis. What you may not have known is that about four weeks before I toed the line, I changed job. This is definitely not recommended before a life altering race. My bubble of normalcy a month before the race wasn’t just popped, it was run over by a Semi Truck a few times.
Post Oil Creek now, I have semi-settled into the new job at Plyler Overhead Door. It’s radically different for me. I went from corporate employee – functionally hidden amongst hundreds of employees, working with mainly woman to a shop with 40 employees, of which only 4 are women. Working with mainly guys hasn’t been a hard adjustment. Having been indirectly raised by my dad (my mom worked afternoons) and having spent many years around dirt race tracks prepared me well for being the odd girl out. What I wasn’t prepared for was the loss of my lunch runs. I get a 30-minute lunch and that’s not enough time to eat and get any mileage in. The mileage loss has impacted me so I’m pretty determined to recapture the run time. After 6 months, I am semi-over the intro period fears that accompany any job change.
A couple weeks ago, Theressa Miller and I did the Fool’s Race 25K for the 2nd time. Last year, I blatantly peer pressured Theressa into doing the race. It was our last race before a long summer of separate adventures. I took a TON of photos during the race. It was our first trail race and I was certain we’d never go back to Ohio. Never say never…
Theressa calls it “Neverland” – as in a magical Happy place. Hudson, Ohio, is this amazing little town near Stow, Ohio – near where we did the trail race. When Theressa and I travel to Hudson – we turn into tourists. No Kids needing xxxx…. No Husband who lost xxxx…. No responsibility, except to recharge our batteries, and we take that responsibility very seriously.
How we found Stow? We indirectly owe that to Heather Cass. Her recommendation to run the Cleveland Marathon turned into a side road trip to Vertical Runner, which is in Hudson. Hudson has just the friendliest folks and really quaint and unique little stores— non-chain stores. We’ve eaten at some amazing restaurants and encountered nothing but the most friendly trail runners every time we visit Ohio/Stow.
Having run the Fool’s Day race last year, we were better prepared. It was, again, an amazing day. We arrived the day before. We ‘toured’ Hudson including a gourmet cupcake store and a popcorn store that sells more variety of popcorn that I could have possibly imaged. I spend more money at Vertical Runner than I intended, but that’s par for race weekend.
Unfortunately, my cellphone broke the Tuesday before the race. I had to make the decision regarding an upgrade to a Smartphone – which was not part of my ‘bubble of normalcy’. I lost all my playlists that I’d trained with! I opted for the smartphone and was programming new play list the night before the race while Theressa paced around the hotel run having a mild pre-race freakout. The morning of the race started well. Theressa was freaking out at the starting line –that is always the sign of a great race to come!
Off we went. As normal, we were quickly left behind but we were prepared for that this year. The trail was much drier than last year and we cruised along well. Theressa had a unspoken time goal and my goal was simply to finish 1 min faster than last year. My main goal was to continue to work on my downhill running. I struggle with this – a LOT. Fear of falling – fear of face-planting – fear of falling and shattering some body part … consistently runs through my head. But I know if I can get comfortable with downhill, it will help my time.
We were about ½ way done when I had a breakthrough. I did it! I ran down a hill without freaking out. I did all the stances that Tom Jenning – Dr. Young and The Peterson had conveyed to me and I’d survived. My legs were screaming and I hadn’t fallen. I was in fully YIPPEE Mode. Well, that mode takes a lot out of you. About 2 miles later, I was tired and whimpering (complaining a lot) to Theressa. Another Gel pack and some water helped but I started to notice Theressa was looking at her watch—she never looks at her watch.
Theressa is a math GENIUS and she was plotting. (Her plotting didn’t quite work out due to a hill towards the end of the race that neither of us recalled.)
About 2 miles left – a 50k runner passed us. I say to Theressa. It has to be 5 miles. It’s 5 miles. I just know it, and I’m sticking with that story. Five more miles. He almost fell down laughing.
The final bridge – Theressa is afraid of bridges and always goes across first. Since I was on a mild high of hoping I had figured out downhills, I started down the hill, picking up enough speed that I couldn’t stop until I was about ½ way across the bridge. I turned back to see Theressa coming down the hill. I had the look of a kid caught with my hand in the cookie jar. I tried to tiptoe off the bridge, like Theressa wouldn’t caught/see me. She started laughing—yeah, I needed another gel. The concept that tiptoeing would make her not see I was on the bridge was a clear indicated of overdue for a gel pack and more water.
The finish line is uphill across a field. We cross and chopped 45 minutes off our time last year. We crossed and agreed we wanted to come back next year because it was such a blast.
We made it back to the hotel, showered and headed to Hudson for a final meal before driving back to ‘normal’ life.
On the drive home, we giggled like teenagers over ….. well, it doesn’t matter really. Suffice to say that we giggled like teenagers, which is something everyone should get to do periodically.
The lesson learned from the 28th week run was — Neverland does exist and you can find the funniest times in the most unlikely places, if you try.
Your turn! Got something to say, share or post? I welcome guest posts. Email me at email@example.com.