Running Hot and Cold…and Stupid
So after the positive (albeit cold and slow) success of my first 50K I re-upped for the next year’s event as soon as it was open.
This time Hubs came along and did the 25K. We stayed at the very swank Best Western in Mountain View along with the rest of my running buds. That night after grilling burgers in the hotel parking lot in the back of a friend’s pickup truck we all crowded into one of the rooms to watch the Tigers play. There could have been a bit of cheering, it was a good game and we had beer. The phone rang and I was closest.
“um, Hello?” (who do we know in Mountain View??)
“Hi, this is the front desk? We had a call from another room? You’re being kinda loud?”
It’s 7pm. Saturday. In Mountain View. Oops, the sidewalks got rolled up, we forgot.
“Well…it’s the TIGERS…”
“*sigh* yes, I know (Tiger fan! YAY!) but could you maybe hold it down a bit?”
“Ma’am, we all just ran either 16 or 32 miles and about three minutes after this game is over we will all be quieter than the dead.”
“Well, OK then, but maybe you could hold it down a bit anyway?”
“Yes ma’am, we sure will.” and I hung up.
The room erupted. SCORE!!!!
It wasn’t quite as cold that year; if I remember correctly about 38 at the start and it warmed up a few degrees by the end. Ralphie was back in his parka checking everyone off the list. Rest stops featured pretty much the same of everything altho I do not remember hot Gatorade that year. My time wasn’t any faster and I was still just as sore after the race. In fact a couple of days later I drove around with my daughter looking at wedding reception venues. Do you know that there’s apparently a law about those places? Every single damn one of them had stairs. Stairs into the building, stairs in the building, stairs to get to the stairs, all of which I had to take excruciatingly slowly, sideways, one-foot-at-a-time, desperately grasping the railing while the event director and my daughter waited patiently and a bit wonderingly. How could you possibly pay money and do something that makes you hurt that bad? For the first time in my life I was sorry I wasn’t a man — every time I had to visit the ladies’ room.
Still, like childbirth, you move on and forget. You get a sweet baby you take everywhere or a sweet hoodie you wear everywhere. After a while someone else has a new baby and you think, hmmm, I might could do that again. I bet I could do that just one more time. (This theory is limited by time, age, and bank account of course, or if you accidentally got twins which would be like doing a 100 miler or something similarly incredibly stupid, but the first time or two it’s a bit like that. Only cheaper. Also, rather than the baby you are the one crying at night, trying to turn over or get out of bed.)
That spring word was out there was a new event in town and all the cool kids were trying to get a date, so when they handed me a beer and said, HEY! watch this! and registered for the race I slammed back that beer and registered, too.
What could possibly go wrong?
This is what I said then and this is what I say now: how in the hell (operative word) was I supposed to know in May that August would have four of the hottest days on record (105-106), and that the day of the race it would be 102?
The Bartlett Ultra at Stanky Creek is a 50k/40mile/50mile 8-mile loop course. You want mental? The 50 milers, after doing six loops, have to pass the finish line at 48 and go out another mile and back (and while some of them were doing that, I had just finished 32 … #crazynutjobs). Me not being a #crazynutjob and only doing the 32, you can both see that four times around an 8 mile loop was doable. You just think, hey, I’m almost there and then when you get out of the trail at your car you don’t get in and go home, you just get some more food and drink and dry socks or whatever you want out of the trunk or back end and then go back in to just do 8 miles. Two or three more times. (Don’t think about that part. These aren’t the droids you are looking for.)
The first three rounds went fine, the aid station was great, the awesome volunteers sitting there in that oven covered in trees, “How ya doing?” “What do you want?” “How are you feeling?” They’d given us all hats with a pocket on top for ice and would fill our hats for us, handing us whatever food and drink we wanted. One guy started recognizing me and would have the cold Coke poured and the Fritos out when I got there. I wore my camelback which held about 72 ounces and they refilled it whenever I wanted, or threw more ice in it. I also carried e-caps, taking them on a regular basis. Heading into the final loop, with being so slow and all that, I was pretty much in the heat of the day. The first mile or two went in and out of the sun until you got solidly into the trees. I felt hot, the sun was uncomfortable, I didn’t like it touching me and I wanted to dodge it, heat soaking into my skin like an oven cooking a chicken. I couldn’t throw that heat off because even though I sweat a lot it was too humid to evaporate and cool me.
About four miles in on the last loop I was struggling to keep my heart rate down. I’d walk until it settled, then run again until it was too high. Walk/run/walk/run with the walks gradually getting longer and the runs shorter. I fueled at the stop and headed back around. The last time I hit the aid station I sat for a few minutes, ice in my hat. “You doing OK?” they asked.
“I’m good, just ready to be done.”
I walked all or nearly all of the last couple miles. You need to do a 32 mile trail run to truly understand how incredibly sweet dry shoes and socks are, how sitting in a chair can be one of the best experiences you have ever had. Just to sit. To sit, and to know that you don’t have to get back up again for any specific purpose. I’m sitting. My legs are not moving. Heaven might feel a bit like that. I’m done. I ran the race. I get to sit here in peace. You feel like you’re floating, your muscles buzzing.
Hubs and one of the Traitors had been out getting tuxes lined up for the aforementioned wedding. Shortly after I finished they stopped by to see how I was doing. Hubs told Traitor to drive me home.
“No, I’m fine, I can drive.”
“Just let him drive you home.” (exasperated)
Stars were aligned because I got in the car and about two miles down the road my legs started cramping up like pretzels and there is no way I could have driven home. I got out of the car and couldn’t stand up, crab-walking into the house. While the tub filled with cold water I laid down on the floor.
I knew where I was, I was cognizant and talking, but my body had enough and my legs were jerking, my head rhythmically banging the door as I tried to control my muscles.
Hubs, oddly, was not happy, eh?
Why does he keep looking at his watch? Who cares what time it is?
“I’m fine,” I kept repeating, my head hitting the door at regular intervals, “I just can’t seem to quit jerking.”
(If you’d just move the damn door it wouldn’t be a problem now, would it?)
Eventually I was able to stand up. I cleaned up, ate, took a nap on the couch and other than complete exhaustion and the imminent onset of pain I was doing fine.
Hubs, on the other hand, was not doing so great. He hid it well for a while but eventually he blew.
The following year a bunch of us were sitting around eating breakfast after a run. One of my BRFF’s, DJ, which is not her real name, said, you know, I’d really like to do that Stanky 50K this year.
Hubs, Mr. Even-tempered, Mr. Always Polite, looked at her. He shook his finger and said, “If you do that race you are STUPID. That race is STUPID. Anyone who does that race is STUPID. It’s STUPID.”
Deej and I looked at each other. Things that make you go hmm hmm hmm.
I’m registered for the race this Saturday.