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Archive for the tag “Sylamore 50K”

In a hopeless place

Well, Boy and Girl, my two faithful followers whom I’m sure have been completely bereft in the dearth of recent posts on my world-famous blog, I thought I would update you on the two Brains thing.

Apparently in addition to one Brain being able to completely hijack all reasonable or unreasonable plans, intentions, or actions on the part of the other Brain and myself without any advance notice, the Brains can also, apparently, completely disengage and watch from a distance as someone does something ridiculous and in which either Brain may refuse at the last moment to participate, leaving me standing forlorn at a start line or 7-8 miles into a trail.

My proof comes in the form of a happy email announcing gaily the confirmation of my registration for the Sylamore 50K.  That would be the registration I completed this afternoon while sitting here on my Biofreezed falling off butt.

Brain 1 is tee-heeing like a kindergartener, she said BUTT.  Fine, laugh away jerk, where were you when I noted on the application that I am a male who desires a large shirt?  Thanks for noticing when I got the confirmation. 

Thanks also for noticing the shirt error first, so I could email the RD with the size change and then noticing 13 seconds later that I’m now a male so I could email the RD again to request a sex change without having to travel to Sweden.

You can see that I’m trapped in a hopeless place – which, thank you so not once again, dear Brains, now I’ve got Rhiana’s We Found Love stuck in my damn head, is it not bothering the two of you, since you’re the ones IN my HEAD?  Apparently not, as you aren’t shutting the godforsaken earworm off.

Interestingly registration filled up in less than 30 minutes leaving many runners sad.  They are sad they are not going to go run 25K or 50K in rocky hills in Arkansas in February where it might well snow on you while you cross the freezing creek not once, but twice.

You know friends, it’s no wonder your non-running buddies look at you and back away just a bit.  Here I sit, on the DL, having just scrapped plans for two distance races, Biofreezing half my body – and I just paid good money for another race.

Are we crazy?  Stubborn?  Stupid?  Delusional?  No wonder friends and family shake their heads and sigh.  And those are friends and families that are runners!  Sir Hubs hates marathons.  Every time I register for a distance race he just gets The Look and sighs slightly.  Hubs is currently plotting to get into Ironman FLA 2014.

FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY, THERE’S A FREEKING MARATHON AT THE END OF THE IRONMAN.  (I’m yelling now, aren’t I?) AFTER he swims over 2 miles in a flipping ocean and bikes 112 miles and is probably getting just a tad tired and still facing a 26.2 mile run.  How the hell does he get to the conclusion that I’M crazy??

Brain 2 just chimed in that I might want to note that Hubs is not talking about his brains in 3rd person.

I’d like to point out that Hubs has brains that actually work, but I won’t because then I’ll be arguing with my own self and it’s all getting rather confusing.

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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!!!!

oh well.

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)

“OK, ok”

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.

Bad idea.

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.

Running Hot and Cold

A few weeks ago I said something about “my” 50k’s to a fellow runner who was surprised to learn I’d done any, not that I couldn’t but they just didn’t know I had.  This in turn surprised me, only because my mouth is an open spigot and it is safe to assume that anything I have to say has already been said at least once.

The topic returned to mind Sunday after the sauna hell of Tupelo.

The 3rd 50k experience about sent poor Sir Hubs over the edge, later causing him to repeatedly use the “S” word in public conversation and I put a voluntary moratorium on the distance until now.  The first two were Sylamore Trail, Arkansas in February, 2006 and 2007 and the last was the Stanky Creek Bartlett Ultra in 2007.  That first year I got a room at a sweet B&B, comfy and cozy with no kids running in and out of the house and swarming the kitchen in the middle of 2am.  I settled down in the soft bed piled thick with quilts and read my book in peace and quiet.  I slept like a baby (not the waking, pooping crying kind of baby, the other kind that some other family got) and woke the next morning to four inches of gleaming, glistening, sparkling fresh snow.  SNOW!

My friend came crunching across the drive on the crisp snow, air so clear and sharp it seemed to crackle slightly as I walked, the porch lights sending long angled shadows darkening a strip of white where I passed.  I could taste the air, clean and slightly damp.  We drove to the race start at Angler’s Lodge featuring: Dining – Lodging – Gift, Tackle, & Food Shop – Rental Boats – Guided Trout & Bass Fishing; absolutely awesome.  Someone carrying a notebook/clipboard while bundled up like Ralphie Parker shuffled out of the Gift, Tackle & Food Shop and stood in the country road, calling names. ‘NAME!” “HERE!”  “NAME” “HERE!” “Terri Clarke” “HERE!” and I was checked off on the list.  Everyone accounted for and off we set, small flakes of snow beginning to fall again shining and swirling in the gleam of headlamps and flashlights.

A mile into the race is the Sylamore Creek crossing.  We’d had a lot of discussion in the previous weeks, take our shoes off and cross, then put the shoes back on?  Carry a dry pair in a plastic bag and stash the wet on the other side behind a rock?  Just brave it?  The best advice I’d gotten was to get a pair of Injinji and wear them under a pair of smart wool.  This would reduce friction and the wool would keep my feet warm – so I plunged in squealing like a girl, feeling my way across the stream bed in a thigh-high swirl of ice cold water.

It hurt!  Holy cow, that cold was painful and for several minutes I wondered if it was OK I couldn’t feel my feet.  It’s an odd sensation running when you don’t feel your feet connecting with the ground and you get pretty clumsy.  We scrambled up the other bank and headed out, warming up by dodging rocks, jumping rocks, tripping over rocks and cursing rocks.  The course is an out-and-back, 15-ish (I’ve learned trail runs tend to the -ish side of accuracy on distance) with the aid points at 5, 10 and 15 and then back again.  It was perfect mentally because it broke the course up.  I only have 5 miles to the aid station.  It’s just a five miler, then another five miler, then another.  I can do that.

The aid stations were awesome – the usual bananas and cookies, etc., plus roasted new potatoes with crunchy salt, Coke, Mountain Dew, M&M’s, Lipton Chicken Noodle Soup mix that comes in an envelope with the short flat noodles, the broth nearly fluorescent yellow, that soup which your mom used to give you when you were sick, reclined on the couch watching cartoons in the middle of the day, so much sodium that it would pucker a normal person’s tongue.  I lapped it up.

Another thing I discovered was about the time we hit every aid stop the terrain changed.  The first 5 miles, rocky, twisty, curvy, melded into a smoother trail which headed down and then up the side of a hill.  Or maybe it was up and then down; either way on the return trip it was the opposite and either way that hill sucked.   The second aid station was next to the creek on a gravel road and featured hot Gatorade.  Hot yellow Gatorade steaming in a huge pot on a camp stove.  I tried but no go, it’s nasty enough iced.  The third set of five featured switchbacks twisting and winding up and down the side of the hills.  At one point we climbed through a beautiful natural rock formation covered with moss, coming out on the other side overlooking the trail and evergreens.  I looked for Gandolf but he wasn’t there.

We made it to the turnaround before the cut-off (we were near to the last but not quite, I’m not fast I’m just stubborn), got checked off the list for showing up and were told to tell anyone behind us who was still heading that way to turn back.

That last five miles was tough.  My quads were screaming like a teenage girl at a Bieber concert.  I kept speeding up (as in, a faster turtle than I’d been before) trying to get it over with and when we hit the creek it was heaven to stand in that cold water, my burning legs tingling.  The problem was, once I got out of the water they stiffened up and turned into concrete.  I stumbled up the scraggy rocky dirt road to the finish line:  one of the gas pumps at the Lodge, where the poor shivering Ralphie stood, bundled, holding a stop watch and a clipboard.  “NAME?”  “Terri Clarke!”

I’d put dry shoes and socks in the car that morning, shivering uncontrollably I tried to untie my shoes and get them off my freezing feet.  The shoelaces were frozen stiff and I had to pry them apart with a knitting needle back at the B&B.    I stood under the hot shower until it ran cold, put on jeans, socks and the race sweatshirt and crawled in bed, too exhausted to celebrate the accomplishment, my muscles humming.  It was several days before I could sit and stand without holding onto a table, chair or wall and I decided immediately to register for the following year.

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