Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Red Hot

I've lived in Utah almost 14 years, and I had never been to Moab. For locals or transplants, you know how lame that is. I've been south, I've been on Route 6 en route to CO, I've been on the Arizona /Utah border backpacking years ago, but never been to Moab,so why not see 34 miles of it, on foot. I had to remember to look up, and when I did, I was like holy shit, how cool is this??

We made a family trip centered around me running a 55k in the desert. I didn't think much about the run. It was a training run for "my race"  next month. I didn't think it would be easy, I just didn't think it would be that hard. Obviously, i was wrong or I wouldn't have italicized, "that". The Speedgoat told me to run it in prep for the 100, so I did, without even looking at the course.

I went out faster than I should, keeping up with my dear friend Cheryl, my partner in crime in all things running who tells me my headlamp is on upside down, and reminds me to drink water, and gives me safety pins for my bibs (when I remember my bibs but inevitably forget the safety pins).  She's strong and smart and experienced, and I frazzle with hydration and clothes.  But, we have been running together for almost 2 years now, and have been training hard all this winter. I dropped back behind her around mile 6, and she said "I love you, Natalie!" when I dropped back some more:) 

I could still see her ahead at mile 13, and not again until much later and much farther away. I was moving well and feeling great, 10-11 minute miles... my pace, my terrain, rolling hills, some fun rock obstacles, nothing too hard or too easy.  At mile 17, I looked at my watch, 3:18. I smiled, I said either out loud or in my head, I can do this in 6:30 if I keep this pace. Annnnd, then I burped.  Sulfer and gatorade came up the back of my throat, like a long twisted finger waving at me, "uh uh Miss, this is far from over". FUUUCK.  I tried to ignore this brew a bubbling in my belly of a salt tablet, beef jerky, gatorade, Power gel, ibuprofen, potato chips, and a shot of soda...breakfast of an ultra runner.

Ok, so I got sick a few times, or gagged and dry heaved horribly for minutes at a time. I was walking as fast as I could which still shot me to 18 minute miles. "Ok, walk until you hit 4 hours on your watch" "You can do this, get through this, you're fine" "Ok, Ill eat a gel when I hit 20 miles" My music was making my stomach turn and I was about to hit the slick rock, where i had to keep my eyes sharp for trail markers and flags so I didn't wind up and down adding more distance. I pulled out my phone, which I carry because I'm a mom before anything else, and constant connection is necessary to me, just in case. I texted Scott to let him know that I would finish later than I expected. "Stay Strong, We love you!!" he wrote back. I smiled ear to ear. That gave me the strength to press on.  He's not a runner but he is my crew supporting me in everything I want to do. He understands that this makes me happy and accomplished, and that's all he needs to know to give the encouragement and support he does. So, there was my third wind, my push, so I kept moving.  The hardest part of the course was still  ahead of me "Eat Nat, Eat, You know you have to eat". I ate, first a gel that I choked down, and immediately felt better, like I knew I would. Then I ate a jerky, then a salt, then water.

I hiked as fast as I could,  but it was slow, still hitting 18 minute miles going up, up, up. The slick rock was different than road, harder. It has variation like a trail with the hard impact of the road. Shit, this fucking hurts! My ankles and toes. I felt 2 nails pop, or raise up from the toe. They are still there, but not for long, I'm certain of that.   Ah well.  Saw a few DNF's  at the last 2 aid stations. Nope, not me. It never crossed my mind.  Ok, here we go last 5 miles. Wow, I could run! I ran..slow, but I ran, 13-14 minute miles, but I ran. Slow, but I ran and I finished in 7:41.

Next up, The Buffalo Run at Antelope Island, 100 miles. Wish me luck and an iron stomach


No one can really know Everything about you, but

I cannot live with someone who can't live without me.
Nadine Gordimer