Sunday, December 7, 2008

Sunmart 50k - December 6, 2008, Huntsville, TX

I'll try my best to get this out quickly, without too much rambling.
Friday was not a good day for me at work. I don't want to talk about it, but it sucked. I was about 2 hours later than I wanted to be leaving for the host hotel in Houston, but I made it there in plenty of time to get my packet and all the goodies. The goodies consisted of a great gear bag, a cap, a polo shirt, a long sleeved tech shirt, nail care kit, journal, body glide sample, hammer gel samples, small back pack, sunglasses… Remember me telling you all that the race people had never cashed my check. I figured I would have to write another check when I got there, and I was right. My name wasn't on the registration list. That's how I ended up with my lucky number - 1001. Something about a number with 2 zeros that is reversible and that adds up to 2. I checked into the hotel, and then realized that I had forgotten the holster that I sling over one shoulder to carry a 32oz bottle of electrolyte drink that I always bring myself. (Race with what you train with). So, I had to go down to Roger Soler Sports and bought a fuel belt that has 4 - 8oz bottles. Then I chilled out a little before the pasta dinner.

There was a great spread for the dinner, salad, baked ziti, ravioli and lasagna with steamed vegetables and lots of desserts. When I go to these things alone, I always sit at a table by myself, then if someone wants to join me, that is cool with me. I met several nice people who asked to join… two first time 50 mile women, and a first time 50k man. One of the women was Gina Vandiver, 29 yrs old, the youngest woman to ever complete a triple ironman triathlon, she wanted to work on her running and prove to herself she could complete 50 miles in a respectable time.

Bob Kennedy, an American record holder in 3,000 and 5,000 meters was the guest speaker. His talk was interesting in that he congratulated all of us because he had never run as far as we were planning to, and we should all be proud of our accomplishments.

Invited runners were introduced, as well as 4 men who had participated in all 19 annual Sunmart runs. I spent the first 6 to 10 miles playing tag one of those men; he was very nice and gave me lots of encouragement. He will try to do the race at least one more time, to make the 20th anniversary. Anyway, up at 4:30 am, made the coffee, then left at 5 am to drive to the park. It was about 41 degrees when I left the hotel, and I thought that's not so bad. But, the further I drove, the colder it got. I drank my coffee, and ate the lucky Clif Bar and banana on the way. I went ahead and lowered the passenger side window about half way, so I wouldn't be too warm when I got out of the car. I wanted to be there and have my gear settled in my spot along the finish line, so it would be easily accessible as I passed that spot twice before the finish. (The course was 1 short loop and two longer loops) I ate a little more breakfast at about 6:45 because I wanted to be ready to see the start of the 50 mile race. They started promptly at 7 am and it was about 30 degrees outside. Then we waited for the 50k race which started promptly at 7:45. The reason for the staggered start is to keep the back and forth running traffic in the single track areas to a minimum. It seemed to work out pretty well.

I went out way too fast from the start like I always do. My first mile was 11:55. Mile 2 was a lot slower because at that point, the traffic of runners on the single track made it impossible to pass anyone. When it started to thin out, I was able to pick the pace back up. Up until about mile 8, I was at an average pace of about 13:30. That is ridiculously fast. I had tripped a couple of times, but was able to recover without falling. And at the end of the first short loop, I stripped off the top two layers and put back on the thinner long sleeve Underarmour shirt. The thermal shirt had to go when the sun came up and the air started to dry out. I also took off the headband. I didn't have to make any adjustments with shoes or socks… And I left the tights on all day.
Between mile 10 and 15, I lost about :20 per mile in average pace. Seems like the first short loop went well, and then I started to have some issues in the first long loop. Maybe I wasn't hydrating properly because it was cool. My fingers were swelling… etc. I started paying more attention to what I was taking in, and began to feel better. The fuel belt actually helped a lot with the hydration because I could see how much I was drinking. At one point somewhere in the last loop, I got a cramp in my inner left thigh. I just drank another bottle of electrolyte, and I was better.

When I was close to the end of the second loop, start of the last loop…about a mile from the turnaround, Patty says to me, can I walk with you to the finish line? I nearly cried. I was so thrilled to see her, she put some life back into me, and I think the last loop was better than the one before. Ok, I just checked… My average pace for the last 12 miles was approximately 14:40, and the average pace for the previous 12 miles was approximately 15:50. See what you did, Patty? You saved me from myself! I really felt strong at the finish, in spite of the fact that I really busted my butt with about 6 miles to go. Note to self: Don't look at the Garmin, just because someone tells you there are only 6 miles to go... The aluminum handheld water bottle saved me as it skidded across the pine needles and softened the fall, so I just laughed at myself and kept going. I know for sure that I wasn't the only one to fall. As a matter of fact, I saw several! One girl fell practically right in front of me. There were lots of bloody knees yesterday.

I wasn't quite ready to eat after I finished, so Patty walked with me to my car to get my 4 shot espresso and skim milk drink, and a small container of yogurt I had brought along. I stretched a little… not too much because things were starting to hurt a little. I got a phone call from the folks who I left in charge of the Sealy 5k, and overall, things seemed to go ok in my absence. I knew there would be a couple of glitches… they probably would have happened if I had been there anyway. I finally felt like eating at about 5pm, so I had half a cheeseburger and a real Pepsi. I just couldn't eat anymore. We stuck around and watched a lot of people finish 50k and 50 miles, and Patty had to go home. I stayed until the 50 mile clock read 12 hours.

I didn't want to witness anyone finish after the cutoff. That would have been too disappointing! I saw on of my dinner partners finish her first 50 miler, and I felt like it was me! There was one man whose family was waiting for him. The children were very well behaved and when they saw him coming with little time to spare, they all joined hands and crossed the finish line together! Then an older man came toward the finish… he was staggering and leaning terribly to one side. When the finish line folks came toward him to offer help, he refused and staggered over the finish of his own power. It was difficult to watch, but inspiring at the same time. There was also a young man who was very disappointed because he missed the cutoff (8.5 hours) to be allowed to start the last loop. I truly understood how he felt, even though I haven't had a dnf yet.
A really nice woman who had been cheering everyone on all day was waiting for her husband and it wasn't his first attempt at 50 miles. He barely made the 8.5 hour cutoff to be allowed to start the last loop, and he still hadn't finished when I walked away. I looked at the results and he finished just a couple of minutes after I left. 5 people finished outside of 12 hours.

So, it took me about 2 hours to drive home from the race in my stick shift. Thank goodness it is a car, and not a truck or a jeep! I didn't sleep too well… I tossed and turned all night. I was awake at 8am, and went grocery shopping. Then I went to show my mom my winnings. She fed me home made quiche! It was amazing, and then I asked her if she needed to go anywhere. She said, don't you remember, we are going to get my Christmas tree today. And, oh, by the way, I need a new microwave. So, we went. That was my workout today. No walking, just hauling around a Christmas tree and microwave oven in a 2 door automobile. I'm not complaining, the home made quiche made it all worthwhile!

Inventory: No blisters, only a couple of small bruises on my right knee from the fall, and a few sore muscles and joints today.

Back to training on Tuesday!

Bib #1001;
Chip time 7:49:19; average pace 15:06
397 of 482 overall (ahead of 17.42%)
150 of 203 women (ahead of 26.1%)
38 of 45 age group F 45-49 (ahead of 15.55%)
Garmin shows 3550' of elevation gain and 3741' of elevation loss. Lots of hills!

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