Race Report from LPTRunner Jodie Taylor...
Another Ultra weekend! Pure comedy the whole ride up till the moment I fell asleep. The boys (Marcel, Jose, Marty and Kevin) had me constantly laughing all through dinner until it was bedtime. If you had recently read Marty’s race report, please note: we weren’t all sharing one bed with Marcel hogging the covers. I just wanted to clarify in case there was any misinterpretation…hahahaha! Luckily for all of us, Jose curbed his snoring.
4:00am all of the phone alarms are going off in the room! 2 dual core processor motorolas and a few iphones and ipads; there were lots of commotion and milling around. It’s funny to see boys be very particular about what they are wearing, however it is understandable since you want to be as comfortable as possible for 50 miles, no matter how short or long it takes you.
Um…Robert wasn’t kidding when he said it was going to be dark. I brought my headlamp but had decided beforehand to use my flashlight. I will definitely use my headlamp next year! As usual, I was in the bathroom right before the start, but made it out on time. I started running with the group, but immediately slowed down because I promised myself this time I’d run my own race. When I run with people, I end up running their pace instead of my own. I don’t even know what my “pace” is. This is my first year of ultras, thus I’m still learning and am all over the place with times. And sometimes life gets in the way and fun runs get put on the side burner, but NOT the back burner.
So I kept telling myself, “Jodie, today your run will be slow and steady.” I wanted to be able to still jog after mile 40. I crashed at mile 40 during Sawtooth. So my goal this time was to still be able to jog beyond 40 miles. Time was not my main concern, except to finish on time.
I kept repeating to myself “slow and steady” don’t get caught up in someone else’s pace. I do find that the first half people are definitely racing, jostling for position. I go up hills slowly but down them fast, if they are relatively safe. And I always find people wanting to pass me up the hill but then they are slower down the hill, so the sling shot begins. Some people don’t care and laugh about it with me, others I can sense they get annoyed. But during the last quarter I find everyone encouraging each other, even if they are still racing to pass you, they are super supportive; because we all go through that mental struggle at some point in time.
I prefer point to point races or 1 big loop, however out and back isn’t so bad. As I was getting closer to the halfway point, I was wondering when I was going to see Kevin. He did have #1 pinned to him and we did confirm at dinner that you have to finish as the number given to you. Thanks to Christine he was receiving #1. Lucky for me, I got 54! Lo and behold, there was Kevin, the first runner on his way back! Then I saw Christine, then I saw Craig, then I saw Brad, then I saw Marcel, then I saw Jose! Seeing everyone gave me a huge energy boost. Then, as I was taking a picture, this lady comes running into focus and yells to me “3rd woman!” My response is, “great job!” Meanwhile, I’m thinking, “why is she yelling to me that she’s 3rd woman? Is it like Kevin and his 1st male mug?” Oh duh Jodie, she’s telling me that I’m the 3rd woman so far. What?! That’s ridiculous! I started close to last because I was running out of the bathroom when everyone was lined up and I don’t remember passing that many people. So now I’m thinking, wow, I’m actually making good time. I could finish this race a couple of hours before the cut off time…NOT!
I saw Marty at the halfway point. He did not look like he was feeling well. I lingered for a little bit, then wished him well and got back on my way. I was still feeling pretty good and enjoying myself. Got to the next aid station to fill up on pickles…yummy! Here comes Marty out of nowhere! Wow Marty, way to kick it up a notch again! So we set off together, just like Sawtooth. He was a little out of it for a bit and we were doing the math figuring out what time we needed to get to the next aid station. We convinced ourselves we could do it. Soon Marty was getting his second wind, and my wind was fizzling out. I strained the popliteus muscle (the one behind the knee) prior to the race but figured I’d be fine. Yes, I like to self-diagnose and pretend like I know all of the muscles in the body. Anyway, now my calf feels like a rock! Not a muscle cramp that comes and goes with a little potassium kick. Just a solid rock! I guess I was compensating for the muscle strain behind the knee and now I was paying for it. I told Marty if he gets his second wind, not to wait for me and I really meant it. So he kept going as I slowed down. We were getting close to the next aid station and over the hill I see Marcel limping…OH NO! We hobble into the aid station together and he’s making the decision to DNF. I know it was an extremely hard decision to make, because he’s not a quitter. But there’s a fine line between when it’s OK to push through the pain and when it’s Not ok to push through the pain. And he doesn’t have the luxury of going to work the next day and sitting at a desk to rest, his work is physical labor, so he needs to make smart decisions.
So now I’m thinking, I should drop too. But Marcel says, “Jodie all you have to do are 20 min. miles and you’ll finish on time, keep going.” So I gulp down some Code Red Mountain Dew, look at Marty and say “Let’s go.” Marty gives me, “the look” and then we set off back onto the trail. We start doing the math again, I dislike word problems very much, but we figured we could make it to the last aid station in an hour and a half. Code Red was kicking in and I was jogging and jogging, ignoring the rock in my calf. But soon the caffeine kick wore off and I was falling behind again. Marty with his second wind kept going, which I’m glad he listened to me.
This is when I start talking to myself…a lot…and out loud. I’m also starting to see a lot snakes and I thought I heard a wooly mammoth…and now I’m thinking, oh my gosh, did my dream come true? Did I run into a parallel universe and now I’m running in the northern kettle when the wooly mammoths are living? Yes, I did dream that I was in a parallel universe running glacial…prior to this race. Ok maybe it was a cow. But where were the cows? I don’t know. I didn’t think I was that delirious yet.
I finally get to the last aid station only 10 min after the time Marty and I had slated. Yay! More familiar faces, Krishna, Ty and Angela! At this point I have 2 hours and 10 min left to make the cut off time and I’m thinking I’m not going to make it. But Angela tells me, “you look great! You’ll make it!”
Off I go again, now with more voices in my head, Marcel “20 min miles, 20 min miles”, Marty “we can do this!” and Angela “you look great! You’ll make it!” So for the next 7 miles these thoughts rotated in my mind constantly along with, me talking to myself “Jodie, it’s ok if you don’t finish; NO it’s not! You’ve come this far, you can’t stop now! But it’s ok if I finish past the cut off time; No it’s not! You can’t make everyone wait for you even longer!” It’s amazing how you can easily talk yourself in and out of something.
But I keep going and now I’m all, 20 min miles, 20 min miles, wait…have I gone a mile? I don’t have a fancy Garmin watch. My watch only tells me the time…I think I’ve gone a mile in 20 min. Wait…I think I need to do another equation because I think I have to be faster than 20 miles now. Well, whatever math I did, I guesstimated I’d finish 10 min. before the cut off time.
But the pain and fatigue have set it in and now I’m eating my words, like I often do. I once commented that race walkers look really funny. Uh…what am I doing…race walking…wait no, I’m eating my words…hahaha! Yup! Race walking never felt better!
A few more people catch up to me with stories to help me pass the time and offer encouragement as they went on their way.
Finally, the last 2 miles!!! Now I’m back to jogging! I finally see the road with cones. Never have I been so excited to run on the road. Here I am eating more of my words. I tell people “Oh I don’t like road running, I quit the road” and at that moment in time, I was loving the road!
The finish line is in sight, I start running…well, I felt like I was running but probably looked like a turtle trying to run. Yay! I made it! And I finished 12 min sooner than I had guesstimated! Ha! It was so great to see everyone at the finish line! I wasn’t looking for a PR or special time, I knew I wasn’t fully prepared for this race, I just wanted to have fun and finish on time. Um…and next time I need to find better feathers. I can’t believe I picked up such scraggily feathers and put them in my braids! I clearly wasn’t paying attention!
I can honestly say, the first 25 miles I felt awesome. I met some nice people along the way. The trail was beautiful. It truly was “raining gold” as Marcel described. Thank you Robert for laying down the gold carpet, not only did we receive better than red carpet treatment from Robert, but we also received excellent attention at the aid stations from the volunteers. It’s super uplifting to see familiar faces at aid stations helping us out, Jeff, Julie, Lorraine, Krishna, Ty, Angela, I know I’m missing names…sorry! But thank you to everyone!
I can’t wait for the next race!