Monday, April 9, 2012

My 50k journey in photos

More to come... But these are from my phone :)

Our outfits... These got a lot of compliments. People kept asking if we were twins. As for the theme of the outfits - We were well prepared for the original race date which was patty's day...

One of the only times I'll ever race with a single digit number.

Because we are badass :)

Ready to go!!

They don't call it the sunrise highway for nothing...


Loved the scenery...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, April 8, 2012

take that, arthritis!! (I'M AN ULTRA MARATHONER!!!!!)

In 2011, I had decided that I wanted to run 30 miles for my 30th birthday. Unfortunately for me, I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis a few months before, and was in no shape mentally or physically to actually do it. My arthritis was out of control and there was no way I'd be able to train properly. So I put the idea on the shelf for awhile, deciding that I would revisit in in the future...

Flash forward to the end of 2011... Jackie and I decided that for her last year in her 20's and my first year in my 30's, we'd run an ultra together. So, we trained for it... in a manner more relaxed than ever before but just as hard...and we were ready come March 16th, the day before the race. Sadly, that morning, we received an email stating that the race had been cancelled due to extreme weather conditions. This was a huge bummer as we were ready to go at this time...

The race was postponed until April 7th. Fortunately, we were both free that weekend and agreed to give it a go then. Unfortunately, Jackie came down with the "death cold" a couple weeks before the race and didn't have the time or energy to train much in the couple weeks leading up to the race. Given the fact that running is high impact on my joints, I tend to avoid running whenever possible, so I limited my training to using the elliptical and weights... especially since my arthritis has been acting up the last couple weeks, making my knees hurt.

The night before the race, neither Jax nor I slept well. I woke up at 3am with nausea and a stomach ache, as did Jax. However, mine was just initial nerves. Unfortunately for Jax, her stomach proceeded to give her problems until mile 18, when I made her drop out of the race.

The course is beautiful. I've never run through so much bio-diversity. Some areas were full of rocks, others cactii, some weird desert grass, other areas were sandy - almost like a beach. And then there was "death hill" -- an absolutely SOUL CRUSHING grade...and I didn't realize, until the turnaround, that probably 60-70% of the first half of the race was DOWNHILL!!

In any case... I had a feeling the day was not going to go as planned when Jax stomach started causing problems about 3 miles into the race. Things progressively got worse until around mile 12 when she got nauseous. She didn't have anyting in her stomach to vomit, until after the aid station around mile 15-16 (when she ate) but proceeded to puke a few times between there, the turnaround, and the aid station. (Did I mention that I HATE puke??!?!?) In any case, I knew at that point that it was unsafe for her to continue, especially knowing that we'd have the crazy ascent out of the canyon to conquer. At this point, we were nearly last. All of the bathroom stops and Jackie not feeling well had put very little distance between us and the course sweeper, who was a friend of ours. While we knew they wouldn't kick us off the course, time was running out, and we had already been on the course for 6 hours.

After much goading, I persuaded her to stay at the S2 aid station and go back to the finish line to wait for me. I was feeling good and my arthritis was at bay... there was just no way that I could give up now... who knew when I would have the chance to try this again, under these conditions, with my arthritis shedding a few tears, I left her at the aid station and continued on.

The next 13 miles were interesting. I didn't bring an ipod...and I have a fear and loathing for running by myself. So there I was, in the desert, without my best friend... without anyone within sight in front of me or behind me. I stopped to pee and heard a strange rattle... so I quickly finished up and bolted as fast as I could. I started to see people climbing up death hill and knew I'd be able to catch up to someone, anyone... so I sped up...and caught up to a pack of older guys, who were just enjoying the scenery. I walked with them for a bit, talking about life and racing... and then sped up, knowing I wanted to get to the finish line ASAP.

I conquered death hill and continued on. The climbing seemed to never end, and as I approached the last aid station, I saw a familiar face. My friend Erin was a volunteer and took my picture... then walked with me the 1/2-ish mile to the aid station, talking to me the entire time. It was just the boost I needed. When I got there, the volunteers showered me with love and support... so incredible. I got the motivation and inspiration that I needed to push on. With about 10k to go, I knew I'd be able to finish. I started running faster... and *POP* a blister (that I didn't even know was there) had popped on my big toe. I kept running a few steps. OW!! It was starting to hurt. I freaked out for a moment then remembered I had blister sheets in my pack. I wrapped my dirty toe and continued on. I caught up to a guy who chatted me up for a bit, which really cheered me up. 8k, 7k, 5k... the miles were ticking down. "I have less than an Ironman swim to the finish line!" I texted my husband.

Then, with less than a mile to go...another surprise on the course. Another friend and volunteer, Diana Black, met me and brought me home. She encouraged and pushed me to run faster than I had the entire rest of the race and I even mustered up the adrenaline to sprint to the finish line, into the arms of Jax, Jason, and Nathaniel. It was such an awesome feeling being done, and having my favorite people there to give me love and support.

Thank you to all who called, texted, or thought of us yesterday. Thank you to my mom for watching the kids all day, to all of the race volunteers and support who made the day possible and to my best friend, Jax, for getting me into this crazy world of endurance sports... for encouraging and supporting me through thick and thin... for being my rock, my cheerleader... for pushing through to mile 18... without you, yesterday would have been IMPOSSIBLE...but we will be back next year - we will get our revenge and conquer the course as we would have wanted to had there not been stomach issues.

The day ended with a sushi buffet dinner with some of my favorite people followed by a hot shower and some rest and relaxation.

Today I don't feel as bad as I expected. I felt far better earlier in the day and am now exhausted and sore... but definitely reeling in the awesomeness that was yesterday.

(I'm sure I've forgotten some details, but they will be added as I remember...and as I post photos/videos)

Until next time...