It was just 4 half marathons…….50 Miler Redemption

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This weekend was a weekend of redemption on so many levels.   Last year in May i attempted my first ultra marathon a 50k.   Everything went to hell and I ended up not finishing that.  I learned my lesson, I don’t run two laps at a Spartan race the day before and be smart about training.   Things have changed.

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I was bound and determined, I don’t take failure well.   It lights a fire in me that many may never understand, it was just a race, but to me its so much more than that.  I have to prove to myself I can do this.  I have taken my fitness to a whole new level recently.   I have dialed in my diet, diligent about Crossfit, and added in weightlifting three days a week.  I toned back my running to twice a week.   The results are amazing what happens when you dial everything in, focus, and are driven. The results of doing this are amazing, from not only feeling better, but looking better.  And also performing better in terms of my workouts and running.

Alicia and I took off on our journey Friday morning.   I am pretty sure we were both a basket of nerves, I know we had trained hard and smart, but its the whole idea of running 50 miles.   Most people don’t even like driving that let alone running it.  As typical OCR Chicks would do we were on the look out for some tires, didn’t want to come home empty handed when there were lonely tires sitting on the side of the road.   Saw a huge pile which unfortunately was on the opposite side of the highway so didn’t snag one like we would have liked to.   There was wind, a lot of wind.   Let’s just say I don’t think I ever want to live in Kansas, too much wind.  And of course we did burpees at the “Leaving Colorful Colorado” sign. Would you expect anything less of us?

Getting to Ottawa, Kansas on Friday night it all became so much more real.  We picked up our bibs and shirts.  Go figure I got number 13.   A number most feel is unlucky, but one of new favorite numbers, you will see why.   We talked game plan with John, who has ran about a billion of these, and knows the ins and outs of racing.   We knew what to expect but its still that whole idea of running 50 miles that is still hanging over our heads.

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At the hotel room, I realized I had no long sleeve jackets or shirts, they were on my bed in Colorado.  Go figure, I would forget something that is kind of important for those early morning hours.  Luckily there was a Wal-Mart close, I found a jacket and shirt to wear so I didn’t turn purple. Crisis averted.  We got our drop bags ready and packed everything.    That’s when the nerves for me really set in.  Holy shit I was really going to go for this whole redemption thing.   I was going to run my first marathon, 50k, and 50 miler all in one day.  Talk about over achieving things, but I like going all in.   Go big or go home right?  That evening I got a surprise, Anna a friend from high school lives really close to the race and was going to come and support me.   It’s hard to explain how thankful I am in regards to this because seeing a familiar face boosts your spirits so much its crazy.

Race Day:  well oh shit we are doing this aren’t we.   Met up with Jeff who was also running his first 50 miler.   Nervous excitement as you could definitely tell who had never done this as we may have been overly prepared with our packs and fuel.   More on that later but would rather be overly prepared then run out of something and suffer.

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Pacing is a problem for both Alicia and I.   We tried that running slow thing at the last half marathon we did together and instead of running 12’s we ran 8’s.   We both have been training hard and have found a faster pace to be comfortable and easily done, so 8’s aren’t terrible but not for an ultra marathon.  We knew we needed to stick to 12’s in order to be ok throughout the whole race.

They had us line up at the start line, chatter among all the runners.   We moved to the back of the pack for obvious pacing reasons we knew we didn’t want to keep up with the speed demons at the front.  The nice thing about an ultra marathon is that everyone runs slower than they typically would due to the sheer amount of miles we will be running.  Starting off we knew we needed to maintain a 12 minute pace.  This was a good place to start.   We talked about strategy but never really decided on the run and walk scheme.   We ended up running the first 6 miles straight without a break, at a solid 12 minute pace!  We were feeling great, so switched to the run 3 miles and walk 1/2 a mile.   All this time we were maintaining the 12 minute pace.

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As a side note, 12 minute pace is what my fastest used to be, I couldn’t hold a conversation while running this pace.  I was basically dying to run at a 12 minute pace.   We held steady conversation this whole time and I was fine.  This just holds to how much Crossfit, weightlifting, and my training has done for me.

The best part about running with someone is keeping each other in check.  Something we promised to do at the the beginning of the race.   This comes to fueling, drinking water, and salt tabs.    We did good on this throughout the whole race….minus the last three miles.  More on that later.

The nice thing about running a 12 minute pace is you are able to easily hold a conversation with someone.  I am pretty sure there isn’t a subject we didn’t cover, including how in the hell some women walk out of a work out with perfect hair and perfect makeup.  We determined that we both look like a hot mess when we work out, sweat everywhere, snot running down our faces, and hair in disarray.  We both agreed that’s the way to be, a sexy working out mess.

The nice thing about the beginning of the race that there was no wind like we thought there was going to be.   It was a nice day, but as the time went on it definitely got much warmer, you could tell the heat started taking a lot of our energy, we both decided walking for a bit and eat something.

On a side note I am thankful for the volunteers.  You meet a lot of wonderful volunteers while racing but the volunteers at this race took it to a whole new level.   They were kind, wanted to make sure you were ok, and provided everything and anything you needed.  You don’t realize how much of a difference the volunteers will make when you are getting down about the race.  We had encountered a woman who was running with no fuel and a very small hand held water bottle.  Once we reached the first manned aid station she proceeded to yell at the volunteers for not having more aid stations, which is completely unfair to them.  She was the one who was unprepared.   At one point in the race she asked Alicia and I to tie a rope to her and pull her along.  Yeah not going to happen.

We finally hit the “half way” point, which was actually 27.2 miles, and we hadn’t died.   On a side note by hitting that distance, meant that I had officially ran my first marathon.  That’s right I had never ran a full marathon before officially in a race until that day and point in time.   First marathon in 5:30 which I can’t complain about for my first marathon, considering I wasn’t even trying to set a record for pace on that one.

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my ohhh I just ran a marathon face 🙂

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Anna was at the half way point, and little did I know my twin from another mother was on skype watching me come in.  These two ladies mean so much to me, we have been friends since kindergarten.   Katy, my twin, got to see me not only at the turn around point but at the finish.

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So, half way point, I was hungry, yes I had been eating, but I was burning a lot of calories.  And guess what ??? They had BACON!!! and pickles…..and oreos.  I had put a 1 qt of pedialyte in my drop bag, this is my go to for getting everything back to normal and trust me it works.  I chugged the whole thing, 6 slices of bacon, 3 pickles, and 4 oreos (pretty sure there is photo evidence of this one).    We both changed out our socks and continued on.    It’s amazing what a little break will do for you.    We realized at this point the numbers of the miles left were going to be decreasing and soon enough in single digits.   That definitely boosts your spirits.

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So the whole first half of the race there was no wind.   None.  Sure enough as soon as we leave the turn around point we are faced with a pretty strong head on wind.   We both decided it wasn’t worth fighting the wind and to walk.   Not exactly happy about having to walk but not worth wasting the energy to fight the wind.

Our spirits had changed at that point.  We were on a higher note, and felt great.   Which neither of us expected to do.  We expected to be sore or our bodies fighting what was going down, but they weren’t.   So side rant.   This is why hard and smart training pays off and I will elaborate more on that later.  However 4 solid months of smart training definitely does wonders when it comes to race day.

Now we just had to make it through some aid stations and we would be done.   5 hours or so more of running and we would have completed our goal.

Mile 31 meant a lot for me.   That is a 50k.   That is the race that a year ago i couldn’t finish.  But sure enough I finished this year.   I passed that distance without any toe nail problems or blood.   I had done what I couldn’t do one year earlier.

Running with Alicia was a blast.  I realized how much more alike we were on our view points of the world and what people do.  It’s nice to know that there is another female who is just as driven as me in terms of conquering the goals we have put in front of our selves.   Also not letting the thoughts or actions of others effect us in any way.  We are so much stronger than that.

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Mile 40 was a rough one for Alicia.  I could tell she had started hurting and I could tell by her demeanor she was starting to doubt herself.   I couldn’t let this happen, we had come so far and there was no way in hell that I was going to let her not finish, even if I had to carry her! I told her to take ibuprofen and salt tabs and eat something.   We walked more than we ran.  I know at one point she told me to go on, to which my reply was “Hell no, we are finishing this together.”   I kept her spirits up by talking, about random things.  I honestly don’t even remember what we talked about at that point but knew talking was keeping her distracted which is what she needed till the ibuprofen kicked in.

Once that ibuprofen kicked in she was good to go.   We were truly in good spirits.  We had gone media silent, minus a few people we were texting to let them know we were ok.  We hadn’t posted anything on facebook since mile 27.2, and the suspense was killing some people.  We wanted the finish to be a surprise, because of the sheer greatness of the accomplishment.

The last aid station, we had caught back up with this awesome lady that had been doing so great throughout the race.   She had mile long legs and her walking pace was Alicia’s and mine running pace.   She was dropping from the race because of a blister on her foot.   Keep in mind this last aid station was only 7 miles from the finish and she still had almost 12 hours to do that.   We both tried to convince her to continue and just push through and finish.  But she wasn’t having it and just wanted to finish.  I know I have been there and been in that mindset.   It was at that point which Alicia and I both said oh well then we both will see you back here next year and finishing it.   Kind of ironic that at the beginning of the race we both said this was a bucket list item, and would NEVER do it again.   Funny what mile 43 does to you.  This was the best station in terms of volunteers they were so awesome!

We left that aid station knowing we had only 7 miles to push through.   7 miles until we had accomplished our goal!   I was still feeling great at this point, which let’s be honest made it even more surreal.  I have never ran a race where I didn’t hurt, where my lupus wanted to fight back, where I wanted to be in tears because my body was beyond livid.   it just didn’t happen at this race, how is that possible ?? Oh wait training!

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The last 7 miles were definitely slower than the first 43 but we were still moving and pushing closer and closer to that finish line.   We were still in good spirits!

The last 3 miles were the point to which my body finally started feeling the pain of the race.  But holy hell I had made it 47 miles without issue, I am pretty darn proud of that when a 5k race used to kill me.   So proud of that.

As we reached the finish line we could hear the music and knew we were finally closer to being done and almost there.    Anna was at the finish line with Katy on Skype.  I will never forget what Alicia said, “It’s never been so nice to see someone I didn’t know at the finish line supporting me!”

So I could barely run to that point and I saw that finish line and “sprinted” , which I am sure was not fast by any means but it was a sprint to me.   We crossed that finish line.  We did it.  We didn’t die.  We were officially ultra marathoners.  HOLY SHIT!!!!  And yes there were fireball shots involved!

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Ok some closing thoughts.   I really achieved what I set out to do, despite any thoughts that may not have been possible from doctors or whomever doubted me.   I did it but I didn’t do it for them, I did it for me.   I am on a mission to prove to myself that I am not defined by the debilitating disease I have.   I am on a mission to be a better me.

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So proof that my training paid off, is that by Monday, two days after the race I may have had cankles but was fine besides that.  I wasn’t sore and broken or needing to recover.   I didn’t have the muscles that are typically angry after pushing your body for so long.   And for that alone I am thankful and in awe.   Makes me ask myself….wait did this really happen?

But it did, and we both crossed that finish line.    Now onto the next event I want to train for.  So many options, so many opportunities to push myself to see what I am capable of.

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2 Responses to "It was just 4 half marathons…….50 Miler Redemption"

  • You rock

    1 Healthy Hope said this (April 6, 2016 at 3:09 pm) Reply


    • thanks lady!

      2 lupuscombat said this (April 6, 2016 at 6:55 pm) Reply


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