Weekend before last was the Pemberton Trail 50K, down in Fountain Hills, AZ. I have done this race twice before, back in the days I was doing triathlon (in 8 and 7 hours) so I knew what I was getting into, but this year it was done as a night race staring at 5pm. I have to say that logistically that is SWEET! Flew to Phoenix on a 10am flight with a backpack and a pair of running shoes. Ate lunch, checked into a hotel and changed clothes then went to the race. Crashed for a few hours after the race, then on a plan and back to Denver at 1pm Sunday with plenty of daylight left...
It was lovely warm at the start of the race, but crazy sunny as we started directly into the sunset. I had a strategy of running 5 min, walking 2 and just running my own race. This held pretty well up the long climb to the first aid station (5miles). The sun went down through the technical section after the aid station and I put on a headlamp. BAD idea! Turns out that makes me wicked nauseous. I figured it out and carried the headlamp in my hand. Feet and knees started to hurt from the ups and downs and sand in my shoes. The demons set in after the 2nd aid station (10miles) and I started to walk berating myself for taking 2 years off of running, convinced that I would in no way be able to make my goals this year, wanting desperately to quit. At mile 15.5 we start lap 2 and I am really grateful Drew was not there. I dusted the sand out of my shoes, grabbed a proper flashlight, pulled up my big girl panties, stopped whining and started the second lap.
In the next 4 miles I regained my attitude. Went back to running 5, walking 2. Went back to smiling. Enjoyed the night, and the stars, and the way the half moon lit up the desert. Laughed at the big cacti that looked like giant men, and smiled at the coyotes that were singing and sounding alot like my puppy.
Got to the top of the steeper section of the climb and the monster struck back. I doubled over with stomach cramps, crawled off the trail, and my intestines just exploded. I wasn't quite quick enough with those panties... and lets say the rest of the race was pretty uncomfortable...
Whew. That was ugly. But, back in the game. Continued my walk/jog to the aid station (mile 20) then walked the technical section to mile 23. Decided that once I hit the smoother dirt road I would use the iPod and run one song, walk one song. And I DID! Walked/not-walked (it was more of a shuffle than a true run) the rest of the way in.
Finished in a really miserably slow time (a 20min PW), but I learned some good lessons. And, I regained the confidence that I can push through the bad things on the run and keep on running. I know for sure that I will be able to mentally push to a finish at the Double Ironman in just 1 weeks (yikes), though it will be slow. I have a long tough row to hoe to the finish of the DecaIronman in November, but I believe if I maintain my focus, drop 10 pounds, and keep pushing myself to run I will get there.
Drew said it will be hard for me to be an ultratriathlete again if I hate running, and I think if I had quit at the end of the first lap I may have agreed... But, it came to me in the second lap that I don't hate running... I may not be "good" at it yet, but actually kinda like it!
ps. Drew did the first lap in 1:4X and was in 3rd place. He was strong, and shut it down after that and walked the entire second lap to finish jsut under 6:30 hours. He's been dealing with a calf injury and the first lap was a great test... but we didn't want him running the whole thing and risk reinjuring it.