Race Report : Buckeye Trail 50K

Those of you who follow me on FB or Twitter already know the outcome of yesterday’s race. For everyone else…here is the story. Many times a race of numerous miles becomes a set of two races or three races or however you want to break it up. I wanted to present this as two separate parts, but the second half just couldn’t hold its own. A special thanks to all the people who took pics and I “borrowed” Stacy, Kim, Kathy, Cycrus…

Blue blazes in my hair

Race day began as many others do. I have gotten in the habit of laying things out the night before, and spent most of Friday getting everything organized. After waking at 4:45 I got dressed and went downstairs. For breakfast I prepared a piece of chicken and some Egg Beaters. I fought with the ice machine to fill the cooler (grrr) and I peeled the oranges. It wasn’t long before it was time to leave.

On my way to the starting line I dropped the cooler off at the turn around point. I hoped I would see it again. My phone went off with a text from Gale as I was parking at the starting line. My only thought was she was late with the chatting today. Then again, I was not surprised by the lack of people wanting to talk to me…I had made it very obvious how nervous I was about this event and I showed very little excitement. Who would want to be around that on race morning?

Spraying myself with Deep Woods OFF and some sunscreen, I looked around for who I knew. An announcement called for everyone to check-in and I noticed the bathroom line was getting out of control. With nature out of the way it was minutes before take-off. I remember seeing other Grunt Girls, Lee and Gabe, I saw Hope and a few others I didn’t get to talk to before getting on our way. It was an informal start and I enjoyed how the pack had to stay together for about the first mile. Once we were truly on the trail though it was every man for himself.

At the beginning I spent time leap frogging with a few other guys. One was wearing a kilt, which I thought was rather interesting. Someone was taking pictures or video at the first stream crossing…wish I knew who it was and where they posted. It was hard to find a good pace, especially with so many people around. My first few miles were well under 15, so I was pleased. Nearing the end of the first section, two women passed me. I worried they were walkers and I was already suffering. I learned their names were Kathy and Julie, and Julie is training for the Burning River 100 race in two weeks.

The three of us hit the first aid station and it was such a blur! Snowville aid station was a blast to the hippie era, tie dye was everywhere! People reaching out for my water bottles, offering me food, voices everywhere. Whoa. I handed them my bottles for HEED and water mix, proud I needed every bottled filled. I grabbed what looked like a Ritz peanut butter cracker sandwich thing and an oatmeal cookie. Before I knew it I was crossing the road. I saw Heidi and was so shocked I knew someone I yelled at to her “I have a cookie”! I immediately felt like an ass. She laughed and said, “Good for you! You’re gonna need it on that big hill”. Wait, what hill? She ran part of the track into the woods with me, asking if I was going to Roller Derby that night. Honestly I have no idea how this all went down so quickly, because the next thing I knew I was half way up these horrid steps and my Garmin was beeping for the last mile and my pace was still around 15.

I stayed with Julie and Kathy for the rest of the next section. They truly took my mind off of what was going on and I was pleased with our 15 minute pace. Truth be told, I probably zoned out too much and was not taking my salts or other tabs as I needed. One guy in orange kept leap frogging us and all I wanted was for him to GO AWAY. Not that he got in the way, but because he wasn’t wearing deodorant. He seriously had a smell like he had bathed in rancid meat. I’m sorry if I am being rude, but I had dry heaves when he passed by, it was that strong! As we climbed the piano keys, which only give way to a massive hill I heard one of the ladies say “I knew there was a reason I never wanted to learn the piano”. ha-ha.

Boston Store aid station was set for about mile 11.5, as Garmin beeped for mile 10, I took a big drink of my bottle. As soon as I pulled the bottle away from my mouth, full on projectile vomiting. I didn’t even know it was happening until it was happening. The whole time I kept running too, I just had my head to the side. The girls didn’t hear and I was so shocked I didn’t want to say anything. Truth be told, I was freaking out. Never before had I puked in a race. I had felt sick; I had been dizzy and nearly fainted, but never puked. 20+ more miles to go too!

Boston wasn’t as much of a rush as Snowville. I saw the Grunt Girls and I went to a real bathroom. All I wanted was to soak my head in the drinking fountain too. Only what did I find, but an “Out of Service” sign. WTF. I screamed at the sign “WHY ARE YOU OUT OF SERVICE”. I went to the bathroom, noted my hydration was actually going as planned for the day…and went back for my bottles. Shelby was filling me up. When they pinned me back together I felt the cooling sensation of the bottles against my sides. Ahhh icy fresh! As we were leaving I was floored we made it in under 3 hours. WOW. Fastest ever time on that section.

Back onto the trail without too much time lost. Kathy sent me on without Julie #1. She said they would catch up…I’m sure they would. I took cookies and crackers with me from the aid station, but I didn’t want to eat them. My stomach was hurting horribly. About a mile into this section the ladies caught up with me. Maybe they could see it on my face, but they asked what was wrong. I told them about the throwing up and not feeling well. They said it was the heat and I needed to take more electrolyte tabs and keep hydrated. I tossed the cookies into the woods (the actual cookies this time) and tried to drink my water and eat some salt tabs. As this was the section where you turn around at the end, we were greeted with the lead runners coming back onto the course. They all looked so strong and beautiful.

I remember seeing Steve from Vertical Runner. I saw Vince’s wife, who kept me company briefly in line for the bathroom at the start. I saw Star, who I had never seen in person, only read her blog. She seemed shorter, but was amazingly lovely. Frank went by, with his shiny eyes and warm smile. Once of the nicest elite level runners IMHO. I also saw the guy I ran into before on a training run, who asked me about Emme. I kept telling myself the section with the roots was approaching and I could make time up there. Luckily I did do well with the roots, we passed people watching us, including Jim Christ and I yelled “Did you get my check?” He didn’t answer. With about a mile to the turn around, I feel apart. Everything just went jelly on me and I was sick. I stumbled toward the aid station wondering if this would be the end for my adventure. I passed Brenna, who looked amazing and I passed Mallory who wasn’t doing well at the time (I checked the finish stats and she clearly perked back up) finally I passed Gale who was all smiles. I wish I could have returned the smile.

With yards to go I passed a guy peeing on a tree. Really? The bathroom was about 5 minutes behind you and you’re using a tree? Classy. Julie and Kathy passed and said they were ready for me (the aid workers) and not to rush. I entered the turn around with just over 4 hours under my belt. My goal was 4 hours, so I was massively pleased. If I could kick this stomach issue, I was set for an 8-9 hour finish!

Only, as I entered the aid station of mile 15.5-ish, delirious, sore, nauseous and near tears…I wondered if it was best to stop. I ate some oranges and watermelon (my first food since the cracker and cookie at mile 6, three hours ago) and drank water and stood in the shade. As I was about to leave I noticed behind me…Mom and Emme! I couldn’t believe the timing or that Mom wondered away form the house while on call. It was such a pleasure to see them! I hugged them both and gave Emily a million kisses.

Although I wanted to stay with my Mom, and I wanted to leave with her too, the aid workers did their magic and told me it was time to get going again. Reluctantly I agreed. It was nearly 4 hours and 25 minutes into my time now. The 6 hour window drastically reduced. In my heart of hearts I didn’t think I would make it, but I agreed to at least get back to Boston Store. I barely ran the next 4 miles. The whole time I felt terribly ill. Near the third mile I perked up a lil and was glad to have had the fruit. My plan of attack was more fruit at Boston. At the road crossing, no one was on patrol and I considered skipping the half mile across the road. When it came time to make a choice, I ran the section. I figured if I finished I would hate myself for skipping it…if I didn’t finish, then at least I tried.

Shortly after I felt sick again, and when I made it to Boston I was all but in tears. Niall and Shelby were there, trying to comfort me. I told them I thought I was dying and couldn’t go on. I told them how I needed to reach Snowville by 3, and they told me it wasn’t even 1 yet and I should calm down. Even though every inch of me wanted to stop…I found my feet pointed toward the woods again. It sucked they didn’t have fruit, so I turned down all their other offers. I certainly wasn’t touching soda after the Oil Creek incident…and all the dry food just didn’t look appealing.

Back into the woods for my least favorite section. I found if I walked at a 24 minute pace, that would clear it in about 2 hours. Then I could decide at Snowville to drop and would still be “proud”. Only I managed to walk in under 24 some miles and the walking settled my stomach and allowed me to take salt tabs and water and my body found a way to regulate my temperature better. It was hard to believe only a few hours ago I was running carefree and easily…running like it was my job and I was going for the company bonus. Now, I was walking….strange day.

Everything was slowly feeling better, and when an aid worker caught up to me with about a mile to the end of the section I was totally distracted from any lingering discomfort. We made it to the station with about 7 minutes to spare. They loaded me up with ice, apologized for not having fruit, offered me cookies and crackers and away I went. Tony (the worker who walked with me and told me tales of his new puppy) said they could give me a ride if I wanted to drop. However, I decided in the two previous hours, I could keep walking. I may finish in 10.5, it might not count, but it would still be a PR from my last race. And really, who do I race for anyway, but myself?

Tony and the other workers told me how a bunch of people dropped at the station, they couldn’t deal with the heat anymore. I prayed Gale wasn’t one of them. Another worker told me they would let Gale know I was on my way. So, she continued…good for her. My stubborn side wanted to keep going, wanted to be stronger, and I tried. However, I was so worried they would change their mind and not let me finish I began to run once I was through the aid station. Run in a very generous sense of the word.

I ran a very flat section on this final area, and wanted to run for at least a mile…this was probably a bad choice. I should have run/walked. Instead I threw my body out of wack again with the running constantly and although I cleared an under 20 minute mile…I was back to nearly puking. More walking/stumbling forward and I kept asking myself what I would do if something happened. A few times I got the chills and knew I wasn’t sweating. Other times I could hear conversations around me, despite the total lack of people. If I could have stopped and reached for my phone I would have called someone and dropped. I noticed though, total stopping = horrid feeling. Slow movement was at least some comfort. I regretted not taking the work advice to carry plain water. My HEED was making me sick. I chose to go without anything.

With each passing mile the guessing game because more confusing. Would I finish in 10.5 or would it be closer to 10 and 15 min? Would they keep the clock running 15 minutes? He said he would for about 5-10. They knew I was coming, they had to call my number in at the last station. So much confusion! My Garmin was reading mileage, but was the course long? Was it short? Was it ideal? At about 2 miles from the finish I passed a water station (just coolers) I dumped one of my bottles and filled it was ice cold water. I drank it instantly. I dumped another down my front and another down my neck. I drank some more and then filled it to take with me. Renewed I quickened my steps, but I didn’t run.

Finally I saw a sign saying “One mile to go” and I had 11 minutes to the 10 hour cut off. OH CRAP. I started running/trotting as fast as a could. Then I saw a horse. I thought I was officially crazy. Stopping dead in my tracks and moving to the side, the girl on the horse laughed and said “Not what you expected, huh”. I answered “I’ve never see a horse out here” and carried on, thinking..if I get kicked by a horse and have to drop with less than a mile to go I will be beyond pissed.

When I saw the finish I started to cry again…only this makes breathing hard…which makes running hard…so I tried to stop. I knew I missed the 10 hour cut off. I imagined everyone laughing at me for running at that point since it wouldn’t count. I was angry at myself, but here I was thinking I was going to drop…thinking I would finish in 10.5 hours…and I was finishing in almost 10! I was proud…even if it didn’t count. Gale was standing at her car cheering me in, and I looked at her and said teary eyed “I didn’t make it”. Still I pushed forward. The clock was running and when I went over the mat, 10:03:49…someone handed me a medal. “It counts?” I asked. And they laughed and said “Yes”. I started to cry. Vince said “It isn’t a hard 10 hours” and I thought to myself “Speak for yourself”.

Gale and I sat and chatted a moment. She came in at 8:41 (or so) I am very happy for her. She had a wonderful time out there, and she trained so hard and deserved it! I was so happy she waited for me too. 

Once home I took a long Epsom salt bath…which hurt SO MUCH. Everything was chaffed. If it was touching something other than air it was chaffed. If It was touching air it was red and/or dirty. When I took my shoes and gaiters off, my ankles were a different color from my legs!

The night ended with my stomach finally wanting solid food. I got dressed in my race shirt and CEPs and Mom joined me at Texas Roadhouse. Yum! Can’t wait for the next race! Although I doubt I will EVER run such a distance in the heat again!

4 thoughts on “Race Report : Buckeye Trail 50K

  1. Congratulations!!! That's such a huge accomplishment and to beat your time from last year like you did, wow. Rest up! 🙂

    – Susan
    (previously fallingoutofplace.blogspot.com)

  2. I loved this, Julie! Don't tell anybody I had to wipe my eyes with a paper towel by the end….

    I SO get it…….

    Congratulations! You are awesome!

  3. Pingback: ROJ Running Recap of 2011ROJ Running

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