My Journey to Brazos: BB100 Race Recap

This past weekend, I ran my first 100-mile race (and NOT my last : )  I apologize for the lengthy post, but 100 miles is a really long way! 😉

My chosen word of 2017 was Conquer, and my intentions in choosing that word were to conquer myself, not so much other things.  I wanted to conquer self-doubt, fear of failure, lack of confidence in myself, etc.  I knew that in order to do this, I had to be OK with failure and I had to put myself into situations where success wasn’t guaranteed.  I needed to embrace the possibility of failure and be able to accept it and move on if it happened.  This was a SLOW process.  All the races I did through mid-year – my first 50k at Cowtown, my first Ironman 70.3 at Galveston, my first 50k trail race at Wildflower (Trail Racing Over Texas race) and Afton Trail Run 50k; I fretted over how I would perform.  Every time, I did just fine, but still, I doubted myself.

Sometime in early Fall, I came across a Gordy Ainsleigh quote one day that completely changed my way of thinking; “When you’re afraid of failure, you’re more likely to do it.”  My fear of failure was actually making failure more likely.  I had to work on that.

Before my first 50 miler in October, I fretted and fretted over how I would perform.  I nearly made myself sick.  I had a feeling that I could come in under 12 hours, but the cutoff was tight so I also had a good chance at a DNF.  Except I didn’t DNF.  I actually ran a really good race and came in just under 12 hours, PLUS I ran this race without really tapering and I felt that my legs had another 10-15 miles in them when I finished.  This, combined with the mental work I had been doing was a turning point for me.

But training nearly killed me

The mileage in training really started picking up in August.  By mid-October, I was counting the weeks to taper.  I wasn’t sure that I could meet all the demands of my training schedule, a full-time job, mom/chauffeur AND wash all the clothes (I had to let getting the clothes folded go).

Some weeks I didn’t get all my miles in, but I rarely just skipped runs.  My training was consistent and I was dedicated.  I spent a good amount of time working on my mental strength because I knew that the mental test in those late miles would be harder than the physical one.

My last big weekend came and I had 70 miles on the schedule.  I was to run 15 on Friday, 25 on Saturday and 30 on Sunday.  I was so tired at work that Friday that I was on the verge of tears all day long.  I’ve never felt so exhausted in my life.  I ended up not running the 15 at all and instead I decompressed at home.  I ran the majority of the other miles that weekend, and I forced myself to not feel guilty about it.  I had given everything I had to training and that handful of miles wasn’t going to make or break anything.  Guilt couldn’t change the fact that I hadn’t run every single mile on the schedule.

I was off the next week (which was the week of Thanksgiving) and I did NOTHING.  I was so exhausted that I wondered if I would ever have any energy again, much less by race day.  I had a million things to do that had fallen by the wayside during training, but I still did nothing.  I needed the rest.  And slowly, day-by-day, I started feeling that spunk again.

No taper crazies?

Generally speaking, I either lose my mind during taper or I do something really, really stupid.  I did none of that this time.

I didn’t fret.  I didn’t go crazy on Ultrasignup.  I didn’t break any toes.  I DID NOT FRET!!  I was so calm the entire time. (That is, until I suddenly got nauseous about an hour before the race!)

I was in a really good place, mentally.  I felt confident, but not cocky.  I trusted in my training.  I trusted myself.  Something really amazing happened, though.  I was willing to take a big risk and face a DNF in order to see where my breaking point was.  I wanted to take a risk and abandon the safe route.  It was freeing.

My race plan was aggressive.  Too aggressive.  I knew this going in.  People say “start really slow”, but slow is relative to each individual runner.  I didn’t know what my “slow” for a 100 mile race was.  I didn’t know how long my legs would hold out, regardless of the pace.  The farthest they had ever gone was 50 miles…..once.  This entire year had been about doing the not-sure thing and I was finally in a mindset that embraced it.

I’m going to add another running miracle here.  And guys – you can skip over this paragraph.  I was supposed to start my period on Dec 9.  DECEMBER 9.  RACE DAY.  I was fully prepared to deal with it.  I mean – like Scott Jurek said, “Sometimes you just do things!” But it’s OBVIOUSLY an inconvenience and one doesn’t always feel their best during that time.  In any case, I started NINE days early.  I felt like the gods of running were smiling down upon me.  One less thing to worry about on race day.

It’s GO-Time!

I was literally foaming at the mouth the week before Brazos.  I was ready to get out there and tear up the course, or let the course tear me up.

The start temps were in the low 30s, but the sky was clear and the weather during the day was to be clear and warming to around 60.

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My Team ❤

The plan was to run 20-hour pace (I know, I know!!) for the first 50 then just see how long my legs could keep up.  Brent and Tim were coming along for the ride as long as it worked for all of us.  We started off and tried to settle into pace.  The miles went by quickly as we talked and laughed and cut up.  One little hiccup in the first loop was that we followed the lead pack.  There were signs where the course usually had a turn-around, but sometimes runners can’t follow directions well and we all turned and went down another path.  I found out later that we had made a wrong turn!  This trek was in a SWAMP and I was already entertaining thoughts of dread for the coming loops.  Thankfully, the next time I came around, it was clear that I should turn around (happy dance!) and I didn’t have to navigate the swamp again.

I came in just a bit ahead of Brent & Tim at the end of loop 1, took care of business quickly and decided to head out again on my own. Loop 1 was right at 3 1/2 hours, which was a little behind where I wanted to be, but the extra mile put us a little over.  Sherpa Carmen and her sidekick, Brad,  were right there, waiting to get me whatever I needed.  I went with PB&J on this loop but told her next time I wanted oatmeal.  I’m not sure what it is about oatmeal, but I LOVE it on long runs!  I was saving the Coke/caffeine until after mile 70, so I didn’t have any of that.

Loop 2 was uneventful except that I KNOW I ran it too fast.  I wanted to make up some of that time (stupid…ego) and ended up with 3:21 on that lap and that was including the 5 min or so that I spent in camp before heading out! Carmen had the oatmeal waiting, but boy, was it hot!!  I tried to shove it in as quickly as I could, but it took a few minutes.  I think I ended up spending around 10 minutes in camp that time.  Time really bleeds away from you in these events, if you aren’t careful.

Loop 3 was more of the same.  I was in a rhythm but toward the end started feeling a little tightness in my right IT.  WEIRD.  That never happens.  I started trouble shooting and wondered if it was the Hokas.  Plus, I started to feel a hot spot on the inside of my ankle, which is a place that I’ve never gotten a blister.  I knew I was developing one blister in a spot that I sometimes get them, so I decided to stop and change socks and shoes at the end of the loop.  Loop 3 took me around 3:50, which was a little slower but I was pretty happy with it.  This put me at 50 miles at 10:50 total time.

When I came in off Loop 3, Kolbe was there!!!  Kolbe came down just to pace me on my last loop.  I was so glad to see her!  She jumped right in to help Carmen and Brad.  Kolbe started taking my shoes and socks off (GOD BLESS HER) while Carmen got my kit for me.  I drained those blisters, grossed Kolbe out but she still tried to put my socks on for me.  I wear Injinji’s though and she would have had to been a Houdini to get them on!  After trying to shovel more hot oatmeal in my mouth, I put on a long sleeve shirt, my beanie and my headlamp and left after about 20 min in camp.  It was longer than I wanted to spend, but the blisters needed to be drained.

In no time, I had hit my stride again.  The sun had set and the air was growing cooler with each passing moment.  I knew that I was slowing a little but I still felt really, really good.  I know a lot of people get mental in the dark alone, but I actually enjoyed it.  I don’t have any problem at all being by myself and that was definitely a strength of mine.  I spent a lot of time on this loop just cruising.  I felt so good but I knew that the time was coming that I wouldn’t feel good  Maybe I should have slowed down?  Not slowing down was probably stupid, but still part of the learning process and in my mind this race was one long experiment.  I made it through the mind f*** part of the course – have I mentioned that part of the course??  Arggggggggggg it got me mentally every time.  Toward the end of each loop, there was an aid station, a one mile stretch of road.  The road FINALLY turned left, except you were left with another TWO MILE stretch of road until the next aid station,  But that aid station was a dead-end.  So you had to turn around, run TWO miles back to the turn then ANOTHER mile back to the other aid station.  Mental suicide.  But the wonderful thing is that once you got back to that aid station, it was a 2 mile cruise to the start/finish.  I was starting to get tired by the time that I got to this part of the course.  The temps were also dropping, making my quads stiffen up (I was still wearing only shorts).  I debated on stopping to put on my gear, but decided it would be faster at camp where I had people who could actually move their limbs well to help me out.  LOL  That loop came in at 4:07, but that included the 20 minutes spent on my feet in between loops.  All in all, very encouraging, considering I was at mile 67 and my legs had never gone past 50 miles.

Carmen and Kolbe helped me get my cool weather gear on while Brad got me some food.  Or maybe this is the loop Kolbe got me ramen noodles and mashed potatoes?  I can’t remember.  I DO remember sitting there, ready to go back out and saying, “I want a nap.” Carmen, without hesitation, told me to get my ass up out of that chair and get back out there.  So I stood up and got my ass back out there. I’m a rule follower and I take directions very well.

Loop 5 was tough.  TOUGH.  I was starting to hurt.  I was very tired.  I didn’t want to run.  It hurt to run. This is the loop that the battle started.  NEVER did I think about quitting.  I had decided before the race that quitting wasn’t an option.  If you convince yourself of things before the race, you will stick to them during the race.  I had joked, but not really, that Rob would have to drag my cold, dead carcass off the trail before I would DNF.  I seriously had no intentions of dropping.  I am thankful that I didn’t encounter any situations that were serious enough to cause me to consider that option, because I fully realize that things happen out there that are completely out of our control.

Loop 5 was basically a back and forth between my mind and my will.  My mind wanted the pain to stop and running was causing pain.  My will wanted me to finish.  I had a constant dialog – the longer you walk, the colder you will get and the longer you are going to be out here.  The more you run, the warmer you will be and the sooner you will get there.  RUN, DAMNIT!!  Then I would run and it would hurt and my mind would convince me to walk.  I also knew that Carmen and Kolbe would be worried and I hated that it was taking me so long.  This is when I thought about all the people who were supporting me and started naming each person that I could remember.  That distracted me from the pain of running long enough to get a little bit of running done.  OH!!!  I haven’t mentioned that I had to stop to pee basically every 20-30 minutes on this loop.  I have never had to pee so often and so much in my entire life!!  There’s no telling how much time I spent squatting in the woods.  I finally rolled into camp with a whopping 5:10.

I don’t think we took much time between loop 5 and 6.  Pretty sure I ate oatmeal, or maybe not??  Heck if I know.  I am 99.9% sure that I did drink Coke.  My body ached all over and the LAST thing I wanted to do was go back out on that loop.  But THANK GOD I had Kolbe coming with me.  I was so glad to have her, but….have I said that I didn’t want to run??  We started out walking and probably walked a mile.  I knew we were wasting time.  It bothered me that we were wasting time.  I may have said – we need to start running in a bit.  Kolbe was talking and telling me about her day.  Listening to her definitely took my mind off all the troubles at hand. After we tried running and I would wimp out and want to walk, Kolbe knew it was time to take charge.  She told me that we were going to start running .  We would run 1/2 mile then walk a couple of minutes.  I wondered why I hadn’t thought of that.  It was such a simple solution to this problem.  We did this for a while and I finally got into a rhythm and actually didn’t feel half bad.  We came across the first aid station and I drank some coffee.  After the coffee kicked in, I was starting to feel REALLY good (relatively speaking).  Kolbe told me that since I was handling this run/walk so well, we would increase our run distance.  I was in a groove and ready so I told her to run a mile.  We did, and we finished the rest of the loop in this way.

It’s hard to explain how hard it was to run on loop 5 yet I found the strength to run on loop 6.  I think the fact that Kolbe was telling me what to do was the key.  My mind had no control over Kolbe, so my mind couldn’t tell her to stop.  I had no choice but to run because the choice of whether or not to run had been taken away from me.  All I did was watch her feet and run.  Yes, it still hurt, but my mind processed all this in a different way.  It’s very difficult to put into words.  Of course, I still had to pee every 5 steps on this loop as well.  At one point, Kolbe actually told me that I needed to pee in my pants next time…..and my bladder may have gotten the message because I think that was the last time that I had to go!

I made it through Mind F***, I mean Sawmill, one more time (with Kolbe’s help) and I knew I was home free.  I could TASTE the finish line.  I was so ready to be DONE.  Kolbe knows me so well.  We would come upon some runners and she would whisper to me, “you’re about to take these people down!”  It was just enough to keep me going and I was surprised and happy that I still had that competitive spirit that wanted to overtake them.  When there were no people to pass, she told me that even though loop 5 may have won – I was CONQUERing loop 6 and finishing strong.  I can’t even remember everything she said, but every word struck a chord with me and gave me the strength to take another step.

Kolbe radioed Carmen to tell her we were about a mile out from the finish and I got tears in my eyes.  I knew I would finish.  Such a surreal feeling.  I had dreamed of this and worked for this for so long that it seemed it might never come to fruition.  But here I was, about to become a 100-mile finisher!  It’s a strange paradox – feeling so amazing that about what you’re about to accomplish while trying to hold back tears because everything hurts so badly.  But I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything!

I wanted Kolbe to lead me right up to the finish.  She had quite literally drug me through this last loop.  I wasn’t sure that I could run that finish line chute alone.  I didn’t want her to be out of my sight for a second.  She told me that this was my moment and that she would see me after I crossed….and she was right there.  I started crying – crying by my standards, at least.  I was handed my buckle and received hugs from Carmen, Kolbe, Ashley and Brad.  Others may have been there, but everything was such a blur that I can’t even remember.  Kolbe drug me through that loop in 4:54, which was 15 minutes faster than the previous loop.  At the end of a 100 miler, I’ll gladly take a negative split loop!  My total time was 24:51.  Not the time I wanted, but my intentions were to see what I could do and I definitely didn’t play it safe in those early miles.  A nice bonus was an 8th overall female finish – I was hoping to finish in top 10, so I was able to check that off my list 🙂

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I’ve never felt such a rush of emotions at a finish
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A race is just a race, but a pacer is a friend for life.
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Carmen is the best crew chief around!! And I swear I’m happy – just really tired!

My good friend, Tim Radkey described it best when he said that the feeling you have at the finish is like you are completely and totally emptied, yet completely and totally full at the same time.  There was definitely a feeling of having been cleansed by this experience.

I gave Kolbe a goodbye hug – she had to travel back to her parent’s house to grab her pets – then Carmen got me set up in a chair with a sleeping bag and a nice warm heater beside me.  She and Brad started breaking down camp and I quickly fell asleep for a much-needed nap.img_8010

My takeaways

  • Nutrition and hydration were on point.  I had no stomach issues whatsoever.  I know the cool weather helped with this, but I’m really proud of how I managed my nutrition.
  • Yes, my starting pace was too fast but I don’t think I was THAT far off.
  • My legs held up much better and much longer than I expected.
  • Having a good crew makes ALL the difference.  Carmen anticipated what I would need and had things ready for me before I ever asked.
  • The right pacer can save your race.  Kolbe was PERFECT.
  • I need to make better friends with pain.  Now that I know the pain doesn’t get any worse, I will be more prepared to push through it next time.
  • I need to become more efficient during my stops between loops.
  • I really wanted that sub-22 buckle, but I knew that I wouldn’t be able to maintain that pace.  Seeing the sun rise, then set, then rise again is an experience that I’ll cherish and I am really thankful that this race gave that to me.

All in all, I’m VERY happy with this race.  I did what I set out to do.  I found my limits, I conquered the course and, most importantly, I conquered many of my inner demons.

Kolbe wrote about her experience as a pacer.  If you want to read about it, click here!

One more thing…..I HIGHLY recommend Brazos Bend to any runner!  The race distances range from 13.1-100 miles, so there is something for nearly everyone.  This race is the Trail Party of the year and doesn’t disappoint!

This journey to be continued in 2018…..

 

 

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Popping my Ultra Marathon Cherry

On Sunday, I finally realized a dream that I had been holding on to for a really long time.  I became an ultra marathoner.

The Backstory

I started running in 2011 and ran my first half almost 2 years later in 2013.  One year later, I ran my first Cowtown Half Marathon, which was my second half.  This is the race that made me want to become an ultra marathoner.  I hate to admit it, but I was envious of all the people running the ultra.  Even though I hadn’t even run a full marathon at the time (although I had trained for Dallas 2013 which was cancelled due to ice), I knew that running an ultra was my ultimate goal and I wouldn’t be satisfied until I achieved it.

I trained for Dallas again in the Fall of 2014….too well, because I ended up with IT issues.  But I was too stubborn to quit and “ran” it anyway.  (Those last 6 miles were so slow and painful, but I finished with an embarrassing 5:18.)  I was determined to train smarter in 2015 and took the time to rehab my IT.  Running Dallas again was a MUST – I needed redemption, but Cowtown Ultra was the main blip on my radar.  I signed up for both, convinced that I could do it.  THANK GOODNESS that the running gods had me cross paths with my coach, Brent.  He started coaching me late in the Fall and got me to the Dallas start line healthier than I had ever been and I ran a 4:15 (which was 15 minutes faster than my goal).  But in order to keep me healthy, he recommended that I drop from the ultra to the half at Cowtown 2016.  It made me SO SAD, but I trusted him and knew it was for my own good.

So for 2017, I was registered for the Cowtown Half – I planned to use it as a training run/warm-up for the run portion of Ironman Texas 70.3 in Galveston.  When one of my teammates started asking about the ultra, I asked if I could run it and was given the green light! (And I upgraded my registration in record time – before Brent could figure out what he had given me permission to do!)

Carmen Reed was running her first 10k and Suzanne Kennedy joined her in the fun for her first 10k – they crushed it in their Saturday race!!  Jeri was running the half on Sunday.  We spent the weekend together roaming around Cowtown and had an wonderful time together!!img_4472

The Race

I ran Houston Marathon just 6 weeks ago.  I quickly realized that training for a 50k so soon after and training for a 50k and half Ironman simultaneously was a foolish choice.  Training kicked my rear but I persisted (with a lot of uncharacteristic whining and belly-aching) and I survived.

I typically fret over how I will perform at races, but I didn’t fret about this race.  Houston gave me A LOT of confidence and removed any feelings of having to prove myself.  I have proven myself to ME and that needed to happen because I was full of self-doubt.

I went into the race without any goal times.  Well…..I knew what I would like to hit, but I was prepared to be OK with just finishing.  I knew that hurting at some point in the race was inevitable so my strategy was to run by heart rate and try not to go out too fast.  I felt that I could manage the extra mileage by keeping my heart rate in check, but I was still a little leery because of the time crunch caused by running this so close to Houston made any training for this race short and sweet.  In any case, I had no doubt that I could do it – it was just a matter of how well I managed everything.  Early in the week, the forecast was horrid.  Temps were supposed to be close to 70 with sunny skies and winds gusting up to 30 mph.  Honestly, I dreaded this because it would only serve to make a difficult race even harder.  I didn’t check the forecast again until we were in Ft. Worth on Saturday and I literally started jumping up and down, screaming with excitement (while we were in CVS and I *may* have startled the clerk).  Temps while I was expected to be on the course were to be in the 40s with partly cloudy skies and winds around 10 mph.  I felt like I had just won the lottery!

Race morning was so cold at around 40°!!  Several of the Renegades were racing and everyone who could make it met for a pic.  My fellow Renegade sister, Ashley, said it best when she shared our group pic, “From first time 10k finishers to 50k & everything in between. Love sharing the dreams & then witnessing the successes of these Renegades. We all have our own story but together it’s an even more powerful one.”  Being a part of this group is one of the main reasons I’ve been so successful over the past 1 1/2 years.  This is the MOST SUPPORTIVE team out there – and we support EVERY one of our athletes from slower to faster and shorter to longer distance athletes.  It’s a beautiful thing to be a part of!img_4502-1

I waffled back and forth on whether to do UCAN or Tailwind for this race.  I tried Tailwind at the tail end of training, but I don’t think I found the right balance because I found myself hungry and hitting an energy wall.  I ended up going with UCAN because it really does work for me and I can tell a HUGE difference when I don’t fuel with it.  (Some tweaking will be in order as I extend my distance to the 50 miler later this year.)  In the end, UCAN came through for me again, as you’ll see when I describe the later stages of my race.

The race finally started with sunny skies and temps still close to 40. I started out consistently running 8:45s and thought that I was DOOMING myself to failure.  But I had decided to run by heart rate and my heart rate was in zone 1, so I maintained that pace.  I went over 9 minutes on mile 7 and thinking back it was probably the streets in the stockyards…or the shucking of my t-shirt – I was trying to be extra careful not to twist an ankle (or step in Longhorn dung!).  Early on, it seemed that the day would be sunny and that caused me some anxiety but the clouds slowly rolled in. Winds stayed at around 10, I’m guessing, and I even got chilly coming up to the mile 9 hill and through downtown. I managed the mile 9 hill just fine and enjoyed the cruise DOWN through downtown through the marathon split.

The back side of the course had an immediate hill that I was not expecting.  I could obviously have avoided this surprise by studying the elevation map, but as I said earlier – I did not concern myself about this race at all.  I barely got packed in time to leave town!!

I maintained splits close to 8:45 but started creeping up toward the 9:00 mile pace in miles 15-17.  Around mile 18, I found myself running next to a man named Joe, from McKinney, who proudly proclaimed his Florida roots with his Florida Gator shirt.  He was running naked (all you non-runners calm down – it just means he was running without a watch!) and was hoping to hit a 4:00 marathon or better.  Well, guess what!?! was hoping to hit a 4:00 marathon, too!! (Even though I wouldn’t admit that to the general public.) We decided to stick together until the marathon split around mile 25.  My friend Joe kept me going during those 7 miles and the funny thing is – he thought I slowed down for him.  WE simply kept at OUR pace. It was a nice relief to share the road with someone.  And I just do better when I feel like I have to keep up with someone.  All my miles with Joe were sub-9, except for mile 19.  I was a little sad saying goodbye to Joe, but I sent him on his way – he should have easily come in around 3:52-3:53 which was under his goal!

I'm past mile 20 at this point and STILL SMILING! :)
I’m past mile 20 at this point and STILL SMILING! 🙂

Honestly, I was amazed that I was able to maintain mostly sub-9 miles up to this point, which made me smile even more. 🙂  And my legs felt amazing!  A tiny bit fatigued, maybe, but my legs felt better at mile 25 than they felt at mile 20 in Houston.  I was extremely encouraged because at this point, I knew if <when> things went downhill fast, I could suffer through a 10k and manage.  I crossed the 26.2 timing mat at 3:53 (which was only +5 from my Houston time) and legs were STILL feeling OK.

Mile 27.  Mile 27 is when my quads started feeling grouchy.  And my brain wanted to be at the turnaround already.  Except I didn’t really know where the turnaround was because I hadn’t studied the race map that well.  I did know that it had to be by mile 28.  Well the turnaround was at mile 27.5.  Mile 28 was my slowest mile of the race, because I stopped for a BEER.  And that beer tasted SO GOOD!!! The aid station volunteers laughed at me because I went on…and on….and on about it!  I drank almost half and realized that I would never finish if I hung around drinking beer all day. (In reality it was maybe 45 seconds.)  So off I went and then I was joined by another male runner – and he rocked the trail runner look with his well-maintained beard.  This guy was a lifesaver.  He was the type of person that oozed positivity.  He cheered on EVERY SINGLE runner that we passed.  Between mile 28-29,we had turned back South and at this point the wind had really picked up.  My legs didn’t want to have ANYTHING to do with running into these winds.  I knew I would be OK if I could just make it to mile 30.  Mr. Positive stayed with me until then, but at mile 30 he cranked it up, said, “One mile, LET’S GO” and was off in a flash. My goal was simply to maintain what I could at that point and I couldn’t have kept up with him if I had tried so I let him charge on.  I was getting so close to that last little bit of the course that is so familiar to me. It seems to go on forever yet I know it isn’t THAT long…and….there was a tiny hill.  I walked just a bit.  I’m a little mad at myself for this, but at that moment I felt that I needed to give myself the chance to collect my wits for the finish.  Onward and upward I went!  And right over the hill was the turn to the road to the finish!

My ONE pic with Mr. Positive - he is waving and I am struggling!
My ONE pic with Mr. Positive – he is waving and I am struggling!
But 5 steps later and I manage a smile....AT MILE 30!
But 5 steps later and I manage a smile….AT MILE 30!

That last little bit of the course always seems so long.  My mouth always starts watering because I want to see that finish line and cross!  My best pace on mile 31 was 8:27 and my best pace on the last .06 was 8:07.  I was SO READY to be finished!  After I fought my way down the finish line chute, I grinned the entire way across.  I came close to crying, but I managed to hold back the tears.  I was BEYOND happy (and still am)!!img_4546

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After I got my medal and grabbed my phone to text Carmen, a woman sitting on the curb congratulated me.  I told her it was my first ultra and that I was over the moon!  She said, “You HAVE to ring the bell!!”  I mentioned getting my friend to come take my picture, but she volunteered.  She stood in line with me, videoed me ringing the bell and then took my picture.  I thanked her and went on my way to get food, finisher shirts and my extra challenge medal.  And after that, I went to find the important stuff – BEER!!img_4542img_4511

I think cold molasses moves faster than I do after a race.  It always takes me SO LONG.  I finally made my way to the building where Carmen, Suzanne and Jeri were waiting on me.  Carmen is my sherpa – she is THE BEST sherpa!!  I can’t believe she hung around in the cold for almost 5 freaking hours just to snap a couple of pics of me finishing.  She is seriously amazing.  Suzanne, deserves her own medal for sticking around as well when she really didn’t have to.  That meant the world to me!!

As we were leaving to walk back to our hotel, I got a message from Brent that simply said “Dude! Podium!”  I read it in disbelief, relayed my disbelief and he sent back a screen shot of my results.  THIRD IN MY AGE GROUP!!!  How in the heck??? All I can say is that it was an amazing day!! I later found out that I missed first in my age group by TWO FREAKING MINUTES. The beer stop and the walk stop would have closed that gap for sure. And maybe I should have tried to keep up with Mr. Positive. But I had a GREAT race and placing in my first ultra is an amazing accomplishment, so NO REGRETS! img_4512

This race was absolutely amazing.  I smiled almost the entire race and I rarely smile during races because I’m all business.  I can sincerely say that I enjoyed EVERY SINGLE MINUTE.  I had just been waiting for so long to cross this threshold. And things work out in God’s time. I wanted to rush this and do it last year, but I listened. I was signed up to run a 50 miler but I listened and dropped when I realized it wasn’t the right time. And I was rewarded with one of the most amazing races that I have ever run!! (I know you’re wishing at this point that I would use and adjective besides amazing!)

What’s next to CONQUER? 

Ironman Texas 70.3 at Galveston is next on the plate.  The thought of it made me throw up in my mouth a little today because I feel like it’s totally out of my league.  I am gaining confidence in the water, though, and that is encouraging for the swim.  I say that my only goal is to make the swim cutoff then manage the rest of the race, but I know you all know that isn’t quite true.  I am competitive (with myself, anyway) and I have a time goal in mind.  I just hope I can get close to it!  In the end, my goal is to enjoy Galveston like I enjoyed Cowtown – hopefully good things will happen! I know that Brent will give me what I need to be prepared. The rest is up to me!

After that, all that is on the calendar is Brazos Bend 50 in December. After this race, I know I can do it. I just need to reign myself in and not set the bar too high. But I can worry about that after Galveston.

I know I want to work on manintaining/increasing my speed, then focus on BB50.  Other than that, I’ll just have to see what pops up!

Until next time,

Jen 💙