Monday, March 23, 2015

A 25K Around Antelope Island

Just one of the many beautiful views around the island of the Great Salt Lake.
    Sometimes Joshua and I have some really great ideas. To others, our ideas are plain nutty (a half marathon where you climb 2500 feet for the first 6.5 miles), stupid (a Denny's breakfast after a 16 mile run), or epic (a marathon together). I would put the race we did last weekend in the last category even if my dear husband would put it in the first two.
   Joshua and I started kicking around the idea of doing the Antelope Island Buffalo Run back in November when we did The Burn and gained a love of hill running. We thought about doing the 50 miler, but quickly decided that was nuts, even for us. So then we thought about the 50k and at some point decided even 32 miles was too ambitious for us right now and moved quickly to the 25k (16ish miles). To train we started doing lots of stairs and worked on hill runs. This was a great plan and all was going well (I was even shaving time off my pace!) until my husband was promoted and transferred to Orem and we were put into the position of selling our home and  buying a new one, all while Mark commuted the almost 80 miles each way to work. We were assured that our house would take 30-45 days to sell, but it sold in 24 hours and we have been playing catch-up since. We are now moving this coming weekend, an awesome place to be when you are planning on a 16+ mile race. Oh, and did I mention I got a cold that lasted almost 3 weeks that got my lungs? That was fun. Needless to say, I hadn't ran but twice in the month leading up to the race. But I felt calm about the race and knew I had 9.5 hours to finish, so I knew I would be okay.
Joshua and I at the start. Naive, but completely excited to go.
   Armed with no trail running experience and not enough training, Joshua and I set off on the trails with 500 of our closest 25k friends. Several of our friends were running the 50k and 50 miler, so our goal was to keep our eyes open to see them as we looped around the island. Not long into the race I ran into a good friend, Mitch, who was running his first 50 miler. After a quick hug and chat we continued up a climb as he charged down the mountain ahead of his pace. The trail for us climbed for the first couple of miles before flattening out. We ran into Jason, Janet, and Heather during this time and made sure they were surviving their first 50k before we headed up a wicked climb that took us to the aid station just over 5.5 miles into the race. I think this climb by the lone tree was the worst of the whole race. It didn't looked that bad, but the climb was beyond grueling. It did end with an aid station, so it was worth the effort.
Running into Janet is always a thrill.
 What a sweet spirit.
   A word about trail race aid stations, they are heaven. I can't imagine a better place anywhere. They have salty potato chips, potatoes to roll in salt, ginger snaps, Nutella tortilla roll ups, pb&j sandwiches, M&M's, soda, water, and the happiest volunteers on the planet. If nothing else appeals to you in trail running, let me assure you that the aid stations alone are worth the run.
   After eating all the calories we just burned, Joshua and I headed out on the 5 mile loop that would bring us back to the aid station.  Some people didn't like the flat part of this loop, but Joshua and I were so happy to see it. After refueling, we were able to make a great pace and actually were plotting doing crazy things like 50k's and 50 milers. But soon the flat ended and we started up the famed switchbacks we were warned about. I didn't feel they were that bad of a climb. More boring than hard. However, it was hard to be too grumpy because each turn allowed us to see more and more of the Great Salt Lake, which is AMAZING!
I feel bad Joshua and I couldn't help him more.
I am glad he recovered okay.
   Soon after the climb we ran into a racer who was sick and we tried to help as much as we could until the rescue people showed up. After we were sure he was in good hands we continued around the trail. It was shortly after this we could see the aid station again, but there were many more loops to complete before we finished our journey back to heaven (aka the aid station). I was starting to get a little sick from the crazy heat and long climbing, getting some stomach cramps, so I had to really focus on just making it back to the aid station. We also saw the sick racer again during this time who made a full recovery after throwing up. I love how the human body recovers, just like that.
Some people are so fast. I plan to be
like that someday. 
   After completing the 5-ish mile loop we stopped at the aid station again to get Sprite, more chips and Nutella roll-ups, refill our water, and gain all the mental strength we could muster before heading the just over 5.5 miles back to the finish-line. It was during this time I got the text Mark was back, reminding me that my goal finish time came and went. But, honestly, I was feeling great about where we were considering how non-existent my training had been for the past 30 days.
Flat, but powdery and hard to trudge through.
   Again refueled and recharged we headed home. The fall down the lone tree hill was much better than the ruthless climb up and we started making some great time. It was short lived. The powdery flat after the fall down the mountain was difficult for me to slug through and soon we were reduced to mall walking again. About this time all the pain of doing 13 miles started to set in and I found myself going to my pain cave. I also had to warn Joshua to, for the love of everything holy, quit talking about food and future races. I hated everything about being out there. It was hot. I was unprepared. Why do I do this? I started saying things to Joshua and getting frustrated he didn't respond, only to realize I was having full conversations with him IN MY HEAD! The flat turned to climbing again and we soon lost sight of the aid station far behind us and the finish-line way ahead of us. We saw less runners and felt alone, but the clouds and the lake breeze soon made the heat more bearable. I was still pretty shot by then and started wondering if this was an elaborate trick from everyone we knew to lure Joshua and I out to the island and leave us for dead. I think I even mentioned this to Joshua, who thought I was just kidding. I wasn't.
At some point in the race I almost fell
 off the side of the trail and all I could think was "I need a porta-potty!
The headlines will read 'Jogger Killed In Fall, Pees Pants.'"
   Finally we came around the mountain enough to see the finish tent far in the distance and see all the runners on the bottom of the mountain. Joshua and I had a great length of running at this point and I was starting to cheer up with the thoughts of warm greeting from my family and a soda at the finish-line. We had to run around a fence to enter the last 1/4 mile to the finish-line and the last little hill jarred my neck just enough to cause a crazy migraine. The kind where your eyes don't work and I couldn't see ahead of me without the Earth bouncing in 2 different directions. I ended up walking the last bit to keep from dying. Addison saw us coming in and ran to me yelling  "Mommy! You did it! You did it!" She grabbed my hand and helped me run the last few feet in. My emotions, balled up and tangled in my pain cave, soon came to the surface and I was a mix of anger about my headache and pure joyful relief we weren't going to die! Then I saw my good friend Camille, days away from having a baby, at the finish-line with my husband welcoming me home. How can you not be elated to see that happy sight? It just instilled in me, yet again, how amazing the running community will always be. Everyone, stranger and friend alike, willing to stand out in the dirt and heat, cheering on people who have just had a life-changing experience. I cry when I think about how wonderful it is every single time.
Addison coming to get me.
Addison dragging my
sorry self.
   I was pretty out of it by the finish and didn't even mind they ran out of finisher's mugs (I will get one, no worries). Someone gave me a chocolate milk which I soon had guzzled and Mark lead me into the tent where an ice cold Coke and stew awaited me. A nice massage therapist got my name on the list and after a short wait my legs got the love they needed. My head was, however, getting worse and I was soon begging Mark to please GET ME OUT OF THERE. I was on the verge of throwing up and I know from past experience that if that happens, I better go get medical help.
  I was able to take some medication and take a small nap on the ride home and came back to life in the stress relieving aromatherapy bath/shower (a shower where you sit in the plugged tub. It's the healing soak of a bath with the soothing effect of a shower. Win/win I say!). I started feeling much better after all of that and even started thinking about all the food I wanted to eat, which was all the food in the world!
My good friend Camille welcoming me home.
   I am sad I didn't perform better and that I got sick, however, I know that this is now my baseline race. The race actually measure around 18 miles and we finished in 6:13, with a total climb of 2579 feet. I know I will be so much more prepared next time. I just had no idea what to expect and every first race is a learning experience. However, I had a completely spiritual experience out on the trails. It was life changing for me. Running makes me realize how much strength there is from being so completely physically low and beaten. It teaches us what we are made of when we keep trudging forward when we want to quit. There is a life lesson there. Just keep going. It will always be worth it.      

1 comment:

  1. I am so proud of you! It was a rough race, luckily I can feel my legs again! Sooooo ... we're planning on November, no?


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