Considering that my last post went on forever and a day I forgot about one of the funniest things that popped into my head to motivate me during the race. To understand this you need to know that when I race no matter what I always try to encourage others, or at the very least put some good vibes out on the course by saying "hi" to everyone just to keep myself going. Well on that last loop at the point I was hurting the most I remembered something that my Mom said about my last race in Snyder. Her friend told her that when she saw me finish the race that I was the happiest runner she had ever seen. I couldn't ask for a better compliment! During that 3rd loop I was nowhere near the happiest runner on the course. Then Chevy Chase's rant from Christmas Vacation got into my head. Granted I know I am a little off, but long distance running took me to a new level of off. Well just watch it below, and I think that you will understand why it was perfect for someone in pain just trying to fake being hap hap happy :)
**WARNING** Don't watch with your kids!
I might have felt like I was near the threshold of hell, but at least I was going to be happy while on the journey.
It has taken me a little longer than normal to write this race report. I really needed a few days to soak in the reality of running a 50k. I am really not sure if this reality has even set in. I guess the best place to start is at packet pickup. It was at the West Texas A&M campus in Canyon, and after finally finding the email on my cell we figured out where to go. Walking up I was pretty sure we were in the right place since I had more fat in my right butt cheek than the entire crowd had in their whole bodies. To say we could tell the difference in this race than others would be an understatement. Most of the races we go to are with super anal type "A" folks. I am sure there was plenty of it there, but it was expertly hidden by a very laid back vibe. Since we were going to meet our friends Donna and Matt for dinner at Macaroni Joe's we decided to skip the dinner and head out to the park to take a drive through the area after getting my packet.
Susan and I thought that we had been to Palo Canyon State Park before, but as soon as we pulled in we knew we hadn't. In all honesty my parents had taken me to see the show,Texas, but it was so long ago I didn't remember what the park looked like. As soon as you pull through the gates the canyons offer up some of the most beautiful views I have ever seen. This is also when I realized I had left my camera in Lubbock, and so all of our pics are courtesy of our good old phones.
We drove all of the way down to the race site to make sure we had an idea of where we would be going in the morning. As we pulled up we ran into an official looking guy named Rodney on his mountain bike. He answered a lot of questions for us, and gave us comfort for the next day. Then Susan noticed his jersey and asked him if he had known Judy Austin. Immediately the super powers of Judy was there to connect us with someone new again. Rodney mentioned that when Judy was fighting cancer she had come to official their race, and they all loved her so much that they had her a trailer down at the race site so she could rest during the day. Jurgen can correct me if I am wrong, but I believe that it was her last race that she was able to official. It is still funny how much love Judy put out into the world, and to this day it still peaks it's beautiful head out when someone needs it. I knew then a little bit of Judy would be there to help out the next day.
After our tour we we got back just in time for our reservations with Donna and Matt, and for those of you that visit Amarillo you have got to try out Macaroni Joe's. It was a great atmosphere and it could not have been a better way to relax the night before the race. Thanks again Donna and Matt for the great evening. You helped out more than you can imagine.
Back at the hotel we got all of our things ready for the next day so we could leave at 5ish. I made sure that I had my water bottles mixed with just the right amount of calories and threw them in the fridge to be cold for tomorrow (this will be important later).
As keyed up as I have been for this race I was surprised that I slept great, and woke up feeling really refreshed that the day was finally here. In record time we were packed and out the door to get in line for parking for the race. Rodney mentioned that we should be there at least by 5:30am before the gates opened at 6:00 so that we could get a good parking spot. We were a little later than that as we pulled up to the gates and a line had already formed.
We didn't wait long before the gates opened early at around 5:50am, and everybody dropped into the abysmal dark of the canyon. I describe it that way because it was what I would imagine driving into a black hole would feel like in space. I mean NO light! I was really glad that we had driven in the night before to see where we were going. This was going to be an interesting run start.
After getting parked and grabbing our stuff to walk down a somewhat steep incline it pops into my head that I have left my perfectly caloric measured water bottles in the fridge of our hotel. I commenced into a little bit of freak out (major freak out), and then Susan says, " Ok that's over now. Just adapt and overcome you can't do anything about it." One more kick of the dirt and we formed a plan with what we had in the car. Even though I knew the race had plenty of water stops I like to use what I train with. So we searched through the car and found a couple of water bottles that I would just have to carry instead of having straps to hold them. Adapt and overcome, crises averted!
Before we started Susan and I started to notice one big difference from the folks I usually race with to this group. No one really gets in a hurry. They are all just laid back and chill with just a few minutes before the race starts. Such a good different for me to be around. Even though I am very open about racing for many reasons other than competition I still can't help but to get caught up in it. It was really cool to feel like I was just going for a run with a bunch of folks I had just met for nothing other than the journey.
Here are a few shots Susan got of the start of the race.
Loop 1 - 6 miles
Before we started they had bag pipes playing and that added another layer of cool weirdness to the beginning. When the horn started us off I tried to stay in the first quarter of people. I knew things were going to get interesting when we got out of the race start lights. The crappiness of my head lamp I found in my garage was evident. Luckily I was with a group that were wearing head lamps that could signal the International Space Station. Even with some light, the trail was already beating up my ankles, and I hadn't even gotten through the first mile. After about 30-40 minutes the canyon was lighting up, and it was like a curtain slowing being lifted to reveal a painting that kept changing as more light was added. One of the many times during this race I knew I was meant to be there just to see and feel that experience. Susan and I had decided that on the first loop I would only carry a gel, and just get water on at the water stops. So as I am coming into the first water stop I come on a couple of huge bearded dudes from Amarillo. One of them resembled some of the guys off of Duck Dynasty just fitter. We ran and chatted took in the sites and kept things somewhat easy until they peeled off right before the end of the first loop for their camp site. I never saw them the rest of the day, but Susan was pretty sure they were drinking beer before noon. My kind of racers!
Loop 2 - 12.5 miles
I peeled off my gloves and head lamp in exchange for a water bottle and shades and was off again. The trail was still relatively packed since the 20k runners had gone off 30 minutes after us. Funny thing was 2 minutes before they went off Susan was in the bathroom with 2 of the runners and she asked them if they knew there race was about to start. They were like oh I guess we better head over. As I said no really hurry!
The second lap I was able to see a lot of what I was running in the dark for the first time. So it was like a whole new trail for me. It was still cold for the first few miles of this lap, and I was starting to regret leaving my gloves behind. Even with being able to see better the trail was pretty technical in parts, but I kept reminding myself to take a look around and take in this awesome place.
After I passed the first aid station the trail opened up, and we were not only joined by other runners but a ton of hikers. I did my best to say good morning to everyone I saw to put out good vibes on the trail. I could hear laughing from the famous, Dos Locos Senoritas aid station, long before I saw it. I really thought that a runner was already flipping out, but after getting to the aid station I knew it was two of the coolest ladies. This station being 6 miles out in the middle of nowhere was an oasis for most of us.
Not long after leaving here I was on another technical section, and this guy in front of me pulled over to let me pass. I looked up at him to see this older guy with cuts and scraps all over him plus a small stream of congealed blood that was plastered down the side of his head. I stopped and asked him if he was ok, and he just smiled and said, "I'm good!" We shook hands and parted ways. That is when it started dawning on me that if you have issues back here you don't quit, because that isn't an option you have to keep moving forward no matter what.
The run from here was barrenly beautiful with huge rocks formations and openness. I was thinking that as I could feel it heating up this part was going to be fun with no shade on the third loop. Right before the next water station you get back into some trees then descend a cliff that has large steps cut into the side opening into a picnic area. I never stayed long at each station, but just topped off my water bottle, took some salt tabs, and drank a little coke. To this point I was feeling good, but I felt like I had a little air trapped in my stomach.
Coming out of the next aid station I was on familiar territory, and was kind of zoned out when Susan comes up the trail and yells, "There you are." I didn't realize how good it was going to be to see Susan, and get to run with her some.
Coming into the finish area it came to my attention that I was well beyond my know running distance at 18.5 miles. Before coming to PDC I had never ran more than 13.8 miles. I had always heard of people hitting the marathon wall around 16 -17 miles, but here I was feeling great at 18.5. So I sat down changed out my socks, t-shirt, and water bottle.
Loop 3 - 12.5
I was still feeling good for the start of this third loop, but right off it was very noticeable that this loop was going to be less crowded. The first few miles were good except I took one slight wrong turn, and stopped to look around when a guy called out to me from the cliff to go back 20 feet. Thankfully for him I didn't get off track long, but I could feel it getting harder to concentrate. Then about mile 22 I hit the wall with full force! It started to get harder to turn my legs over even on flat areas, and even small inclines were mountains.
During any race I always have a point that I feel my Dad with me, and I swear I felt him with me during the 2nd loop. I even remember thanking him for coming along for a run with me, and I would need him sometime today but just not right then. It was during these 3-4 miles by myself cussing and talking about how bad this sucks that he kept me going forward. Then I made the turn to see the oasis called Dos Locos Senoritas! Those ladies had so much fun attitude that you couldn't help, but absorb some of it. As I was filling my water bottle one of the ladies poured some cold water down my back, and I moaned to have some relief from the heat. Then she said, "I love it that I can make guys moan!" My pops would have gotten a kick out of both of these ladies.
As I left I was passed by a couple of people that I decided to try and stay with for a while. It was during this time that I remembered that I was about to finish my first marathon. Knowing that was coming was another big push for me. As I was watching "Carmin" my Garmin roll over to 26.2 I stopped pointed up, and did a very Keebler jig. Not long after this I caught up to the lady that I had the conversation with in the last blog. Which I would like to answer her question of who the hell picks a 50k for their first marathon? That would be Keebler!
Getting back into the trees I knew we were getting close the the cliff stairs, and yes they were hell getting down this time. I was still having problems keeping myself going for long stretches running, and I was getting a little delusional. This is probably why I skipped a stop at this aid station thinking I had enough water. Not a bad mistake but I was needing a drink coming into the last aid station.
Then rounding the corner in despair there was Susan ready to run with me again. As last time it was such a relief and boost to see her. I knew I was going to make it, but now I knew I would do it feeling good. Here are a few pics from this last part of the trail.
Coming into the finish was one of the best feelings that I have ever had at the end of a race.
This race was everything that I had hoped it would be for the end of my season. I have spent the last week really still trying to believe that I finished my first marathon and a 50k trail run. I got so much more out of this than I think I could ever give back to this world. It came from the atmosphere of a great race and great volunteers, and for me a renewed spiritual feeling, raised money for a great organization, ADA, and running with my best friend and wife. This is what fighting for your health is all about!
I just wanted to send out a quick update and let everyone know I made it through the 50k yesterday. It was an unbelievable experience. My finish time was 5:52, and I will do a full write up once the official results are out. Let me leave you with one funny conversation I had with a fellow runner near the last few miles. Not long after I had hit the 26.2 mark I caught up to this girl, and we started chatting.
Me: Is this your first 50k?
Her: Yep. You?
Me: Me to. As a matter of fact I just had to do a little celebration when I finished my first marathon back there.
(a few minutes pass)
Her: Who the hell does a 50k for there first marathon!?
I guess it must be the end of the season, but this taper week is effecting me way more than usual. I think some of it is race stress and life stress, but some of it is trying to stay chill and not workout. I used to look forward to some time taking it easier, but somewhere along the way my body got used to being pushed a little farther every week. So backing off of that means that I start to feel like crap.
Then there is the fact that 3 days before the race I am thinking of everything that can go wrong. Best example is that I walked into a room today and this guy was obviously under the weather, and I had to force myself not to bolt from the room before I instantly fell over sick.
I am trying to get more rest, but I have had issues sleeping the last few nights. I am sure that it is me worrying about this race, but the good thing about me is that I have a break point where my mind finally says,"oh well, what the hell ever. It is what it is" I am getting close to that point, and it is transitioning to excitement in running my first, and maybe only, ultra marathon.
Well this is a short post, and I will try to get another one in before the race. If not I hope to see you guys on the flip side!
P.S. I was just finishing this when I looked at my American Diabetes Donation page, and was completely humbled to find out that we had reached our goal, and had gone over. I will do my best to honor your support of the American Diabetes Association by running the best that I can, or at least I will try and not embarrass any of you :)
I sincerely think all of you for your support in so many different ways!
I have been in this position a few times where you are getting near the end of a season, but you still have one more race you want to put down in the books. Another thing about where I am right now is that I am right at the edge between breaking down and peaking. I have 7 days left, and I am feeling the last few weeks of training. Actually, I am starting to feel the whole seasons worth of training. It made me think a lot of where I was last year.
Every year that I have spent training for endurance races I have learned a little more about what my body and mind can and can't take. Doing these kind of races you want to build up to the edge of what you can take and still stay healthy. Last October I had gone over the edge and was trying to convince myself that I could race, Austin 70.3, tired and sick. After that race I felt bad physically, mentally, and spiritually. Susan was really the only one that knew how much I was doubting whether or not I would ever be fit enough to race the 70.3 distance and if I was just wasting my time. It was one of those times where I was thinking that it would be nice to not have to schedule workouts all the time, and go back to my chicken wings and beer diet. Just go to work, come home, hang with family, have a beer, and eat whatever I want when I want. I wanted to go back to "normal" old Keebler where all I had to worry about was being fat and happy.
Then a few days went by and I started getting that urge to move again, because I had learned that I don't feel right when I am not active. Even if it was just a walk with the kids anything was going to make me feel better. I had ran myself into the ground, but I also now know what that feels like. So knowing what it feels like I now can tell when it is coming and adjust to keep it from happening.
One of the first things that Tim asked me before he became my coach was why are you wanting to do this. My answer was to help and inspire others and hopefully still be doing this in 20 years. When you look at your health it looks different if you look farther down the road then just this week. Instead of I need to lose 10 lbs to fit into this or that, or I need to lose this much so the doc doesn't give me bad news this year. Without not knowing what is coming, who might need us, or what adventure is out there your health can be the deciding factor on it all.
As I said earlier, I am again at the same part of the season, and about to go into a race that is beyond anything I have ever run. This year I know a little better how my body and mind react to the stress they are under. I know I can't handle this level of training for much longer, but I also know that I can dance right here at the edge for a few more days.
I have to mention that I am so appreciative for not only the donations to my American Diabetes Association donation page, but all of the support I have been getting for this run. I wanted to share a text from a friend to show you what I mean.
Jerred: It isn't that far. Just like running from Lubbock to Lorenzo.
Jerred: With hills and snakes and mountain lions and honey badgers
I finally had a chance to get back to Snyder this weekend, and of course the initial reason was to race. It was the weekend of the White Buffalo Bike Fest, and the White Buffalo Stampede 5k. Since Susan and I first raced this race in 2009, I haven't been able to fit it into my schedule. It is a fun rolling hill race that will keep you challenged all the way through, and this year Mother Nature decided to throw in some cold weather. It was just me and the girls this time, because Susan stayed to run with her run group at the Komen Race for the Cure.
After getting to Snyder Friday I was doing a little pre race run, and could feel a little fatigue from the last few weeks. I was thinking that night that it was crazy that I was even trying to throw in this race while I am preparing for my 50k in less then 2 weeks. Not to mention that even after 3 years since losing my Dad my girls and I still end up talking about how much we miss him when we are coming into town. As much as I love to come home, for one reason or another, it can still be emotionally hard at times.
The morning of the race I went out for a short warm up ride. It got a whole lot shorter once I felt how cold it was. I quickly figured that I would warm up at the race. One of the best things that I forgot about this race was getting to see all of my old friends from growing up. Some were there with their kids, some were helping with the race, and some families were racing.
I would like to mention as a side note that a lot of the folks from the new fitness and wellness center, Kinetic Coop, were out to support and work this race. I know a lot of these people are working so hard to help Snyder be healthier. I am really hoping that it works out, because it is such a great thing for my hometown. If you happen to be in town please drop by for a class and check it out.
Now back to the race. I still wasn't feeling great right before the start, but I decided to at least sneak up to the front to try to go with the front group for as long as I could. Might I mention that when you are at a race that has a shotgun start don't stand next to the shooter. I was paying more attention to my watch when the shotgun went off. Needless to say my heart rate instantly skyrocketed. It did get me going, and I got right behind the front group. After getting through the first hill I settled in, and honestly just tried to keep my pace steady. Near mile two I was passed by a guy that I knew was putting down too fast of a pace for me to hang. After he passed me I got into no man's land and was too far back to catch him, but I didn't have anyone right behind me. As I came up on the finish I just knew that the clock had to be wrong, because it said 20:33. I told my Mother-in-law that I was hoping to come in around 21:00 or 22:00, but I never imagined on this course that I would run my fastest 5k ever. I ended up with 1st in my AG and 6th overall. Even though I was excited with my best 5k result the best part of this trip was getting to see family and friends I haven't seen in awhile.
Since this is a family affair I need to add that Susan also ran her fastest 5k time, 27:28, at the Komen Race for the Cure on Saturday. I am sure it helped not having to take care of us three the night before :) All kidding aside we are proud of her!
As soon as I could I loaded up the girls and we headed back to Lubbock to tailgate with my in-laws at the Tech game. The game ended up horribly. I was glad that I started the day with family, and it was good to end the day with family.
Everyone trying to stay warm!
So after a busy Saturday I got up and rode the trainer for a couple of hours, and rushed off to Church for a little fellowship. Then we grabbed a quick lunch, and I got on the road back to Snyder for the funeral of a great lady, Elois Pruitt. I found out Friday that she had passed away, and couldn't believe that a lady that epitomized the essence of life could be gone. My mom and her had worked together and were friends for many years. To me she was one of the many ladies that helped raise me at the Courthouse where my Mom worked. I will miss her mischievous grin, and I hope to honor her memory by making others smile. Goodbye Airhead.
Remember to tell someone today that you love them,
When you decide that being healthier is part of your lifestyle you have to start ignoring all of the excuses that you used forever to not exercise. Instead you have to begin to look at your week like a chess match trying to figure out how you can balance your family, your work, and your workout schedule.
For example, one of my workouts was to do 100 sit ups, then ride my trainer for 30 minutes, then do a 100 crunches, that was workout number one. Workout number two was a 30 minute trail run. I don't consider either of these really time intensive, but to fit them into my day it took some planning. Since I work downtown near the trails it only makes sense to change down there. Well in the spirit of efficiency what else would you do, but wear your running shorts under your work clothes. Yes you get some funny looks pulling off your pants in the parking lot, but normally people just shrug it off and go on their way. Other weeks I have showered at the Tech pool more than I have showered at the house. In short you just do what you have to do to fit in your workout. Forget the excuses just get creative, and find someway to get it done so that everything stays balanced.
When you have picked a race that you want to complete, depending on your goals, you find that you have to do some level of consistent work or readjust your goals. This is where determination comes into the picture. During your journey you will have to find something that helps you keep going forward no matter what. A couple of great examples of this came from our workouts this weekend.
Susan's run club, which is coached by the great Leigh Cordes at Cardinals, is one of the most dedicated groups that I have ever seen. The core group of about 10-15 has consistently trained together straight for a couple of years. A lot of you that are around these type of groups know how rare it is to see that type of dedication. All of that being said even that group has a faulty Saturday sometimes, and this Saturday it was raining and nasty and the group had every right to skip. It ended up being Leigh with her baby Carson bundled up in a stroller, Susan, and Theresa. Susan told me that Leigh said that she forgot to add on the schedule that no matter what they run (except maybe lightning). You never know what your race conditions will be, and it rarely is perfect conditions. So there are days like this past rainy Saturday that you have to go through in order to reach the finish line. As soon as Susan got back from her run I went out on my long run, and just made sure that I wore my old shoes. The option to not go was never there.
When I first started training for triathlons I remember one really cold snowy winter day. It was around 5 am and I was not being very quite with my objections about not wanting to go run, and then I hear from under the covers, "Will you quit being a such a girl and just go run!" So I did. Susan was probably not trying to encourage me as much as she was trying to get me to leave so she could go back to sleep. Either way she got me out there, and it was so calm and quite running through the snow. That was the first time of many that I was glad I went out instead of finding that easy excuse to stay in. It sometimes has seemed that the worse the conditions the better I feel at the end. We all will have those weeks that are bad, but you just forget it go to the next one.
Now I am three weeks out from the big race, I am feeling a little fatigue from another long weekend of training and life in general. Tim has really been focusing on back to back workouts on tired legs, and making sure that I am working on turning my legs over no matter how tired I am. This race is so out of my element that the only thing that is keeping me from freaking out is that after 3 years Tim knows how I will react to this kind of stress better than I do. So here is to another week of just putting in the time, because I know in the long run it will be worth it.