I decided this year that I wanted to attempt my first ultra marathon. My first plan was to run one in February in Texas but shoulder surgery cancelled that. A group of Mud Babes was planning to go to Utah for a destination race and I thought why not!? I will tell you why not. It is hot in Utah, this year unseasonably hot. It is much higher altitude than I am used to and there is a lot of ascent in this race. I knew all of this going in and none of it scared me off. I was less nervous than I normally am for long races. I felt a little unprepared mileage wise but ready and willing to tackle this crazy ass race. My hubs and I decided to make a road trip out of it and do some sight seeing after the race too so I was really looking forward to this trip/race. We left Wednesday before race day on Saturday and drove into Denver, Thursday we drove to Grand junction and Friday we arrived at Bryce. I thought this time would help me acclimate. The entire KC crew had dinner together pre-race at our hotel restaurant and then went to our rooms to prepare for race morning. Each distance had a different start time so the 100 milers were already out there when we arrived in town, the 50 milers started at 6 am, 50k was at 8 and the half marathoners were after that. There were four of us doing the 50k. We were all chatty and excited on the shuttle to the start line. Then it was time to run! The first five miles were our biggest ascent and I was winded and nauseous from the get go. I tried to run smart though and take it easy so I would have some gas left for the second half. It went well for the first 7 miles then my race went to shit. I puked my guts up four times out on that trail, four times!!! It was awful. After the first time I thought I may be able to rally but after the second time I was pretty sure my day was over. Except guess what! It wasn’t over because I was in the middle of the wilderness with no where to go except the next aid station. I first got sick at mile 9.5 and I could go back 2 miles to the previous aid station (where we were warned a ride out would take several hours to get to us) or continue to the next aid station at 14 where Dave was waiting, with my car. Forward motion it is then! Trail runners are an amazing group of people. I can’t tell you how many people asked if I was ok as I shuffled towards my DNF (did not finish) and several even offered to stay with me to make sure I made it. I declined not wanting to ruin any one else’s race. I knew I was rough but also knew I was going to be fine. As fate would have it to get into the aid station (which my watch said was at 14.6) you had to go down a very steep, loose ravine wall and back up the other side. Seriously! I stumbled down and powered my way up the other side to see Dave working the aid station and waiting for me. He waved enthusiastically and jumped up for a kiss and hug. I pushed right past him mumbling that I was dropping and went in to the tent and sat my ass down on a cot where I stayed until the next round of dry heaves sent me outside. Dave had offered a few other runners that were in rough shape a ride back to their car and so he gathered his group of dehydrate, smelly people and delivered us to the luxury of our air conditioned hotel. The last two miles of this experience I swore off running, altitude and all hot weather activities. After a nap and some serious sobbing over the loss of my race I felt a lot better. I would be fine one moment and crying uncontrollably the next moment. I cried over not finishing, no bragging rights, no finisher’s mug (instead of medals), I cried because I didn’t feel well. I have busted my butt to get back in to running shape post surgery this year and I was more than a little disappointed over not finishing. I have never dropped a race before. I put in the training and the hard work and it just didn’t work out this time. It happens to everyone and I know dropping was the smart thing to do but it still didn’t prepare me for the grief I felt.
I went to the finish line to watch my friends finish their races and spent the rest of the day/evening there cheering on those badasses that crossed both the start and finish line at Bryce Canyon.
Like childbirth after the passage of time you forget just how challenging and hard it was and are ready to do it again. I am ready!!