Saturday, December 31, 2011

Operation Jack NW

Monday, December 26th, began cold and foggy, but without rain. With the race site just a few minutes from home, it was a relaxed morning. My most important plan for the day was to remain relaxed. I tend to hyper focus on races and this leads to anxiety…and, as any runner knows, anxiety leads to GI issues. Having had my share of those issues, I really wanted a day with as few pit stops as possible. Rising early enough to enjoy a bowl of oatmeal led to a bit of time to check in of Facebook and Twitter—all about staying relaxed, you understand! The time came to wake the hubs for my ride to Summer lake Park. We arrived 30 minutes before start time and he gave me a good luck kiss before heading off to somewhere warm!

I was able to set up my things in the covered area and meet several runners, including a couple more Pdx Running Chicks! A couple of minutes before 8:00 am, the rules were given by race director Steve Walters. And then it was time to move. A total of 41 runners had entered planning to run any number of laps. Two new friends were running a half and another was doing a supported long run for 16-18 miles. I was going the full 6 hours with an eye at a 50k. The course was a 0.95 mile loop around a small park with a pond and bridges, a very enjoyable place to run with asphalt and some concrete sidewalk.

The first 3 laps were hard. The start is always hard for me. It takes time to warm up and with the cold, achy muscles; I begin to wonder if I can accomplish the task before me. After the third lap, I took off a layer and started to really get into the groove. My Garmin beeped at me every 12 minutes. I would walk 1-2 minutes and then run to the next beep. Many others were doing the same, but a few were flying on by me. I love watching faster runners and this was a great course to see them often! I ran by myself much of the time, but enjoyed those laps with others. Time was flying by and I was feeling great! I kept reminding myself there was lots of time left and keep the pace really easy.

Somewhere around 17 miles, my sister-in-law and her family came to cheer. I had been smiling all along, but that sure perked my spirits even higher. Jen came dressed to join me for a few laps. We don’t get to run together often so the company and the conversation were great. She walked when I walked and ran when I ran. Each time we completed a loop, the kids and her husband were cheering. Then hubs showed up, too, with both dogs. Of course, Indy saw me running and had one thought—mom’s running so I get to run. I put the running leash around my waist and he began to pull me along.

Close to noon, I needed to walk a little more and was starting to “feel” my legs. Jen and I walked a bit more of the last lap that she was with me. Then she and her family were off to visit family and hubs took the dog and headed out to return at 1:30 to watch me finish up. A couple of laps later, I was hurting. My right ITB was cramping enough that it would catch and I couldn’t run. Toward the end of the lap, it would catch and nearly give out and the left ITB was starting to cramp, too. I remember looking at the time—12:20. I ran through a variety of scenarios in my mind. Was it too cold on my legs? Did I need some fuel that I wasn’t getting? How was I going to get this stopped to keep moving? The goal was to keep moving 6 hours. Forward progress.

Arriving at the aid station, I told a friend that I was struggling. Rose reminded me that cramps were either fatigue or lack of salt. I really needed that bit of reassurance. I put on some fleece pants, ate some potato chips and headed out to walk a lap. During that lap, I walked, I stretched, I walked some more. Arriving back at the aid station a full 17 minutes later, I was feeling a little better. Some pretzels and a salt tab and I headed back out for another lap. At that point, I knew I could finish. It may mean walking the rest, but I would finish. The 50k had slipped through my fingers, but that B goal was waiting for me!

My mom would have been proud of the walking I did! I didn’t saunter. I bent my arms into 90 degrees and I put one foot in front of the other as fast as I could. And I smiled. The smile was more than just a mind game to bring up my spirits. I was happy. I was excited. I was going to accomplish my goal—even if it killed me—which I knew it wouldn’t. I tried running a couple of times, but man it hurt. And I was walking faster than the run. So I just kept walking. Seven laps. I walked 7 laps with the last 4 at a 14:00 pace.

Jeff arrived near the end and walked the last lap with me. I loved that. And when I crossed the finish line on my last lap, my sister was there, too! I may be a bit obsessive with my running—okay, fine, I AM obsessive—but my family is so supportive. Jeff doesn’t even begin to understand my passion for running, but he was there at the beginning, middle and end. He won’t say it (as that might mean he doesn’t think it is insane), but he is proud of me and happy that I have something I enjoy so much.

Overall, I am very happy at my first technical ultra. No, that 50k did not happen. It was a good goal, difficult, but attainable. I truly believe if my legs had held up s bit longer, I could have made it. However, that B goal was attained. I did keep moving the entire time and completed great than marathon distance. So, yes, it is an ultra. But I can not call myself an ultra marathoner just yet. I will. In time. That ultra is out there. Maybe next fall at Autumn Leaves. Maybe another time. It is coming. I can feel it in the not so far future.

Ninja Runner! 

My awesome sister-in-law, Jen.

Crawling to the finish...the hardest part of this photo was getting back up!

Official Stats:
Distance: 27.55 miles
Time: 5:52:50
Overall: 11/41
Gender: 4/19

Garmin Stats:
Distance: 27.84 miles
Time: 5:52:47


Teri S said...

That is so fantastic!! 27 miles is still an ultra :) And look what you dared to do - I love it!!!

(Just) Trying is for Little Girls said...

Wow. Way to stick with it and finish. That is so much longer than I ever want to be working out:)

Anonymous said...

Juanita, you made that course look good!!!

Shelly said...

Way to go!! It was great meeting you out there and I look forward to seeing you at other events or where ever :o) I still need to write my blog, getting lazy with the blogging.

Anonymous said...

You were awesome out there.

Heather said...

WOW! 27+ miles? I'm tense about getting to 26.2 come June. lol You're blog is awesome. I can't wait to read more. :)

heather (from the running chicks group)

John Nguyen said...

I would call you an ultra marathoner! It may not have been the finish you hoped for, but it was gutsy race and finish! Congratulations on the fabulous race!