Well I should have known this race was not going to go well. The night before I stayed up later than I wanted to as I searched for a misplaced id, credit card and money. Never did find it, which stressed me out as I wondered if it had blown out of my side pocket on the motorcycle. Who knows !!!
So race morning I woke and had to finish trying to remember what else I wanted to bring. I left the house still half asleep. I get about 2 miles from home and think, “How in the heck did I forget to brush my teeth?” Grrrr, I was to preoccupied with finding my ponytail holders which all seemed to be MIA. A couple miles later I realize I left my Fruit Punch Rockstar and snickers bar at home.
We stopped for a Boston store drop and headed to the start at Oak Grove in Brecksville. Lots and lots of running peeps there! It is truly amazing how friendly the ultra runners in NE Ohio are. I was feeling pretty revved up to go but wanted to make sure I did not go out to fast so I scooted back a bit at the start by my high school bud, Nathan.
It was going to be a hot one so I had opted for going as minimal as possible with all of my stuff. Sports bra over tank top, handheld over waste camelback. Now I usually detest the handheld but it really did not bother me to carry it as the day wore on (and let me tell ya I was sure thankful to have it) but I wonder if it contributed to my klutziness.
Not even a half mile into the race I tripped and fell down. I landed on my left knee and my hands/handheld. Now my knee already hurts and I have dirt everywhere…just great! Luckily some guy grabbed my arm and right away I was back on my feet. I was really wishing I had sweatbands or a bandana on my wrist to wipe sweat as my hands were so dirty to do it, despite my best efforts of wiping them off on my sweaty shorts.
Somehow within a mile or so I had separated from Nathan and his buddy Garreth. I just tried to run an even comfortable pace while walking hills. I was plugging along feeling pretty good and then I fell again. Just hands this time…nothing too terrible but I was starting to wonder what my problem was. I arrive to the aid station at mile 6 to hear Amie cheering at the top of her lungs for me (gotta love that spirit). With a quick bottle refill I was off.
Up the big hill after snowville and a few rocks and roots later I notice my shoes string is untied. As I am looking down to see my shoestring, I miss something on the ground and down I go again. Now on my butt after hitting both knees I sat there for a minute to tie my shoe and let the pain in my battered knees settle. At this point I have fallen three times and am probably not even 9 miles in. I am still in 4th overall female spot and was hoping to stay in the top 5 so onward I went.
Things were coming back together when I heard a familiar voice close behind, Nathan and Garreth had caught up and I was happy to have friends to run with. I was also happy to know Boston store was the next stop and I was looking forward to a bathroom stop to use and also rinse off some of the dirt.
BM and I started heading up the pavement to Pine Lane and in my head I kept thinking it was only 14 miles out to Pine Lane and was trying to figure out where we were going to get the extra miles in…sometimes thinking straight is hard when running I find! There was a group of girls that passed in this section and they all were chatting along looking very comfortable. At this point I was really starting to struggle. My breathing was becoming more and more labored and I started to wheez uncontrollably.
So I should back up. I have had a few stints with asthma-like issues over the last few years but for some reason this year it is becoming more common-place. It happened at Cleveland Mary and I could tell at Muddy Paws that my chest kept tightening up when I would try to speed up so I backed off. So I am out there now walking trying to catch my breath. Pine Lane seemed so far away and I was now getting passed left and right. I would run until my lungs said no and then I would walk until I caught my breath. The thing was even walking up the hills was overloading my system, given the humidity and temperature. Of all days not to bring my inhaler…IDIOT!
I hit Pine Lane absolutely defeated. I was wheezing horribly and could not talk as the saints (volunteers) filled up my water bottle. Then I spied the most uplifting sight. Garreth and Nathan were at Garreth’s wife’s SUV so I made my way over there happy to see my friends. After a bunch of wheezing I finally started having some water and some electrolyte pills as I contemplated quitting.
When the boys were ready to head out I decided to go back out too. Yet not even a half mile in I was gasping for air and started walking some more. This section was incredibly slow for me. I struggled to say anything as runners passed and was just disappointed with the way the whole thing was going. Sorry to anyone I did not say much too out on the trail. I tripped in the rooty section of Pine Lane and fell for the fourth time and hit both my knees which were both bleeding and hurt. I think I got really upset about this point and then my wheezing got even worse.
About this time Patty from my running club happened to be passing by. She walked with me and stuck by my side watching to make sure I was ok. I told her I would be fine and I would just walk when I got tired but she kept close to keep an eye on me. I can not tell you how much I appreciated just having her there through that rough spell.
FINALLY I made it back to Boston store and again I was ready to drop. I did not know who to tell and stood there in my daze trying to eat a quarter PBJ to no avail and just kept drinking water. I was at a loss as to what to do here. I was worried about how far it was to Snowville and that it was only getting hotter and my breathing would probably only get worse. All I could think was that there had to be others struggling as much as me and they would not quit and I have never quit a race so I started off towards Boston Mills on the road. I stopped and almost turned around as I already was breathing hard after 30 seconds. Yet, there were two guys ahead of me just walking. So I just kept walking forward. Only 11 more miles.
We fought to walk up the big hill. I was behind a guy with dark hair and mentally I just needed to have someone there although we did not talk. Up the hill and still walking and then he started to trot along as did I. Down the hill and some more uphill walking and he said he was sorry he was not talking but he was struggling and I said was I too so don’t worry about it. Up another hill and he offered to let me pass but I said I was operating under turtle strategy at this point. Slow and steady was good for me…it was just going to be an accomplishment to finish. Somewhere along the way we found the strength to start talking. His name was Mark and he had qualified for Boston and…..somewhere in this I must have let myself start to relax and I started to feel better. At one of the river crossings I ended up in front and started running and after awhile I let my new friend go after hearing him say he would see me at the end. Just having Mark around through this section was a true lifesaver for me and I needed that!
I now felt I could finish this darn thing and was starting to look forward to seeing friendly faces at Snowville. At Snowville they totally took care of me. Brian had stashed a Rockstar for me and they even had a delicious rainbow popsicle (MMMmmm!). Bridget took care of my water bottle and I was at ease for the first time in awhile and took my time to enjoy this break. I figured I had already been out there that long, what is a little more time?
With newfound energy I was off to finish the race. I started picking up the pace and looking forward to the finish…only 6 more miles. The hot sun was killer in the grassy open sections and I focused on watching my step. I actually started seeing some of the people that had passed me awhile back and it was good to see familiar faces again. Finally I made it back to Oak Grove after getting my second wind and finishing with a time of 6:45. THANK GOODNESS!! Wrap up later....