I ate Gionino's white vegetable pizza last night with a few glasses of Chianti and sleep like a rock. I got dressed in my proven chafe free Nike short-shorts and my new bluish purple Under Armour tank. I was out the door by 5:30 heading toward the starting site of the Buckeye 50K Trail Race. Clouds like dirty wads of cotton batting hung in front of a near full moon. The clouds looked hot. The forecast was still calling for temps near 90 and high humidity with a slight change of thundershowers later in the afternoon. The one positive was there had been no recent deluges to muddy up the trails. Shoe shoe sucking mud along with heat would, well...suck.
People were already amassing in the lot when I pulled in at 6:15. Maria was there looking pink and perky and trying to stay positive. She didn't get to train like she wanted due to the mysterious malaise, but she's much better now and hoped to do the whole thing. Bob was first in the lot like always. I was going to pace him to the finish since he's never done anything close to this distance in a race. I was very happy with my winter 50K time of 7:09, so I really didn't have a burning need to break last year's 50K time of 8:09 in which I limped in with flared I-T bands. Brett was optimistic that he could break the curse that has plagued this very speedy runner on the longer distances. Suzanne had a last minute scare that had us nervous. She had a mysterious warm blistered area right over her right shin splints. Dr. Shah was baffled but told her to give the race a go. I love that guy! Sara was wearing her trademark zebra skirt. She had a dispirited pre-race spell, thinking she wasn't up to this, but we knew she'd smoke us all. We saw the blazing fast Patty and Barb and would probably not see them again. We pondered how those skinny legs could carry these woman over formidable terrain so darned quickly! But then...gazelles are like that. I usually envision female trail runners on the beefier side. We saw people from Bloggerland like E-Speed and Daisy Duc. Daisy was extra cute wearing a sports bra and short shorts. She had her short blond hair in little pigtails. She reminded me of a wholesomely tough trail running Mousketeer. The Master Sean was prepared for battle--suited with Camel Back back armour and an Ipod to discourage idle chit-chat. He seemed intensely focused, lost in meditation, contemplating going to battle with a sport he insists he hates. At first I thought how can anyone run this far in this kind of heat unless you love to run, but then I thought how much of the world revolves around things motivated by either love or hate. We saw all kinds of people! Debi came out to the start hopping around on her crutches. We'd really miss her out there today. The ultra running community in Northeastern Ohio is fabulous...they are the nicest people out there!
In the first miles, Brett and Sara ran ahead, then Bob and I, and Sean, Maria, and Suzanne in the back somewhere. The trail conditions were much better than anything we trained on in the past--only a few very low-lying areas resisted drying out and stayed muddy. Already, by the first few miles, my legs and arms were covered in sweat. It was overcast but the humidity was high. The time went by quickly on this section. We saw Blogger Brian and Solar Squirrel and a few club members at the Snowville aid station. Saltines were my thing this year and I filled up on Ultra lite which sucks, but works to keep the body going, but is still better than that revolting Heed stuff which has a baby aspirin aftertaste that doesn't sit well with me and makes me gag if I think about it too much. The young Solar Squirrel was sweet to shout out encouragement to a middle-aged lady like me pretending I'm not.
Close to Blue Hen Falls we caught up with Sara and Brett, but lost them again. Bob and I chased a pony tailed young woman running her first ultra before even doing a marathon, just like Bob. We wondered when we'd see the front runners. Would they even be affected by the heat? Bob and I were coming down the hill to Boston when we saw Cam Lee coming back at 2:30. Unbelievable. Makes me want to check them for battery packs. They can't be real.
As Bob and I were running into the Boston Aid station we had to race the Cuyahoga Scenic Railway before it stopped on the track and keep us from the station. We made it to the station alive and saw Debi again.. Just before we got to the root hopping section of Pine Lane we thought we saw Brett again bent over in a position that didn't bode well He said, he stopped sweating a ways back and now all his stomach issues were resurfacing. He explained, that physiologically, his body starts to get tired and blood is shunted to his running muscles and away from his stomach, so he gets sick. A similar thing happens to me, but blood gets shunted away from my brain rather than my stomach and I just get stupid, happy, and very sexy feeling.
We made it to Pine Lane in just under an hour. Two of Bob's girls, Amber and Amanda, were waiting along with Debi...perpetually perched atop those lousy crutches keeping her away from us! I discovered I really like to drink Coke on these long runs. I almost never drink pop of any kind, but I think running an ultra is a Coke exception.
I was feeling great and Bob was holding up great even though he sweats more than anyone I know. We saw the Master Sean come scrambling down a hill like one of Hell's minions on a mission. He grunted. We saw Maria then Suzanne too. Maria was doing her best to maintain a slow steady pace. Suzanne's leg was starting to bother her so she was going to stop at Pine Lane. As we neared Boston again near Mile 20, Bob seemed to think I was picking up the pace, but I just think his perception was a little off now that he was getting tired. At Boston we finally peed which was getting to be a concern since we both had been drinking fluids like mad. A woman was passing by the Boston Aid station wondering from where to where the run goes. I told her, "From hell to hell." "With many stops in Pergatory!" someone else offered. The aid station workers were fabulous--very attentive to getting us taken care of on off on our merry way.
Boston back to Oak Grove was tough. The day was really heating up now and it's probably the toughest section with many butt busting hills and stair climbs. Bob was clearly getting overcome by the heat. He couldn't dump enough water over his head to cool him off. He had a harder time recovering from the stair climbs and start running again. I tried to keep us in a running groove on the flats, but then the momentum would be interrupted by yet another grueling hill climb. There were tons of people walking. It was just crazy hot. Brian took some unflattering pictures at the return Snowville aid station. He posted them fast as flash to the VR site...they weren't the best, but got one that looks like I'm pulling my shorts out of my crotch. He did get a nice one of some guy fixing a wedgie but he had a really nice butt, so that was cool. Amazingly, my PF dragon was in a good deep sleep and my legs weren't even bothering me. The only thing that nagged at me was a middle back pain. Then Bob was plagued by these awful hiccoughs...a cross between a violent hiccough and a belch. My mom gets these and they flip me out. Turns out the best thing to get rid of them was to run! We did tons of walking through here.
Then we came to Ottawa Point and crashed yet another family gathering to fill up our water bottles which were getting boned dry. This time it was a lily white family with lots of red-headed children all watching a magic show set up next to the fountain. Bob and I looked like a couple filthy relations come across the tracks to crash the party. We didn't know Vince would have a cache of water just a few more feet down the road...
Finally...we're freaking done. Time was 8:17 or thereabouts. I was pretty proud of Bob for finishing this having only done a half marathon race, but he trained very well. Chef Bill had some fantastic food set up for the runners...real fancy healthy stuff like these spicy chicken wraps and quinoa salad. I really needed to fill the tank too, cause 31 miles of Saltines/pretzels wasn't cutting it anymore. Sara had already been in for about an hour!! She's an animal, I tell ya. I had the pleasure of talking to E-Speed for a very long time. A newlywed of five years, she was sad to hear about my impending separation with Mr. Sensationally, but tried to explain to her that it's one of those things...happy and sad, but necessary. I hope she stays happily married forever and running like the speed demon she is. She came in second woman overall! Wow! The entire Buckeye 50K was very well run by Vertical Runner. They did an excellent job in making sure the runners were well taken care of at every phase. Maria came in not too long after us crying in total happiness for being done with this race. Her training was sketchy, but still pulled it off because she's such a strong runner. Sean came in too, victorious in hating every freakin' step of that 31 miles. Maybe has a little more fondness for running now. I'll have to ask him when we see him again.
I really love this distance. I'm totally shocked I'm sitting here the day after putting the final touches on my post and I'm barely sore, but I think it was a case of mind and body being very in tune on that particular day. Race Day magic is huge for me. It always comes through. I thoroughly enjoyed pacing Bob. It's even more satisfying than running a goal time all alone. What a beautiful day running through the woods.