Tale of the Blue Blazes...the Buckeye 50K Race Report
Whew! What a story I have to tell. I went to bed wearing my cool Buckeye Trail race t-shirt--was so proud to be acquainted with this blue blaze. I thought I wouldn't sleep very well but I did. I woke up at 4:45 and went about getting ready. I sprinkled the new Blister Shield powder in my new socks and yes, Maria, I put on makeup...just to get a rise out of you--that, and you just never know who you might encounter on the trails. Jim was over right on time and we made our way to the Oak Grove start. Unfortunately, Roger decided last minute to scratch on today's race, not confident his plantar fascitis would hold up to the rigors of such a long race. He knows his body well, but we'd miss him today.
Maria was calling on my cell phone the minute we turned into the parking lot, then I saw a friendly familiar face from Bloggerland--it was UltraKim directing traffic in the parking lot! I finally get to meet her! We chatted with some other Blogger runners: Bill Bailey, Brett, and Nick. Here's the picture at the start. Sarah was there with her supportive spouse and Maria's husband, too, was planning on intercepting Maria at the various aide stops and read three books during down times when Maria was charging the course. Mr. Sensationally had a late gig last night--was just going to bed when I was close to getting up. A musician keeps a different schedule than the long distance runner, so I had no family support today. I knew they were at home rooting for me. I think my son was a little worried about me doing such a long race in the middle of the woods.
A few minutes before the race start we took a few shots with Ultra Kim and that dreamy young Josh! Here's a good picture of Josh and Kim. I was trying to find a comfortable spot for my new fuel/waist belt. I was really embarrassed by the long red nipple thing--was baby bottle technology at work here. Brett made a comment that it looks like something you'd feed baby goats with. Finally, the race was officially underway. My dang bottle kept sliding out on the right. I was afraid of that happening, but Sarah suggested I turn the bottle the other way, that I might have one hip higher than the other one. Sure enough, changing orientation of my bottle kept it in the holster for the most part. My hips probably are out of whack, considering my only running injury woe has been iliotibial band syndrome.
We couldn't have asked for a more perfect day; it was cool, sunny, and breezy. It still reminded me of an early September kind of day than mid July. I was feeling so good, felt my Irish Setter puppy race day happiness take hold and I was cooking down the trails. Jim was the same way and this had Maria a bit concerned that we were tackling the first part of the course too fast. Maria thinks I do the downhills too pussyfooted grandma for her tastes, so she situated herself in front of me to be spared the spectacle and to keep me and Jim from running like a couple of rabid dogs on the flats. Sarah and Debi were hanging a few minutes behind us for awhile, but they caught up to us when we reached the twelve mile point, and first major aid station at Boston Store.
I was just astounded at how nice the aid station volunteers were and what a nice spread of food for the runners. They had something to appeal to every runner's particular tastes. I was partial to the mini Twizlers and mini Cliff Bars. Pretzels went down pretty nice too. I think I carried too much of my own stuff. So far, my stomach was feeling really good. I seemed to handling my nutrition very well. It was even before we reached the twelve mile mark at Boston Store, that the first front runners were coming through. I didn't get a good look at the first guy, but the second lead runner was the infamous Cam Lee: this dude has been breaking course records all over the area for awhile now. It was hard to believe they weren't propelled up the hills with jet packs, to be on the return trip when we were barely to the twelve mile mark. I think we made it to Boston in 2.5 hours, which is the fastest we've ever done this in training. I was feeling good at this point, but knew I was going to have to slow down.
We all managed to stay together until Pine Lane. We passed a zillion of the mid pack heading back. Almost everyone was supportive and told us, "Good job! or Looking Good!" I crashed into one guy that fully expected me to step aside into unknown brush of dubious footing rather than he step aside. I hopped off the path for a ton of these guys and just got sick of deferring to the fast guys...dammit! I wanted this dude to at least meet me half way, but we collided instead. I was flaming mad, but got it out of my system running up the last hill to Pine Lane. Again, the Aid Station volunteers were very attentive to get us taken care of quickly, but they must have mistaken us for those serious people that like to get in and out of aid stations. They didn't know who they were dealing with! I took out the camera and took a few shots. Maria's husband, George, and Sarah's husband were here to support their crazy running wives. I was getting the notion to sit down and take a nap, so I figured we better head back. Jim took a mighty spill in this section. Maria was speeding up and we were slowing down. I started to feel the first tell-tale twinges of my I-T bands flaring up. It was alarming too, since, not one, but both of I-T bands were stabbing me in the knees and I felt right hip pain. I told Jim to go on and Sarah gave me some Tylenol as she passed me. The downhills were torturous; I could no longer run the downhills at this point and had my darkest moments of the whole race. I had flash backs to last year's Road Runner Marathon when my right I-T band flared and got continually worse. I finished the race, but my I-t band was toast for the next 6 weeks. So, this is just the beginning of the end and I might as well bale at Boston Store Aid Station near mile 20. Kim was there. I told the Aid Station Captain my I-T bands are a mess and I'm just going to quit. I met him at Sean's last week. He told me to lay down while this good looking dude did an assisted stretching routine on my legs. It hurt like hell--he was just as pain inflicting as the Master himself. Kim and the other guy (I forget his name) were so attentive to me and just wouldn't let me consider quitting. They did it in such a supportive, non-threatening way, that I thought they might have a point. The captain said, "Just go six more miles to the next aid station to complete a marathon distance; just 5 more miles and you've got it done. After that dude stretched my bands, they did feel better. Kim thought me and Debi were hanging around there way too long, and starting shooing us out. It was at this point that we realized Jim had started up the hill, but was seized with horrendous cramps in his legs--he felt sick and was going to bail on the race. I felt bad for him and we'd really miss him for the return trip. It was me and Debi at this point. Sarah and Maria were somewhere up ahead.
I just accepted that I was going to have to walk the down hills and up the steeper up hills; I ran the flats. Even with the bad turn of events, I was having a blast. I couldn't think of a nicer way to spend the day. My stomach was fine. My energy levels felt good, it was just those strung tight as violin string beef jerkied I-T bands that were giving me grief! The weather was stupendous; the wind was really blowing the upper story--branches were coming out of nowhere. Debi and I made it the marathon point. I filled up my bottle with some nasty vanillaeque Heed electrolyte stuff to get me through the last five miles. I was sucking on that red rubber nipple like a baby goat extraordinaire by now! This section was endless. Debi fell behind and I ran the last four alone, but excited the end was near. Debi was running very well, but just slowing down. She said the uphills were killing her, but she didn't put in all this time to quit now. I love her attitude. She's tough as nails. I had to mix in way too much walking, but my I-T bands kept stabbing on and off. My toes were giving me hell too. Funny, but the issue wasn't my big toe callouses at all, but something nasty brewing in there with the small toes of my right foot. It wasn't going to be pretty when I took those shoes off. I was thinking bad things about Vince selling me the Blister Shield Powder cause the shield was down, apparently, at this point.
Finally, I could see the finish line. I knew it was going to be close. I sprinted through the finish at 8 hours and 2 minutes. I was 2 minutes off my prediction! I know I can do this much faster next time, but I was so excited with running this formidable distance on such tough terrain. I was absolutely touched that Ultra Kim and E-Speed waited for us to finish. E-speed and her equally speedy friend finished in some ungodly 5.5 hours. Maria finished over a half hour before me and Debi came in just 15 minutes past me. I think Sarah finished between Maria and I but I heard she had taken a very nasty fall hitting her temple on the trails. I gave her a hug at the finish. She looked wonderful except for the bloody battle trail wounds. She's one tough girl! Again, I somehow managed to not fall, which is good, because it would be ugly for all! We were ecstatic! Here's the finish line pics. My feet are covered with water blisters, but I didn't really care. What a wonderful way to spend the day...and what a day!!! Next time...I'm going for speed. ;-)