Sunday, September 10, 2017

Do Wacka Do. I wacked out

Do Wacka Do was this past Saturday. I have missed only one--I think. This is one of my favorite runs, and if I'm counting right, I have only missed one. This year, I had grand plans of running the 50 Mile. I had my mobile aid station right by the path into the start/finish, and took the one-hour early start. I camped and was somewhat restless. But at 5:30, I got dressed, got myself all lubed and fueled, and stumbled over to get my packet, and still managed to start 6 minutes past the official 6:00 early start. I am pretty sure I was the only one to start early--but I felt I needed it. I had a good 45 minutes of running with the headlamp--not so much to see the trail (actually gravel roads) but to see any rattlesnakes that might be slithering out to catch a few early morning rays.

I had a good 30 minutes of running before first light and 45 minutes before the sun peeked over the horizon. Temperatures were forecasted to be in the mid-80s--a good 15 degrees cooler than most years. I have had a rule (excuse) for NOT doing the 50K or 50 miles if it were over 90 degrees. There is absolutely no shade anywhere on the course save an aid station tent or crawling under a cactus--if the rattlesnake would share with you. 

With a 54 minute head start, and my shuffling pace at around 17 m/m average,  I thought I'd be caught by speedy 25k runners by the time I reached mile 5. At mile 4.5, a guy passed me running like a kid with new sneakers. He had a solid 10 minute lead on the next runner, but after that, I was continually passed all day. I do love this course. It has a lot of gradual uphills and downhills--and then it has hills that seem to climb right up to heaven. There are several climbs from 120-180 feet, and the toughest climbs are short but every bit as steep as climbing 12 flights of steps--gravel covered steps.

It's easy to take a good picture here--just hold up your phone and push the button. Every picture is beautiful.

Besides the steep uphills, there are miles and miles of gradual downhills. I planned on pounding these, but bad mojo joined with a sore-ish knee and kept me at an 18 m/m shuffle pace. Still, this pace could, in theory, get me to the finish line.

This was a lonely run. Other than a few people who spoke as they passed,  and a few friends like Scott, Chrissy, and Krystal who stopped to chat, and Lisa and Andi from Arkansas--I was mostly alone. In years past, I have run the entire race with a friend. Three years ago, it was Susan Melon Westmoreland. The next year, I ran with Shorty. Last year, I ran with Misty.

So, I had lots of time to think. I crunched numbers, calculated my pace and how much it would decline on the subsequent laps, how I would stack up against the cut-offs, and how my current pace would serve me in my upcoming 100-miler.

And I took a few pictures. I peed. I stopped at only the last aid station (Since I was an early starter, the first three aid stops were not yet manned.)

It became clear to me that I would be barely within the time limit on finishing my second lap, and with any slowdown at all, or if I stopped to eat or spend any extra time at all at the start/finish, I could kiss my hopes of a 50-mile finish goodbye. I was okay with that. A 50K run as a training run 4 weeks before my big race was fine.

So I plugged along. I  had not really eaten anything, and fortunately, I had brought a Clif Bar and  5-Hour Energy with me.  Nibbling and sipping, and popping a couple of Hammer caps, and I was able to keep the faith.
A mini-grand canyon. Or as Scott put it--a Real Leap O'Doom.

My knee--that sometimes lets me run worry and pain-free--decided that today I was not gonna run inclines like this. Uphills and downhills were manageable but slow. Hills what also sloped to the side were my undoing. It seemed like things were gradually getting a little worse. Each step had a bit of a twinge. If only I had brought my knee wrap. It was back at my camp.

So, my mind kept on processing. One voice in my left ear said to be happy with 50K. Get back to the halfway point, eat, drink, take my super-energy drink, put my knee wrap on, take some Ibuprofen, and just go. Focus on keeping my pace steady. The voice in my right ear said to play it safe and stop at 25K. Eat, drink, shower, and spend some time on the way home ghost-towning and picture taking, get home early, maybe go for a run Sunday.  And then there's the person who lives between the ears thinking both scenarios suck. I needed a 50-mile run. My meager effort of using races for training was going to pot. Someone would say "but 16 miles is amazing," and I'd wanna crawl under a rock. Ugh.

My final 2 miles in the loop were my last official two for the race. I sat in a chair away from everyone, except my buddy Lynna came over to chat with me. I didn't eat, although I did drink an orange juice. A hot shower later, I felt fine and decided to pack up camp and listen to that voice that mentioned the ghost towning and picture taking. Click here for that post. Lots of pictures,and a story that no pictures could convey.

Congrats to my friends who kicked ass in all the distances. Victor cruised to an easy win in the 50-me. Rachel Coulter sped to an easy win in the 25K. Chris Schnell seized the opportunity to win the 5-mile. I earned another DFL sticker. But good things still await me-I believe that.

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