Date: May 30, 2015
Location: Flint Hills Trail, KS
More catch-up… Let’s talk about a GOOD race, shall we?
First of all, I have to say Eric Steele of Epic Ultra puts on one hell of a race. This is my second race with Epic Ultras and both have been great experiences. I actually won this entry as part of a photo contest. I had registered for the 40 miler, but dropped to the marathon. (I now know that this was the start of my thyroid issues… I was becoming increasingly fatigued and a few later would be my first DNS). You have to love a race that the race packet tells you not to whine or be an asshole. Haha.
I am lucky that the Flint Hills trail is nearby and I had the opportunity to run different sections of the trail as part of my training runs. I felt like I had a good expectation of what I would be in for. I had actually trained for the 40 miler, so I was pretty confident that I could hit my goal pace. The only unknown I really had is what would happen after 18 miles. My previous marathon’s course wasn’t runnable after 16 miles, so this was unchartered mileage for me running-wise.
My fellow Skora (and now Orange Mud) ambassador, Geoffrey, was signed up for the race as well. He said he was good with a 11:00 pace on the trail, so we decided to run together. This would be my first time running a “long” race with anyone, other than pacers at a half. It was encouraging to have a buddy to run with!
The actual trail was not muddy (YAY! After Free State trail marathon, I would have been so mad!). The only really wet place was the start line, go figure. So we start the race and run through ankle deep water, immediately getting our shoes and socks soaked. I hadn’t considered the option of trying to go all the way around. I figured, might as well plow right through.
The race started at Celebration Hall in Ottawa, Kansas. From there, you run the paved part of Prairie Spirit Trail out of town before hitting the Flint Hills trail. I think we managed to make most of the lights out of town. I know I was trying really hard to not go out to fast and kept having to pull myself back. It is easier to run pavement and the 11:00 pace felt S-L-O-W. I would check my Garmin and dial back.
When we hit the levee that meets up with Flint, it was a bit more work. The trail was canted and I worked to find a good place to run where I didn’t feel like I was leaving or twisting my ankles. I was really happy when we entered the trail system.
Geoffrey and I gabbed and ran along. I had brought a handheld, after my Camelbak chafing debacle, and planned to just refill at aid stations as I needed to. I also failed to bring any fuel since I knew the aid stations were stocked really well. Around 6 miles, I topped off my water and grabbed a Hammer Gel.
I am not sure the point that I lost him, but I noticed Geoffrey was getting farther and farther behind me. At mile 9, I was on my own and was kicking myself for not bringing my phone and headphones. I got lonely!
As I was getting close to the turnaround in Rantoul, I crossed a few runners heading back… But really, I was wondering, where is everybody? I was on my own and there were not many runners around. Not that I could get lost – I was just getting paranoid. I ran through some ankle deep water in a rather barren stretch along a field. Finally, there was an aid station in Rantoul, and I stopped for a minute to refill my water and drink a couple cups of Coke. I probably grabbed some Pringles as well, but I can’t remember for sure. I headed out back toward Ottawa to finish.
I was cruising along pretty well. At some point I crossed Geoffrey as I was heading back. Somewhere around mile 18 I noticed my legs and hips were getting sore. I didn’t really think I was tired – just sore. And ready to be done. Too bad I had 10 miles to go. I started throwing in some walk breaks, as I cursed my legs and wondered why I thought this was a good idea. I could have used some music here.
I was so happy to see the next aid station. I didn’t realize it, but I was hungry. I hadn’t eaten anything but the Hammer Gel early in the race. The volunteer offered me some watermelon, and it was like the greatest thing I had ever eaten. I set back to finish the race. I left the trail system and hit the levee…. To run straight into the wind for what felt like forever. This really drained the life out of me. I wasn’t a fan. The wind definitely slowed me down. From the levee, I headed back into town. I hit a few red lights and stood awkwardly. I felt like the drivers were just staring at me since I am guessing they don’t get too many races going on there. Soon, I was back on the paved path that would take me to the finish. This is where things fell apart for me.
The sidewalk seemed to go on and on. I kept checking my Garmin and I was just miserable. I didn’t seem to be getting anywhere. That last mile, I stopped and cried a couple times. I think I did more walking than running. As I was stopped to feel sorry for myself, a woman passed me. That snapped me out of it. Why did I let this woman pass me? What the heck was I thinking? I started to run. And around the corner was the finish line.
I crossed the finish and was so happy to see my family waiting for me. The race director, Eric, asked me to take a quick picture, and then I hugged my kids. I came in at 5:07:49, just over 5 hours. With my pouty-walking last mile, it brought me down to 11:32 pace overall. I kicked myself for letting my consistent pace go to pot in the last mile. I soon learned I was 2nd AG, 5th female and 14th overall. I was seconds away from being on the race all-time leaderboard. Lesson learned – suck it up. HTFU. Don’t fall apart in the last mile.
My family helped me to our car and asked what I wanted to eat. Again, I just wanted a giant hamburger and waffle fries. But really, I wanted a shower and to go home. So after my shower, I enjoyed my burger in bed. People who will bring your food to you are nice!
Until next time…. 🙂