I never completely understood the concept of being ‘hungover’ from a race until this week. My body has gone through a whirlwind of things not the least of which being a severe electrolyte imbalance, failure to sleep the night through, near fainting spells, an inability to keep myself full from normal meals and snacks, ornery and even depressing personality swings, greatly fluctuating weight, and an extremely temperamental stomach that has gotten upset by even the most bland of foods.
Now, with all that being said, would I change how and why I participated in the event? Never. Will I participate in an Ultra again? Absolutely.
If nothing else, I’m taking this wonderful experience as an opportunity to really see how far and how hard I can challenge my mind and body. I’ve spoken with a number of seasoned Ultra runners who faced (and still face) a similar hangover post-race due to the pure shock that ones body goes through. So, I suppose this was the 50K’s way of hazing me into the society of Ultra runners.
As I continue on with my recap, I think it’s important to paint a picture of how things went hours 5-8.
At this point in the day, many people were taking their extended breaks (aka naps) or hitting their goals and setting out for home. The heat and sun really started to wear on people, myself included. It was my personal goal to keep my core temperature down as I overheat rather quickly, so I remember taking a break somewhere around 2PM to sit with an ice cold bandanna around my neck as I was beginning to get loopy and woozy. When that break was through, I went through a period of shock as my legs were pain free. Yes, you heard it right, 24+ miles in my legs were feeling great. I’m not sure if I was delirious or had somehow tricked my mind into ignoring the pain, but I took full advantage of the break and charged out along the course. Somehow, I managed to keep that euphoria all the way through my last few miles.
I took my triumphant last lap in all its glory. I was fortunate enough to meet up with my friend Jennifer, who I had somehow missed every other lap. I powered through the first half of the course with her at a pretty good clip, breaking away when we reached the bridge to take some well deserved photos.
I was nervous going into the event that multiple people would be counting my laps throughout the day. It isn’t that I didn’t trust them to do it correctly, I simply didn’t want to have to do a single extra lap over what my goal had transitioned into as the day progressed on. Somewhere around lap 3, I dove into my purse praying I would have a pen on hand to carry with me and mark my own laps. Jackpot. From that point on I marked each completed lap as we made our way past the volunteers and through the city of tents. Just as I had feared, I noticed a lap missing between what I had written down and what my volunteer had tracked. As I passed them again next lap, the missing lap had somehow figured itself out. Unfortunately, two laps later, it was gone again. Things were figured out by the conclusion of my last lap, so really no harm, no foul.
I learned a lot about myself during those 8 hours. I found out how truly far I was able to push my mind and body. I realized how little I actually push myself to the limit, despite how difficult I feel things may be in that moment. I realized what fantastic friends I have and how supporting one another really makes all the difference in challenging times. And finally, I realized that I have, bar none, the best husband out there (okay I knew that before, but his patience and support during this really tacked on the points).
I’m ecstatic for my next opportunity to stretch my limits and gain a better appreciation for who I am.
Update: Thank you to all those volunteers who came out to help as well as the race director, Jerry for putting on an incredible race. Another special shout out to the new friends I made during my time. Thank you for everything!