Thursday, April 17, 2008

McNaughton Race Report

I'm having the darnedest time writing this report. I'm feeling total physical burnout right now and wonder if this blog is a side effect.

So, hope the following makes sense to those reading, here goes ....

Got on the road to Pekin just after 3. Oddly my phone rang. My sister was calling to say she couldn't sleep and she knew I was up. Ah, gotta love her but she had a memory lapse cause I'm not good company just before a run like the run I was about to do.
We missed our turn heading into Pekin. Unfortunately this was a sign of things to come.

Looked for Bubba at packet pick up. He found us. I'm glad I was able to hug him and wish him well. It was misting as we started the race 5 minutes after everyone else. We didn't want to rush, after all what was the hurry, it was 50 miles and it was chip timed. BIG MISTAKE. Got lost coming off the first slippery, mushy, muddy hill. We were a 1/4 mile into the run and took a wrong turn. UGH!

Don't ask how I missed the arrow - here's a pic of it - this course was very well marked with spray paint and green/yellow ribbons on bushes and trees. This race director also put Dixie plates to good use by using them as area markers. We came up on one of the plates shortly after making a wrong turn. Oh that's interesting, why would this place be called Foundation Loop. Later on I, when I was going the right way, I realized there was a small concrete foundation, strange place for it, in the middle of the woods, I'm sure it had some significance being there but never found out what that was. Any way, we went about a mile and a 1/2 out and then stumbled, literally, back to the start area where the announcer was calling out that 2 female 150 milers were just coming in. I knew he meant us and had to face complete humiliation and yell out that no we weren't 150 milers we were lost 50 milers. The RD and a very nice volunteer who reminded me and Caroline of Billy Bob Thorton, turned us in the right direction and sent us on our way. Double UGH.

It was damp. When we ran thru the bluffs it was just down right wet. The ground was nothing but mud. Sticky, sloppy, messy mud that stuck to my shoes and pants. In the beginning I wasn't intimidated by the hills. Not even a little. I welcomed them. I signed up to be challenged and that's what I got. I think I fell twice on my first loop. Not to bad. Actually I was pretty proud of myself. I kept saying I earned this mud on my shoes and now my butt, this is good. Ah, pride isn't a good thing on a muddy trail run.

We didn't stop after loop one. We were both feeling good so off we went. We ran into a man that ran Clinton 2 weeks earlier. He was with a silly group. They were definitely having fun. I thought that's what we looked like at Clinton. But this, well this was nothing like that. I have to say I wasn't having fun. I was feeling every ache and pain. As I twisted in the goopy mess I could feel another blow to my ego. And let's just say I was twisting a lot. We came on a dixie plate that had Micheal Bird Trench or something like that. I was wondering if the race director was a Larry Bird fan. Funny, the things you think about just to keep the negative thoughts at bay. It felt, really, really good running through the creeks. I dreaded it while preparing mentally for this day but my ankles and knees were sore and that cold water helped BIG TIME! It didn't take long for my feet to dry up after running thru it. Even in the yuck. That, I have to say was one of the high points of this run.

I started slipping and falling a lot. It felt like every mile. I was still able to stay pretty positive tho. We started playing tag with a group of what we thought were high school kids. God, once hit 40 everyone else looks young. After chatting with them we learned they were a bit older than high school. One of the boys asked me if I was running with oven mitts. What a big comic relief that was. I looked at my hands and it did look like I had ovens mitts on. Hey, the mittens where on clearance, they only had extra large left, I couldn't pass up a bargain. We finished lap 2 feeling good that we hadn't gotten lost. Our directionally challenged minds would no longer be a problem for us. I went and changed my shoes and socks. I took a tylenol because my knee was feeling stiff. Caroline mixed up some perpetuum (sorry about that spelling). And off we went to loop 3.

It started to rain. Pretty hard. I was having trouble running the hills. The open areas were fine. I was able to find grassy spots to run in and avoid the mud but the inner portion of the run, on the single track, which was most of the run was getting tuff. I was sliding not only on the down hills but also on the up hills. Sometimes I would fall, other times I was able to catch myself. We would see our friends from Clinton or the 20 something boys and that would keep my mind off of my constant tumbling but not for long. I have to say, to my credit, at least I tried to keep the mud even. If I slipped to my right, the next time I would slip to my left and this wasn't planned. Fate was kind enough to at least keep my muddiness balanced, since my body had very little balance left. We were about a mile from ending our 3rd loop and nature called. This is a picture of the most disgusting outhouse in Illinois. You can thank me when you see me for not taking pictures of the inside. Caroline kept asking me if it was really that bad and had to stop saying yes because I started to gag. She attempted to go just outside this lovely building and in the bushes but stopped just short because a very creepy runner was watching. I'm getting freaked out just writing about it. Ok, why would I document such a thing. I don't know. That's just something weird that I do I guess.

We didn't stop after loop 3 we kept going. Loop 4 was a lot of walking. A LOT. Technically this was called a trail run but actually it was a trail run, trot, jog, slip and fall, walk, fall, ski, fall, pick yourself up, fall. Ok, maybe I wasn't falling that much. It just felt that way. Doubts were starting to scream at me. It was getting dark. It was starting to rain again. I looked up to the sky and said "Please, GOD, please could you just stop the rain. And much to my surprise, the rain stopped. WOW, I said outloud and Caroline was laughing. But that quickly it started again. I forgot to ask for a couple of hours of no rain. I was no wondering if I had a finish in me. It was a painful thought. Even more painful than what I was feeling in my legs. How was I going to manage staying up right while running in the dark? There was no traction left on the course, everything was had to come from me now and I didn't have much left in the tank, physically or mentally. Ok, loose the thought just keep going I told myself. We came up on the Micheal Bird Gorge, or what ever that area was called and there were runners behind us. They started talking about why this area had that particular name. They talked about a local man who ran the race several years ago and while he was running a tree fell on him. Ok, my mind stopped right then. I couldn't help but yell out, was he ok? Oh yeah, they said, he was fine. The paramedics came and helped him, he was fine. UGH!

We stopped at the aid stations and had some chicken noodle soup and jelly beans. It tasted good since the only thing I had been eating up until this point were gels, power bars, and water. I even had some Coca Cola. And I managed to digest it just fine. Ok, note to self can't drink on the bike, can drink on the runs. In the picture is one of the very nice volunteers at this aid station. Thanks to him this place had the good jelly beans! There were also some great women helping out that were so encouraging. They were out in this miserable weather all day, just standing and getting the runners what ever they needed. I can't say enough good things about the volunteers at this run.

The soup and coke helped. I felt like life was pumped back into me. I was able to stay up right thru the creek crossing and for a ways after that. I knew what was coming though and I was really nervous. This part of the run was what was making me nervous when I thought about running in the dark. The single track got very narrow in spots. There was just a step or two before it would just drop off. I started to fall again. To make it worse the song Falling Slowly started in my head and I couldn't get rid of it. UGH!!! What am I doing here? We reached the rope climb. Did I mention there's a part of the run that is so steep that you have to pull yourself up by a rope? The first two times I felt good. The last loop I was tiring and was shocked when I was feeling my arms give. A group of experienced trail guys were making their way up when we reached it. Everyone went one at a time. Caroline then took her turn. Then I went. As I was climbing I saw a man from the corner of my eye get on all fours and scale the mud. My concentration was blown. I lost my footing and I smashed into the ravine. I was mad, my ego was completely blown to pieces and this monkey man passes me and all I can say is wow. When I'm thinking I was to say, Um do you mind, can you see I'm in front of you, wait your TURN!!! Then he has the absolute nerve to snap at me - what did you say? All I could say was - I said wow. Oh, thanks he says and keeps going as I'm now swinging from side to side. I wanted to just go home.

I was able to keep it together until the last aid station. Then I said outloud what I had been thinking since this loop started. That I was worried I couldn't finish. Caroline said some positive words of encouragement but I needed to talk to Scott. I was thinking he would probably kill me if he saw what I was running in. Instead he told me to just keep going. One foot in front of the other, or something like that. I hung up and started to cry. Not sob or even weep but tears were falling. I was hoping we would see Dennis. Don't ask me why I thought that would make me feel better but I was hoping. We never did see him. Then Caroline started having doubts herself. Scott called me back. I was so glad to hear him. If you want to come home then come home he said. He didn't call it quiting but I we both knew that's what I would be doing. But I'm not a quitter. He then said to try and finish. Get a hotel room and spend the night and then come home early the next morning. I told him I would call him and let him know what I was going to do when we got to the loop start.

You know, this post is going on forever. I ended up talking to the race director. He told me I had until 4:00 p.m. on Sunday to finish the race. He told me if I wanted to finish that night I could, he would send someone out with me to make sure things were ok. I looked at Caroline and called Scott and made the decision to spend the night and finish in the morning. The RD then told me that that was a good call. The trail conditions were "TREACHEROUS". Some of the experienced runners who signed up for 100 miles dropped down to 50 miles. He then said you better come back and finish. As I walked away from him I told him he would see me in the morning.

He did see me in the morning. Much cleaner and rested. It was hard getting out there. My legs were stiff but I managed to run/walk 10 miles to the finish. The volunteer who looked like Billy Bob Thorton was there saying how great the trail was this morning and that things dry up quickly in there. He was right. I only fell a couple of times. It's amazing how things look so different when it's not raining and the sun is shining. When your belly is full and you feel clean. All the pictures in this report were taken Sunday morning. I would have lost the camera on Saturday for sure!

This was a humbling experience. When I finished the Clinton 30 miler I felt so good. I actually had the notion that I was born to run trail races. This brought me back to reality. I will go back to McNaughton. Heck, I hope it's muddy, sticky, rainy, wet, just plain ick, just like it was on Saturday. Just like the waves last summer, on lake Michigan. I will figure it out and I will conquer. Life is meant to be lived and I sure lived it at McNaughton.

Here's some more pics that I took of the great volunteers.

Volunteers at the last aid stations.

The RD is in red - center, "Billy Bob Thorton" guy is in yellow and in blue and red is just a nice guy.

The man in the carhart's is Larry the cook. He's been helping out since the beginning. He's not a runner just someone who thought he could make a difference for a couple hundred runners. He starts cooking Friday night and doesn't leave until the last runner does. The man in blue is Rudy. He just thought he would come out and enjoy the day.

This young man is from Ohio and ran 150 miles. He passed me and Caroline on Sunday morning. He was running as if he just started a nice easy run. He made it look effortless and was extremely modest about his accomplishment at the finish.

And this is Dennis / Runbubbarun. He ran 100 miles. He finished 45 minutes after I did. I was afraid to tell him about the long rest I took. You didn't DNF did ya - he asked, you got the buckle? Yup, I got the buckle. Thank you dear friend and dear Caroline for helping me get thru yet another chapter in my life. Or has my tri-mate Tom F. put it to me in a voice mail. I just checked one more thing off my bucket list..... or did I. :)


RunBubbaRun said...

Eventhough it didn't totally worked out the way you wanted to.

You got it done within the time allowed and went cracker barrel, BONUS..

I'm proud of you.. Like the word "trecherous" and it was out there.

That is why I luv MCnaughton. You know I'll see you there next year.

704 Studio said...

This is an awesome race report.

Some of the stuff that happened to you was Bukowskiesque, in the sense that it seems so absurd that I could not help laughing (the monkey man story, the outhouse with the creepy runner, and Larry Bird having a tree fall on him!)

I am planning to run my 1st 50 mile race at McNaughton in 2009, and am reading all the reports I can find - thanks for such a thorough description and for including pics - it really gives me a sense that it is going to be a war!