“It’s not the load that breaks you down. It’s the way you carry it.” Lena Horne
This could not better describe my thoughts heading into the month of March. The highs and lows of life were all culmunating the week I was due to race Antelope Island 50 Mile. Let me back up just a tad and give some light as to why I would even make the trip to Salt Lake to race this in the first place, when my original race schedule had given me plenty of good chances to run within a few hours of my house. It’s pretty simple really- when family is in need, you figure out how to get there and help. JB and I found this race as a good “excuse” to see my Aunt (sick with Stage 4 non-small cell Lung cancer) and Uncle who live in Park City. We told them we would be in town and could come by and help with anything they needed- household chores, cheering up, running errands, etc. So plans went into play to get out there and accomplish as much as we could.
We decided to take a road trip and use an R.V. as our home on wheels for 5 days to be out in Utah. This was mistake number 3 in the line up of decisions. Mistakes 1 and 2 were my complete ignorance for my own health- anemia (extremely low ferritin levels and fatigue that I mistook for dieting) and a sinus infection (I popped day 3 of the Z-pack on the morning of the race). I would have just bailed on the whole thing, but knew that my family was looking forward to our help. So onward we went, with our 18 month old in the Griswold family R.V. Turns out Eva gets car sick- she puked on me and on JB about 3 times on our 8 hour drive to Salt Lake. She also doesn’t sleep well in R.V.’s. as Thursday evening’s total of 2 hours of sleep proved. Did I mention how much I love R.V.’s? They are pure joy machines.
Anyway, I literally picked up my race packet on Friday in Leighton, Utah (about 30 minutes from SLC) smelling like vomit and on the verge of calling the whole thing off. But, as stubborn as I am, that would never happen.
JB insisted we get a hotel so I had a chance of getting some sleep before the run. An ambien-induced 6 hours of sleep later, it was race morning. We packed up Eva, the dog Luna and got into the Griswold machine at 5:00am to get out the race start. I gave Eva a bottle, handed her to JB and told him I was most definitely dropping by mile 19 as I knew I would see him there in a few hours. He said okay, have a good run, and we both laughed a good one.
I lined up next to a thin blonde runner, who turned out to be unbelivably fast. Bethany Lewis, the Grand Canyon R2R2R FKT holder and apparently just the nicest lady ever, gave me a hello and good morning and then proceeded to kick my ass for the next 7 hours. I’d like to say I could have hung with her, but this day was doomed from the get go and I just breathed in what I could, when I could.
The race takes you all around the most gorgeous, picturesque landscape of rolling hills, a few sharp peaks, long tall grasses and of course, views of roaming buffalo set against the still Salt Lake. The climbing is done all in the front of the race- you get a good 3500 feet within 18 miles and then just little rollers and inclinations from there with an out and back for about 19 miles. This is a fast, fairly flat course, that is good for someone who likes this sort of running. And by that I mean, someone who wants to run non-stop for the whole 50 miles. I am a climber and haven’t run so much in a race, ever. I certainly thought I was capable of about 7:15-7:25 for this course, but as the aid station manager at mile 25 will tell you, I spent about 10 minutes with him trying to drop out. I tried this antic again at the next aid station at mile 32, until I saw JB hanging out with Roch Horton, who just cheered me up enough to keep me going. I knew Bethany was pulling away from me and I had no desire to chase her down. I truly was just hanging on. I found strength from all these outside sources and that was unusual for me. And no, JB wasn’t going to let me quit anyway. I could see it on his face. He met me at mile 44 with Eva in the jogging stroller and Luna to pace me for a mile and gave me enough of a boost to get to the end. The guilt alone was enough to keep going.
It was a day of grit. I learned a ton about myself and ended up with a decent finish. 2nd woman in 7:42, 5th overall. I went under the old course record and felt okay about that, until I talked with Bethany (who just blazed to a new course record in 6:55) only 20 minutes off her husband’s (Ben Lewis) winning time of 6:34ish. They are super nice people with a darling little girl, Ada, born only a day apart from Eva- isn’t that funny. Mommy power on the trails- I love it. She and I will meet up again at Miwok, where I hope to have a better day.
The following day after the race, Eva ended up in urgent care as she got my sinus infection but it went to her lungs. So while we did get to see my Aunt, who is probably the most courageous woman I know, it was shortened by a few days to get Eva home to get her well.
I have recovered from the sinus infection and took it very easy on my recovery from this race. I am taking Floradix iron supplement and will just listen to my body until my iron stores build up a bit more. I also got some exciting news that Drymax Socks and GU Energy Labs will be sponsoring mer. Thank God because I love using both brands, spend loads of money on that stuff and they are really second to none.
Now I will focus on Miwok and getting back to really hilly training and just balancing health and sleep which to me, are just as important as the running itself.