Sunday, April 30, 2017

Heartland 50 (the 50K that is)

WARNING:  This will be long but it was a long race so settle in:)

This was the first time the Heartland 50 held a 50K in conjunction to the 50 miler.  We picked up our packets the night before and stayed in a hotel around 30 minutes away.  We got up at 4 am, immediately ate, and checked the weather.

Not good.  And all of that was moving in a northerly fashion, so straight towards where we would be racing.  As we were driving to the start, the rain was coming down hard, and the lightening was crazy.  I honestly thought they would cancel or postpone.  I watched as other races were delayed and canceled, and felt really bad for those runners. 

Our RD felt it best to get the show on the road.  It appeared that the storms would subside around 11 am.  We were starting at 6 am sharp and with the storms, it was pitch black outside.  Wouldn't you know my damn headlamp was dead, and I couldn't find my other headlamp.  I begged Mel to at least stay with me till the sun started coming up, which she did.  We started at an abandoned school (this place was a ghost town, no joke) and then headed out on the gravel.  Under good conditions, I think this course would be amazing to do and honestly, I think I am going to have to do this race again next year to make sure of that theory.  

Once we got on the gravel, we were treated to spectacular views of the flint hills, which mostly had been burned and re populated by the greenest grass I have ever seen.  We saw cows and horses dotting the fields, that is when we could look up.  The wind gusts started immediately and were to our north and east.  Most of the run we had a cross wind, but a few times we had small legs that went directly into the wind (especially at the end).  Mel was feeling good, so she broke off and I settled into a nice rhythm.  I ran periodically with several other runners and we talked about various things.  We went over two cattle guards that totally freaked me out, but I made it over.  On one, the spacing was so far apart my whole foot almost fit between the bars, plus they were super wet and slippery.    I had to duck behind one of the very few trees to pee pretty soon after we started.  Let me tell you, it is very hard to get my pants back up over a wet butt LOL!  I decided to go with shorts from gypsy runner,  compression sleeves from pro compression, a tech tee from target, arm warmers from gypsy runner, my Salomon jacket, my mohair balega socks, and a hat and my mizuno gloves, and temp wise, I felt fine other than my hands.  

The lightening was pretty intense on and off for the first two hours or so.  We had an unmanned aid station first and then a manned aid station around mile 7.5-8.  We were supposed to check in and out of every station.  I hit the porta potty right before the tent and then popped out and never checked in.  It hit me about 2 miles later that I never checked in or out and I was worried that they were going to DQ me!!!!!  I found out on my way back, but didn't notice then that someone or some persons filled the porta potty full of fish guts and heads.  GROSS!

The turn around at 15 miles had a manned station, so all I thought about was getting dry clothes and dry shoes.  My feet were soaked, but surprisingly not feeling like they were chafing.  I also had coated myself with trail toes, and didn't feel any chafing in any of the normal areas.  I had seen mel a few times on the course, but suddenly I was right behind her, which is not normal.  She was so over being cold, wet, and fighting the course.  I reassured her we could do it, and we would do the rest together.  We got to the aid station and I took on some flat coke and tried some run gum.  I decided not to change anything, because whatever I changed into would immediately become wet, so it wasn't worth the effort.  My feet felt oddly fine, so didn't even change socks.  The only thing I regret not doing was reapplying my trail toes.  In the end, I still had minimal chafing in my normal areas (had some abnormal areas chafe), so big win to trail toes.  

Between the storms, the crazy side way rain and hail that kept somehow landing in my ear (another mistake, need to cover my ears), Mel and I had to make the best of it.  We walked the ups, ran the downs, and sang silly songs to keep ourselves sane.  The trail had flooded in several places on the way back and suddenly we had multiple "water crossings".  One had rushing water that was going to the other side and into a stream, and we had no clue how deep it was.  The guy in front of us about a half a mile stopped and turned to watch us.  He later said he was afraid we would be swept away and he wanted to make sure we made it across.  I am SO glad we were together and could go across together.  We locked arms and waded out into it.  It was only up to my knees, but later runners said it was waist deep by the time they came across. 

Towards the end, the wind was really starting to get to me.  I am so glad i had Mel there with me to keep me running some.  We would pick land marks and run to them and then walk to another.  Kind of like fartleks.  At one point, I had to pee and we were still on the trail.  I got my shorts down no problem, peed, and when I got up, I couldn't get my shorts up.  They were so wet, they were rolled and my phone was still in my pocket which was complicating things.  Mel, who couldn't feel or use her hands, managed to help me by hooking her clawed hands in my shorts and yanking them up.  We looked like quite the comedy routine I am sure!  All we could do was laugh at each other at that point.  

We finally made it to the last aid station that was manned, and found it to be a muddy crazy mess.  The wind had blown over the tents and most of the food was lost. I should mention that I had been using my honey waffle stingers every hour, no problem, but was getting to the point of being really hungry for real food.  I was so hoping for a PB sandwich or something filling, but the best they had after the accident was pringles and some cookies, so I took the pringles.  Mel and I ate those pringles like they were the best things EVER!  I also had some coke, but it wasn't flat, so I burped it for a while.  

Fast forward to the very end because you get the picture, rain, wind, tiny hail and more rain.  When we finally got to the pavement and turned to home, PURE 30 mph WIND in our faces.  I seriously felt like I was running in place. I had to keep my head down to keep my hat on but still look up to see traffic, since we were on a main road.   Mel is great at running into the wind being a very strong runner, so she took off. I think we finished a minute apart and I think, due to all of the runners that dropped that we were 4th and 5th place women, but won't know till we see the results.  I knew it was bad when we saw the parking lot at the school we started at, and it was mostly empty.  From what we heard, most people dropped at the 15 mile aid station.  A few of the 50 milers dropped down to the 50 K option, but lots just threw in the towel and said no thank you.  Honestly, that was the hardest thing I have ever done and probably would not have been able to finish as strong as I did without Mel.

After we finished, Mel and I quickly changed out of our wet clothes, as we couldn't stop shivering, so no after photos.  Although, us trying to wrangle off wet compressions sleeves in the women's bathroom was a pretty good comedy routine that would have made a lot of people laugh.  The RD fixed us the BEST cheese burgers ever, and we ate and had beer and talked till our drop bags made it back to headquarters.  Most runners had similar stories to ours about the conditions.  We got to see the first place 50 mile man and woman cross the finish.  I have SO much respect for those runners.  The male 1st place actually finished right after I did. WOW!!!!! We were all sore and kind of walking around like zombies, but happy zombies.  I so love my finisher's award.  Medals are cool but this is the COOLEST!

Today as I write this, I am sore in my right hip and my left shin, and down into my left ankle.  I chafed between my legs, probably because I could not get my shorts and undies back up where they belonged, and couldn't honestly feel where they were.    I noticed several of the males complained of chafing between their legs, so I guess I can sympathize with them.  I will never forget this experience and will be back next year for sure!!! I can't wait to see the pics the professional photographer got!!!! A huge thank you to all of the volunteers  that stood out in the rain and cold for multiple hours.  I know how hard it is, but we runners really, really appreciate the good attitudes and help, especially when my hands wouldn't work.  Thank you to the RD for cooking for us post race and worrying about us!  I don't envy you having to make a decision about go or no go.  Thank you to other runners for being so kind and supportive.  We had so much fun post race just sitting and talking.  I honestly can't wait to do this race again next year!  Do it with me, you won't be disappointed, let's just all hope for better weather!

1 comment:

  1. I will totally do this again with you. Come hell or high water. Lol. Pun intended. So worth all of it.