Rock the Ridge 50 mile Race Report
April 30, 2016
It takes a while for me to sign on to a race. I’m not the type of person to dive into a cold pool or ocean. I put my feet in and think about it for a while before I make the plunge.
Rock the Ridge 50 mile is a fundraising race, and to be honest I almost did NOT do the race for that reason. I run for TEAM RWB and I put all of my efforts into racing, supporting, and raising funds for this organization. However, I learned that one of the race directors was also a member of TEAM RWB and that we could fundraise for TEAM RWB. I was IN! Thank you to those who donated to TEAM RWB on my behalf.
This is a great 50 mile race. It encourages many first timers because the course is not very technical. The course is run mainly on dirt roads. There are significant climbs but the overall elevation change is not brutal.
Chris, one of my best buddies agreed to crew for me. I honestly can’t remember if this is the 2nd or 3rd time she has supported me. At this point, I love her and she is a fixture at my races. I want someone on my crew that is unflappable. I want someone that will not flinch if I have a horrific blister or if I throw up. Chris is that woman. She is also very bossy. This is a great thing for me. I don’t need anyone to ask me how I am. I need someone to make me eat, make sure I’m drinking, check on my feet, and shove me out of the aid station. Although, I do wonder if Chris is more nuts than me. Crewing is HARD word. I believe it is harder than running the race at times.
I want to state emphatically that this is a GREAT race. It is one of the most beautiful courses. Runners have incredible views around every corner. There are some killer climbs and the dirt roads started to feel a bit like a treadmill after about 35 miles.
Here is where this race went wrong for me. And the moral of this report is: “do as I say, not as I do.” The week leading up to the race was a taper for me and I had a LOT of energy. I am a very hyper person and the lack of miles allowed me to get every to-do done and then some. But the day of the race, I had no appetite and that night my throat started to hurt. I haven’t been sick in a few years, so I didn’t think much of this initially. However, that night I couldn’t sleep because my throat hurt and I had a 1a wake up call to drive to New Paltz, NY.
I woke that morning with barely a voice. I officially had a cold. But, I took off anyway. Chris and I drove to New York. New Paltz is a quaint little town. However, it is surrounded by poverty. We stopped at an “open all hours gas station” to use the bathroom. It was open, but locked. And the gas station attendant wouldn’t give me the key to the restroom because “he didn’t want me to use drugs and shoot up in there.” I know as an ultra runner we don’t look at spiffy at triathletes in their matching outfits, but I didn’t think I looked like an active addict.
Chris and I then proceed to what we thought was the start line, but we were lost. Thank goodness my friend John was running the race too. We called him and he met us and led us to the starting area. Just in time.
I was feeling really rough at the 6am start. I really thought that a few miles in my congestion would clear and I would feel fine. I did feel just fine until about miles 25-30. I was on a great pace. I was able to eat and drink. I was surprised to notice that I was about 2 hours ahead of my goal pace. However, this is when the fever hit. I was unable to maintain a consistent body temperature and went from cold to hot within minutes. I also started coughing so badly that I would double over and it was hard to breathe. I figured out quickly that if I didn’t speak and kept my pace a bit slower I didn’t breathe hard and the coughing was minimal. I really tried NOT to talk about how sick I was. I made the decision to do the best I could and minimize the negative by focusing on the positive. I was able to eat and drink and overall my body felt ok.
This is when the “do as I say not as I do” comes in. I made a very conscious decision to continue with the race even though I was sick. In retrospect I shouldn’t have started the race. However, I am never sick so I really didn’t know where this was going. Even when the fever hit, I was determined to continue. This wasn’t the smartest decision.
I keep wondering why I kept going even though I felt so ill. There are many reasons: I kept moving forward because I could, a DNF (did not finish) was not something I wanted, and I was simply determined and very stubborn. I explored a level of mental toughness and suffering that I had never reached. I was broken. I have never been physically broken like that. All barriers came down. It was me and a dirt road. It was me and my fellow ultra runners. It was me and running and walking and knowing that I would reach an aid station and Chris waiting for me. I completed the race because I knew I could.
I am still processing this race. There are many feelings wrapped up in this experience. I am grateful and happy. I ran across the finish line and was greeted with cheers and smiles.
Chris and I didn’t hang around too long. I had a fever and I was shuffling the walk that you see runners doing after an endurance event. Chris drove home and she blasted the heat for me. I ate as much food as I could put into my fatigued body.
I paid the price for this and I was sick for a few days after the race. I am recovering now and eager to feel 100% because I have another race at the end of the month.
People sometimes call me crazy or wonderful or insane or great or wild. Maybe I am a combination of all of these things. I love ultrarunning. I love the community and I was to continue to run in the woods until I am not on this earth anymore. I am grateful for my family, my friends, my coach, and all of the people that keep me healthy. I am also grateful to Swiftwick and Fleet Feet West Hartford for supporting my running and keeping me well dressed and blister free. I am truly grateful to the Rock the Ridge Race Directors and volunteers. Job well done. They made the race a happy experience.