16, 18..whatever it takes

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Anyone else love the movie, Mr Mom, growing up?  I loved it.  The part where Jack is attempting a home renovation and is asked about how he’s going to wire the new room- “You gonna make it all 220? Yea, 220, 221.  Whatever it takes.”  That’s kind of how I felt Saturday night at the Full Moon 25K.

Keith and I woke up at 5 AM Saturday morning to head to Forest City for the Mightymite Tri which he and several others from Star Runners competed in (and, i must add, they all did awesome!).  Once we were done there, we headed on to West Little Rock where we checked in to our room.  We hadn’t eaten anything yet and knew we needed real food so we dropped our stuff and headed straight to Macaroni Grill for some pasta.  Our goal was to be back in the hotel by 3 PM so we could possibly nap before needing to get ready and head to the race.  I think we were in the room by 3:05, maybe a little too full of pasta!  We napped for about 30 minutes, got up to put together all our hydration and fuel stuff, and headed on to the race site at 5.

Packet pick up started at 6 PM and the race was about an hour away from the hotel.  We got several emails from the RD about there being no place to park other than the 2 lane highway so, first come, first serve.  The planner in me prevailed so we were there right at 6, parked about 20 cars down…perfect.  We got our stuff, milled around a bit, and went back to the car to wait.  What do you do for 90 minutes before a race?  Well, eat pop-tarts and listen to 80’s rap, of course!

We hung out in the car for a while, mainly to have a place to sit, and once it was time to move on, we loaded up with bug spray and headed to the start.  The start was buzzing!  It had the feel of a bonfire but with a lot of compression!  With 5 minutes to go, I told Keith I felt like I needed to go to the bathroom.  I debating running off during all of the instructions but I figured it was just “long run anxiety” and not a real need.  Ignore it and it will go away!

One of the things I love about trail races, we were just standing there and suddenly someone said, “oh, i think the race started” so off we went.  It started with a very slight uphill and then a fairly large downhill, all on pavement.  I’m guessing it was on pavement for about 15 minutes and then we turned into the trail.  As soon as I saw the rocks, I had visions of Hells Hills running through my mind but, thank goodness, these were runnable rocks!  We hit the trail as the sun was setting which was nice because we were able to get our feet under us before all the lights went out!

The trail was awesome.  It was mostly dirt with small gravel and some golf ball sized rocks. It certainly required a lot of concentration but it felt pretty good.  The first 5 or so miles was a constant climb with a few steep bumps on top of the climb and after about mile 5, we had a little downhill reprieve with some more rolling hills and then a pretty steep climb to the aid station.  I started to think my stomach wasn’t just “race anxiety” but maybe my food from earlier in the day just wasn’t wanting to stay where it was!  Uh oh.  I had fueled on schedule but was starting to have that feeling that there was no way I would be able to get anything else to go down.  The aid station volunteers were awesome and there was a pretty good selection but after my first sip of Mountain Dew, I knew I was in trouble.  I grabbed an orange slice and refilled my bottles with Heed and Keith and I headed back out.

We did a bit of a shuffle on the downhill getting out of the aid station as by this time it was pitch black and all you could see were little lights from the headlamps coming towards you and the small space in front of your feet.  We powered through the downhill and headed back into the next uphill and that’s when it hit me.  I was officially battling the stomach demons.  I found that if we were going uphill, my pasta wanted to come UP and if we were on a downhill, it wanted to go DOWN.  Not a good feeling on a rolling course!  Poor Keith had already done 1 race that day and was battling his own issues and then had to deal with my panic….was i going to have to throw up (i hate to throw up.  call 911 if i have a stomach bug!) or was i going to have to go squat in the woods (not my favorite thing to do even in the daylight, but in the pitch black dark?!?!)?  Tough dilemma for me so I decided I would not do either 🙂

I couldn’t fuel anymore after about 1 1/2 hours so I was worried about my energy but having Keith to run with made that part easy.  The trail was so cool and the noise from all of the frogs was nuts.  We saw 3 sets of beady eyes off the trail in the woods and, I tell ya, that will keep you on your toes too!  There were a few times I would cover my headlamp just to see if it really was as dark as it seemed.  It was!

We slowed a good bit on the steep climbs to keep my heart rate down which, in turn, would help to keep everything else down and then we would try to pick it up on the downhills.  I knew the race was somewhere around 15.5 miles because that’s the distance of a standard 25K but I really didn’t have any idea of the actual distance.  I remember a guy passing me at around 12 miles and saying, “well, we finally have a little less than 6 miles to go.”  Hmmm.  I know my math skills suck after about an hour of running but I felt pretty certain 12 + 6 was more than 15.5, by a good bit.  I asked Keith if I was doing the math right and he just said, “really, math right now?” so we just kind of left it there.

We finally hit pavement again and had one last good uphill, then onto the finish line!  Even with my stomach issues and Keith’s burning hip bursitis, we absolutely loved this race.  Even though I didn’t meet my goal, I didn’t care.  I had an idea of what I wanted to run it in before going in but I knew at the turn around that this wouldn’t happen.  Little did I know I was basing the time on an unknown distance anyway!

We went to grab a coke at the finish and the distance of the 25K was all the buzz.  I heard all the “well, my Garmin says…” talk so out of curiosity I asked a couple of people how far we had just run.  I got answers anywhere from 16.1 to 17.8.  This makes me laugh, in a giddy kind of way.  I LOVE that I did a race of unknown distance and I don’t even care (this goes against every ounce of my OCD personality!).  I LOVE that I didn’t know if I was running 15 or 18 and it didn’t matter to me.  I LOVE the vibe of this kind of race and this kind of attitude.  Who really cares how far we went.  The point is the experience, not the distance.  I’ll certainly do this race again.  16 miles, 18 miles…whatever it takes, I’m there.

(pre run picture above ; post run picture below)

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