ultra runners do it in the rain

April 11, 2014 at 12:22 pm 3 comments

after my less than stellar run at the citrus trail 50k, i was determined to redeem myself at the croom fools run. this time i was ready. nutrition stocked, attire pre-selected and sleep somehow found the night before. the 50k didn’t start until 7 a.m. but i wanted to see the 50 milers off so i made sure i got up to croom by about 5:30 a.m. ~ the added bonus being i wouldn’t have another cluster rush chaos like the morning i had a croom zoom. while waiting, i managed to spot joey from road to 100. we’ve been reading each other’s blogs for awhile now and it’s always so cool to meet the person behind the written words. we chatted for a few before he lined up with the rest of the 50 milers and i saw them all off into the darkness then relished in the time i had to actually relax and prep before start. drop bag: check. potty break: check check check (nervous energy). hydration: check! by the time we started i was almost bored and definitely a little antsy.

the first 20 miles or so were relatively unimpressive. of course 20 miles in itself is anything but unimpressive but really there isn’t much to write about besides the missed turn a bunch of us took in the first mile and the extra quarter mile i did because of it! but beyond that i just ran. my pace was far from fast but my splits were consistent and i was right where i wanted to be. i chatted with friends and strangers along the way, stayed hydrated and took a few minutes at aid stations to be sure i ate and kept my sodium and potassium levels in check. smart running. what a concept!

i knew it was coming. there was no denying the weather report that had been looming all week. and at mile 21 the rain drops started. but it was a light rain. cool. refreshing. there’s something truly invigorating about running in the woods in the rain but  i could hear distant rumblings of what was to come and i could only hope that it would stay at bay long enough for me to cross the finish line.

but around mile 26 it hit. hard. what had seemed so far off was almost instantly upon us and the clap of thunder was so loud i jumped! the skies opened and the heavens let loose with what can only be described as a torrential downpour. the rain itself was incredible. in a matter of minutes the woods were like rivers. literally. rain so heavy that ankle deep water was gushing through the twists and turns of the trails. i tried side stepping it at first but it was in vain. the lightning was too close for comfort. the thunder nerve rattling. but there was no turning back or ducking under cover for safety. there was only going forward.

i was alone in the woods. not another runner in sight behind or ahead. and all i could think of was my daughter. her grandmother on her dad’s side was about to lose a long exhausting battle with cancer. had been home with hospice for weeks. and i silently prayed that she not have to deal with losing me to a lightning strike the same day her grandmother finally succumbed to the cancer that had riddled her entire body.

around mile 28 i finally saw another runner. she was ahead of me and i inched closer. i wanted someone there. if only to ensure i wasn’t alone when i got hit by lightning and went down on the trail. morbid thoughts. yes. but i couldn’t get the realistic possibility out of my head. i could feel her pushing the pace with either a desire to not get passed or an eagerness to get out of the woods that mirrored my own. we stayed that way for miles, trudging through what had become in places nearly calf deep water. i caught up to her just as we got to the final hill, a half mile of incline littered with roots and rocks, and i warned her of the need for caution. everything was underwater. white, clay runoff from the dirt road above that cascaded down more like a waterfall than a running trail. there was no visual of the obstacles our feet needed to rise above and she told me to pass her so she could walk it. “i’m not that competitive,” she said. “i felt like the fox and the hound with you staying on my heels the last few miles but i give. you go ahead.” but i couldn’t bring myself to go further than a few steps in front and i pushed her to run it as i navigated a trail i knew so well. she stayed with me until the last 50 feet or so and when i reached the top i stopped. and i waited. “we run this in together,” i said. “side by side.” and we did at 5:41:46. nine minutes shy of a pr but 30 minutes better than citrus two weeks before.

i found out later that we were under tornado warnings much of the run. the severity of the weather was no joke. but as i hovered under a canopy trying to stay warm, i watched as 50 mile runners came in from that second loop and heard the offer on the table from the RD. “if you want to call it quits, i’ll give you a 50k finish versus a dnf”. an offer i think hope i would have jumped at in a heartbeat. but runner after runner simply grabbed a little nutrition, refreshed hydration and headed right back into the woods for another 16 miles of mother nature’s wrath.

by nature ultra runners are likely a little nuts. we have to be to push our minds, bodies and souls to the limits that we do. but that day gave new meaning to the race name. we were, no doubt. croom fools!

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Entry filed under: racing, running. Tags: , , , , .

job hopper 50 memories of me

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Kristin  |  April 11, 2014 at 4:26 pm

    Wow, so cool and inspiring!! XOXO!!! 😉

    Reply
  • 2. Joey  |  April 15, 2014 at 11:08 am

    Looking back, running on the flooded trails was pretty fun. I’d much rather those conditions than blazing heat. Great time! And awesome it was 30 minutes better than a previous race

    Reply
  • 3. The Running Thriver  |  April 17, 2014 at 7:03 pm

    Love the title 😉

    Reply

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the best of times

5k pr ~ 24:23
10k pr ~ 52:49
half marathon pr ~ 1:55:10
marathon pr ~ 4:10:41
half ironman pr ~ 5:57:50
50k pr ~ 5:33:23
50-mile pr ~ 11:32:39

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