Sunday, June 21, 2009

Angel Island 50K Story

Some people call it a "race report" and you may wonder why I call it a "story." That's because I don't really feel like I'm racing when I do these events. I prefer to tell a story, rather than write a report.

I was up at 5:00 a.m. and out the door at 5:50. I picked up Theresa at 6:20 and we were in Tiburon by 7:00. We purchased our ferry tickets, picked up our bib numbers and then stood and watched everyone else arrive. We applied our sunscreen and waited to get on the ferry for the 7:50 departure. The day was unseasonably bright and sunny with no wind to speak of at all. This made me very happy. I was thrilled it wasn't freezing.

Angel Island from the ferry
Me and Theresa on the ferry ride
We barely had enough time to go potty and drop off our bags before having to strip down and line up with the 25K runners and the other 36 50K runners. When I was waiting in line to use the bathroom, I heard Wendell say "nine minutes to start time." It was down to four minutes when we got over to the start. As usual, I lined up in the back of the pack and we took off at exactly 8:30. I didn't carry my camera for the first half of the run and all of the pictures from here on out were taken by Theresa because I "didn't feel like taking any pictures." This will all be explained later. ;)
The 50K consists of three different loops, completed two times. Each loop starts off with (typical PCTR fashion) a steep climb, however, this climb was steps. Lots of steps!! These steps had to be climbed six freakin' times.

The first loop was 9K. It ran along the perimeter of the island. It was flat with some rolling hills, and paved. Definitely runnable. We averaged a 12 minute/mile pace for the first loop, finishing in 1:15. My IT band started flaring up so I rubbed some Arnica into it and popped a couple Ibuprofen. We refilled our water bottles at the aid station, I grabbed a few bloks and we took off for the second loop which was 8K.


This was the middle loop and it was much more enjoyable than the perimeter loop. It was mostly single track dirt trails. Not a lot of the views like the first loop but the trails were beautiful. I felt like I was back home at Garin. If I wasn't doing 50K, I for sure would have been running all of this. I was so afraid I would crash and burn later if I ran so much, so early. So, we mostly hiked the uphill portions and saved the running for the flat and downhills. This loop took 1:15 also. I rubbed some more Arnica into both legs now, popped some more Ibuprofen, and again, refilled my water bottle, grabbed a couple of bloks and took off.



The third loop was called the summit loop. It was 8K and climbed to the top of Mt. Livermore. It too was mostly single track dirt trails. After getting to the top, we ran back down to the aid station and our time was 3:30. So far so good. We may finish in 7 hours! This time I drank some liquid electrolyte and grabbed a handful of banana chips I had brought from home. I took my knee brace out of my bag and had to decide which leg to put it on because both IT bands were SCREAMING at me. Funny Sarah said, "put it on the one that hurts less, it may still be able to be saved." Thanks! I put it on and hobbled away. We walked over to the bathroom while I shoveled the banana chips into my mouth and I think I had a cup of Coke handed to me by Theresa. Off we went for the second time around the paved perimeter loop.

The top of Mt. Livermore (for the last time)
So here we go, 16 miles behind us, 16 in front of us. We get to the top of the steps and begin running. I couldn't believe my IT bands were hurting so much. I started walking/running the best I could. Theresa was doing everything she could to keep me going. God bless this girl! I just kept moving forward. Running when I could and power walking when I couldn't. This fourth loop was the WORST. I was in so much pain because of the flat pavement and now everything was sloshing around in my stomach. It was during this loop that the photo of me laying on the road was taken. Theresa was talking away and I just decided I didn't want to move forward anymore. I just wanted to lay down, so I did. Hmph! When I would run, I would feel like I was going to throw up. Theresa kept telling me to walk 15 steps, then run for 100. Walk 15, run 100. I tried so hard to just get through this damn loop. Finally, mile 20 came. My stomach couldn't stand it anymore. I walked over to the side of the road and threw up. Aaaaah, mucho better. We got off the paved road and back onto dirt. I realized at this point we only had 10 more miles to go. That's not very much further, considering how far we had gone. When we got to the aid station this time around, I didn't want anything AT ALL. Theresa grabbed some Clif Bloks and fed them to me the entire fifth loop. I was in an extreme amount of pain but I kept listening to Theresa, encouraging me to run when I could. We just needed to make it through this loop before 6-1/2 hours. We made it in 6:20. I stretched my IT bands at the aid station, switched my brace to the other leg, took two more Ibuprofen and went up those steps for the very last time. You have no idea how badly I wanted to spit on every single step as I walked over it.
We were both so happy, we only had five more miles to go. I could really do this. We were actually going to finish an ultramarathon today! We climbed to the top of Mt. Livermore faster than we did the first time (37 minutes vs. 45 minutes), snapped a few photos and ran down to the finish line. We knew we were the last ones on the course because the sweepers were just steps behind us. LOL They were trying not to be too obvious but they were. We finished in 7:46 and had the honor of being last on the 50K results page.
At mile 28, Theresa finally said she was tired. She did not complain once, all day. She very easily could have finished the entire race in under 6:30 but she stuck right with me. She said she had signed up to complete the 50K with me and that's what she was going to do. She took all the pictures because she knows how much my blog followers like to see photos. Isn't that sweet? I actually said, "I'll just put a link to Angel Island's homepage for them to look at." She wouldn't accept that.
After the finish
Soaking our legs in the cold bay water
I learned a lot during this run. I need to run on flat ground more often. I should have run a little bit this past week. I can't avoid pavement any longer. I need to stretch and use a foam roller, even when I'm not hurting. I seriously need do strength training. I am stronger (mentally and physically) than I thought I was. I am stubborn. I am tough.
You never know how valuable a person is going to be when they first enter your life. It may take years to find out or you might get lucky and find out in a short period of time. Thanks a million, Theresa! I hope I will be there if you ever need someone to bark at you for hours on end!
Until later.............

27 comments:

Victoria said...

Way to go, girl! I absolutely love the picture of you lying on the pavement-- that is a true classic. I'm glad you finished and that you enjoyed yourself (well, except for the knee hurting part). Now go ice and do some strengthening!! :-)

MJ said...

Great story.... well done both of you! Theresa sounds like a great friend.

The foam roller will do wonders for your ITBs - I use it all the time.

Cheers!

theresa said...

No need to thank me. I wish I were a better pacer/crew person for you! Maybe the nauseous tummy could have been prevented! I never thought crewing or pacing would be easy but, man, it's harder than it looks!

Congratulations to you on reaching another one of your goals! Also, thank you for being an inspiration and a motivator to get people out on the trails and to set higher goals. If it weren't for people like you, Toni, and some of my other running friends, I wouldn't have ever imagined doing 50K or marathon trail races. So, thank YOU!

Thank you too, for blogging about this stuff! If it weren't for you and Toni, I'd have no documentation of these wonderful trail runs!

toni said...

great race story! loved it... and yes, theresa is the best running buddy... she saved me at diablo marathon... and im sure many many more races in the future =)

great job ladies.... on to the next!

theresa said...

Oh, and I'm sorry to all of the Single Track Junkie readers out there! I'm not a person who normally takes a lot of pictures of scenery nor runs with a camera so I didn't quite capture the true beauty seen from and on the island. Being able to see the Bay, Golden Gate, and Richmond bridges. Seeing SF and Tiburon and the East Bay. Seeing the blue water and all of the sailboats. It was all stunning. I guess you'll all just have to come out and do a race here to see it! :-)
Kudos go to those runners who are able to take great pics during these events! You help us appreciate the beauty of life.

Drs. Cynthia and David said...

Congrats on finishing! I'm sorry you had to suffer so much. I've been blessed never to get nauseous in a race (it happens in training though if I don't eat something when I get hungry). I think salty things help. And IT band problems too! It's hard enough keeping free of blisters, sprained ankles and injured muscles! I am impressed that you hung in there!

Theresa is truly a great friend! You are blessed.

Cynthia

Missy said...

I love the story. What a keeper, we like Theresa;) Now YOU go sit in an ice bath and get a massage, stat!

Congratulations.

AnthonyP said...

Well done ! Congrats !

Dan said...

Nice job finishing the race even though you felt so crappy. Enjoyed the "story" and the photos.
Thanks!

Mark said...

Great story! Congrats!

Marlene said...

Love the story! It sounds like you had a wonderful friend by your side ot get you through the tough miles, but it took a lot of strength in your own body & mind to complete this as well. Congratulations!

[Also, I thought for sure the photo you posted yesterday was taken after the race as a joke... but you actually laid down on the pavement during the race! I can only imagine the exhaustion.]

Lisa Slow-n-Steady said...

What an awesome adventure. I'm glad Theresa took some photos, a "story" from you just wouldn't be complete without the photos that go along.

You are strong. I'm heading to the gym this morning for strength and stretching. I agree that it's necessary.

Hope you can get your ITBs to calmm down soon.

chris mcpeake said...

Congrats on your first ultra. Way to tough it out. Way too go

Bong said...

Enjoyed reading your race report and the pics. Wish I can be as gutsy and mentally tough like you when I try for my first marathon in September. You're blessed also to have a true and loyal friend in Theresa, who stayed on your side the whole race. Can she be my pacer,ha ha,just kidding.

Mel-2nd Chances said...

what a wonderful story, and like Marlene, figured that pic was taken after the race! LOL Getting through your first ultra and in that much pain speaks volumes of your strength and determination... you obviously are stronger than you thought. Amazing. Glad you have such a great friend that was there for you too. Congrats to you both!

René said...

Congrats on your first ultra! I'm sure the next one will be a piece of cake.

RunningLaur said...

Congratulations on your first ultra! You really pushed through some tough stuff, and have a great story to tell, on top of your amazing accomplishment.

I know you'll pay forward aloof that fantastic help too - you've got such a great group of running friends!

Looney said...

Awesome!

Kristin said...

That's crazy! I can' believe you run as far as you do, you should be so proud of yourself! I hope you get to feeling better soon. :)

aron said...

what a great story and AWESOME job for pushing through and finishing that ultra!! you are amazing girl! congratssss!

Jen said...

That is awesome! Congratulations! I love reading stories like these! :)

Mike Scammon said...

Congratulations on a great run!

Stephanie Gehrsitz said...

Yay, you did it!!! You are no longer an ultra virgin.

Dave - Atlanta Trails said...

Way to tough out that run! IT band issues can you feel like a running tin man. Good job!

Rick Gaston said...

6 Freaking Times! Haha, yeah it gets to be a bear by about the 4th time. Wow you had a star pacer out there. Way to go Theresa. You guys rocked it together. Way to dig real deep and keep plugging away. Yes, foam roller and strength training will surely help. I battled IT for 7 years. Nice one lady, you are an ultra gal!

Lily on the Road said...

WOW, OMG, Where have I been that I've missed your last three posts, WOW, freeking WOW!

and we do this for fun? Truly you and Theresa are hard core and what a GREAT friend Theresa is, amazing story.

Congratulations to both you and Theresa....

Hope you're up and attem again and I was wondering how the knee brace felt when you were out there? I'm just asking because I haven't run with mine yet...

Judi said...

theresa sounds like tha altimate running buddy. what a good good friend. how lucky you are.

you HAVE to get to a chiro. IT band problems all stem from the spine. and foam rolling and massage. hope your knees are feeling better.

congrats on finishing under the 8 hours!!