|I give Casey so much crap about his many (MANY) typos that it pains me to read “so seeing” instead of “wondering”.|
What can I say…I’m a slow learner. Or maybe it’s that I have a short memory. Whatever the case, I was actually poised to go into this year’s Skippo much more prepared than in previous years. I’ve got several long runs and one long hike in the past month and a half, and if they weren’t all going great, they were going…a big improvement from the typical black hole in my training schedule.
|The ones on the left. They aren’t even that high!
I’m going to be a sad girl if I have to make a choice between running and heels.
Unfortunately right before Perfect 10 I wore a pair of heeled boots to school that just killed my knees, making the last 3 hours of P10 pretty miserable. The next week, I countered with a lower heeled pair of shoes with a similar effect. Even alternating them during the day with flats to ease my legs back into wearing heels left me pretty limpy. I managed 8 great miles at Pere Marquette park two weeks ago, followed by 6 miles at a slow hike. That’s the last running I’d done until today. I was honestly scared to try running before the race and find out I couldn’t.
|Becca, Cara, me, Cherie…waiting to be seated|
Because that apparently wasn’t enough self-destruction for one race, I also went out to dinner with some of my teammates and friends last night after we did a presentation about our team for the 100+ Project’s Brave Endeavors series. My meal at the Mexican restaurant was pretty healthy and harmless. My two (two!! What a lightweight!) margaritas were more of a problem.
|What a fun group!|
I blame Russ, who bought a round after I had my first margarita, and the stupid Virtus code, which forbids ever turning down a free drink. They were delicious, though, and the evening was a blast, so I couldn’t regret my decisions even when I woke up with a headache and unhappy stomach. Or later in the race, when my stomach remembered it was upset with me. Besides, I finally felt like a legitimate member of Team Hangover!
The Skippo is a fun race to go to because you see so many people you know. I ran into Mickey, who I’ve been doing most of my running with, right away. Jeremy, who I’d met at the SHITR, said hi. Karen and Suzanne were around, as were some of my Team Godzilla teammates, and Scott showed up pretty much at the last minute, having gotten a late start after a late night (but not sporting a hangover); when we headed over to the start line, I ran into my friend Jim A, who I met at my first 30K and then see once a year at the same race. Finally, my much faster friend JB stopped by to say hi on his way up to the front. You know how I like to socialize, so this all pretty much made my day. And the race hadn’t even started.
Because they sent us off in pace group waves and I was as far back as possible, it took about 6 minutes to actually cross the start line. Finally we were off! The race course is a 10K loop. Your distance determines how many loops you have to get to run. The first two miles are fairly flat, then you climb 200+ stairs, run a short level stretch followed by another uphill. Next is a lovely flat section followed by a fun downhill, a creek crossing, and then up Cardiac Hill, a short downhill and then up again, but then the last two miles or so is pretty much all downhill. Joy!
Lap 1: 1:06 (10:46 pace)
I wasn’t sure what to expect, by my first loop was great! I was pushing but trying to maintain a pace that felt good. Not easy, but not hard. I walked the stairs, but I didn’t fall behind the person in front of me like I do every year. This was the first significant uphill effort, every one of which left me nauseous, but when the stairs ended I started running right away. That was an improvement over my past, but then I really surprised myself by running the whole way up the next hill. I’ve never done that before! I had to walk up Cardiac Hill but again I started running as soon as the hill was over, and I ran the entire hill after that…another first!
As chicken as I am on downhills on the bike, I like them a lot more on foot, especially when they’re not too steep. The Castlewood downhills are just my type, and gravity makes me feel fast. On the second downhill stretch I caught up with a guy in green about a mile from the end of the loop. He had a jacket wrapped around his waist and running tights under his shorts. I was warm in my tshirt and shorts, so I asked him if he was dying in all those clothes. “A little bit,” he answered.
We chatted through the rest of the lap. Somehow I ended up in front of him after passing through the water stop and then he pulled up next to me as we headed back onto the trail for lap 2. Recognizing me, he asked, “Are you Kate? I read your blog.” I love when that happens!
Lap 2: 2:18 total time (11:10 pace)
Because we were running about the same speed, Jason got the dubious pleasure of listening to me greet every single person on the trails. Finally he asked, “How to you have the energy to be so positive to everybody?” I told him that I get a boost from encouraging other people while I’m running, which is true, but I’m also truly just thrilled to be able to be doing these events. I never imagined running 18 miles or doing a 24 hour adventure race or “racing” my bike, so (with a few notable exceptions) even when my results aren’t a screaming success I’m happy being a part of the experience.
Eventually we split up and I was on my own again. This time around I walked at least half of the hill after the stairs and also half of the other hill I’d been so proud to run on lap 1. There really wasn’t anything notable about this lap except that people kept falling all around me (I swear, I wasn’t involved at all!). I was lucky this year; I tripped once but no falls.
Coming towards the end of the second lap, I was nervously waiting to see what would happen. The big unknown for me is always how my hip and knee will do and exactly when during a race the pain will kick in. Last year, after an unexpectedly good first 10 or so miles, my hip and knee made the last 8 miles of the race absolute misery. This year I made it into my final lap still relatively pain free.
Lap 3: 3:37 total time (11:42 pace)
The flat two miles to the stairs seemed to take forever. I wasn’t even so much sore or tired as I was sick of running. The volunteers at the water stop gave me a nice lift as their cheered like crazy people as we came through. That was particularly nice because the only places volunteers were left were the water stops and the road crossings. The rest of the course marshalls were gone, I guess having decided that by the third time around we ought to know where we were going.
I was actually happy to get to the stairs and “have” to walk. My hip was getting tight, so I took the stairs two at a time to stretch it out, and that seemed to help. I didn’t start running quite as quickly at the top, and I definitely didn’t make it far up the smaller hill before having to walk. The worst part about the third lap (other than the monster blister taking over my toe) was that my calf muscles and my Achilles tendons were spasming. It wasn’t painful, but it felt really weird and had me worried about full-blown cramps. I walked through the second water stop drinking my Gatorade, and a volunteer offered me another cup and walked with me until I’d finished the first. Maybe it was the extra electrolytes in the Gatorade and maybe it was coincidence, but I didn’t have any more leg issues for the rest of the race. Big thanks to that volunteer!
More hill walking ensued, but I didn’t even mind it because I knew that these were the last major climbs before it was all (literally) downhill to the finish. My nausea kicked it up a notch, but knowing there were only a couple miles left made it much easier to ignore. I was basically alone on the trails; I’d caught sight of a guy in the distance behind me, but he wasn’t gaining on me. With a mile left, my hip started actively hurting and I was very grateful it had waited 17.5 miles to speak up. That’s a new trouble-free distance since this problem has started.
In what seemed like no time I was coming off the trail and into the field for the last half mile. Out of nowhere, a woman came running up behind me. The park was full of runners and mountain bikers, so at first I assumed she wasn’t part of the race, but I glanced over and saw a 30K number on her shirt. “Nice job,” I gasped as she pulled even, and then I sped up. Both years I’ve done the 30K I’ve come in third last. While my main goal was to beat last year’s abysmal time (4:04) and my B goal was to beat my best time (3:43), I also really wanted to come in ahead of third last.
|Photo credit: Mickey Boianoff
Keep in mind, I started 6 minutes after the clock, so this isn’t my actual finish time.
I hauled ass across the field (I’m not sure I care to buy the pictures, but you can actually tell I’m running in them) and ended up beating her to the finish line by 6 seconds (and beating her chip time by almost 2 minutes, but who’s counting?). This was particularly sweet because it turns out that we were in the same age group. That end of race sprint was strong enough that I’m thinking I maybe should have pushed harder all along. All race long I kept my effort just at that “doesn’t hurt” level; maybe I need to learn to hurt a little.
|Still deciding if I’m going to throw up or not…
Big thanks to Mickey for sticking around to take finish line pictures!
|Wherever could it be?|
I put on a sweatshirt and was in the process of changing out of my soggy shoes (and admiring my enormous blister) when we saw Scott running across the field. Not wanting to miss his finish I limped over mid-change, as you can see if you look at my feet.
|Go Team Hangover!!
I love this guy. So glad he and my brother became best friends in high school.
I ate some BBQ and talked with the guys for a little bit, and then we all limped to our cars, which must’ve been moved while we were running because it sure seemed to take a long time to get there.
Oh, and my goals?
I beat my best time in the 30K by 6 minutes, and I finished 84/100…moving up from 3rd last to 16th last. 🙂 Best of all, though, even right now while my memory is fresh, I think that racing the 30K distance again next year is a pretty good idea.
|Photo credit: Jeremy Nulik
The belt buckle is ok and all, but I do this race for the mug.