Monday, July 22, 2013

Cremator 50 Mile Endurance Run – Hot weather always looks worse through a window.

     This was the Third Annual Cremator 50 Mile Ultra Marathon it took place on Saturday July 20, 2013 at 6:00am in Beaufort, SC. this is in the south during the peak of the summer the temperature reached the upper 90's. The extreme humidity of the Lowcountry is what catches most people off guard the Heat Index was 101 degrees. This race is a 100% flat road course and exposed (like no shade anywhere). The RD Tim picked the course based on the limited amount of shade. He is mean and evil like that. The Cremator is two 25 mile out and backs where you cross the McTeer Bridge and has a 14 hour cut off. 

     This run meant a lot more to me than just a 50 mile on a hot day. I have been kind of back and forth with the whole running Ultras and if it is right for me. After FHT last year anytime I have felt any midsection pain I stop running and wait until the pain goes away. Not being able to push past a small cramp is a major defect in running an ultra. I have had a desire to run this event for over a year and this would be the true test. I took 3 months off from running and then got it in my head that this race would be the test. So jumped back into training (kinda). I had 3 months to get ready for this race and that’s what I did. I spent more time looking at what the doctors told me about rabdo and studding than I did on actually putting the miles in that I needed. I got a crew together and put just as much thought into their set up as I did on how I would run the race. I thought the easier it was for them the easier it would be for them to help me knowing I would need a lot of help race day.

Doug and Rachel

     Doug my Crew Chief and Rachel my first pacer. They were key in me finishing this race and I know I could not have done it without them. Rachel has a fresh upbeat love for Ultra running and I have been friends with her for a long time. Doug is a smart strategic runner and knows all too well what my worst is. For them to give up their time to help me means a lot and I am not sure I could ever show them how much but I tried. I spent some time showing Doug what my training had been and it was crap. Not getting the miles in and not even close to what was a good pace for me but racing this event was not the point for me….. finishing was. I needed to know my body could still handle this stuff or if I needed to just call it quits. I really did not think I would do much better than a 12 hour finish and after Doug looked at my training and times he did not think I would do much better than that either. I was there to finish and get past the mental block of what I have been dealing with.

     The night before the race we had a big group dinner that Michele put together but end the end was not able to make it. It was great to see everyone and hang out for a bit before we were to spend the day passing each other on the course.

     Alarms go OFF and time to get to the start. I was not sure how I would be felling during the race but knew that by mile 6 that I would be able to judge it and let my crew know what kind of day they would have. The 1st mile was a bit fast as I was in the “heat of the moment” But chilled out and settled into a 9:40 to 10 min mile pace. This was surprisingly comfortable for me at the time and thought that hell if I just stay healthy I could have a chance a sub 10 hour. At the 12.5 mile turn around it was still a little overcast which made for a better overall feeling but when the sun came out BOY did it get well no real way to say it than hot. My IPod did not charge over the night so I was without my music but I just started going over movies in my head to help take my mind off the long view off the road. At mile 20 my hips really started hurting so I walked a little to let them chill out. I know this was from the lack of back to back distance well over all distance runs needed for a race this long. I shook it off and just thought well it’s going to hurt the rest of the day so you need to get over that now. I was still in a great place mentally and stayed that way for most of the day. The rest of my body felt great and ready to keep going till the end.  At the 25 mile turn around (in 4:30ish) I came running in screaming “NEW COURSE RECORD BITCHES!!!!!!” thinking I could get some good reactions out of it but I think they thought the heat was getting to me (I thought it was funny as crap).
Mile 25 Rachel ready to go
     I picked Rachel up at this point to run the next 12.5 with me and I was happy to have another runner with me. Truth be told the only low spot I had was running this section. My hips were hurting so freaking bad at mile 31 I sat down thinking this is the end of the road for me. Rachel standing there looking down talking me up and out of it. “time to start moving again” “you ready to get up” “were not far from Doug and you can sit in the chair then” all this helped and I started walking then running then walking then running well that was the reminder of the day for me. Walk/run and by this point I was so sick of Doug telling me to drink more water I did not want to see him but that chair sounded real nice. When we got to Doug I think he knew I was tired of the water talk and told me “I am here to get you to the finish you can cuss me if you want but drink more water”. At the 37.5 mile turn around I changed my socks and that’s where Doug would run with me to the finish.

     We left the aid station to make the last 12.5 miles back and I was overall feeling really good other than the hips. The pain got to the point where I just tried to shut everything out. I started counting to 100 and every time I would hit a 20 I would drink. When I reached 100 I would walk to the count of 15. I did this for a while. We were at a point where we would be coming up to Rachel and Doug asked me what I needed and I just grunted and kept counting in my head. Doug knew I was trying to block everything out and just let me be and ran up to get everything ready for when I came hobbling in. I told Rachel to stop at a store and get me beer and cigarettes and have it waiting for me at the finish. That would be the little treat I would keep in the back of my head to help me keep moving. Doug was amazing in keeping me moving and my mind off the hip pain. I had to pee at one point and went to cross a ditch to some trees and about busted it. Doug told me to just walk around to another spot and I told him that was right next to a house and I would get arrested for indecent exposure so I just leaned agents the street sign and kind of moved my shorts to the side and went right there. Yes I know not much better but it made total since to me at the time. It came out as clear as the water I was drinking and I looked at Doug and said “there are you happy its clear I have never peed clear during a run. We would keep the run/walk going till the very end. The last 3 miles Doug told me I could drop the water and just move my arms and walk faster and run faster. We started coming up on that last little bend and Doug said if you just keep running I will get your beer and cigarette and even light the dam thing for you. Well that just lit the fire under my butt and screw you hips it is time to party!!!! I crossed the finish line in 11:03:21 (21 overall) beer and cigarette in hands.
Kelley, Doug, Me, Rachel and Tim
     When I crossed the finish there was a joy and sadness that came over me. The joy from knowing I made it and again other than my hips no real pain, the amazing crew that I could not have done this without, all the help/support from other runners crews and race volunteers, knowing how hard everyone pushed to finish. Sadness from knowing some did not and what they had to go through to make the hard call to end the day short of the finish line.

2 days latter I feel good my legs are great and my hips still have a little pain bit nothing crazy. It was a great event and I am happy I was able to be a part of it. Here is something from one of the volunteers that day that I think is an amazing read. (Stole it of their facebook page)

“”””””””“Have you ever watched someone do something that seems really, really stupid and said "Wow, I wish I could do that!" You brain is telling you that running 50 miles on an unshaded 12.5 mile strip back and forth in July in southeastern South Carolina is about the most self inflicted pain someone who appears normal could do to themselves, but something deep down says, "AWESOME!" I got that feeling today. I was torn between a state of awe and a state of confusion on why I was helping these people go back to run a track of hot pavement in misery when I could just drive them where they needed to go! Then I realized, it's because they can. I think many people in this world could physically run this race, but very, very few have the mental ability to do so. They run because they can and their mind and heart tell them they can, so they do. And sometimes it's for no other reason other than to be able to tell their hearts and minds, "Hey, you were right! I can do this". I do not have a personal love of this crazy running mentality and most days I have to talk myself into a few miles, but at every one these races I start to believe more and more that somehow I have involved myself into this crazy, odd, picky group of people who are also the most inspiring, caring, motivating, unselfish group of people I have ever met. You would think that running was a non team sport and that it's really just the individual against individual, but this is not the case. It takes a hilarious, yet committed group of volunteers, crews, and runners to make this all happen. And during the race, you find ultra runners themselves devoting their time to crewing other runners to get them to the finish line instead of signing up and crossing themselves. You'll also find that most of the runners and crews are asking about other runners and making sure they are doing well too. And when someone has to "DNF" no matter the cause, every other runner can feel the painful decision that has to be made. I like many others thought that surely the coveted "Ultras" must be a self absorbed group, to be running for such long periods of time on their own, with a snobbish confidence, and a nose in the air to others who are non-ultras. Since Jason has begun his journey and now has dragged me a long kicking and screaming, I have found out that sometimes even I can be wrong. 1. They aren't running on their own, and many times are at the mercy of their crew, aid stations, and other runners. They are more grateful to those who donate their time to help them cross a finish line than most people who take day to day kindness for granted. 

They are far from snobs! They are focused on the task at hand and yet at the same time worried about the fellow teammate they just passed. It feels good to get a good time but it feels better to know the other runners are meeting their goals safely as well. 

If their nose is in the air, they are probably just trying to breath better! They are fighting a battle of mind over body, and will power that most of could never win. And they are doing it outside! Fighting elements, personal records, and a body that wants to quit. Something in them, says not no but hell no. I am doing this even if I have to crawl. 

Even though I'm not an "ultra" I have to admit that these people have taken me in and kind of made me an honorary member. They make me feel like I've done something awesome by handing out food and water, and hug me and tell me thank you. When in all reality they are the inspiration. I may never be an actual Ultra, but this week I will put my feet to pavement and do something that my body tells me I hate to do, but with every race I attend, I learn more and more that this is a lie! 
These people make me believe that I can because I can! I am so proud of you all and want to thank you for what you all do. You make me believe that humanity doesn't actually suck as much as I thought and mentally you are breaking barriers that I never thought possible.”””””””

     Driving home after leaving Doug’s house I had to fight back the tears. Knowing that I had two friends willing to give up their weekends to crew me for this and seeing this post on facebook really pulled on my heart. People are so amazing in our fast growing Ultra world and I am glad to know that I can look past what happened on the FHT and move forward to more runs like this. Yes it was hot and yes it took a long time but it was an amazing experience that I will always remember.

P.S. to the person that took the picture of me at the finish I would love a copy.