Naked Bavarian – 20 miler

This race may become my yearly birthday celebration.  There is something about going back to a place where you had some of the lowest moments of your adult life and some of the highest.  Last year I ran the 40 miler (here’s that recap if you’re interested).  I initially signed up for the 40 but I am working on building myself back up to an ultra runner and was happy with adjusting my entry to the 20 miler.   After I posted my February Round-up on the Friday before my race the skies opened and a blizzard ensued.  Somehow even with my planning, I didn’t realize we were supposed to get snow, did I miss that forecast?    Regardless, my office and daycare closed early and many lost power.  I thought for sure I wasn’t running the race.  Usually, I am down for a race with most conditions but at this point I can’t afford to get hurt so after the Grewlin’ Newlin last month.  I went to bed thinking my race was cancelled – at least for me.  Well I woke up at midnight checked my email and there was an update from the Race Director and apparently the storm had not hit at the area at all!  So, I set my alarm and the race was back on!

IMG_5442

This race had such a different feeling and meaning this year then last year.  It was my GOAL race for the year and I had raised $5,000 for Covenant House and it was my way to show the world that even though I had babies I was still the bad ass I always was.  This year was just about me going out and enjoying myself.  Celebrating my birthday the best way I know how, giving myself time to myself and by myself.  But I was in a weird head space when I got to the race.  It may be because the day before I went to bed thinking I wasn’t going to go.  Mainly because there was another bomb-cyclone and all hell had broken loose around our area.  There were 50 mph winds and trees were down everywhere but not at the trail, which we were all grateful for.  I am so happy I did go, I would have been REALLY disappointed if I hadn’t.  I got to see some friends and make new friends.

I never got to the head space I did with the Gruelin Newlin last month which was more of a “zen – constantly smiling and enjoying every step of the way” but I was in this “getting shit done” mind frame. I was feeling pretty good through the first half which is the easier portion.  Once I got to the hills my legs felt heavy but at no point was I ready to quit.  The hills were feeling bigger and bigger by the end but I made friends with someone at the halfway mark and we ran the rest of the race together.  He was great company and his wife was running the 40 miler which was a training run for her, she was some bad-ass runner in her 50’s training for a 100 miler. #lifegoals   We talked a lot which helped so much with the run.  Its amazing how much faster the miles fly when you have someone to chat with.

I was able to finish without too much pain or walking and the best part was I wasn’t really sore the next day!  That is the true test for an endurance athlete, how functional are you the following day?  Well this girl, ran 2.5 miles and went rock climbing so – BOOM! And shout-out to my hubby who delivered a delicious hazy IPA to me during my long hot shower afterwards.

Happy March Madness Thursday!

-G

Naked Bavarian – 40 miler

On March 4, 2017, the last day of my 35th year, I successfully finished the Naked Bavarian 40 miler.  Honestly when I woke up in the morning I wasn’t sure I was going to make it.  I am nine and half months postpartum, some days my hips hurt for no reason.  I couldn’t help but think “I don’t belong here.” I had gotten it into my own head that I probably wasn’t going to finish.  Like I have said before, this year was about big goals and this was a BIG goal.

img_0563-1
Keilynn and I trying to stay warm before the race.

It was a 20 mile loop so I had to go out run 20 miles turn around at the finish/start and do it all over again, except this time I knew what I was in for and 2,000 feet of elevation is no fun when everything hurts.  Plus I had to stop to breastfeed.  I was hurting badly when I was finishing the first loop.  Actually as I was approaching my husband with my kids and my brother, sister in law and my nephews I had already convinced myself to quit.  Quitting meant I could enjoy the rest of the day with my family.  I didn’t want to go back. I wanted to give up.  My friend, Keilynn, ran the first half with me and as she was leaving to go back out and I was sitting down to breastfeed she said “Don’t quit, You got this!”  She knew where I was.  I was hurting bad.  So I fed the baby changed my shirt into a dry one because I was officially cold again, grabbed my headlamp and a GU and started off again, reluctantly.

dsc_0454
Breastfeeding the baby

The first six miles back on the trail (miles 21-25), were my worst miles.  I had depleted everything I had remaining with breastfeeding and hadn’t properly fueled during the first half so my energy was low and all of my muscles were cramping.  As I was continued on, barely running, I just started crying and I called my husband.  My right knee was killing me and I just wanted him to tell me to quit.  I also recognized this and told him I knew I was putting him in a difficult spot.   He knew I could run 20 miles and it didn’t make sense that I was hurting so soon so he told me to keep going, eat something and take some Advil.

As I was heading down yet another huge hill my right knee was throbbing making it almost impossible to continue moving down hill so I stopped and finally took some Advil.  Then continued hobbling down the mountain while eating a GU filled with caffeine.  I am sure I was a sad sight.  There were plenty of 40 mile runners heading back to the finish and I am sure they thought there was NO way I was finishing.  I hobbled on and contemplated stopping at a nearby beach taking a selfie and announcing my quitting on social media.  But then I thought, I am not even running right now, I should at least try.  As I looked at my watch I knew I would be really close to the cutoff so I continued on. When I got there, past the cutoff time by a couple of minutes, I didn’t mention it, grabbed a bunch of food and kept going.  Now, I was really starting to feel the GU and my heart was pounding so the thought of getting picked up by my husband with my heart racing felt worse than just continuing to run.  So I kept at it and made it to the 26.5 mile aid station and I was feeling GREAT!! So I filled my pockets with Goldfish drank some Gatorade and took off again.  I quickly called my husband just to let him know I was much better, texted Keilynn to let her know I was still going as well and I started off again.

Now this section was very difficult so I knew I had to run when I could and get to the big hills as soon as possible.  As I headed up the hardest part of the whole race, the sweepers (the people that clean up the trail at the end of the race) were catching up to me so I just put my head down and focused on putting one foot in front of the other.  As I was getting to the top of the climb my birthday gift awaited, there was someone else on the mountain, ANOTHER RUNNER!  I thought I was the last one by a long shot but there she was plugging away.  I think she was as excited to see me as I was her.  So we started chatting and became fast friends, I was so grateful for the company.  We reached the 30 mile aid station and the sweepers caught up to us.  I again filled my pockets with goldfish and peanut M&M’s and kept eating as much as possible.

So we setoff knowing the easiest part of the course was ahead of us and that we could make up some time before the next aid station.  We chatted the entire time and the miles flew by. We reached the next aid station with 10 minutes to spare and were ecstatic.  By this point I was in distances I had never done.  32.75 was the most I had ever done but I felt great and mentally it was as if the previous miles didn’t happen.  The thoughts of focusing on every ache and pain were gone and we were just plugging away and getting the miles done.  We got to the last aid station with 15 minutes to spare and 3.5 miles left but the second hardest part of the course awaited us with lots of rocks and hills but it felt great to have that time cushion.  We grabbed our headlamps, called our family and headed out.

The last 3.5 miles were hard but there was nothing stopping us now.  We were slower on the hills but we kept running when we could.  With about a quarter of a mile to go I found my brother waiting on the side of the trail we were on a bit of hill so we were walking.  He walked most of the rest of the way and once we hit the cement back to the finish we were running again.

dsc_0475
Julie and I at the finish – 10 hours and 52 minutes

Once we were in view of the finish area the cheers from my family and friends were AMAZING! My fabulous running group, the Uptown Gentlefriends were waiting for me regardless that most of them finished hours earlier.  In dramatic fashion we crossed the finish line in pitch black with 8 minutes to spare.  I couldn’t believe it and I think I am still in shock. I ran 40 miles and officially completed my second goal of the year!  Boom.