Steve Harvey and his wife Annie put on a fabulous race. They attract tons of volunteers who make the race experience enjoyable. Nanny Goat takes place on Shelli's family ranch and she and her family and staff deserve a huge thank you for not only allowing a lot of insane people to take over the place, but for providing support and taking care of little things to ensure things run smoothly. The race benefits Wounded Warrior Project and it was humbling to see Lucy carrying the American flag and so many out there for the cause.
Alan and I packed more than I felt we needed but I like to err on the side of being overly prepared versus underprepared. We arrived Friday afternoon and set up an EZ up tent; I disagree about it being "EZ" to set up. We snagged a perfect location right near the end of the loop route (ie. we could run straight to it, get what we need, and then run through the barn to complete the loop). Alan wisely suggested going to buy a table so that we could have our stuff off the group. We left to find food and a table.
Since I switched to an all organic diet, eating out is hard; sometimes I have to eat nonorganic food (at his parents') and it typically upsets my stomach and intestines. I searched for a place that had something organic but found nothing nearby..ugh. We settled on the restaurant closest to our hotel- Islands. I had a bad feeling about eating a turkey burger and fries but hoped for the best. After dinner, we retired to the hotel to relax and get to bed at a reasonable time. A couple of beers made going to sleep easy on my part.
I lacked the prerace nerves I typically feel. We awoke at 4:15 in order to get dressed (body gliding alone takes about 20 minutes) and get to the race early; we got a great parking spot and proceeded to lug our gear to our tent. Then, we hungout with friends, met new running buddies, and did last minute prep. Seeing Steve walking around with a singing goat and a bullhorn made me realize running in loops is sane, compared to a grown man playing with a singing goat.
We set off with a couple hundred people and I quickly remembered how much I HATE loop courses. While it was cool seeing horses and chickens and friends and family of other runners, the flat path was boring. I did get a kick out of one lady (wife of a runner) who gave me the nickname "Legs." I ran by and she told me I had the best legs she'd ever seen and that she could tell even with all the coverings on my legs; next lap, she pointed it out to her daughter...it was a little embarrassing but then it began to look forward to seeing her and getting a laugh.
I know some people love mile loop courses but I have a limit on how long I can enjoy them. There was a road section that I realized was a slight (miniscule) downhill/uphill and that section beat up my legs. Running on pavement in Cascadias (trail shoes) has never agreed with me and the race was no exception. I longed for my Hokas and envied all the people wearing theirs; I really need to sell my too small ones and buy a proper fitting pair. I tried to run as slowly as I could to start and, being Garminless and not even using my Timex for miles splits, I used other people as my "pacers." I didn't want any miles under 10 min and I was good about accomplishing that.
Very early in the race, I felt stomach/intestinal pain and I regretted dinner. When I tried to choke down my first Gu, I almost threw up and felt my insides twisting in pain. That would continue for the remainder of the race; I was unable to stomach much and alternated between intestinal cramping and feelings of nausea. I separated from Alan, though we obviously saw each other frequently. I typically do not drink much water but I was soooo thirsty that I frequently had to fill my bottle and eat ice chips; I was so thirsty that I would get ice from the chest less than half a mile from our own ice chest...and I did that even after seeing a kid get ice, rub it on his chest and dump it back in. Gross!! I think the massive amount of dust I was inhaling contributed to a never ending feeling of thirst to the point where common sense went out the window.
I hit the 50K mark in under 6 hours; my shoes were bothering me but I made myself wait until mile 40 to change them. My right achilles was tight from the flat surface and I hoped a different pair of shoes would help. Changing my shoes and socks, I saw a massive blister on my big toe but I decided to leave it alone and hope my road shoes would make it bearable. After another lap, I decided I had to take another long stop and pop the blister and bandage the area. I was feeling weak from a lack of calories and having a blister issue didn't help. I slowed down and made myself run the road section and the section from the road into the timing area. Miles 40 to 50 were never ending; I was dry heaving at times and thankful to run with Jean for parts of loops as she would run and I would be motivated to do the same.
I saw Alan several times and he complained of foot pain; he tried changing shoes but it did not help. At one point, he said he wanted me to walk at night with him because he was getting worried about making the cutoff (86 miles in 24 hours) and he wanted me to keep him on pace. Seeing him hurting really demotivated me; I spent several miles contemplating what to do. I realized I had to gauge his pain and see if pushing for the cutoff was a reasonable thing to do. I reached 50 miles in under 11 hours and was right on schedule for where I wanted to be at that time. When I finished mile 50, he was hurting more so I stopped and chilled at our tent. He stopped and told me he was having an issue with the other ankle; his description of his pain reminded me of when I had that issue and I realized his going another 54 miles within the time frame would not be wise or possible. He was at mile 46 and said he really wanted to hit 50 miles since 100 was not going to happen; since we had plenty of time left, I told him to relax and that we would do those 4 miles together when he was ready. After about 40 minutes, we ventured out to get him to 50 miles.
I felt great upon restarting and contemplated helping him reach 50 miles and then continuing on for 100 miles. But the feeling of nausea and dry heaving set in and I saw him in pain with every step. I made the tough decision to stop when we reached his goal; it would be 55 miles for me and I did not want him to have to sit there in the cold overnight while I finished. I knew I would have to force myself to throw up and then get down calories in order to get myself back on track and it was not worth it. I was beyond bored with the loop and mentally had no motivation to continue. While he said he would wait for me, we went there saying we would do it together.
That last loop was awesome as we walked arm in arm and crossed the finish line together. While we did not hit any of our mileage/time goals, we hit the true goal - completing the race together as we prepare to get married. In marriage we will encounter ups and downs and I truly believe that all of our running and racing together has made us better prepared for that. I'm so freakin' proud of him; he went from saying a half marathon was long to completing 50 miles in a race less than 5 months later. As for me...well I spent the drive back looking for my next race.