While I was on vacation in Florida I made a last minute decision to run for 6 hours while I was there. It meant staying 2 extra days but I thought it would be worth it. I'm training for at least two 50 milers this year and this was just another training day. I knew I had to do a long run and I was in a nice warm place to do it. It was cold and wet back in Maine and it only made sense to run for 6 hours in the warmth. When I registered I thought this was the longest amount of time I had ever run but looking back through my training log I realized I had run nearly 6 hours 25 min. trying to complete a 50K last year! I had forgotten that horrible day. Anyway, I have also completed a 50K in less than 5 hours 30 min. so I was kinda aiming for at least completing a 50k distance in that 6 hours. A lot depended on how hot it got, because I do not run well in the heat.
This adventure started with trying to get together my clothes and food the afternoon before. I wanted to wear something comfortable and needed a couple of changes of clothes in case I got too hot or wet. The only thing I brought to Florida to wear on my feet were a pair of flip-flops and my VFF. Decisions on whether or not to wear a hat? or which bra should I wear or should I just wear a sport bra? Wear a skort or shorts? I have also learned that when you run in an event and they say "we'll have plenty of food at the aid station" well, sometimes they do and sometimes they don't and I go prepared. If I don't end up needing my food, at least the kids have something to eat! :) This particular event did have a decent aid station. They had Gu's , banana's, chips, soda, oranges, water and some kind of fluid drink but I don't think it was Gatorade. I packed, banana's, strawberries, sliced oranges, water, chocolates wrapped in bacon, chicken,peanuts, salt and vinegar chips and N2.
I brought other things for the kids to munch on and juice boxes too. This is way more than I would eat, but again wanted to be prepared. The other thing that kept going through my mind was what would I be in the mood for? Every event and distance is different. I knew I would want bacon because I always do. But would I want chips or a banana or oranges? This is why this was going to prove to be an excellent training run. I needed to see what would work or not work; food and clothing both.
The night before I couldn't sleep. My kids were sleeping with me in a full sized bed and I was stuck in the middle. It was hot, so I had to turn on the fan, then I got cold, hot, cold, etc...finally I got up and finished sleeping on the couch. But I had to get up at 4:15am. So of course my internal clock kept thinking it was time to get up and I finally gave up and got up at 4am. I got the car packed and loaded the night before so all I had to do was put the ice packs and the cold food in the coolers, put in my contacts, get the coffee going, make my oatmeal and get the kids in the car. We were on the road by 4:45. I knew it would take at least 30 min. to get there and I needed to allow for extra time in case I got lost. Lucky I left extra time because of course I got lost! Even with a GPS! Really! And it started to rain! Made it with 15 minutes to spare. It was still drizzling when we pulled up at 5:45am. Had to get out and check in and listen for instructions and find out where we started, where to best put the kids, and set up our chairs and food, etc.
From where we parked the van I couldn't see where the start was and I had no idea what the trail was like. This would bother some people but I like it. It makes me feel more relaxed not knowing what I have gotten myself into. :) It was still raining. I HATE to wear my VFF in the rain! They fit like a glove and I don't wear socks with them so the create blisters where the name VIBRAM is embroidered on them. I thought I would be safe to wear them in sunny, hot, dry Florida. What are the chances that it was gonna rain! WOW! I took my daughter, Liana, who didn't want to sit in the dry van, to where the aid station and timing mat were, set her up in a chair with an umbrella, found my headlamp and the RD said to go to the starting line. Another great thing about showing up 15 min. before a start is that there is no time to think about things, you just go!
We all had our headlamps on, standing in the rain and he gives a small speech and says okay "Go"
Well, each lap is 1.24 miles...and the first few laps go by quickly in the rain. It was warm and more of a drizzle not a pouring down rain. We were still running in small packs after we settled into our paces. I was hoping to start out slow and save my energy for when I needed it in the later miles. I think I did that. My first few miles were ave. between 10 and 11 min. miles. I don't wear a watch so I only knew this because I asked the guy (Thanks Tom)I had been running with off and on for 2 hours. I don't remember much of the first hour except it was dark and my headlamp is VERY bright (300 lumens bright!). Some of the other runners were joking with me that mine was so bright they didn't need theirs! ;) I remember stopping and taking off my headlamp and having a Gu after about an hour. I always loose track of how many loops I've done when I'm doing a looped course. I was thankful that they had an electronic timer and lap counter so I didn't have to worry about it. I remember being confused after 2 hours and not knowing if I ran 2 or 3 hours, even though I was passing the clock at every lap I would forget halfway through the next lap. I was just running on how I was feeling and after 2 hours I was feeling tired but not exhausted. My daughter gave up and went to the car. So I missed seeing her at every lap. I was glad she went to get dry though. Hours 2-3 brought more rain, stopping to grab a banana and some sport drink(have no idea what it was) and stopping to pee.The bathroom was probably 200 yards from the start, which was a bummer and I am all for going beside the trail normally, but this was wide open space with no trees or bushes. In Maine I at least have some trees!
The sun came out somewhere in the 3rd hour. It stayed long enough for me to take some pictures. The sun would come and go all morning which was a relief. Every time it started to shine I would secretly hope it would get cloudy and start to rain. With the sun out, it got humid and hot and no shade on this course. When the sun was behind the clouds it wasn't so bad.Between hour 3 and 4 the VFF were starting to hurt my feet. They were wet and I could tell they were causing a blister on the inside under my ankle bone where they were rubbing. The kids were back in their chairs beside the course and cheering me on at every lap. I stopped for a banana and some more water and they helped me find a couple band-aids. This helped for about 2 laps and then the band-aids started coming off. I asked Farin to find me some more band-aids while I did another lap. When I came back she had a handful. She said she went to the first aid tent and asked for some. I was so proud of her. They were both so good to me and I was so happy they were there.
When I made it to hour 4 I decided I had enough of the VFF. I stopped again to go pee, ate some of my chocolate covered with bacon, had some water, put on some Traumeel and took off the Five Fingers.
I don't know if I felt so good after that because I finally didn't have anything on my feet or the chocolate and bacon had given me some energy. I felt great! It was so nice to feel all the different parts of the ground as I ran. The course was made up of sand, grass, rocks (sharp ones that looked like coral) and wood chips. I had been around the loop so many times that it was a relief to run it for two hours with no shoes. Everything seemed different. All my senses seemed to be awakened. I started to be more aware of everything. How warm it was, the sounds, the light even the strawberries I ate later seemed to taste better. I knew I could probably run the loop 5 times in an hour so I asked the girls to start counting each lap I did. As they counted down I knew I could handle just one more lap and that's how I made it through the last 2 hours. When Farin said "three" I knew I only had to run the loop about 7 more times.
Near the end when I knew I only had a couple more laps I began to run as though I was desperate. I had to get one more, now another, etc. I saw the clock at 5:46 something and told the kids as I went by that I had time for 1 more lap. I had to stop and walk up one hill but I knew I could do it. I came up over the hill and down the other side and I saw the clock in the distance. It hit 5:48 and I started to sprint. ( I think it was more like a fast hobble, jog, but it felt like a sprint). I crossed the finish line with a few seconds to spare 5:59:19! In the end; 17 laps=33.4 miles. a little more than a 50K. I knew I could do it. Another training run complete! YAY!
I was tired but not exhausted. My legs felt like rubber and I didn't dare to sit down because I was afraid I wouldn't be able to get back up. I finally gave in to the urge and I sat down.It felt sooooooo good. I was able to stand for a few pictures and say thanks to the RD and the few friends I had made that morning. We packed up our stuff and headed to my mother-in-laws. My feet were fine. Not a bruise, cut, splinter or blister, just dirty. I feel like this was a great training run. I learned lots and this run gave me confidence. I know I can mentally do it and I still have 3 months to get my body in shape to handle what my mind can't.
When we got home I had a nice warm bath, a couple of beers and played card games with the kids. It was an early evening and I did sleep well.
As I sat here this afternoon writing this my prize check arrived in the mail. Yes, I won money for coming in second female. Bonus!
"I started running barefoot in March 2008. I started one step at a time, one day at a time. I decided to start keeping a journal of sorts. Sharing my history, my journey and my adventures."
I have taken some new paths in relation to my running over the last year. This blog will still include my running adventures but I have to move on with more stories of my family and the journey we have taken together over the last year. This blog was started as a way to help me record my barefoot journey but now needs to become more than that. Please be patient as I explore ways to stay connected with family and friends.