Saturday, March 5, 2011

2011 Old Pueblo 50 race report

This report has been a long time coming. I needed some time to deal with what happened the day before the race.

I got a call from my brother on mid-afternoon Friday (March 4th) telling me that my Mom died suddenly. I was devastated. I wasn't sure then if I was going to do the race. My brother and sister were driving down from Tennessee to Georgia, where my Mom lived, to check things out on Saturday. I realized that I needed to run the race. I would not have received any information until late Saturday about my Mom or arrangements, etc., and I needed to be with my friends. Dallas was doing AS (aid station) 25, so he wouldn't be home either. Staying at home in my grief was not an option.

I got to the start just in time to get my bib, go to the bathroom and chat with a few people. Chris A., Scout, and Joe from TTR were so wonderful to me when I told them my Mom died. Chris gave me a huge hug - the kind your Mom would give - thank you Chris. I needed that.

We got the call to line up at the start and we were off in the dark at 6am sharp. I didn't use a headlamp, just picked my feet up and stayed near others with lights until the sun peeked up over the horizon, about 20 minutes later. What a sunrise.

I ran near Gene from TTR and Jon from Phx. for quite a while on the dirt road. I blew past AS 3, and headed onto the singletrack trail between miles 3 and 7. Arriving at AS 7,  I saw Patricia and Jane from TTR and Robert from Phx. I was still hanging near Gene at this point. Patricia snapped my picture - I asked if she could take a few pics of me during the race. I wasn't going to be carrying a camera! She took pictures of me at almost every aid station as she was crewing her husband Wayne. Thanks Patricia!

I like the sun on my face.

I traveled light this race - only one handheld bottle, which held 2 gels, lip balm and had a bandanna on it. I had my iPod, but otherwise, I was unencumbered by a heavy hydration pack. I had been working out my shoulder muscles the last 3 months to prepare me for holding a bottle for 11+ hours. It doesn't seem like very much until you hold it running for that long!

I wolfed down one of my chia/pinole brownies and I was off. The stretch between miles 7 and 13 is mostly dirt road/sandy wash. I was treated with a smile from Mary from TTR at AS 13. I needed that so much today.

I then ran with Kamran from WOG (Workout Group) for a few miles; he was so friendly to me when I told him about my Mom. It was so good to talk about her and how much I missed her. About mile 15, where the 4 miles of downhill starts, the wind really started blowing. Had a good tailwind heading downhill, so I was cruising. This downhill section, all on very rocky, rutted jeep road, is one of my favorite parts of the race.
My good friend Steve caught up with me around mile 17 and we ran together until AS 19. What a treat; I rarely get to run with Steve. It was good to see Ross and Bruce from TTR at this aid station. Ross was taking pictures as usual.

Yes, he is Ultraman!

After AS 19, we change directions on the course, and we had to deal with a headwind for over 10 miles. It was very hard to run and I became pretty exhausted during this part of the race.

I stayed pretty close to Steve between AS 19 and AS 25 and we finally passed Kamran. He had smoked the downhill, but appeared to be slowing a bit. He seemed happy despite the wind tunnel we were running in.

I continued to think of my Mom a lot during the race. I cried a little here and there and just thought about her life and the things she used to say to me when we talked on the phone. I think it gave me focus.

Finally I arrived right behind Steve at AS 25 and got to see Dallas! Woohoo! I was happy to see him.

Dallas took very good care of me! Mike from TTR was there, too. Lots of kisses from Dallas, some hugs, a V-8 and another chia/pinole brownie and I was off again with Steve. He quickly left me in the dust about a mile down the road, about the time we passed....Boone!

OMG - I couldn't believe we passed Boone. He said he realized that his walking speed was slow (thank God that mine is fairly fast - I'm not a fast runner like Boone). He appeared to be in good spirits, but I think Steve was a little worried about him. I also passed Joe from Phx, who ended up dropping. Guess doing Ragnar the weekend before was a little too much...

I made it to AS 29 and saw Patricia and Robert again. The wind finally stopped howling around mile 29. Thank God.

I finally shed my long sleeve black shirt and revealed my pink arm warmers!

Back onto the single track from miles 29-33. Another V-8 and chia/pinole brownie at AS 33 and I was headed towards AS 40. I knew I would be tight on water in this section, as it is partially uphill, rocky, slow going terrain and 7 miles long, which is the longest stretch between aid stations so far. I ran out of water about mile 39, but I was pretty hydrated. The weird thing was, I ran into Steve again about this time! He had been out of water for 5 miles. I guess he thought that AS 33 refilled his pack, but they didn't. Bummer. He was definitely not doing well at this point. This section is hard; lots of rocky sections, downhill and uphill, and a few creeks.

There was Bob from TTR right before AS 40 yelling, "That's what I'm talkin' 'bout! Git 'er done!" When I crossed the creek, he gave me a hug and said, "I heard a rumor that you and Dallas were getting hitched. Is that true?" I said, "Yes it is!"
Next to Bob was Steve B. from TTR, who was really saying some encouraging things, too. Up the small hill to AS 40 (bagpipe music?) was Bob's wife MaryAlice, Denise, and Joan from TTR, too. And Patricia again, who snapped another picture of me. I was feeling good at this point. Seeing all of my friends during the whole race made me feel so alive. I felt pretty great for most of the race actually.

I left AS 40 at the same time as Steve, but he needed some time to get hydrated, so I lost him after a mile. Before long, I was back on singletrack and headed toward AS 46. I had to do a bunch of walking, but overall, I felt good. I knew I wasn't going to make my 11 hour goal, but I knew I would finish and finish strong.

AS 46 - they had G.S. cookies, so I had one! Tonja, Pete and Christie from TTR were manning this station, but Tonja had headed out to pace Julie from TTR from miles 40-46, so she wasn't there. Christie and Pete were so nice!

After AS 46 is a lot of singletrack trail, which is fun. I was running fairly well off and on the last 5 miles, but I was getting tired and ready to be done! About a mile from Kentucky Camp (the finish), I saw Heidi, with whom I used to do personal training. She was hanging out waiting for her husband Dan to come in. She knew my Mom had died and gave me a big hug and told me she loved the pink! Just what I needed to finish.

As I rounded the corner coming into Kentucky Camp, I heard some people yelling that Boone was right behind me! I turned around and there he was, on my tail! I hoofed it and crossed the finish line about 10 seconds ahead of him. Great comeback Boone.

Elation and grief all mixed up in one ultragal.

More of my TTR friends were there cheering us on at the finish - Tom, Chris, Sarah, Joe, Ken and Glenn. Chris said this in an email to me about my finish:

"Just wanted to let you know that what you did Saturday was incredible.  In a sport that becomes more mental as the day goes on you still finished with a smile on your face.  I'll never forget that."

Wow. Thank you Chris. Sometimes people's words just hit where you need them to.

The stats:
Distance: 51.3 miles
Finish time: 11:25
AEG: 6,200 feet (that's what the adjusted Garmin reported - I've heard it reported at about 7,500 feet)

I got my 2nd 50 mile buckle!!!

That was fun. This one was for you Mom.

My friend Steve came in shortly after I finished. Steve, you rock. I knew you could do it (he could have beat me if he hadn't run out of water). It was one of the highlights of my day to get to run with Steve so much. For Boone, Steve, Kamran and Ally, it was their first ultra. You guys were amazing!!!

Other stats:
Last year's finish time: 11:48

I finished:
  • 7th out of 33 female finishers
  • 3rd in my age group out of 17
  • 48th out of 125 finishers (not sure how many dropped during the race - around 30-35?
What I consumed:
  • 3.5 chia/pinole brownies
  • 7 gels
  • 8 bottles of Xood, some diluted
  • potatoes/bananas
  • 2 small cans of V-8
  • chocolate chip cookie and thin mint (G.S cookie)
The love I felt from all of my runner friends before the race, while running, at aid stations, and at the end of the race was amazing. I received so many emails, FB messages and comments, texts and phone calls from people letting me know they cared. I really have never felt so loved in my life. Thank you all of loving me at one of the lower spots in my life. I needed all of it.

Mom, I think I have your smile.
My Mom will not be reading this race report, but she was a faithful reader of my blog for the last 4 years. I know she would have been proud of me for what I did out there today. She was always so proud of me and my sisters and brother.

I miss you, Mom. More than I ever thought I would. Thank you for making me the independent and strong woman I am today.


HappyTrails said...

Seeing your mom's picture at the end made me cry - made me think about my mom not being here, too. Sending you a big hug from me to you. What a fantastic race you had - your mom was proud, no doubt. What are chia/pinole brownies??? And the Xood??? Great job on a hard day - in more ways than one. You are in my thoughts and prayers!

Anonymous said...

I'm a fairly new follower to your blog but wanted to let you know how sorry I am for your loss. The fact that you not only completed the run this year, but also doing so well at it, is a loving testament to your mother.

Pinkcorker (Renee) said...

Thank you Kathleen...we make the chia/pinole brownies. All natural, low glycemic, slow burning calories. Pinole is masa harina (ground cornmeal). They are delicious. Xood is a sports drink created by local Tucson cardiologists. It is very mellow on the system.

scout said...

Renee, proud of you as always. It's great to see all of your smiling pictures, that's how I know its you...there's the pink and there's the smile!
I know your mom was running with you on race day, I'm glad to know that you were out on the course for my first OP.

Julie said...

Hang in there my dear friend. Can't wait to catch up in a few days. Congrats on the run. No doubt your mom is more proud then ever.

Jamie said...

Loved this post. It was so beautiful. I believe you made the right decision in running the race instead of staying at home. It made you stronger in many ways. Although you are already very strong! Congrats on the race. That photo of your mom at the end is lovely.

Bonnie said...

Renee, this is Bonnie (from Tucson, we have met a couple of times on the Rillito trail and I gave you water on Mt. Lemmon a couple of years ago).

I just wanted to tell you how sorry I am to hear about your Mom, the picture is beautiful, your run was beautiful and I offer my condolences to you and your family.