…a race report for my first ever 50K…
I always feel I have to get something out of the way. I am a runner. I just am not a fast runner. When I look at race pictures, I realize I don’t really look much like a runner either. In fact, if I met you on the street and told you I was an ultrarunner, you’d probably think to yourself, “Riiiiight”.
But I am!
I may have been the last female to cross the finish line… but I crossed it!
It may have taken me 9 hours and 15 minutes to finish the race, but I ran and walked (and thought about crawling) the 33.6 miles to get it done.
No matter how I look, I just accomplished something I never imagined my body could do: I ran a 50K Trail Race! And you know what? I had a smile on my face as big as Texas when I crossed that finish line.
This report is dedicated to all the other runners out there who may not think they are or can be a runner… My mantra: continuous forward progress.
My guess is if you read any race report about Psycho Psummer, there will be 5 things always mentioned:
- It was hot
- Running was involved.
- There were hills.
- Ice is good.
- The volunteers rock!
And my race report will be no different…
1. It was hot.
It wasn’t like we didn’t know it was going to be hot. That has been the story this summer…hot, hot, hot. My phone died a little over half way through the run but my app still captured the essence of the run.
We ran through the woods in 96° temperature for hours at a time. On a good note, most of the time, the trees provided some much needed shade. I only grumbled about the heat when crossing the dam. Never mind that it was uphill and HOT! Did anyone else feel like the dam stretched on forever??? My clothes were soaked in sweat from the time I started until I crossed the finish line.
Up until race day, I couldn’t decide if I wanted to bring a hand-held water botter or to wear my Nathan Hydration vest. Each had pluses and minuses. Because of the heat, I knew I would need to drink like a gazillion gallons of water. I could carry a ton of water in the vest but it would weigh me down throughout the race. If I carried the 20 once bottle, there was the fear of running out when I needed a drink. Then, I started to think about other items I may want: a bandana, extra food, my phone. I opted for the vest. It was a good decision…more about that later.
Race day! I arrived at Wyandotte County Park about 45 minutes early. Along with the heat, I discovered something else while waiting on the race to start, I know people! Although I live in Saint Joseph, I try to make the trek to Kansas City (about an hour away) at least once a month to run with a Trail Nerds or Mud Babes group. It gives me a chance to meet others who are interested in something I am passionate about AND I can learn so much!
Shout outs have to go to Gregg, Bryan, Luke, Julia, Cassie, and Lisa for visiting with me prior to the race starting. I was able to get fantastic advice from the more experienced ultra runners and could commiserate with the newbies! I took to heart some of the following advice:
- Walk EVERY Hill
- Eat Early and Often
- Stay Hydrated
- Have Fun
2. Running was involved
See, this was a trail race after all. We did run. Ben Holmes, the race director, gave the obligatory last minute instructions and sent us on our way.
And see, I was running!
Over the bridge and up the hill I went. Yes, I even ran up that first grassy hill. Then we met the trail head where the mass of runners went onto a single track trail. So we walked.
The first four miles of the race there were lots of runners around. Most were talking and visiting with friends as they ran and walked the trail.
Personally, I ran alone. I have come to treasure these long runs where I can just keep up a personal commentary in my head. In my nine hours of running, I never got bored or ran out of things to think about. I found myself slowing down when I would hear runners behind me so they could pass me. Maybe it was selfish of me, but I didn’t want to have a conversation with someone else while I was running. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE talking to runners… Before the race, when someone is passing me, at ALL Aid stations… But I haven’t figured out how to have a sustained conversation while running for miles at a time. Perhaps in time running and talking will get easier.
As it stands, I had a great time running with my inner dialogue.
Most of my convos centered on how far I would run until I could walk a bit, what section of the trail was coming up, and what I would do at the next aid station. Not the most exciting topics but I was happy!
Another positive, I ran!
I walked some, but I also ran!
And even better, I never fell. It was a good race on that account.
3. There were hills
Oh my, were there hills. Thankfully, I have run through Wyandotte County Park before. I signed up for Psycho Psummer after I ran the Run Toto Run Winter Edition 20 miler. It was so much fun, I thought I’d try out the summer version. Then, in June, I ran a training run to see the changes to the summer course.
Although I was first a little sad that the Triangle portion of the race was removed, as I was running through my second loop, I realized how much I loved the new edition. I felt like I was running mostly downhill and it was so shaded! Nice change.
But, let’s get back to the hills… You know the hills, those THREE on the last few miles of the loop. I knew they would be a booger and so I made a point to stay positive since I knew I would probably tackle them three times. The first time through, the 10 miler leaders passed me right about this time. I remember the female leader exclaiming a vindictive toward the hills as she charged up the first. Actually, I didn’t have the heart to tell her she hadn’t really reached the 3 tough ones yet. She looked fierce and I decided she wouldn’t have a problem when she got there. When I reached the three hills, I entertained myself deciding what my friend Ashly, who was running the 10 miler for the first time, would say as she got to the hills.
The second time through, I met a woman not in the race on the biggest hill. She was just standing in the middle of it, looking up. She turned and looked at me and said, “You’re not gonna like this.” Ha! I just kept plowing ahead. I decided that the positive here is if I don’t make the time limit, I won’t have to see these hills again. And if I did, I only had to do it one more time! During this second loop, I also came across a fellow that just sat down in the middle of the last hill. He looked defeated but he was almost done! I stopped and talked to him, gave him a GU with the encouragement that he really only had just a bit more to go. I so hope he made it.
During this second loop, I was passed by several of the 50K Leaders. I’m pretty sure every one one of them gave me words of encouragement as they sped by me. What’s even better… I’m pretty sure they meant what they said. That is one of the reasons I so love a trail race. Whether you are in first or last place, everyone is happy to see others out running and having fun.
So for all of you who passed me by and gave a shout out, “Thank You!” It helped keep my smile in place.
I finished loop 2 just as T Garvey, a friend from Saint Joseph, finished sixth overall! I had to capture this auspicious moment!
Then, I had to head out and tackle the Psycho Psummer loop once more.
Pictures will NEVER do these hills justice.
On this last time through. I’m pretty sure I cussed.
I know I stopped and drank some water, frowned, then walked up those stupid hills, frowned again, stopped again…
…but I kept on walking so I could finish!
4. Ice is good.
I never realized how much I would love ice. I’ve established that it was hot. And, I ran all dang day long. I put ice everywhere.. In my bra, on my back, in my hydration vest, down my shorts, in a bandana around my neck. Let’s just say, lots of my conversations with myself involved where I would get ice and where I would put it.
5. The Volunteers Rock!
Incredibly helpful volunteers is synonymous with any Trail Nerds event. There is no way I could have finished this race in the condition I was in without the help of the volunteers throughout the race. I would like to pretend that I got preferential treatment from the volunteers because I have ran with several of these trail nerds before and have volunteered myself a time or two. In actuality, they helped everyone however they could.
Here is what I remember. If I do not know your name yet, I will learn it soon. I appreciated each and every one of you!
First aid station:
Mr. Brooks was working the CowBell cheering us out of the woods. Then Xiao and Larry Long were there. Mrs. Brooks got us back in the woods.
Here, I snacked on watermelon and Nutella tortilla rolls! I love Nutella.
Second aid station:
Thank you Erica and Sarah for finding us good food to eat! I appreciated the Facebook updates from Sarah as my phone had died. A really nice trail nerd filled my bandana with ice here. Thank you!
Boiled potatoes with salt! Who new?
My funny moment here was in the third loop and I asked where Elliott was. He happened to be sitting not two feet to my left. Oh well, I’m blaming it on the heat!
Third aid station:
Ammanda and the angry midget, always make me smile! Thank you for your helpfulness. Brian Hay went above and beyond when I couldn’t get my fingers to cooperate. He untied my bandana, filled it with ice, tied it back on and then did the same with my hydration vest. Thank you! I had not met the third Trail Nerd… Keke? She got me Tylenol and bandaids. Yes!
Oranges and Gu Here!
Forth aid station:
More ice in my bandana, water in my vest and Gu! This was the first time I had met these volunteers. All were awesome. When I was walking away on the third loop, I was down the hill and realized I couldn’t even open my Gu Packets. I almost had to go back and have them help me. Thankfully, my teeth did the job!
My hydration vest. It will hold 2 liters of water. I am pretty sure it was filled from five to seven times during the race… I lost track. Just as I lost the ability to use my fingers dexterously. What that means I could use them to wave hi, but attempting to untie or unzip something was beyond me. Thank you to all of you who kept me together!
Main aid station:A special shout out has to go to the Main Aid station volunteers.
I only had like 2 minutes till the cut off time, my water was empty, I needed a bandaid on my foot and I needed something to eat
. The volunteers were like soldiers on a mission! I was told to cross the finish line and wait for them.
Jen met me with a bandaid, Mel filled my water vest and brought me food. I was able to start the third loop with seconds to spare.
You all are rockstars!
And so, I ran my 33.6 miles. No blisters, no tummy issues, and no tears! The worst injury I had was chafing where my bra strap rubbed my back.
Thank you to the runners, family, friends, and volunteers who helped to make my first ultramarathon a success. Life is good.