• Arabelle Romeo

You win some you lose some...

I live in a bubble. I'll admit it. The news gives me anxiety. I follow it for about 2 weeks and get all caught up and then I'm a wreck and need to take a break for a month. I use the ostrich rationalization that I'm doing my best to be a good mom and do some good in my community and that's where it all begins, so stressing about the whole big world is far less productive...and back in the sand my head goes. The news sought me out this past weekend in the form of an email from the race director of a 50k I was registered to run. I was stupified to learn that the government was considering shutting down and it meant that my race would be canceled as it was taking place in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. I followed the news closely Friday evening and tried to stay awake long enough for the senate vote, but ended up deciding that I'd deal with it in the morning and I drifted off to sleep. I woke up in the middle of the night, read the news and decided I was just going to go run the course anyways. I needed at least 30 miles on Saturday for my training schedule and the weather was going to be nice and I'm familiar with the course...I figured at least a few others would show up as well and maybe I'd have some company. As though a bunch of trailrunners were just going to sleep in because the government had canceled the race...

I arrived at 7 for what had been scheduled as a 7:30 start. The RD had a van parked in the parking lot and was handing out swag and medals to runners and telling us to go out there earn them. I stood in line for 10 minutes waiting for my medal with a parking lot full of runners all geared up to run a race. And at 7:30 we all took off timing mats, no bibs, no aid stations...just a field full of runners headed to a trail marked with big red arrows. I loved what I experienced out there. The course was comprised of a "short loop" and a "long loop" that we alternated as such: short, long, short, long and finally short and then to the finish. One of the things I really loved was that between each loop there's a 10th of a mile total jaunt to and from the start/finish where we otherwise would have been running over a timing mat to check in before heading back out. In the absence of an aid station and a timing mat, it would have been easy for everyone to just skip that jaunt across the field, and yet as I approached the completion of every loop I watched every runner turn and head up the field to the absent timing mat and turn around and run back out. I don't know why this made me feel so good, but I smiled so much during that race that my cheekbones hurt that evening.

I started the race in my new water proof shoes. The snow was heavy and the ground was slick in places and I decided the aggressive soles would serve me better in those conditions than my tried and trusted Minimus shoes. They did in fact keep my feet warm, but they're way more shoe than I'm used to...I kicked the shit out of my ankles with those thick soles. I completed the first short and long loop and was feeling as though every bone in my feet was on the verge of cracking. I'm not used to cushion, thick soles or drop in my shoe so I had sharp pains shooting from my arches up to the inside of my ankle and decided that the next short loop was going to happen in my Minimus. I ran beyond that missing timing mat and hopped in my car and changed out heat packs and shoes and felt almost instant relief. I had a little conversation with the guy in the car next to me eating a pizza before heading back out. I ran most of that next loop alone and felt like I could really move without those mack trucks on my feet slowing me down. And then the temperature started rising and the snow started getting heavier and wet. It wasn't long before my shoes and heatpacks were soaked and I was joined by my dear friend Mr.Reynaud. I hobbled the last mile of that loop with with a forced smile on my face just wanting the warmth of my car and some dry socks. I made my way to parking lot and carefully removed the wet footgear and shoved my feet as far up under the heat vent in my car as I could get them. I decided that it was better to focus on some footcare than to worry about my time- it's not like there was a cut-off to meet. So as I sat there warming my feet and devouring trailmix and orange juice, my pizza neighbor returned. I replaced my heat packs with new ones and reluctantly put the waterproof shoes back on while chatting a little with the neighbor. He pointed across the parking lot to a young man he'd been running with and said they would catch up with me as I left. At this point I had a long loop and a short loop left- just about a half marathon...easy peasy lemon squeazy... After about a 1/4 mile I heard my neighbor and his running partner approach and we fell into line on the single track with me in the middle. We spent a mile or so running in this formation before my neighbor got ahead and just my new companion and I were left. A funny thing happens on the trails, and I've experienced this at nearly every ultra I've run: you quickly become old friends with whoever you're running with. So my new old friend and I finished the long loop together and while he went to his car for food, I sat and warmed my feet again. They were definitely dryer in the new shoes, but I had blisters developing and my arches were screaming from the support I wasn't used to. With only 5 miles left at this point, I decided there was nothing left to do but just get it done. I finished my PBJ as my new running partner showed up and we headed out across the field through the slush to get that final loop in. We made our arrival at the finish after 7 hours and 34 minutes and an extra mile or two (or maybe more) from wrong turns we had both made before teaming up and running together.

I left feeling like I had won. I was so happy out there. I did great with nutrition and had no nausea the entire run. I felt strong and other than the sore feet from new shoes, I had a painfree run. I managed my Reynauds care well and had a beautiful day out there. I went home and ate like a champ and started making plans for my 20 miler the next morning. I got a good night's rest before heading into the gym the next morning committed to however long it was going to take to run my 20 miles. I've been drinking a blend of diluted orange and pineapple juice with sea salt while I run and I woke up in the morning to realize that only sea salt left was garlic salt...I'll admit to eating some weird shit, but even I have my limits. So mistake number one was to think it was ok to forego the salt this once. I had opened my drop bag from the race thinking I'd just grab my leftover food and take that...mistake number 2...all I had left was gluten free PBJ and raw trailmix. Nothing with salt. The first few steps on the treadmill elicited some groaning and swearing, but I settled in pretty quickly and was smugly thinking what a superstar I was to get up and run 20 miles after running a 50k in heavy wet snow the day before. It was hot in the gym, I was sweating alot and I decided to break it up in 5 mile increments and realized after the first 5 miles that I didn't need to pee despite having had put down a whole bottle of water and a half bottle of OJ/Pineapple juice. I might have felt a little dizzy, but we can always rationalize that stuff away. I refilled my water bottle, ate my PBJ and got going again. Around 7 miles the vice grip got a hold of my head and by 8 miles my ears were ringing and I was having trouble staying 10 miles I had finished all of the juice and another bottle of water and still couldn't pee. It was official at that point: I was dehydrated. I staggered to my car and laid my head on the steering wheel for a little while before heading home to the saltless kitchen and I opened a bag of tortilla chips and licked a couple dozen of them in desperation. A friend came by with some salt and after a couple glasses of saltwater I was able to get up and go to the store and buy a jar of pickles which I made short business of drinking all of the juice in the jar. The rest of the day was a wash, and it carried over into Monday...after 2 days in bed sipping pickle juice and drinking Emergen-C every couple hours, I finally woke up this morning feeling like I could function again... you win some, you lose some...

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