Why did you sign up to do this race?
My running partner broached the idea of doing the 50k at Run Woodstock. We both liked it for several reasons: it’s hippie themed (there’s even an optional nude 5k at night!), the fact that you could camp the entire weekend, and there were musical acts and yoga workouts. We also liked that it was a trail race with relaxed time limits: for a 50k, we had 15 hours! Essentially, we could walk the entire course and still make the time limit. The food list for the aid stations is what nailed it for me. It’s hard for me to pass up food! Overall, it just seemed like a really good time. We invited a bunch of friends to join us and excitedly registered.
How did you feel once you crossed the finish line?
It was honestly a pretty good mix. I was definitely relieved to be done. The last 10 miles were physically painful for me. I wasn’t happy with how my race went due to the pain, but I still found myself smiling and feeling good that I finished.
Also, I was preeetty sore…
What would you say was the hardest challenge in this race?
About 3 months before the race, I started experiencing some health issues that gave me a continuous elevated heart rate, even when resting. I was told by my doctor to cease running for 4-5 months until things normalized. But she also permitted me to walk really long distances so long as I felt comfortable. Remember when I mentioned earlier I calculated I could walk the entire course and still finish within the time limit? Well, that now became the game plan. Except…I didn’t train walking long distances…
On race day, the first 16 miles were easy. I spent it walking with a friend, so time progressed quickly. We’d spent about 6 hours of our time limit at that point. My friend was feeling really good and I didn’t want to hold her back, so she went ahead while I took my time. Despite getting stung by a wasp on my hand minutes after our separation (thank goodness I’m not allergic!), my legs still felt decent. But by mile 22, my eyes started playing tricks with me. The ground and trees started spinning, and it was disorienting. Luckily, the only bench on the entire course was just yards away. I sat for 15-20 minutes waiting for my eyes to settle and to refuel. This break proved to have disastrous effects as everything then settled into both of my Achilles. Now, I felt everything. It felt like both had been torn and I could feel the burning inflammation. Every step I took, especially going uphill, felt like localized FIRE. By the time I managed to hobble to the mile 24 aid station, I accepted I would not finish.
A volunteer named, quite appropriately, Angel was there. She told me I didn’t even look tired. And I wasn’t! My legs felt awesome. But my heels were a different story. Angel felt I still could make it to the end and asked what I needed to get there. I explained I needed ankle support. Minutes later, she was wrapping my ankles with duct tape. She even let me borrow her headlight in case I didn’t finish before dark. The support was just enough for me to hobble to the 28 mile aid station and get more duct tape.
The miles moved by slower and slower. It was taking me 30 min just to kill a mile. It was also starting to get dark. But somehow, I just kept hobbling along, taking in the scenery as much as possible. I made it just in time to see the most glorious pink sunset. It felt like a miracle.
What was the most rewarding thing about completing this run?
About 10 yards in front of the finish line, I saw Angel sitting there cheering on the finishers. It just felt so great to see her. Without her encouragement, I wouldn’t have finished. She hugged me, and it was the best!
My friends and loving boyfriend were there waiting for me too, and they ran across the finish line with me. Even if I finished dead last for the 50k, I knew it was a better feeling than not finishing.
It also felt amazing to shower when all was said and done.
Was there anything or anyone in particular that helped you throughout your training?
Up until my health issues, I ran with my running partner or boyfriend…or sometimes both! And if I ran alone, it helped to post my runs on Strava to see my stats and get encouraging comments. It helped to surround myself with people just as active. They get it and know just what to say to get me motivated. And if I was still lacking motivation, I reminded myself I’ve never regretted a run. That’s what got me out the door.
Any final words of encouragement and thoughts you’d like to share?
I don’t advise continuing a race when a body part or two feels painful. Walking HURT for 3 days after the race, and I spent those 3 days constantly elevating my legs, wrapping my ankles, and icing. Let’s just say I found out the hard way that even if you plan to walk a race, you still really need to train! Never treat a race like an afterthought. Train with purpose.
Regardless, I still really enjoyed the race. It was so great to just spend the day in nature without a phone. It was just me, nature, and my thoughts. That peacefulness made it a memorable day.
There’s no shame in quitting due to injury, and there’s no shame finishing dead last. At the end of the day, I pushed myself to my limit and tried my best, and that’s why I have no regrets about this race. I’m looking forward to challenging myself again, especially now that my health has returned and I’m back to running. 🙂