Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Good Quote

Stole this quote from a friend. Something that was good to read and even better to remember!

“When you come to the edge of all the light you know, and are about to step off into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing one of two things will happen: There will be something solid to stand on or you will be taught how to fly.” - Barbara J. Winter

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Just another run in the woods........

In the past I have always thought Memorial day weekend was supposed to be a time for relaxing at the beach with friends and family or perhaps cooking big franks and veggies over the grill while enjoying an extra long weekend of rest and restoration. This year however I had a change of heart. Instead of kicking back and enjoying an extra ice cream cone and lounging out in the sun I did the next most sensible thing. I ran my 2nd ultra marathon! I ran my first "ultra" (any footrace over 26.2 miles) back in December and had such a fun time, even after tripping over countless rocks, I thought it would be fun to run another extra long distance race. My training for this race wasn't as thorough as it could of been and I didn't officially sign up for it until about a month ago but regardless it was still a fun day of running!

The Pineland farms running festival on Sunday followed a fun weekend of fellowship with friends old and new in Maine. Andrew Whitlow (who ran the 50 mile run!) and I left from Camp Cherokee on Friday and arrived at the Gerrans house that evening after a long drive through beautiful country roads that included a flood detour and a quick stop at the race course in the dark. Sabbath was a big blessing as we attended church and met many new friends and saw many old friends as well. After a delicious potluck, a van load of us headed over to the Maine coast to tour through a few old war forts and walked a litle on the beach. It was neat to see several seals out fishing, some very close to shore! We closed out the Sabbath by heading over to some one's house for more good carbo loading food and worship! I managed to make it to bed by about 10:00 pm and slept all night long without the usual tossing and turning that tends to come the night before a big race.

I was glad for a good night of rest because race day Sunday started out super early with a wake up at 4:15 am to make it to the race at 5:00 am to beat the crowds at the bib number pickup tent. After picking up my sweet shirt and number I headed back to the car to pack the rest of my drop bag and try to stay off my feet as much as possible before the 50k race started at 8:00 am. I watched the start and the first part of the 50 mile race which started at 6:00 am. It amazed me how fast the lead runners were going so early in the race. Before I knew it race time had arrived and I was off and running to the sound of cowbells, cheering spectators and a list of people to pray for at each kilometer. For me, writing up a prayer list before big races is a tradition that really helps keep the race in perspective and allows me to focus on something other then how I am feeling. Remembering those who helped me get to this point makes it worth getting to each new mile!

The course was a challenging one with an endless variety of rolling hills, lots of grassy fields, and nice x-country ski trails. Although it was challenging the landscape was beautiful! The route also had lots of switch backs so running 2 loops wasn't boring at all.

I was grateful for nice cool weather to start the race I just wish it would of stuck around the rest of the day. I made the classic mistake of going out to fast which really affected me in the second loop. I got pulled into a group of very chatty and interesting guys who were all local Maine-iacs. The pace felt pretty comfortable but I didn't do to much talking during the 20kms or so that I hung with them. The first half of the race went by very quickly yet by the end of the first loop I could feel my legs starting to get a little tight.

I was also very thankful for the abundance of aid stations throughout the race course because after the sun came out it got warmer and more humid and was more of a challenge to stay hydrated. The aid station workers were really fantastic and did a great job of keeping up with the steady flow of runners from the 50 mile, 50k, and 25k races all running through at the same time. I skipped the first few AS's because I had my own water but before too long the bowls of gummy bears and the fruit on the tables became to much for me to resist and I grabbed a handful to get some quick sugar in my system!

As the rest of the race progressed my legs got more and more tight and the cytomax drink that was being served at the AS's really started to disagree with my stomach. The mental aspect of long distance running that everyone talks about, kicked into high gear soon into the second loop. I walked up several of the big hills during the second loop of the course and through the AS's as well. The last five miles were basically a countdown of kilometers and just trying to put one foot in front of the other as best as I could. I ran along with many encouraging and motivating runners who really helped me to keep plugging away at my goal to finish the race and have a fun experience! The slew of 25kers and slower 50 mile runners ahead of me really helped give me something to focus on as well.

Finally I passed through the last aid station ran, around one last field, crossed over the road and heard a choir of cowbells which meant the finish line was nearing! I managed to find one last burst of energy and picked up my knees higher then I had all day! I crossed the line after 4 hours and 42 minutes of excitement! I said a prayer of thanks to God for giving me the strength and safety to finish!

I collected my prized brown cowbell and FREE Merrel socks then SLOWLY walked to the water tent and poured ice water on my head. I eventually hobbled to my car to get dry clothes to change into. After the 50k race awards ceremony I tried to guess where Andrew would be along the course so I could cheer him on some more. The workers at the last aid stations didn't know if they had seen him or not so I sat near the finish line and before too long I saw him approaching the end! After the race we sat around and chatted with other finishers testing out our cowbells and swapping stories of our race experiences that day.

Later that evening we headed over to the Howe's house for supper and socializing which was a great way to wrap up a long, exhausting day! While watching the sun set over the Maine coast that evening I couldn't help but think how blessed I am. Have I mentioned how grateful I am for the ability to run? God is so gooood! To him be the glory! Can't wait for another run in the woods!