Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Great Cranberry Island 50K. It was a long race.

After pondering for the past 2 days about a clever way to begin this blog post about my recent 50K adventure I have given up hope. Clever is not going to happen. I am also going to avoid waxing poetic about how damn happy I was (am) about having the opportunity to run this race in its last year (who am I kidding, I am clearly going to do this. I might even give a whole friggin' press release like I did to Mary Ropp on Sunday morning. I get a bit verbose when I am running on no sleep, haha sorry :-))
I might be lacking in clever opening lines but here are a few titles that I considered for your enjoyment:
"The tale of two races in one, one amazing, one less so"
"The time the DJ dropped the bass one too many times and broke it.. or maybe there was a noise curfew?"
"The time we learned that Sara calls people who get frisky in the tent next door "campground sex offenders" (but really, go for it you guys. high five.)
"One time I was racing... to the next porta potti....."
Now to the good stuff.
Eric and I headed to Bar Harbor in the pouring rain on Friday after I wrapped up one of the busiest work weeks I have had this summer. I was feeling good despite having a few aches and pains from being on my feet 9 plus hours a day all week- it's life! We are all busy and that's that.
We had a normal evening of feasting on pasta, me eating cookies in bed and preparing for an early day. I slept quite well and woke up in the exact same head space I was in before Boston. I saw this as a very good sign. I call it my "staring space" because if you were to look at me or try to chat I might look totally spaced out. Here's the deal though, I'm just ALL inside my head in a weird and slightly creepy way. (it is creepy.) We hit the road on time, had a wicked fun ferry ride, accidentally stole one guys tent (whoops!) and got set up in plenty of time.  
Yay for racing friends!!!

As everyone knows I went into this race feeling good about my training cycle, uninjured, and with a flexible but pretty well thought out plan. I was getting a little pissed off at myself though because no matter what I could not figure out if I should treat the race like a slow-death-march or a run-fast-it's-only-5-miles-longer-than-a-marathon-wheeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!! Totally undecided. My final brilliant plan was that it was only 5 miles longer than a damn marathon and I should run it like a friggin' boss, leave it all out there, puke, break, murder myself in the face, be badass and NEVER EVER say I should have gone harder.  
Dudes. Goal accomplished. Which might not have been the best plan!!!

At the start! So excited! TOO EXCITED!!!!

As soon as I started running I pulled my head out of my creepy staring place and got SO PUMPED. I WAS OMG SO EXCITED. Ridiculous person that I am, I sped off to conquer the 5K I was running. Whoops. I was excited about everything, I met ALL the friends, I found my name on a phone pole, I saw the scary brown geese for the 1st of many times, I shouted everyone's name and jumped up and down. The miles must have flown by because the first time I looked at my watch it was at mile 8. And my watch read just a touch over 1 hour. OH SHIT. I was having ALL the fun though so this small detail did not concern me (it should have.) There were some hills, just little bitch hills at first later in the race they felt like Mt Everest- I'm sure other runners might agree with this... Other than those pests the course was freaking FUN- so pretty, so sunny, such a nice breeze all around fab.
Eric jumped in to run a couple laps with me at mile 11. I was clearly still in my very happy place at this point and we very happily chugged along at a blazing BQ pace, me yelling at the ducks, my new friends, anyone who would listen and generally being very enthusiastic. 
Mile 15 rolled around with a bit of GI disturbance that I took care of with plans to resume my kickass race domination. My plan worked well until mile 19. At mile 19 things took a turn for the worse, the unexpected, and to a place that I have never traveled to as a runner.
 For better or worse whenever I have hit the wall before I have been able to sneak over it, crawl under it, or kick it in the face until it breaks. At mile 19 of GCI I hit the hugest wall I have ever seen. From mile 19 to 21 I tried to pull it back together, knowing that I had been hydrating and eating properly, knowing that I had put in the damn work and knowing it was a perfect day to run.
At mile 21, with Eric reminding me that 10 miles is no biggie for me I basically lost my cheese off my cracker (there may have been tears.) (10 miles seemed impossible!) I knew there was no way I could make my "A" goal, I knew that my "run however you feel like running" plan wasn't panning out, and I knew that from my dumb belly to my feet I hurt worse that I ever had before while running. TOTAL system failure. I was stopping at every porta potty, I could no longer keep up with my hydration and every time I moved faster than a shuffle I felt like I was going to puke or just die. UGH EFFING UGH! Eric was planning to stop running at mile 21 but he stuck with me thru another lap and having him there was a huge morale boost. We ran thru the marathon split in 4:00 and I knew I could still make my "B" goal, or close to it, even if I had to walk most of the final lap.
 Sometimes in any competition when things aren't going according to plan one has a choice, quit, pout, or make the best of it.  At mile 27 I seriously considered sitting on the side of the road to cry for a bit, I said to Eric "I think I can finish" and not only did he agree but a couple of girls ran by and they were like "DUH, of COURSE you can." At that point I decided that no matter what I would enjoy the final lap. It would, after all be my final lap in the final chapter of this race on GCI and I was determined not to sob and snot my way thru it. So I manned the fuck up. I ran/walked/hobbled my way as fast as I could (not fast) over those last few miles. An untimely additional porta potty trip made me nervous about coming in under 5 hours, and when my legs cramped up when I tried to run faster than a turtle I decided my "F" goal was going to have to be ok. (F goal, Fucking Finish. Yes, we all have those days...)
I ran thru the finish in 5:04. I have no idea how I felt or what happened or anything. I was in a gross amount of discomfort so went and sat down.  
Me. Done. Thank Heavens!

Right away I felt much better!
I was exhausted.
I was very glad to be done and sat in a stupor for a few minutes before taking a fantastic shower (I have never been so salt covered) drinking a bunch of Gatorade, talking to my new running friends and taking a short grass nap.

Then we took a mile walk to look at all the pretty things!

 It took me a couple of days to get around to writing this because I had to mull it over for a bit. It was quite an enormous accomplishment and even though I did not meet my A goal I learned a lot. I know a bit better now what I could improve on if there is another 50K in my future. I also know that even thru a shit ton of problems I can push myself for 31 miles- which is fairly insane from a normal perspective!
I feel like the people made the event. It was really fantastic, well run and a group of awesome cool runners. My kind of people. These are people that I will be happy to see again, snuggle with (although our snuggle-buddy had to leave the party early!) share beer and war stories with and commiserate over all the struggles of running with.

I'm not going to lie. If this race was going to take place again next year I'd be signing up on day ONE ready to tackle it again!  (Gary Allen/Mary Ropp comeonnnnnnnnn! one more year! pleeeease???)

It was an amazing adventure. I keep looking back on the weekend with only positive feelings (which is weird for my type-A self to do when I crash and burn in such a spectacular manner!) I'm so happy I got to experience the race, the island, the people and new friends.....

(see you all at MDI. less than 3 months not that I'm counting!)


  1. I love your language and honesty. I'm so happy to know that even super heroes like you have BLECH moments in races. I mean, I am sorry that it things seemed to get sketchy for a bit...but still nice to know. I feel like I have those types of races much to often. I am sad this was the last year. This is one I would have liked to have a goal to work the very far future. You ROCKED it. You overcame the setbacks and still dominated. Great job! I look forward to seeing you at MDI, for like 5 seconds at the start. haha!

  2. As nice as it is to be able to rock things like a champion, what you're capable of when shit hits the fan is far more telling of who you are as a person. So, you got to see what you've got in the sub cockles of your heart in this race, and it turns out that you're badass to the core.

  3. I read this and my first thought was "OMG she is human!" because up to this point I've thought you were a real honest to goodness immortal super hero! Sorry you had a rough race, but it sounds like you have a great perspective of the entire event.
    Glad you muddled through and you are amazing in my book.
    Hope to see you at MDI.

  4. Sorry it didn't go like you hoped. I agree with the above and feel like you are amazing and can pull off anything. But you'll conquer this distance to YOUR satisfaction I have no doubt. To the rest of us you already have conquered it!

  5. oh man. races are hard! you still rock :)

  6. I've had those feelings before! So glad you were able to do this in the last year, so jealous too. I can't wait to see you at MDI!

  7. First, Congratulations on the race! Sorry that the end was not what you wanted, but YOU FINISHED! You have an awesome optimistic mind to say that you would do it again next year. I am pretty sure I wouldn't have made up my mind that quickly :D You rock!

  8. Thank god you have finally written this dang race report. I have been waiting and waiting and even stalking another sarah (oops, got you mixed up...) to find out how you did! I guess both sarahs did just fine. You did great despite what you think. Just finishing is awesome! congratulations!!

  9. You rock! Plain and simple. Holy shit.