Mix a little bit of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), a little bit of stupid, a little bit of hubris and a whole lot of wishful thinking. What do you get? Me, signing up for a 12 hour timed race three days before the whole thing goes down.
I had done the Brazen Dirty Dozen last year and had put it on the calendar again. But 2013 has been split in half by the Bryce 100k. I was so sure about everything that came before Bryce and completely uncertain about anything that came after it. And the Brazen race came after.
I’ve been in a funk ever since Bryce. The uncertainty about my race schedule post-Bryce spread into every aspect of my life. I didn’t feel like myself most of the time but when I did I was with my extended trail running community. I cheered them on at the San Francisco Marathon. I volunteered at the Muir Beach aid station for the Marin Ultra Challenge. I was part of Team Emily at Western States. What I really wasn’t doing much of was running.
“I didn’t know you were doing this?” I got that question a lot. I figured if no one knew I was here, no one would know if I didn’t show up. Not really how I generally operate but perhaps indicative of how strange life has been since Bryce. In truth, I probably had no business showing up at Pt. Pinole registered as a 12 hour participant. Yet there I was.
What is there to say about a course that’s a 3.37 mile loop with 150 feet of elevation gain? It’s got beautiful views of the bay and is eminently runnable. It’s got magical hills that barely register when you start and grow into mountains as the time goes by. It’s exposed and tree covered. At times smooth, rocky, rutted and ridden with gopher holes. And today, it’s got a blasting head and tailwind.
There is a lot and nothing that goes on when you are running around in circles for 12 hours. In no particular order:
A. It was low tide when the race started and it was an odd thing to realize that I’d see high tide come in and go out during the race.
B. “Hey, I know you!” said a woman I completely did not know when I turned around to look at her. “I was crewing for my sister at Bryce. I saw you cross the finish line and at some of the aid stations.” The look of utter confusion on my face probably said it all. How on earth could this woman possibly remember me? Then she pointed to my shirt. “I remember the plaid.” I knew there was a reason I’ve chosen to take up this particular race day attire.
C. Later, “Are you wearing a polo shirt?” I rest my case.
D. If the clock had stopped at the 50k mark it would have been a new PR. Considering the nature of the course that wouldn’t have been a hard thing to do and I wasn’t really trying, but still, kind of cool. Physically, I was feeling stellar. I should probably have stopped there but, no, I had to keep going.
E. Pineapple. All aid stations from now on must have fresh pineapple.
F. “You are awesome!” said a woman who blew past me. I was 4 hours in and she was doing one of the short (5k and 10k) races that are run concurrently with the 6 and 12 hour race. Always willing to respond with a zingy one liner I yelled back “And I have to be awesome for another 8 hours!”
G. “There is no such thing as way too TMI for me.” I’d make something up just to test that, Sam, but I’m afraid I’m just not that creative or bold.
H. When a large clock comes running toward you, a gloved white hand outstretched for a high five and a muffled voice is calling your name you just roll with it. Then you wonder how the heck they know you. By the time I got back to the aid station I had put two and two together. “Did you know Ken is out there running around in a clock suit?” Considering I was talking to the clock’s wife this question is absurd but she humored my foggy runner’s brain nonetheless.
I. Back to the “I had to keep going” part. Mile 35 onwards my legs were cramping. Sometimes a little, sometimes a lot. I always felt like I was on the verge of a complete lock up where I wouldn’t be able to move. But the embarrassment of having a search and rescue party come looking for me on a 3.37 mile loop course was motivation to not turn into a statue in the middle of Pt. Pinole.
J. Dates. Dates are good. Dates of the fruit kind, not dates of the social kind. Although those could be good too. But maybe not at an aid station. Oh, never mind.
K. I crossed paths with another person doing one of the short races. I’d go past her and she’d immediately pick up the pace to pass me then slow down. Then I’d pass her. Rinse. Repeat. I wasn’t varying my must-sustain-this-for-12-hours pace but I could tell from the labored breathing this effort was putting her into the red zone. After the 3rd or 4th time this happened and fearing an imminent cardiac incident I reassured the woman, “I’m in the 12 hour. Don’t worry. You are going to beat me.”
L. Back to the “I had to keep going” part again. I was in the middle of loop 14 when my stomach shut down. My body was in full revolt and I apologized to Sam. “No, there is no sorry.” Funny how this is the second time in as many weeks that I’ve heard this. I need to take it to heart when a friend chooses to stay with me when I’m not feeling great.
M. 50 miles is a long way. Period. Actually make that 50.55 miles.
N. Dear Universe, are you teaching me about mental toughness? I get it. Now can I have a race that goes well for me? The last one was Quicksilver 50k and I’m due. Thanks!
O. Hobble around looking pathetic after a race and if you are lucky a kind soul named Pen will help you schlep your stuff back to your car.
“Sam, is it warm down or cool down? What are we doing?” Seriously? And you all let me drive home? 😉