Wednesday, January 20, 2016

My Almost 50K

never expected my first 50K to be cancelled. I lived in Clearwater for 13 months and the winter was uneventful. This was the ideal place to tackle a new distance.

In my head I had everything planned the way it would go. I'd pick up my race bib, sleep 8+ hours, run a sunny and bright race, and take some beautiful beach pictures with my gorgeous starfish medal. I'd come back to Pittsburgh an ultra marathoner! 

(Me with everything going according to plan)

Well mother nature brought in a perfectly timed storm that rocked the area in just a few short hours. The race director had already announced the evening before that the start time would be delayed an hour. I woke up in the middle of the night to the sounds of wind and rain causing my anxiety of what the next day would be like to increase rapidly. 

There went my 8+ hours of sleep. No big deal, I've run marathons on less. Arriving at the starting line the winds were slowly picking up speed but overall it looked like the day would work out. Rain had stopped and the sun was peaking through clouds in the distance. I was ready and nervous and excited.

I decided to have Brad spray me with sunscreen and in the process I realized 1 minute before the gun went off that my garmin was laying on the bumper of my car (I removed it so it wouldn't get greasy with sunscreen)!!!!!!!!!! Sprinting through the parking lot in a full blown panic was completely NOT part of the plan.

I raced back to the start and realized they hadn't started on time. As I was in the process of meeting my instagram friend Erica for the first time in person (which was over a year in the making!) the race director was announcing that the 50K and marathon were cancelled due to flooding on the course. 

Just like that. I was crushed. Did not expect that at ALL. None of us did. We were told we would be running the half marathon course only. And then within a couple minutes the race began. I cried at the starting line. But I don't care because it's how I was feeling and I'm not apologizing for how I feel (a New Year 's Resolution). 

So off we went. I had to work out a LOT of emotions during that race. In a sense, I dealt with a bit of a loss. I love running so much and I love races. I don't run for time, I run for the experience and I felt like I was getting jipped out of my experience. But it wasn't just me. There were first time marathoners and 50 state marathoners who had goals just like me. 

Check out the trees in the picture. The winds picked up and everyone on that course fought for every single step. Emotionally it was draining. At times I thought I was moving forward but I'm pretty sure I stood still. PATIENCE. Patience was needed to complete this race. Sand blew in our faces, the wind literally tripped me a few times and some runners fell. There were no mile markers either because they could blow away. 

But those views. Oh those gorgeous Clearwater views. 

I managed to finish my 16th (unplanned) half marathon. After 13 miles I was ok with it. I said it before on social media and I'll say it again. Safety is priority at these events. When the announcement was made that those distances were cancelled some runners actually booed the race director. I was embarassed for them. There's no one who wants a race to go on that they just poured their life into for the last year to create more than a race director. He did everything he could to put on a great race and succeeded with flying colors. After the race they posted on facebook what we actually dealt with on the course:

When I crossed the finish line and was handed a 50K finisher medal (because that's what was on my bib) I cried HARD into Brad's shoulder. It confirmed that my shot at this 50K was over. And I didn't want a medal I didn't earn. 

(From snapchat)

So let me tell you what I learned. First off I'm emotional and I have to get things out before I can move on. I did that and now I am completely ok. 

I GOT TO RUN. One day I may not be able to, but Sunday was not thay day. I still ran a half and I love distance running! I got to meet a new running friend. I have a pretty crazy story to tell. I get to come back to Clearwater and try this 50K again! I ran with AMAZING views. And after contacting the race director I was able to pay shipping so they could send me one of the half marathon medals they had leftover so I could proudly display the distance I conquered. And I plan to donate my ultra medal to an organization that gives race medals to sick children in the hospital. All winning in my book. 

No things didn't work out as planned, but that is life. Just another example of how running makes us tougher and teaches us life lessons when we aren't expecting it. I appreciate these lessons and I appreciate the gift I have to travel and run all over the country. Everything is in perspective and next time something like this happens I will deal with it better. Thanks for all the love on social media and support from Brad, my family and friends. Time for the next adventure!