The start of the Rocky Raccoon Trail 100 was a nice cool, even chilly start. This would be the only cold time of the day! We were off promptly at 6 am and headed down the trail in the dark. It was pretty crowded, so I was just enjoying chatting with everyone around me.
While I was enjoying myself and the trail, I wasn’t having a good first loop (each loop=20 miles.) My leg problem, the one which hurts in the groin area but inside my leg somewhere, flared up around mile 5. I slowed down and took an Aleve and hoped it would get better soon. This is the leg problem that affects my stride.
I was also sweating profusely. I went from 10 degrees and no humidity to race condition that were steadily climbing from the nice original 40’s to the mid 70’s. Still, it was just sweat and I was drinking and eating on schedule.
Andrew pulled away from me, since I had slowed. He was only about 11 minutes ahead of me starting the second loop-there are out and backs where you see other runners, which is great!
The second loop was the mid-day loop and it was tough. I just kept drinking and eating and putzing along. I felt a hot spot on the bottom of my foot, and stopped to tape it. Then, of course, two miles down the trail, I felt a hot spot develop on the other foot, so I taped that at the next aid station. I hadn’t had any major blisters for months! But I also had not been running in any hot weather since September. The leg still hurt, I was doing far too much walking. Still, I was in a good mood.
On the third loop I picked up my headlight because it would be getting dark sometime soon. Darkness fell on me after the Dam Road Aid Station, which meant around 56 miles. With the sun going down, the temperature dropped (although it seemed the humidity increased). Since I couldn’t see too many runners to give shout outs to, I turned on the Zune for the first time that day. I really had a good time on that third loop, in the dark! I think I ran more on the third loop than the second. The drugs had kicked in, and my leg was feeling much better. I did notice my fingers were starting to swell. I had been monitoring them all day, as I seem to have a problem with swelling.
I got back to the Lodge at 10 pm. Opening my drop bag, I was surprised to see my car keys. Andrew and I had put all the car keys in his drop bag so we would know where they were after the race. I wondered if he had dropped. As I thought this, a volunteer came up to me and asked if I was with Andrew, and she said he was in the medical tent.
Agh!! That woke me up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Andrew was up and around, actually getting ready to leave. He was pulled for medical reasons from the race-his blood pressure was 70/50. He spent 1.5 hours in the tent trying to get his BP back up.
So here I am, trying to assimilate this, he’s trying to reassure me that he’s fine, a volunteer is bugging me to get back out on the course, so I do pretty much what any female would do-burst into tears.
The volunteer was very helpful, I never got her name. She reassured me (along with Andrew) several times, that he was okay, and I needed to get back to my race. She walked me back out on the course, and I set off on Loop 4.
I was a bit upset. Actually I was a lot upset. I can be a bit (okay a lot) emotional at times. Andrew is a very dear friend of mine, and I was very concerned about him driving back to the hotel.
One thing I am good at is focusing. I turned the tunes back on, and just focused on getting to the Highway Site AS. If I just kept thinking about the song and the AS I wasn’t thinking about Andrew.
I was starting to get tired after this-well, more tired, I was already tired. I had not gotten any food at the Lodge, so I snacked out of my waist pack. When I got to the Highway AS, I had a cup of soup, but it didn’t seem to help much. I wasn’t drinking too much water, and I was not peeing much at all. It seemed like all the water was going in me, and not coming out anywhere. I was noticing my arms and fingers swelling more.
I got to the Dam Road AS and started down to the Far Side AS. On the fourth loop is when they pick up the AS and move it at least a ½ mile down the trail. I was getting concerned about my bloating. I thought about trying to throw up and see if that helped.
I was finally losing my good mood out there on the trail. WHERE was that AS??
I finally got to the AS. I didn’t spend any time there, as I didn’t want to eat and my water bottle was still full. I decided to try and throw up. So I stopped, stuck my finger down my throat-several times-before getting the gag reflex to kick in.
I threw up nothing! Hell, so much for that idea. I continued up the trail. All that bending over had done was now make me dizzy and lightheaded. Or maybe that was sleep deprivation. I trudged along, very slowly. I was having a huge pity party for myself. I even tried to snap myself out of it, telling myself I was just in a low spot.
I got back to Dam Road. I got a cold paper towel for myself. The three chairs were occupied and nobody was paying any attention to me. I wanted to drop there but decided to walk back to the Lodge.
As I left Dam Road, my Zune died, and the tiny MP3 player Andrew loaned me? I didn’t know how to turn it on. I was left with my negative thoughts out on the trail. I was dizzy, tired, bloated. I now had more blisters-my blisters grew under the area I had taped, so I gave up on stopping and taping more.
There is an area at RR where you are on boardwalks
through a swamp. On the third lap, I was pretty creeped out and made sure I stayed in the middle (to keep away from any frenzied alligators that might want to eat me.) On the fourth loop? I was hoping an alligator would chomp on me and end my race.
By the time I reached the Lodge, I had decided to drop. I did the 4th loop in 7 hours. I had 6 hours-or more like 6.45 to do the fifth loop. I did not see how I could finish the fifth loop faster than the 4th. Joe tried his best to get me back out there.
In Hindsight, I should have gone on. I regret it now. But it was a valuable learning experience for me. I now know what it feels like to drop voluntarily; I hope I will hold onto that feeling and remember it for the next time I am thinking about dropping!
I also need to get my foot/blister issues under control. I got two months until Umstead. As Olga says “it’s only a race”.!
I really enjoyed the experience at Rocky. It was a first class affair. Great food, excellent volunteers-every aid station was staffed by very friendly, positive, supportive people-THANK YOU volunteers!