I have put off writing this post for one reason and one reason only… I kinda want to forget it ever happened… But yet I know that maybe someday I will want to look back and be reminded of the fact that I can run in less than ideal conditions? So anyways, not to give away the end of the story but this race sucked…
I signed up for this race in February of 2011. Someone I worked with signed up and encouraged me to as well and so I did. I knew right away that running a race in July was not a good plan but I figured it was going to be by the lake so how bad could it be? HA! Well, initially the race was scheduled to start at 10am – thankfully somewhere along the way they changed that to 8am but still this would turn out to be not early enough. I had worries about the heat and temps and humidity the whole entire time I was training… but the weather leading up to the race was actually cooler than normal so I started to think this might turn out OK??… Then I saw the forecast for the weekend of the race… uh, oh…. 95 degrees and 100% humidity… not weather this girl from “up north” is used to running in. But still I prepped for race day….
The day of the race, Sunday July 10th, showed up and it.was.hot. I think we were already sweating before even lining up for the race! But yet they still let the race begin and with the cloud cover, it was not anything too terrible. At first I was going to start in the corral area that had my pace group but quickly realized it was not worth it to pack in like a sardine when it was a chip timed race and I could cross the start line whenever I wanted. Hello, end of the pack!
My sister and one of our friends came to watch me and cheer me on so it was nice to be able to say good bye to them when the gun went off and hope to heck to be able to see them again along the course! My mom and dad also drove down and so I knew I could keep a look out for them too but was not quite sure where. So at least I had these things in my head to help distract me a little as the gun went off and we were under way
The first part of the race was over this bridge in Milwaukee, the Hoan Bridge. The first mile or so I actually was thinking, oh this might not be too bad! And then the bridge kept going, and going, and going, and going… I didn’t realize it was the Energizer Bunny bridge… and then the sun really came out and started cooking everyone, on this dumb bridge, with zero shade and no spectators… I never realized how much spectators motivate you to keep trucking along until all of a sudden you are running 6 nasty-ass miles with no one cheering you on On the second leg of the bridge, I saw three people take nose dives… this was my second clue things were not going so great. You see, this bridge was a Construction Zone and instead of cleaning this up a bit for the thousands of runners, they just left up the cones and signs and all that good stuff ?? But finally, the bridge was drawing to a close and I was so happy and thinking this was the worst of the race and it was now over! And then I got to see my parents and that made me very happy I also knew my sister and Ashley were going to be around mile 7 and that was not too far off either.
The next mile went pretty smoothly also, quick, not too hot, and super nice to be off that damn bridge!! I could already feel it in my hamstrings and calves but I was hoping to shake it out a bit. Mile 7 I spotted my sister and Ashley and stopped over by them for a bit. They had an extra water bottle for me so I switched out with them “just in case”. My plan was to drink the water stop water and only keep mine for “emergencies” – hah! I also for some lucky reason decided to grab the ice packs they had and set them on my neck for a few minutes because I was HOT. I don’t sweat very well so my body temp just goes up, up, up… But I was still feeling good at this point and not concerned about finishing at all. I said good bye to my pit crew and started out on the next leg…
Oh.Boy. Somewhere after mile 8, the sun started to beat down… and I tried to stop at an aid station and they were out of water…and this mile was uphill (again) and in zero shade (again)… people started dropping. And I started freaking… and getting hotter, and hotter, and hotter… This point of the race was really almost my breaking point. I pulled over to the side of the road and sat in the shade for a good 5-10 minutes, pretty much in tears because I knew this was not good. I was also quite sugar depleted at this point and the aid stations were out of bananas… I really contemplated giving up and having them take me back to the finish line but finally I decided my parents and Kels and Ashley had driving down to see me finish and I could not let them down. I can guaranty if they had not been there, I would have given up. But instead I trekked on.
The remaining mile up the hill was horrible, I saw someone pass out and this person ended up in the ICU for three days with kidney failure. I must also admit this freaked me out but I also knew to listen to my body and go with what it was telling me and I would be OK. I took a ton of walking breaks but knew this was the only way I was ever going to make it. I also passed two or three water stops that had no water and no fruit, etc… not good. Finally I got to a station that had water, but they were scooping it out of a garbage can – gross, but I was not too concerned about germs at this point I also saw a half eaten banana on one table and ALMOST grabbed it and ate it but ended up resisting. Luckily I found one at the next stop!! I realized that certain things just don’t matter as much when you feel like you are in survival mode.
Most of the next three or four miles were a total blur. My mind switched fully out of conscious mode and into survival mode. I know I walked some and jogged some. I know people were yelling at us to be careful. And I know people were not doing well. But at this point, the finish line was too close for surrender. I also found my sister and Ashley again around mile 11.5 and happily switched waters with them again! Thank you pit crew!!! Probably saved me much struggles! I couldn’t stop to talk to them at this point but was very happy for seeing them. I could hardly even muster a smile for the camera
Right around mile 12 I caught wind of some funny business and something about people walking to finish. I 95% didn’t listen to them because I was so close and there was no way in hell they were going to make me walk the last mile. That was five extra minutes I did not want to be out there cooking in the sun… so I kept on going. I recall it was a long mile but was at least semi-shaded and I had water so I made it and then finally saw the finish line up ahead! I was so happy to see it I full out sprinted as best I could at this point to just get this over with! Some women took great offense to this and called me a bitch and yet sprinted herself to “beat me”?? Duh woman, we started at different times. I still finished this thing 5 minutes faster than you even though you “crossed the line first”… And then I somehow found my parents!!! And tried to find some post race fruit and water. uh, no such luck again… Finally my dad scooped ice out of a bucket somewhere so I at least had something. Can you say, BAD PLANNING!!! But then luckily my sister and Ashley found us again and had more water for me and a smoothie and Clif bar(pre gluten-free days). So I avoided a trip to the hospital. Kidding. Sort of. Same can’t be said for a large chunk of the runners finishing around this time.
My sister then informed me they had “black-flagged” the race and were not going to be giving out times. Great! After all that struggle and no official time?!?!? Good thing I was wearing my iPod so I kind of knew. They also ended up posting them later because so many people complained but just the whole thing was ridiculous! I finished in 2:24. Not a time I was planning for or aiming for but still way better then I thought I would do at mile 8. And I now know what my limits are and they are not quite as limited as I would have thought a few years ago!
I heard someone say “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, but this race was about as close as I really want to test that theory” and I totally agree with that! They have offered us a discount for 2012. I don’t think that will encourage me to give them a second chance…. seems like I would be tempting fate. I trusted them once and they let me down. This runner has Trust Issues and doesn’t really believe in Second Chances. I just value my body a little too much for that… Sorry Summerfest!