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I’m A Completer. Not A Competer.

My friend Amanda taught me that phrase it will forever be part of my own personal running lexicon. It describes how/why I run perfectly. Not to win any awards but, but to finish the distance.

Photos taken by Gregg Gelmis. The blurry face in the group shot belongs to my sister-in-law who doesn’t deserve to have her gorgeous face plastered across an entry where I talk about my period and blisters. Only my immediate family should have to suffer that curse.

Let me start with a disclaimer. Just in case any one “double checks” the facts of my mileage reported in this race report, I want to explain why it is off from the official report. Because of my unfortunate personal issues I was having on race day, I made a lot of trips to the bathroom. One every 45 minutes to an hour. That, and the 1-mile course was just a hair long. And since I ran it over 40 times, that hair plus my trips to the bathroom gave me a full mile extra on my GPS than number of laps I completed. And because of the horrible situation forcing me to make those trips to the bathroom? I was counting every step towards my total because…IT IS THE LEAST I DESERVE.

Also? I changed my shoes around mile 37 and forgot to put my chip on the new shoes. They caught me to point it out after one lap, but their computer didn’t record that lap. SO! Depending on if they remember to manually add that lap, my results could be 2 miles less than what I discuss here.

PLEASE IGNORE MY OFFICIAL RESULTS, is what I’m saying. I don’t ever think about those anyway. But also? Don’t think I’m a liar. Because I know you guys are the types to do such a thing.

NOW! On to the race report!

(It just occurred to me that it’s HYSTERICAL that I spent all of those words above trying to explain why my 43 miles may not match up with the “official” 41 or 42. Like you guys are totally the type of people who would A) Go dig up my official results to verify what I’m saying or B) Get all self-righteous about it. “She ACTUALLY only ran 41 miles, you know. ANYBODY could do that.”)

When my friend and I arrived at 5:15am we saw that people DO NOT MESS AROUND with this race. There were already tents set up! People bring tents! And tables! And coolers of beer! I was proud that I had a change of clothes and Pringles.

We set up away from the main group, but right close to the bathroom. This ended up being the best idea ever. I took my bathroom breaks every 4-5 miles, less than every hour. So, I was able to quickly detour by our setup, grab my supplies, and head to the bathroom without adding too much time onto the entire ordeal. If I was running with someone they either stopped for water at the same time or just kept going and I caught up.

The course was soft gravel and only had tiny little “hills” that became much less tiny as the miles clicked on. It was divided into two halves, in my head. There was the treacherous zig-zap portion which I hated because it was the first half, then the second half which wasn’t as bad because we were “almost done” but it involved the “hills”. And when you run something 40+ times? You get to know it quite well. Oddly enough, though, it didn’t get too boring. Being so short? You could always tell yourself after a little bit…almost done with this one.

Mile 10 came very easily and my friend and I felt good. She was set out for her first 50K. We were 1/3 from her goal, 1/4 from mine and our spirits were good and our bodies were cooperating. It was still a little cold but not unbearable.

Then came the dark period. My friend and I got separated around mile 12 due to needing breaks at different times. For those few miles we were split and a few miles more, I found myself getting a little achey and thinking Holy Shit. I have a marathon left to go. I can’t run a marathon on top of the 14+ miles I’ve already run!. And while I know that is my M.O. – the middle of the race freakout – I still started doubting myself. Every long distance race I freak pre-middle, and every race I think that freakout must mean something significant in that particular race and that there’s NO WAY I’ll get past it.

Yet, I always do.

As I got closer to 20, I felt a bit euphoric because I was going to reward myself with a Diet Coke then. Caffeine boost! Then it occurred to me that I hadn’t taken any walk breaks yet. I had stopped to use the bathroom or grab some food, but no actual walk breaks. Since I had never run a whole marathon without walk breaks, that became my new goal. Which got me to mile 26.2 when I promptly took my first walk break.

Then I realized I was on my way to a 50K PR. I was back with my running buddy and even with the periodic walk break (not every mile, but periodically) we still came in at 6:51 for my 50K time. That is about 15 minutes shorter than my last 50K and I didn’t go to the bathroom ONCE that day. Whereas Saturday? I had already gone 7 times by that point. (If I hadn’t had to stop for bathroom breaks every 45 minutes to an hour? This whole story would probably be different.)

Once I hit my 50K, our next goal was getting my friend to hers as we had gotten off from each other a bit. Once we got her to her first 50K, she stopped as that was her goal. And that’s when I really started thinking about my own body and how it felt and HOLY SHIT, my feet hurt.

I ran a mile or two with another friend and realized the bottoms of my feet felt like raw meat. I wasn’t sure if it was the gravel getting into my shoes or what, but they were KILLING me. So, I decided to change shoes at mile 37 and took the chance to survey the blisters. Things didn’t look great. And while it felt good to have the pressure in different spots, I did make one bad move and felt a giant blister pop. From there on out? I was hurting. I felt like it was really too late to even fret about bandaging it, I just wanted to be done. Of course, that’s also when I crossed the end-of-lap sensor and someone said, “WHERE’S YOUR CHIP?”

I had forgotten to reattach it to my shoestrings when I changed shoes. So my 38th lap didn’t register. So the computer still said 37. This was already hard because I was already struggling mentally with the fact that my GPS was giving me one more mile than the laps as the lap was a hair long and I took so many trips to the bathroom. So, I was already worried I’d want to quit at lap 39 since I knew that actually meant 40 in real distance.

Basically I had to power through those last few miles just to get the COMPUTER to say 40, even though I was actually at 42.

Once the computer said 40, I stopped and waited on Donnie and the kids to get there. I did 42 miles in about 9:30 and was SUPER proud of myself. I stretched and waited and then, when they got there, I did one more walk/jog lap with them before calling it my “official” end of race. I still had about 90 minutes left but my blister was hurting SO BAD and I was SO TIRED and SO LONELY I just wanted to leave and eat. I made my goal MUCH earlier than I expected. I rewarded myself by cutting out early.

All in all? A wonderful experience. While I was in quite a bit of pain due to the unfortunately timing of my reproductive system, I wasn’t in as much pain as I would have been had I not been running. And the convenience of the bathroom made it less of a hassle to deal with all of that nonsense so frequently. It could have been better, but – considering the non-running crap I was dealing with – it also could have been much worse. I really enjoyed it.

If I have more free time to train next year I’d really like to try for 50. But I have plenty of time in my life to hit that goal, I’ll be happy with 43 miles being my longest distance for awhile.

10 thoughts on “I’m A Completer. Not A Competer.”

  1. AMAZING! Big hugs and lots of high fives! Now about the details of food… How any uncrustables did you eat and what was your victory meal??

  2. I am so in awe that such a thing exists, let alone that anyone can actually do it. So amazing, and I am so inspired for my tiny 5K in May.

  3. Hannie – Hey, i'm Hannah, Born and bred in Bedford, UK. I'm foster Mum to a teenage boy and mum to a small boy. I'm married to Chris and blog about our life as a crazy slightly random family.
    Han says:

    Lovely Lady You are amazing! 43 Miles – I walked 10 miles round a reservoir near my house and was aching the next day! 43 and running you’re like super woman to me! Well Done!

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