In 48 hours I start my first ever stage race that will culminate in three days of trail running and 43 miles of some of the toughest trails on Monte Sano. I decided to prep for this by A) Gaining 10lbs and B) Giving up sleeping.
I’m imagining Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman talking to those snobby saleswomen after her successful shopping spree and saying, “Big mistake. HUGE.” But, instead of holding up bags of expensive clothes, I’m talking to my reflection (who has bags under her sleep-deprived eyes) and I’m holding up trash bags filled with empty ice cream containers, Cadbury Creme Egg wrappers, and Krispy Kreme donut boxes.
Big mistake, Kim. HUGE.
I first heard about “stage races” when I did my first trail marathon in May 2012. The course I did that day was used being discussed a lot by participants because it was also going to be seen during the Chattanooga Mountains Stage Race. Three days of back-to-back-to-back trail racing. People evidently camp for the event or even stay in a type of hostel Chattanooga has. I thought the entire experience sounded like SO MUCH FUN. Three days of trail racing? Camping? Two of my favorite things.
The problem was/is – it was/is in June. I truly love Chattanooga, and I love the on trail race I did there, but I hate running long distances in the summer and I really hate snakes and poison ivy. So, I kinda pushed the idea to the back of my head. There turns out to be one in September in Birmingham which is a better time of year, but I’m not sure if I could talk anyone into doing it with me. And the thing about that kind of race is – you really need company if you’re like me. It eases the anxiety of getting lost and it makes the three days not feel as lonely. I still considered it as an option, but since I knew runners my pace who had done it and felt REALLY along, I put it on the back burner as well.
BUT THEN! Several months ago the rumor started spreading that there was going to be a stage race HERE on MY mountain! The second I saw the signup page and confirmed we had no conflicts, I rented a cabin on the mountain for the family. We’ve been looking for an excuse to staycate there for awhile, and this seemed like a good one. BUT – I didn’t sign up for the race yet because it wasn’t being officially promoted and no one I knew was up for committing yet.
Fast forward several months and some friends and I start training for our favorite local trail race – McKay Hollow 25K – and the time on the trails gives us time to discuss the stage race and before I knew it? SEVERAL of my running friends were up for it. Two in particular – the same two who help me on the Sunday trail runs. We decided we’d sign up, promise to stay together to make sure no one gets lost or sees a snake, and we’d just have a GRAND OLE TIME. So…BAM! We all signed up. GRAND OLE TIMES COMING OUR WAY!
It starts in 48 hours.
In 48 hours I will be expected to run 43 miles over the course of THREE days on ALL of the toughest trails on our mountain. Seriously. You talk to any trail runner and ask what THEY think the toughest trail is? And it will be run on one of those three days. And it starts at 7:30 Friday morning.
A lot of my favorite trail running peeps will be out there and I’m certain we’ll have fun…BUT…the problem is this: I’ve not had a good night’s sleep in seven days and I’ve put on 10lbs in four weeks.
You know how I often say, “I eat my feelings.” Well, this is very true, but this time I’m eating Donnie’s feelings. Basically, 4+ weeks ago he found out his company was relocating, and for the next week while we had NO IDEA what that meant for him, and then the next week when he had to decide whether or not to move, and then the two weeks since we decided to stay when he is now trying to find a job to take after the company moves in June…ALL while he’s taking one college class and training for an Ironman…HE IS VERY STRESSED. He was up until 1am last night. He has finals next week. He’s doing two-a-day workouts meaning some days he’s exercising more than 4 hours. ALL on top of college and hunting for a job.
SO…of course I can’t really whine about any anxiety I’m feeling because – you know – he’s getting it full force. So, to be strong for him and to TRY to cope with my own anxiety, I’ve taken to eating the worst diet in the world over the last 8 weeks. You name it? I’ve done it. A pint of ice cream for lunch: four times. An entire pizza. Bags of potato chips, fast food drive thru meals, milkshakes, french fries…EASTER CANDY. I’ve been cramming it all in my face and the result is I put on 8lbs that I worked SO HARD to finally lose. And of COURSE that makes me MORE stressed which makes me eat MORE.
AND THEN…as Donnie starts to feel a little better this week, school is almost over, job prospects are out there, and I get my annual ALLERGY ATTACK FROM HELL.
I’ve basically not slept for more than 90 minutes at a time for a week. Last night, I woke up around 11:30 and went back to sleep around 1:30am. I’m taking all of the medicine I can and some of it helps some things, but not others. But I’m still too miserable to really get consistent sleep. And the thing that makes me eat my feelings the MOST? It’s not stress, it’s not anxiety, its not sadness or anger…It’s EXHAUSTION. When I’m so tired I can barely keep my eyes open, but I have stuff that needs to be done, I eat ALL of the food to try to wake myself up.
That, my friends, is how you gain 10lbs in 4 weeks when you REALLY don’t need that extra weight on your joints for a weekend where you have to run 43 EXTREMELY difficult miles over the course of 3 days.
Big mistake, Kim. HUGE.
SO…I have 48 hours to get my shit together. I’m not going to lose 10lbs in 48 hours, but I can try to clean out my system a bit. I’m going to drink water constantly to try to flush out some of the shit I’ve ingested, and I’m going to try to eat as clean as possible. Even though I’m exhausted, I’m going to try to get back to drinking my ONE 16 ounce Diet Coke a day (I’ve about tripled that to cope with the inability to stay awake this week) and NO BEER at all. I’m going to try, try, TRY to get some sleep. It’s really hard, but I do think maybe I’m wrapping up this allergy fest. The congestion is waning (a little bit) and I think the cough might be waning as well (hopefully) so I’m going to do my best to get some sleep over the next two nights. Of course, one of those nights is in a cabin so! We’ll see how well THAT goes!
There won’t be internet on the mountain, but I will have my phone and will update through Instagram if you want to follow me there. I will come home every day at least once because I’ll need to get my epsom baths in, and the kids have school on Friday, and we need to get groceries for a cookout on Saturday, and we need to feed our cats. That’s the nice thing about staycating, you can still rely on the comforts of home if you need to. So! Hopefully I’ll post updates, but if you want to keep up with the stage race, Instagram is your best bet. We race Fri, Sat, and Sun mornings at 7:30am. We’ll do a total of 43 miles over the weekend. It should be FUN if the rain holds off for us.
Wish me luck. I can’t undo 4 weeks of insanity in 48 hours, but I can maybe at least get my body in the mood to NOT GIVE OUT ON ME. Because right now? It’s just all about survival.