Thursday, June 9, 2016

2016 Nanny Goat - The race that wasn't

Nanny Goat. The course where I ran my first (and only!) hundo.  The place where I met so many amazing running friends who I still keep in touch with to this day.  The 28 hour party. The race that will forever hold a special place in my heart.

After massive burnout from running all the races in 2014 and trying to regain my passion for running last year by racing less, I was fully convinced that there were going to be little to no ultras over the 50k distance in the plans for 2016.  I actually had no intention to head out to SoCal for Nanny Goat this year however that changed after a night of watching the Barkley Marathons documentary on Netflix while simultaneously drinking a few glasses of wine and texting/chatting with some ultra running friends.  The next thing I knew, I was on Ultra Signup and registered for the 24 hour event. FOMO is real y'all!

Nanny Goat offers both 12 hour and 24 hour events.  Any runner who reaches the 86 mile cut-off within 24 hours then gets an additional 4 hours to complete 100 miles.  I figured since I signed up for the 24 hour event why not attempt another hundo.  I could use another buckle in my collection right?!

Unfortunately, life had other plans in store for me.  I couldn't get in the training or mileage I needed for proper 100 miler training but being the stubborn runner that I am I was fully convinced that I would be able to power through just on sheer determination and stubbornness. 

Then I got sick on Wednesday of race week.  Really sick.  No matter what I did or how much rest I tried to get I was still under the weather when I headed out to Riverside, CA on Friday morning.  Unfortunately for me, I underestimated the craziness of Memorial Weekend traffic and spent almost 7 1/2 hours screaming at crazy drivers from my car.  So relaxing...but not really. 

I made it to Riverside in one piece and met up with my amazing friends Terri and Louie who were so kind to let me crash in their hotel room with them.  We headed out to dinner at Applebee's and it was great being able to catch-up.  I could tell my appetite still wasn't normal since I only ate half my dinner (unheard of for me!) and I knew I was dehydrated since I didn't drink water consistently on the drive so I was a little worried for race day.  I told Terri I wanted to at least get a 50k in but I still had it in my head that I was going to try for another 100 mile attempt.

After dinner we headed back to the hotel to prepare all of our race day stuff and relax.  Terri is the best crew ever!  She helped crewed me when I ran Nanny Goat for the first time and she's also crewed me at other races since (including the infamous 2014 Run-de-Vous race that reached 104 degrees and I was *thisclose* to throwing myself on the ground and having a massive meltdown).  She literally has anything and everything that a runner can possibly want or need for an ultra and is always ready for an encouraging word or tough love as needed to get her runners to reach their goals.

As soon as we all had our race prep done, Louie was down for the count and fast asleep while Terri and I stayed up a bit having girl talk.  We both suffer from insomnia and the curse of uber sensitive hearing so we kept each other company while cursing the very loud hotel guests meandering up and down the hallways that were incapable of figuring out how to use their key card. 

After what felt like 15 minutes of sleep, we were woken up by the alarm.  It was race day!  As usual, race day excitement had me up and out of bed and bouncing around like a crazy person.  In no time at all, we had our cars loaded up and headed out to the race venue.
Nanny Goat is held at the Sexton Horse Ranch where the owner, Shelli Sexton, and her family have been kind enough to allow us crazy runners to take over every Memorial Day weekend for our shenanigans.  The excitement was palpable as soon as we arrived.  Runners were everywhere and I had the time of my life seeing and catching up with running friends and making new ones as well.

I'm always being asked why I put myself through the "torture" of endurance events like marathons and ultras and without fail I always say that there are many reasons that keep me coming back but ultimately the people are the best part.  It's the people that make the running community so amazing and they're truly what make every race fun.  The ultra community especially epitomizes that.  I have seen people hit the highest highs and lowest lows at ultras and I've seen complete strangers rally behind one another and pick each other up (sometimes literally).  If you've never been to an ultra I highly recommend that you go and at least spectate once in your lifetime.  It's such a beautiful thing to witness. 

Look at those happy faces!
Shrina, Terri, Me

Robert "Latin Heat" Manon, Momma T, Me

Michael, me, Karen "Eviltwin" Vollan and Deo behind us
Soon enough, the RD was ringing his cowbell to get all of the runners into the Goat Pen.  Nanny Goat has one of the most unique starts of any race that I've ran in that all of the runners are literally corralled into a horse pen and the gate opens to signal the start of the race.  Once those gates opened, all of the runners were off!
Diana, Marathon Mich, me in the starting corral/horse pen

Michael, me, Diana

Me, Diana, Jeff
I positioned myself towards the back of the pack to 1) keep myself from going out too fast and 2) prevent myself from getting ran over by the speedsters.  Luckily, I fell into pace with Diana and Giovanni and we all chatted for the first several miles. It's always great to have company as it helps the time pass so much faster.  Giovanni was nursing an injury so he was race walking.  What was hilarious was his race walk pace was just as fast as our run pace!
Me, Diana and Giovanni

I knew within the first several miles that it was going to be a struggle to make this race happen.  My body was fatigued and I felt really weak since I wasn't recovered from being sick.  Added to that was my allergies going berserk from all the dust/dirt/pollen/animal dander on the course.  I had to stop and walk much sooner than normal and quickly revised my race strategy to a walk/run.

Diana and Giovanni were going strong so they both took off but luckily I ran into Donna and Shrina and joined their party for several miles.  These two are hilarious!  If you ever have a chance to run with them at a race, I highly recommend that you do.  They were wearing Bitch 1 and Bitch 2 shirts and it seemed like they knew everyone on the course.  I felt like I was escorting running celebrities since everyone was yelling hi to the two "bitches".  It was great!  I also got to share some miles with my fellow Altra Ambassador Jenny (check out her Nanny Goat race recap here) which was awesome. 

Me, Donna and Shrina (their shirts said Bitch 1 & Bitch 2. Hilarious!)
At around 10:30ish the overcast skies dissipated and the sun started beaming down on us.  Heat is my kryptonite.  I just don't do well in it.  My run/walk turned into just a walk and I let the two B's go ahead since I just couldn't keep pace at that point.  The great thing about Nanny Goat is that inevitably you run into others who are either running or walking at your pace so I joined up with Robert "Latin Heat" Manon and Michael for a few miles.  I also entertained myself by trying to spot as many Altra shoes on the course as possible.  It was fun seeing so many out on the course!  

Somewhere around 2:30 or 3:00 I felt a little dizzy so I decided to sit for a little bit in a chair in the barn and wait for the weather to cool down.  I forced myself to eat and drink but it took a while for me to feel ok to get back out on the course.  It was at that point that I told Terri (a.k.a. Momma T) that I was downgrading to the 12 hour event.  There was no way that my body was going to make it for 24 hours, much less 100 miles.  The hardest part was trying to get back up and going.  There's a reason it's called the "Chair of Death".  Once you sit down, it's nearly impossible to convince yourself to get back up!

Thankfully, somewhere around 4:30 Shrina and Donna came back through the barn and Shrina managed to convince me to head back out with them.  I managed to hang with them for a few miles before I had to duck into a lovely porta potty.  That was when things got real. 

I'm going to get a little TMI here so sorry in advance to my readers who get quesy easily!  Anyone who has run an endurance event knows that trying to hover in a squat position over a porta potty so you don't touch anything is quite a feat on fatigued legs so that in and of itself took a herculean effort on my part.  Checking your bodily fluids and waste is also critical for endurance events as it's the primary indicator that you're fueling and hydrating properly.  So imagine how freaked out I was to notice that I had blood in my urine.  Blood in urine is an indicator of extreme dehydration and I have never had that before even when I ran in triple digit heat!  Then when I tried to stand back up I got really lightheaded and dizzy and I had to steady myself for several seconds before trying to walk out.  At that point I was done.  I still had time on the clock to keep going but I was too scared to go any further.  I walked back into the barn and told Momma T that I was calling it and immediately plopped myself in a chair pouting.  Momma T is an angel and immediately got me the most amazing tasting Cup o'Noodles ramen to eat and water to drink.  I swear at the time it was the best tasting ramen ever!

As disappointed as I was about my personal performance, I loved that it provided me an opportunity to spectate the other runners and cheer on/help crew them each time they passed through.  It was awesome to see the race from the other side of the fence so to speak.  I could tell which runners were feeling good, who was hitting a low and who needed some help (whether that meant fetching food, water, chocolate, ramen, etc.).  As my friend Leigh Anne and I discussed our respective races and cheered on the runners that came through, we reflected on how being the non-runner at that point offered a lot of perspective.  It was eye opening to see not only what the runners go through but also what sacrifices the families, friends and support crew make to ensure their runner makes it across that finish line.  It was one of my biggest takeaways from the race and for that I was grateful.

At the end of the day, my race may not have gone as planned but I still showed up and gave it all I had.  That day I didn't have a PR or another 100 mile effort in me, but whatever I did have I left it all on the course. I earned my finisher's amulet.  And for that, I'm proud.

 Have you ever had a bad race or a race that didn't go as plan?  What did you do? 

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