adjective: crazy; comparative adjective: crazier; superlative adjective: craziest
mentally deranged, especially as manifested in a wild or aggressive way.
“Stella went crazy and assaulted a visitor”
synonyms: mad, insane, out of one’s mind, deranged, demented, not in one’s right mind, crazed, lunatic, non compos mentis, unhinged, mad as a hatter, mad as a March hare
Crazy. Running. Crazy. Running a 50k. Crazy. Running a 50k in Luna Sandals. Being crazy isn’t a bad characteristic, as I have been able to push my body beyond limits I have never imagined possible. If asked at age 40 what I would see myself doing in 5 years it would NEVER have included running, no less a 31.5 mile race. Yet that crazy in me came through just 7 days prior to participating in the Razorback Relentless Endurance Race that took place this last weekend at Harvey Bear Lake in San Martin. For me, it was my second attempt at a 50k, after finishing my first last April running the Diablo Trails Challenge in 8:53:33.
I had 4.5 hours of thoughts to myself as Brian Nobori and I came off the last portion of the 4.75 “relentless” trail loop. We would end up finishing the race on a 2-mile paved loop. While the expectation was to start and finish together, Brian encouraged me to ramble on as we hit the start/finish line 3:30 hours (14 miles) into the race. He required a shoe change due to soreness in his foot. These had to be the longest 4.5 hours of any run. The worst part, the monotony of the loop.
While the 2-mile paved loop was referred to as “the big easy” it was more challenging that I feel it should have been. I doubt climbing 667 feet over 2.5 miles on the trail would have been any less challenging, but there is something special running on trails during a race. I felt more tired on the hard surfaced asphalt than I did on the trails, even commenting to Brian that the soles of my feet would hurt from the rocky trails the next morning.
I don’t fault my decision to wear Luna Sandals for the Razorback Relentless 50k, I had made the transition successfully and had been running in sandals for close to 18 months and felt I was ready to challenge myself. I had good luck running trails, but the longest run in the sandals had only been 11.61 miles, during the 2014 Tough Mudder in Lake Tahoe. So maybe crazy was borderline stupid, but pushing myself and learning what I can endure made this attempt worth it.
Going into the run I knew I had not trained enough, much like the Diablo Trails Challenge I only put in about 18 miles in the month leading up to Saturday’s event. Unfortunately due to family, work and other commitments I had not been running as consistently as I was prior to my first 50k last year. No matter how you look at it, a 50k is a challenge, even if you are prepared, especially on trails.
During the day, as fatigue set in, my feet and ankles began to hurt. “Quit” and “can’t” were two words not in my vocabulary during the race. The fun and enjoyment that followed the early hours was gone, replaced with a post to Facebook that said, “…and I thought this would be fun.” Counting down laps didn’t ease the pain as I attempted to keep my mind occupied and off the increasing pain in my feet and ankles.
I often wondered how I was going to describe this run. Epic? Grueling? Demanding? Challenging? Fun? Relentless? My body went through different stages the further I went. At 5 hours I had just finished 20 miles and still had over 11 miles remaining! I continued on, the scenery didn’t change, the mental aspect of running kicked in and no matter what, quitting was not an option. One foot in front of the other; relentless forward progress was the key to finishing.
The 50k was one of the “shorter” races of the weekend, 10 runners had signed up for the 72 hour endurance challenge that began on Thursday at 6pm. Another flight of runners started on Friday afternoon for their 48 hour endurance run, while the remaining runners all started together at 6a on Saturday. While I didn’t know many names, faces became familiar running both the trail and the loop. It was great hearing encouraging words from fellow runners, many of which were running longer distances.
Every loop past the aid station you were met with some cheers and volunteers ready to take care of you requests. Food was plentiful on Saturday and helped supplement my Medjool date consumption (one every mile…Sorry Julie, I think it’s not PD approved). Unfortunately, I made some poor choices when I stopped to eat. Early on it was banana halves, bagels and muffins. As the day wore on I found myself grabbing crappy food, like Wheat Thins, but steered clear of sugary snacks, pizza and grilled cheese. Sometime during the day the potatoes FINALLY made it onto the food table, this was a welcomed relief.
Crossing the finish line was very unrewarding compared to finish the Diablo Trail Challenge. That “runner’s high” I experience a year ago never materialized. Maybe the severity of the pain did not allow those endorphins to be released. Seeing buddies cheering me on as I came down the chute to the finish line might have factored into it. As I made my finishing time official I crashed into my chair and just sat there resting. I unstrapped my Lunas and slide my sandals off, attempting to relax the feet, but the damage had been done. Unfortunately my Garmin 210 crapped out less than a half mile to go, but showed a time of 8:07:06.
As I relaxed I attempted to compare this run to my first 50k, but aside from the distance there was very little similarity between the runs. Both were challenging and finishing was the goal. I run under the mantra of “finishing is winning” especially at these distances. Taking that view, the Razorback Relentless was a success! Maybe the sense of accomplishment was greater when I ran the Diablo Trails Challenge due to the amount of climbing I did, compared to running 17 miles around a 2-mile asphalt loop or the fact I had a 50k already under my belt. Regardless, that loop that was not exhilarating. The increase in pain with each step took away much of the enjoyment during this challenge.
A few lessons were learned. First, while I believed my feet were in condition to run in sandals, the distance was too long. I probably should have changed into my Salomon Speedcross 3 shoes when Brian changed out of his Hokas. I didn’t and paid the price. Second I am not fond of running loops, especially the 2-mile asphalt variety. While the 4.75 trail would have been more challenging with my feet in decline it would have made the time go by faster, but guarantee I would not have finished in the time I did. Finally, this run tells me that I am not ready to challenge a 50 mile run, but will at the starting line on April 4.