Thursday, April 21, 2011

Ouachita Trail 50 Mile

Here I sit writing my first race report since Pinhoti 100 in November. You may ask... why wait so long to make another post. Well... there are a myriad of reasons actually. The truth is that I've not been quite myself physically and emotionally for a while now. The good news is that I'm on the mend and on the road to better health and well being. First... I will give a quick recap to what I've been doing since Pinhoti 100, second... I will talk in detail about the Ouachita Trail 50 Mile and how amazing it was in more ways than one and lastly where I hope to be in the next few months.

After Pinhoti 100....recovery took far longer than I had anticipated. Honestly... I hadn't been feeling like myself leading up to the 100 either. Every training run and race felt too much like work and my body wasn't responding in a positive manner no matter what I tried. Now that I look back... the last event I felt decent about was in May 2010. Things seemed to spiral downward pretty quickly from there. I did manage to pull off the Pine Mountain 40 Mile Trail Race in December and my attempt at the Lookout Mountain 50 Mile Trail Race after that was a fail. Not to my surprise now that I am more educated on what my body was/is going through.

Imagine waking up day after day feeling like you need to go back to bed... just not feeling rested in the least. On top of this imagine feelings of depression, fatigue, loss of libido, hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings and many other non-flattering feelings physically and emotionally. That pretty much sums up what was going on with me. It was gradual at first, but then after the 100... it was unbearable and I needed some answers. Something was seriously wrong. After 2 different doctors and numerous tests run... including ruling out cancer... we were finally able to find one big contributor to the problem. Low Testosterone. What?! Low Testosterone?! Yep... so low in fact that it could cause all of these terrible things to happen inside and out. This wasn't something that happened overnight either. Many will try to say "ohh... you are just over trained.. you need to rest". Let's face it.... rest wasn't helping. I think the difference between an endurance athlete and a normal person is... an endurance athlete is much more in tune with their body and and average person not so much. An average person may just blame the changes on getting older and think to themselves... "this is just part of what happens when you age". An endurance athlete says the opposite... "hey... something isn't right here... I am doing everything to be healthy and this is NOT how I am supposed to be feeling".

Sooo.. what's the fix? Well... for now it's a monthly injection of testosterone. I have had 2 injections thus far and the improvement has been significant. Every month I will go in for testing to check testosterone levels and white blood cell count (another something found to be low). My spirits are lifting and the physical and emotional aspects of life are getting easier day by day.

Now... onto the Ouachita Trail 50 Mile race report:

Dawson Wheeler of Rock/Creek was nice enough to let us use the Rock/Creek Toyota 4 Runner for our trip to Arkansas. We rolled up in a pimped out ride on race morning and hoped we'd be able to back up all the bling we were flashing!

The goal was to simply finish. I hadn't run much over 20 miles at one time since the Pine Mountain 40 Mile Trail Race in December. I had been resting much more than normal due to my health issues and didn't want to put any expectations on myself. Simply to finish was the goal.

The race began in the dark at 6:00am Arkansas time. The first 3 miles were on the road and I hoped that the skies would shed some light on us before entering the single track ahead.... luckily we had just enough light to see the trail. My pace was easy as I was afraid to try for much else in fear of failure. At about mile 4... we started up Pinnacle Mountain. It was a climber's paradise and looked as if God took a bucket of small boulders and dumped them out into a very tall pile. I went very easily up this rock wall using my hands, legs and willpower to move forward. At one point during the ascent I stopped to take a picture to document the steepness of this ridiculous climb. Once on the top.. I paused for another moment and snapped a couple more pictures before moving forward to the descent. The descent was not as steep and the ascent, but one wrong move and you could break your face. I moved as quickly as I could, but was notably cautious with each and every step.

After coming off of Pinnacle Mountain the trail flattens out until you get closer to water. The hills and rollers were pretty steady from here on out. I managed to pick up the pace around mile 5 and held a solid pace up until mile 40-42. After the 50 mile and 50k split we encountered many many creeks which were flowing nicely from the heavy rains Arkansas received on Thursday night. Needless to say... our feet were wet for most of the race. When I got closer to the turn around I saw Sarah who was in the lead and I was told that I was 2nd overall female. I tried not to let it get in my head as the day had gone pretty well and I needed to listen to my body. At the turn around... I refueled with water and took off my long sleeved shirt down to my short sleeved shirt. The temperatures had risen enough to justify a wardrobe change.

From the turn around to about mile 40-42 I ran strong and steady until my body decided enough was enough. I gradually got slower and watched 2nd overall go bye bye as I was passed with 8 miles to go. From here it was a walk/run process, but I really couldn't complain. It was the best I had felt in months. I had given it everything and this made me happy to know that a 50 mile finish was in my near future. Once we were dumped back onto pavement... it was 3 miles to the finish. It felt like an eternity to the finish line. At the finish... I was greeted by Sarah and Mark.... It was good to be done and even better to be feeling closer to the "old me".

After the race I find out that Sarah did take 1st female and Mark took 1st masters male. Congrats my friends!... and thank-you for being there to share a very special moment with me.

I am looking forward to doing more races this year and completing my 5th Ironman in June and hopefully my second 100 mile trail race in November. Stay tuned for more adventures!

Shoes: La Sportiva Crosslites

Shirt: Patagonia Capilene

Socks: Injinji

Pack: Ultimate Direction Wink

Hat: Headsweat


shannon said...

Great race report! I've run a few challenging trail runs but never have I had to climb boulders on the race course. Also, very interesting about the testosterone. I had never heard of testosterone shots for women, however it stands to reason that abnormal hormone levels can cause significant changes to health status.

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