Sun Mountain 50 – Everyone Needs a Wake up Call Once and Awhile

Sun Mountain 50 – Everyone Needs a Wake up Call Once and Awhile

I was headed to Sun Mountain with a group of friends to take part in the 50-mile trail race.  I had done it last year and had a fun time and thought it would be a good measure as to where my fitness was at, hoping that I could finish in the same time or less than last year.  I also felt I was a bit behind in my mileage compared to last year so thought it important that I get a good 50-mile day behind me.

The week before the race, a few things happened to throw a wrench in my plans…on the weekend before I happened to get a small tear in my cornea which resulted in an emergency visit to my eye surgeon on Monday…and on Tuesday I awoke in the middle of the night with the dreaded stomach flu!  So…I missed a day of work, puked my guts out and didn’t eat anything of substance for an entire day except for a piece of bread and a smoothie at about 9 pm.  I then proceeded to eat nothing but soup for a few days and felt nauseous after every meal for the rest of the week…but the race was a Sunday race, so my thoughts were that I was good and tapered and the race might not be great, but I’d survived many things before and I’d likely get through it….how bad could it be really?

Race Day

The day began with my body being super excited to run, it was sunny and hot and the wild flowers were in bloom everywhere and the scenery was phenomenal.  So…I started out WAY too fast, which is unusual for me, I tend to hang back, but I think I got a little over excited and I when I was asking myself how I felt, I didn’t feel like I was breathing hard so just went with the flow. Having said that I was not far behind my friends Chloe and Meredith who always go out faster than me, so I should have known better.

Three hours into the race about 500 meters from the 3rd aid station, I felt my body take a turn for the worst….I all of a sudden started to feel completely nauseous and tired…really tired, overwhelmingly tired.  I wanted nothing more than to lie down on the side of the trail.  I grabbed a handful of sandwich, banana, etc and could not find a way to get them down.  My team mate Meredith was with me at this time but she was dropping due to injury and I remember thinking I could just run back to the start with her as we had done a loop and were pretty close; however, I told myself if I slowed down this would pass and I’d be just fine…but a couple km later, we ran into the 50k’ers and last year at this point in the race I remember being annoyed by this and past a whole slew of them…NOT THIS TIME.   This time all I could think about was having a nap and lying down on the side of the trail and all I could thing was, about how it was going to take me 12 hours to finish this damn race and 12 hours before I could sleep…that felt like an eternity.  As the 50kers passed, my friend Karl came by and we chatted about how I was feeling, “so how much longer to you have to go?” asked Karl….”50k Karl, 50K!  I can’t imagine finishing another 50k the way I feel right now. I think I want to drop but I need the miles.”  Karl replies with…”well my watch says I’ve done 7k, so you only really have 43k left.”  Apparently that was supposed to make me feel better!!  I almost cried!  Then my friend Mary Anne came by running her 2nd 50k, so we chatted and it was nice to chat for a bit… I was again still miserable, but it was nice to have a buddy for a few minutes and I told her she should carry on as I was really thinking of dropping.

Struggle and Perseverance

I couldn’t eat anything and was starting to feel the lack of calories, especially since I was probably malnourished to start off the day. Another friend Suzanne came by and offered me some ginger.  Trail runners tend to take care of each other, part of what I like about this sport!

Anyhow, life went very slowly soldiering on with thoughts of dropping… there was some walking when I shouldn’t have, there was some stopping and bending over on the trail, thinking about when this horrible day or at least these horrible feelings in my body would END…. there were many thoughts of napping in the wild flowers, they were spectacular but then thoughts that I would never get up!!  So I thought about TDG and how I need these miles for training and how hard that race was, but this seemed so much harder because I couldn’t take a nap when I wanted!!  And then I ran into my friend Solana who was having her own problems I learned later….but she kindly tried to cheer me out of my death march, but I was having none of that and let her soldier cheerily on ahead!

A couple of hours from the finish I saw my friend Adam, manning the loop up to Sun Mountain….I was thinking about skipping this loop and DNF’ing, but then I couldn’t bring my self to do quit since Adam in front of a friend, so I did the damn loop!  It was beautiful and I started to actually believe at this point that as slow as I was going, I WAS going to finish this thing! As I finished the loop I decided I could try to run a little bit, you know kind of break the sauntering horrific slow pace I was maintaining, and it started to work, except that the lack of calories I’d taken in all day started to present itself as cramping!!!  I’m not used to cramping, thought I got over this a long time ago… I caught up to Solana and her buddy again and we strolled up the last climb together, which last year felt easy and this year felt like an eternity…and then on the way down, I got some major hamstring cramping issues mid stride on a steep down hill and I thought “seriously….now how the hell am I going to get off this mountain? I’m stuck!!”  Somehow, I managed to talk my body into moving again, slowly sauntered the downhill and had a lot of self talk making myself run the last road and uphill section, knowing this day that I never thought would end would END at the top.  Somehow in the whole scheme of this neverending horrible day….I managed to only be 5 minutes slower than last year and I am not sure how that is humanly possible, guessing or at least hoping that means I am in better shape than last year or at least where I want to be at the moment.  When I finished I do remember saying I was more proud of that finish than of my TDG finish.

Jackie Muir
Kintec Race Team

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