Friday, August 29, 2014

Kettle: A photo esay

I very much owe everyone a Kettle post, huh? It was a frustrating result but mostly I haven't posted simply because I haven't taken the time to sit down and type. So now what you get is a lovely photo essay. Most photos courtesy of my awesome friend and crew, Lisa.

I loved the start of Kettle. There are lots of runners but the first seven miles are on ski trails so there's plenty of room for spreading out before the single track. I loved to watch the people in front/around of me all run down a hill and in unison walk up the next hill. I settled in with "Pink Girl" (she had a pink skirt on) and we chatted for a few miles before I took a quick pit stop. I found Wayne and we enjoyed a tasty pastry snack from the first (crewless) aid station before he made me go ahead. As we hopped onto single track, I was already getting a bit alarmed at how hot it was feeling - the sun was blazing and I was trying not to be concerned about how that boded for later on. I had forgotten that the predictions were for the sun to go behind clouds mid-morning and stay there and that is, in fact, what happened!

First main aid station at Bluff! I came in with Brian Woods, who is a stellar guy and great to run with.

Goofy looking picture of me. I'm wearing arm sleeves because it was sort of chilly at the start. Also, I had gotten myself so used to wearing them as an extra layer of heat when trying to get used to heat that it was hard to remember that I could take them off since this was the race I was trying to get used to heat for :) So I rolled them down my arms and then ditched them here.

Coming into Emma Carlin. Behind me (though not in the picture) is a girl who had crew who would come down the trail a good quarter mile or more. He'd find out what she wanted and hoot and holler for her the entire way in. It was amusing since I only was with her a couple times and he'd cheer a little for the other people around her, too.

This crew guy also asked what her strategy was for the upcoming meadows section. She said she figured she'd run for 15 minutes segments and then take a walk break. He insisted she run for no more than ten minutes and preferably eight at a time. This was great to overhear as I promptly decided to take a similar plan and run for no more than ten minutes at one go since I had also been warned of how taking the Meadows too hard will come back to bite you. I had no idea what to expect out of them and was braced for some nasty exposed miles.

Coming into Hwy 67 - after the Death Meadows (that's what they're labeled on the race shirt map). For your reference here is a Kettle newbie guide to the Death Meadows, in three sections. Part One: This isn't bad. There's hardly any meadow, actually, just that first part. Maybe it's only bad when it's really hot out? I'll stick to my plan, though. No more than ten minutes at a time, even if it's flat. Part Two: Okay, I can see how this would suck in open sun but it's really not bad today. Rather pretty, in fact. I'll still keep to my run/walk plan, though, because everyone warns about this section. Heck, I can see where they could have made the trail go to make it worse, at least we aren't just going back and forth across it. Part Three: OH MY GOD. LONGEST THREE MILES EVER. In this weather, though, a person was easily able to laugh at how silly it felt (and I did with a guy who was near me - turns we were both feeling like it was a never ending section) but only because we had a nicely cloudy sky.

Coming into 67, I was all smiles. I also requested that Lisa refill my gel flask without adding ginger ale this time. Which got me a confused Lisa since she, in fact, had not added ginger ale at Emma Carlin. Fascinating. I would discover later (not even during the race, I don't think) that adding a particular flavor of gel makes it taste vaguely of ginger ale. Generally not a bad thing, just not what I was looking for then. But I was so sure that there was ginger ale in there, it was very surprising to hear that there wasn't.

Here I come into ZZ. This little section was lined with pinwheels, which made me smile. It was also guarded by a women holding a pinwheel. Since we turned left to do a tiny out and back to the aid station she was there to make sure people were going the right direction. This next section is a little cruel. From ZZ, your crew walks about 200 yards down the trail to Scuppernong. Meanwhile, you turn around and run a 5 mile almost loop of mostly ski trail to get there. Ski trail which butts up against a campground right about the time a person might be needing to duck into the woods again . . . Stupid campsites.

Scuppernong. The start of my problems. Or rather, just before Scuppernong. As I was coming into this aid station, I noticed my breathing was picking up rather more than necessary and was a bit alarmed. I took my time at this aid station (also the turn around for section one). The top of my left foot had been bothering me for a bit, too, and I figured I just had dirt or something in there and rubbing around. So I took the shoe off. Nope. What I had instead was some sort of impressive looking heat rash which I really wish I had taken a picture of. By the end of my race my feet, ankles, and knee (where I had a thorn stuck in there from Wednesday's run) were all very impressively hived up. So not actually heat rash but some sort of allergic reaction. In any case, this is what was around my ankles at Sawtooth and I put it down to my gaiters but clearly that's not the problem. We're thinking it might be related to my breathing symptoms since they've been coming together. Anyway, I left my shoe off and walked around the aid station barefoot since it felt better to air it out. Much to the great amusement of Lisa and Marcus. So I sat down and ate some and then went on my way.

This section was not good. I was starting to hyperventilate quite solidly, which induced some panic over not wanting it to happen again. I sat down on a log until I calmed down. Granted, the breathing was still bad but at least I was calm about it and not making it worse. Somewhere in the single track, Wayne caught up to me and continued to cruise along. He was in for a fabulous race and I was impressed with how strong he was running the single track since he claims to hate the stuff. I'm on to you now, Wayne! So here I am, climbing a little hill coming back to ZZ. Despite my inability to breath, you'll notice I seem to be laughing. Off camera was Marcus telling me to run up the hill and me promptly making a rude gesture with my middle finger. So I had to sit down at ZZ for much longer than I wanted, in order to get my breathing down. They were also out of ice except for one large and very solid chunk. So Lisa wrapped it up in my buff and that went around my neck and lasted for most of the next ten miles.

I think this picture is from Maranda. I spent the next two mile short section focusing on moving but not pushing and hoping to drop my breathing down that way. This was a bummer since this is a super fun little smoothish dirt section that was uphill on the way out and I had been looking forward to cruising down it. I kept things easy, though, and that worked really well.

I came back into Hwy 67 feeling a ton better. Breathing was pretty much under control and I was hopefully that I was able to drive it away.

There were also beautiful blue butterflies floating around at Hwy 67.

At Hwy 67, they had a large tupperware box filled with water and a wash cloth so I took my shoes and socks off to air out my hived up feet and washed everything down. Arms, face, legs. And then the wonderful Maranda says to me, "Do you mind if I wash your feet?" I couldn't figure out how to respond to that - of course you can but why on earth would you want to? So here I am all drowned rat but really feeling quite lovely to have the sweat and sunscreen rinsed off for a bit.

It was good to start the next section feeling more refreshed because with the second pass through the Meadows came a low. The first section was okay. I filled up on ice in the hat but the neck ice buff was going strong. In the second section my legs started feeling tired and I saw on the water table while refilling my hat ice. In the third section, I came to a point where I was very suddenly unable to handle ANYTHING. Grump, grump. Then the mosquitoes hit. I had on a tank top and a Nathan and those damn bugs were finding all the bare skin that I couldn't reach to swat them away. I ended up taking off my ice buff since all the ice was gone and I was heading down the trail, whipping the thing back and forth across my back and my shoulders and my legs, trying to keep the bugs away. I was not the only person doing this, which only marginally made me feel better. At one point, close to the end, I was so frustrated with everything that I had these little frustration tears just leaking out of my eyes. So very sad. Now, coming into Emma Carlin, you parallel a road for about 100 meters and then you cross it to get to the parking lot where the aid station is in. So coming up to the road, I saw Lisa and told her, "I can't handle ANYTHING right now." She reponds, "You can handle Rick" and points down the road to . . . Rick waiting for me!!!

Now, Rick was in the area but he was there for a wedding and thus I didn't expect to see him until maybe the finish the next day, if he was able to get away. It was so fabulous to see him at Emma! He helped me get covered in bug spray and reminded me how much I wanted this finish and it was just a fabulous treat to have him there.

Around this time Lisa made a comment along of the lines of, "I'm going to take pictures of you even when you feel crappy" except that made me laugh and somewhat spoiled her crappy-feeling-Sam picture.

Lots of bug spray. Though, funny enough, the next section was not buggy at all. Maybe I repelled bugs for a 20 mile radius. Or maybe I was too busy being unable to breath to notice a bug problem.

So. Here we are at Emma Carlin. 8.2 miles to Bluff. 3.2 miles to the unmanned aid station, Horseriders. I picked up my trusty pacer, Marcus, and we headed on our way. By the time we made it to Horseriders, I was already uncontrollably hyperventilating. Marcus had me try laying down on a picnic table bench there and it seemed to help maybe a little but then it plateaued out so I was just laying there getting rained on and cold and not breathing right while someone else was trying to poach my pacer to go down the road for a cell signal. We took off again, to prevent Marcus from being stollen and figuring we weren't getting any closer just laying here. After all, it's only 5 miles to Bluff, I'll be fine.

The next bit took a really long time. The 8.2 miles took me 3 hours and 47 minutes for a stellar average of 27 minute miles which means much slower than that by the end since I was able to run for at least some of the first miles. I couldn't get my breathing under control. Eventually I was wheezing with every breath. Sitting didn't help. Trying to take slow, guided breaths didn't help - I could take a couple in a row max but then I was definitely not getting enough air and had to go back to rapid breathing. We were moving so slow that Marcus could text Lisa in the dark behind me. I remember there being an issue with my handheld because I had forgotten to switch the batteries and I think I switched to holding my headlamp? I don't remember a lot of the timeline here, stuff is a bit mussed up in my head.

Throughout a lot of this section, I was hearing music that was following us. No really, Marcus could hear it too! I first thought it was maybe the aid station despite the rational part of my brain saying they wouldn't let them have music that loud this late. Ha. Not even close to it being the aid station. It was acting like it was a van driving a road that paralleled the course - it never got closer or farther away, though it did change directions. I'm curious what the trail was doing (it had to be winding something crazy there) because we decided it had to be a bar with a band that we just weren't getting far enough away from. It seemed to mock me and my attempts to be moving forward. I swore at it a couple times. I might have yelled at it.

Eventually a couple people passed us and I just couldn't believe there were still people behind us - we hadn't seen anyone for what felt like hours. We HAD to be close to Bluff. Then I saw glow sticks! That HAD to be the aid station! Why else would there be glow sticks? Huzzah! Wait - hmmmm. No aid station to be seen, just a road crossing and more glow sticks on the other side of the road. Okay, no problem, the aid station must be just over there on the other side. We saw a van parked on the road with a clipboarded woman inside, taking tally of runners. A smart person would have asked if we were almost there and then begged a ride if we weren't. I think I was just so sure that we were right there. Except we weren't. The glow sticks ended and we weren't there yet. We were moving so slow but I just couldn't move my legs faster - lack of oxygen to muscles? My fingers were tingly. No big deal. However, my entire face was tingling - forehead, temples, all of it. That hadn't happened at Sawtooth, probably because I only had to deal with it for less than an hour instead of more than three hours.

At one point I didn't know how I was going to make it out of there. It just didn't seem feasible to keep moving. We'd never get there moving so slow. This wasn't a panicked thought but more of a sad, confused thought that came out loud. But moving was the only option so I stood back up and we kept on. Marcus was a great friend in here. Slogging along behind me. Being a shoulder when I needed one. Helping me change lights. Trying to get me to run downhills even though all I could do was slowly move down them.

Eventually we made it in. I got to sit down for good. I'm told it took a solid two hours for my breathing to come back down, at which point, I was sort of ready to go again. Sort of. Seeing as how a walk to the port-a-potties (50 feet, maybe) ramped my breathing back up, it was good I had sensible people stop me from doing more than joke about heading back out. I believe Marcus said he wasn't going that pace for another 7 miles and he wasn't letting me back out without him.

So that's that. It was good, at least, to have witnesses in the form of Marcus and Lisa to my bizarre issues. This summer has been a lot of different tests, which I will talk about next post. Which I promise comes sooner than three months from now : ) The summer has also been full of lots of good running, though.

55.6 miles so at least I made it over halfway this time. Up next is Wild Duluth 100K, since I decided to forgo Sawtooth until I figure things out.

No comments:

Post a Comment