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.
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.
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.