As I made my way to the 16-mile marker of the Antelope Island Buffalo Run 50k, I tore a piece off of my blueberry PROBAR FUEL bar and began to chew it. I then filled my water pack, and dropped a fruit punch flavored NUUN Hydration tablet to fizz-away as I ran. I took a long swig, and began my second loop of trail running.
After a successful first lap — easily making my way up steep switchbacks, running miles through loose dirt, and pounding my way down steep, rocky hills in record heat —I was in the lead, and feeling great.
The next 10 miles, however, would prove to be extremely challenging, as the hill climbs turned into mountain peaks, the loose dirt became beach-like sand. The downhill I looked forward to was even more painful than the uphill. And the heat? Well, as I reached the noon hour, it only got hotter.
I was hurting, and knew that this hurt would see little relief even after the race was done.
Over the course of the last 10 miles, I thought often about my family (thoughts written about it in a column here).
And while I was passed by two women, and slowed considerably over the second half of the race, I managed to keep a steady pace, and was able to kick it into a fast gear the last three miles to hang on for a third place finish, with a time of 5:01:20.88.
While the thrill of completing 32.5 miles brought endorphins that masked much of the pain I was experiencing, there was no denying the hurt my body was feeling.
As I slowly but surely made my way to the finisher’s tent, where I would get my mug filled with Jim Skaggs’ signature buffalo stew, my legs ached. I looked at my watch, and realized that I needed to get home.
I wasted no more time, aside from the prolonged time it took to hobble to my truck,and I did my best to shake my legs out as I walked, so that I wouldn’t cramp up in the car on the 1.5 hour drive back home.
No such luck.
The drive home would be muscle spasm after muscle spasm, and my chafing armpits felt like someone was trying to singe my armpit hair off (what armpit hair?).
As I finally made it back home, I gingerly stepped out of the car, and waddled to the front door. I put my hand on the doorknob, took a deep breath, and stepped inside.
At that moment, thinking about all the pains I was experiencing would have to take a backseat. My family had given me this time away to do what I loved, and I was not going to complain.
There would be no milking it from this mom, just like there has never been before.
Racing and logging long miles is the one thing I do for myself, because it is what I love to do. I know full-well that it will hurt, but it is all part of the reward that comes from months of hard work.
I stepped through the door, and was met by my two youngest kids and very huggy 8-year-old running up to me, and reaching for a hug. I nearly tipped over, as the combination of unsteady legs and nearly 100 pounds of weight climbing on me do not mix well.
My pain-filled grimaces would have to turn into enthusiastic “I love you’s,” and my need-to-hold-on- to-something-tight-lest-I-fall-over, turned into tight bear hugs for everyone.
After all, I was grateful to my family for allowing me the time to do what I loved, and there was no way I was going to let them know that I was in pain. These aches would be long gone in a matter of days, but the gratitude I showed for my family would last much longer.