How good would throwing a temper tantrum feel right now? A full fledged toddler in the row of a supermarket meltdown? I'll just throw my pack off into the cacti, lay down and hammer my fists and feet into the ground. No wait, my feet hurt, I'll rest them and just bash my hands and head into the dust and scream a bit. No one will see, I'll feel so much better, I'm going for it.... that was at about mile 37 of my 50 miles.
How did I get here, other than the obvious, on my own two feet. It had all started out so well. I was loving it, I was trotting along feeling amazing. I was on top of my fluid and calorie intake. I had met some interesting people and had some great chats along the way. I had summited the climb (which was described as seriously steep, and that was an understatement). But then the unexpected had happened.
I had read and been told to be prepared for the unexpected and so I was. I had immodium, bendadryl, an epi pen in my pack. I had more calories and fluid with me than I needed at any given time. I had lights in drop bags that I should be passing WAY before the sun went down. I had an emergency field foot repair kit in a drop bag. I had layers and layers of clothes in various drop bags just in case it rained in the desert, or got a snow storm. Oh yes, I was prepared for the unexpected, except I wasn't. It was unexpected that I could need any of these things, but I had thought about it. What I hadn't expected or thought about was that I might have an asthma attack. That seemed very far fetched since the last time I had used an inhaler was well over 5 years ago, but it happened. The dust, the dryness, the less then clean air quality, and breathing it in deeply for over 6 hours had caused my bronchial to tighten up and wheezing to start.
At first I just tried to plow through it in denial. I put on my iPod, cause if I can't hear the wheezing then it isn't real, right? That worked but the coughing couldn't be ignored. I had to slow down on a slight downhill. It was prime for opening it up and running, but even doing that caused me to breath deeper than I was able. In order to keep the bronchospasms from happening I was reduced to a slow shuffle. I pretended I was still running, but we've all seen those people. I could have walked faster but my pride said, I'm going to run. I got passed by people who looked like they were flying along, I'm sure they weren't since they were behind me until this point and it had been an ugly couple of hours by now. I just kept repeating, relentless forward motion. As long as you keep going forward you are getting closer to your goal.
After the nice long gradual downhill wide trail I was back onto a flat section. Once again I was walking and the frustration, coupled with being a bit tired got me to the point of the trailside tantrum. As enticing as it was I had to continue moving forward and flinging my gear and raging wasn't part of that. Thus, the whole meltdown occurred in my head. All that visualization practice put to darn good use:) I was sobbing a bit, but then realized that the gasping wasn't making my breathing any better. Someone yelled at me 'stop being such a pussy' and I looked around to see where they were, seems the stern lecture came from none other than me. So, off I set to get to the next aid station where luckily I had a light and some clothes cause we were quickly approaching darkness.
As I left the aid station I had contemplated taking a short cut back to the finish line. The short cut was 3 miles of unmarked trail compared to the 6 miles of well marked race course. I knew if I got lost out of the race course search parties would be in the right vicinity. If I got lost out on the short cut, it could be a long night. Off I went, dressed like a homeless person with various unmatched clothes and my light. Note- I probably smelled like a homeless person at this point as well so it was all appropriate. I wasn't on my own for long when a fellow racer came upon me. He became my forced companion since he didn't have a light and there was no way he could find his way on the trail in the dark. I was navigating and setting the pace since I had the light and he was following me. I told him he would be on his own when we got to the start/finish area. We had to go through there before our final 5.4 miles. When I knew we were close I was picking up the pace and running, horse towards the barn. Plus, when night fell moisture came into the air and suddenly the dust was down and I could breath better.
Running into the finish shoot felt great, I knew I was done. I told the timing guys my number and that I was pulling out. Hubby heard that, and said WHAT! You are so close. No way, you aren't stopping now. It's only 5.4 miles (easy for the guy who hasn't run 44.6 miles to say). Then he told me, I'll come with you. You are allowed a pacer now and I'm coming. Handed him my spare light ( I know, I had two lights and didn't give one to the guy with no light. Don't judge me. I didn't want to have a light die and be out there in the dark. Besides, I did help him, I lit the trail for like 5 miles for him). Told the timing guy as I ran past 'guess I'm back in' and off we went chasing down my previous running buddy.
The best miles of the entire race were the ones where my husband ran with me. It was awesome. He was wearing regular clothes and shoes. He led the way and I just followed. I put my brain on off mode and just let my legs move. I was able to breath again, I felt better than I'd felt since mile 30 or so. I was actually back in this thing. We caught and passed the only guy even in the same zip code and kept going. I made it to the finish line, I can't say I ran 50 miles, but I did 50 miles on my own two feet and beat the time cutoffs. I thought about quitting but I didn't (well, I did momentarily but I took it back so it doesn't count) I went through the valley of doubt and ran out the other side. If you melt something down you can reshape it into something stronger and better.