May 7, 2015

Run for Kids (and Nepal) 50K: How I Overcame PTRD

Even though I made up PTRD (post-traumatic race disorder -- aka peeturd), I swear it's real. Maybe you've had it? It's that thing that happens when you almost die at the same race the previous year. So when you sign up for the same race the next year, you've got that sketch feeling that you can't shake. Go here for my own near-death experience, which I downplayed for the blog. Mainly because I wasn't really ready to admit to myself how touch and go that was. Not fun times. Probably should have gone to the hospital but didn't.

I knew I would take on Run for Kids Challenge because it's part of the series, but I decided to cut it back a notch from the 12-hour to the 50K, which I felt was survivable. After last year's race, "survivable" is now one of the determining factors of whether or not I would run something. That makes racing sound so fun. Like, is this better or worse than stabbing dull daggers into my eyes? 

But look at these fun people (down there ). They seriously force me to keep running with their awesomeness. And also that I love running helps. 

Photo by Marathon Runs.

But dying I don't prefer for myself at this time. In my favor (you know, of not dying) during this race: that I had already run a 50K in November (post PTRD event) on a more difficult course and survived. Not in my favor: temps in the 70s. Can we just go back to 2013 when we had cold rain at this race? Cold rain while miserable at the start of a race actually makes me not want to die. Except when I get in the shower afterwards and realize all the nether regions that chafed. 

A lot of folks who signed up for the 12-hour race were being completely awesome and getting people to donate money per mile they ran for Camp SAM (race proceeds go to this camp for kids with cancer -- plus a portion to Nepal this year). Why would you not run this race?! And this year, the race directors, David and Marye Jo, set up a contest for the person who raised the most money. I just love my runner people so much for using their talents for good in the world. Cause the world sucks sometimes. But these people are like the raddest ninjas fighting for good. But instead of clothes that make them blend in with walls, they wear neon colors for visibility. So that they can live to do more good works. 

Me, Tanya, Sally = pigtail brigade. 

Hairstyle choice for the day: because you all totally were wondering about that. High double buns so that I could fit my visor under them. Also, I decided that I'm going visor instead of hat this summer. I was wearing a hat all last summer for the anti-tick factor, but to heck with the ticks, I just can't with the extra heat a hat creates.

Going in for the pre-race Tailwind fill-up.

Salomon pack update: the raddest pack on the planet. I cannot say enough good things about it. Not one single chafe from the 50K. Not one!! Not one ever in wearing it. I only used the bladder this time around (no front bottles), and I liked it because I could put a ton in and not fill up for several laps. I did have an issue with it flipping upside down once so that I had to reach back and apply pressure to the bladder every time I wanted a drink. Pretty sure that is user error. That is my one complaint, that I wish it had a user manual with it so that I knew what they had in mind when creating all the hooks and pockets and strings and business. But bonus-ville, I was able to shorten the pack by pulling a set of straps at the top and tying them off. Not sure if they were created for that, but I was able to use them for that. So the pack is not too long for my shortness and really does fit perfectly. Like February on this year's calendar. 

So satisfyingly fits.

My shoe choice: new pair of Altra Olympus. Because I love how wide the toe box is. No lost toenails for me. Although I did go get a pedicure for some healing-ness after this race, and the lady worked my big toes over and dug out some ingrown toenails that I did not even know existed. A. How long have those been there? And B. Seriously, I almost vomited watching the extraction, which was about 20 minutes long. So of course I wanted to share with y'all. Because that's what friends do. Meaning friends tell each other their grossest bodily stories so that the other friends feel better about their own gross bodily mishaps. Let's get real, if you're reading this far into this post, there is about an 89% chance you have peed your pants within the last year. Running related or otherwise. I can't make other guesses because that's your business and your story to share to make your own friends feel better about themselves. 

Wait, did this section start about shoes? Oh yeah, the Altras are awesome. No achilles complaints, but I did have some general foot soreness. But hey, that's what not following the whole training plan and still jumping into the 50K will get you. 

Training: could have gone so much better. My best training for this race was back during spring break (think March) when I ran a long run and then turned around the next day and ran a negative-split half marathon. I knew going into it that this one would be like waiting until the last night to cram for the final. Just because my miles had been so down in general. But then even as my mileage went up on my schedule, things kept getting in the way. Awesome things, but still things. Like the women's trail running retreat, which I haven't written about yet but was the equivalent of summer camp for adult girls. But the rad summer camp where you leave with 30 new friends, not just the summer camp where you came home with scars from scratching mosquito bites and a complex from that one girl who told you your faced looked weird. 

Race: Despite the less-than-ideal prep (but isn't that always the case), I felt decent on race day. I knew the temps weren't ideal for my best time on that course, but from the beginning, I just went by feel. No watch at all. Just counting laps (this course is a 3.3 mile loop with some extra at the beginning), which is surprisingly time consuming for a number that only goes up to 9. So nine loops for the 50Kers (12-hour racers fit in as many as they can in, obvi, 12 hours), and I must have spent 80% of each loop talking about the loop number, discussing the remaining loops, deciding that loops aren't bad, immediately after that hating the loops, back to not being bad once I was halfway through the loops, and then some more counting the loops. 

My friend did it right/write by counting on her arm with a sharpie. And she ran 47 miles that day, you know, no big deal. 

By the end of the race, you have a hefty set of mental markers for yourself. Like the rocky hill, the one downhill that I fell on last year, the pee tree, the metal art tree, the tree you jump over, the switchback where you can see other runners, the spot where I got hit by my brother's snot rocket. And they all put you one step closer to the end of the loop. 

After my third loop, some friends (including my coach!) jumped in and joined me, and holy hello, thank you for that. There is nothing that can cheer a runner up like a few friends along for the journey. Not that I was sad, but I was just happier with friends. 

When my friends split off to go pick up their awards (they had already dominated the 10K before coming back and running with me), I looked up and thought I was hallucinating. It seemed too soon, but hey, you never know. Really the undrugged hallucination potential is kind of why I love this sport. But right there ready to run was my brother all dressed up in his sportiest bike riding gear. I literally yelled for joy, I was so happy to see him. Like not a short polite yell, like a long obnoxious yell that made everyone consider that I might be hurt, or maybe won the lottery, or maybe just found out that Beyonce and Jay Z are having another baby. Something really important like that. Nope, I just really like running with my brother, ok. Enough to yell about it. 

Turns out that even though he didn't respond to my "hey, you should come run some loops with me tomorrow" text, when he got to Oak Mtn to bike that morning, he realized that the race that I was talking about was there. So he biked over to hit a loop with me but soon realized that he forgot his running shoes. No shoes, no problem. Just like they saved the day for me once when I forgot my shoes for a race (really, who does that? oh right, me), the Salomon shoe rep was there reppin'. Dang, I love them for saving me for the second time. First with footwear for me, and second with footwear for my bro so that he could run with me. 

After that, the loops just kept ticking off. My legs felt average and were able to move, so that was a solid check in the plus column. 

For nutrition, I stuck with Tailwind (the new trail series nutrition sponsor) the whole entire race. Nothing else at all. I wasn't hungry. The one time I drank one of my magic yerba mate drinks, I had some stomach rumbling. And the Tailwind got sloshy in my gut at times, but otherwise, solid. No bonks, and I didn't throw up. Both good things to avoid. And both things that I tend to do when I go the distance. 

My finish time: 5:30:37. About 9 minutes slower than my 2013 time, but I'll take it. First place for the ladies and second place overall. First place overall finished an hour and a half before me. So there's that. 

Me and race director David Tosch. Super cool metal awards this year.

Friend reports: Basically, this was the race of firsts for a ton of people. More than I remembered to take pics of for sure. But I was so happy for all of the first-time 50Kers out there. 

This girl (below) was one of them, and her daughter ran the last lap with her. You may remember this mom from the I-don't-train-for-marathons-but-I-run-them post. She's back at it again with a 4-mile training run (yes, just the one) to prep for the 50K. I love her guts.

Melissa after running 50K with pretty much zero training.

Samm (below) ran her first marathon, then proceeded to run 13 more miles. 

Samm at the marathon mark. About to go out for more.

And Bob here, who is my neighbor and friend, ran his first 50K. Last year at this time he was in cancer treatment/recovery, so I'd say he nailed that recovery. 

Bob getting his relax on after his first 50K.

When you sit around after a race long enough, you get to see all the amazing moments. I stayed until an hour before the gig was up and wish I could have stayed until the end. 

Why is it not boring to watch people run in circles?

Because Doodle's brings you free, amazingly delicious sorbet.

And these people. Did I already say 100 times that I love my runner people? Well, here's 101. I love them.

So here's to not even coming close to dying at Run for Kids. I'll see you next year, loops. 

Overview: this is the perfect race for a first-time 50Ker. You have 12 hours to complete it, so you don't have to get nervous about cut-offs. And your entry fee goes to help kids with cancer attend an amazing camp. And if you do a shorter race, you get hours to cheer on the other runners. If you don't do this race, I feel sorry for you. 


  1. Congrats on your 50K finish! I used Tailwind in a race before they had small packets that would be easy to carry like they have now, but it wasn't too much trouble for me to carry it in small baggies. Way to conquer PTRD!

    1. Luckily at this race, everything was premixed and in the coolers. It was great to not have to fiddle with mixing it! But I would still do it cause that stuff's awesome.


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