Cool (…or Not Cool) Runnings

As part of my ‘Tara goes crazy and decides to run a lot in a really short timeframe, while living in an excessively snowy place and working two jobs’ phase several months ago, I’d signed up for the lottery for Way Too Cool, a 50K in the Auburn area. I figured it’d be good training and motivation to do a non-solo longer run, and then I kind of forgot about it, until it snuck up on me this weekend.

If you read this post, it’s not really a stretch for me to say that training this winter has been tough, because (surprise!), it turns out living in an excessively snowy place at a high elevation makes it incredibly difficult to train for running on trails, and working two jobs is a fairly large time-suck. Couple that with living at a ski resort and having the mindset where skiing >> all other athletic things in winter (plus a lot of very welcomed guests), and free hours haven’t really existed. Running in winter coats and returning with frozen eyelashes and windburn on my face is also less than inspiring, and while I have done some spectacularly gorgeous runs with snowy mountain vistas in all directions, for the majority of ventures out, I can’t see over the snowbanks that are twice my height lining the roads. I am a pro at dodging snow plow blows, and people routinely pass me in cars and ask if I want a ride, because certainly I can’t really be that crazy where I am voluntarily running up a hill in a blizzard.

Snow walls, and normal snow run views.

Anyway, I had no idea what to expect this weekend, and I was not feeling particularly prepared. My ankles were still torn up from last weekend‘s trail jaunt, my quads were still burning from hills everyday, and I have just been tired, in the sense of general deep body, to-the-bone fatigue, and in the sense of I haven’t slept properly in weeks, because for whatever reason I’ve started having the same recurring nightmare in one of three forms over and over again every night. No part of me was feeling remotely ‘ready’.

And you know what?

It was horrible.

Like, horrible in the way that there was no single second from when the gun went off to when I crossed the finish line that was not miserable.

I am not a miserable person. Running very rarely makes me miserable.

I went out way too fast (like I always do), which would’ve been fine, because I was in my race-head zone and in control, and that was part of my plan. And then I was knocked out of my race-head zone, and I was so thrown off that I couldn’t get back in. And then I got pissed off, and spent the next six miles waffling between being angry and trying to channel that into running and being angry and only being able to focus on how much my legs were crying and how stupid of an idea this was. At some point in all of that, I got incredibly nauseous and dizzy. I could barely form words when I came through the aid station and ended up just thrusting my pack of water at Laura and grabbing a stroopwaffel to shove in as I ran down into the next section.


I felt fine for a bit, but fine started to become a relative term, where not actively dry heaving but still feeling like puke was okay… and I was at this stage of relative ‘fine’ for a bit longer, hit the next aid station and guzzled more water and some chews, grabbed some bars to hold in my hands, and set off again.

And then I really started dry heaving. It was bad. I carried those mashed up bars in my hand for eight miles, unable to even contemplate taking a bite. Every time I slowed to stop, things went blurry. Really – it was bad.

For the last three miles of that eight (this was something like miles 17-20), I was in a full-on slow shuffle and had decided to DNF myself when I got to the aid station, because this was not worth it and not safe. I stayed there for what felt like ages, but the point I was at in the course was so far from the highway that they informed me if I did drop, I’d be sat there for two hours. Aside from sitting in wet running clothes as the clouds rolled in sounding horrible, I had nothing (not even my phone) with me, and it would’ve been a mess. They force-fed me some broth (which was probably a good thing, but did not feel like it), and I eventually left to shuffle for the remaining 10 miles, where I continued to expel water and said broth and then dry heave, wog, crawl up the infamous Goat Hill, and then wog slowly in.

And then I finally stopped, and melted into a tear-streaked, muddy blob on some grass.

Garland support team!

I’d been on this fence already, but I think this whole experience solidified it – I have zero desire to stick it out and do this 100K next month. I probably could, and I would survive, but I am almost positive that it would just break me… and at this point, it’s just not worth it. I love running, and I have always run for me. I’m not at the point yet where I don’t ever want to run again, but it’s March. The next six weeks are going to be as, if not more, crazy than the last month has been. I’m working a ton. Ski season is ending, and I haven’t done enough. I’m in SF for another full week in early April. I’ve got Boston, which I’m really looking forward to, a few weeks later. We’ve had two feet of snow today, again. I really need to start sleeping through the night.

Anna shows how snow banks are out of control.

I’ve loved winter up here, but I’m really looking forward to summer and have a laundry list of places I want to go and things I want to do, and I want to be able to do them. Running two-times that race yesterday is going to physically wipe me out, and I can’t do that. The smart thing to do would be to drop it, run Boston and really enjoy it, and pick up a few shorter trail fun runs this summer so I can enjoy exploring this amazing area I’m living in without any other external pressure… and I am totally more than okay with that.

Anyway. Running sucked – hard – but it’s okay. I had a great time before and after with my super supportive friends, who trekked out to make silly signs and be there even when I was semi-incoherent, and it was awesome to come home to Anna and Paul last night and have a relaxing snowed in, proper rest day. I’m sort of walking, but it’s a bit of a hobble, although it could be worse.

Once again, ya’ll. This whole running thing is complicated.


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