Race 4: Nevada Half Marathon (Trifecta 2)

This is an actual photo of me running on the actual course. Oooh. Ahhh.

Friday’s half marathon was by all accounts a comedy of errors, except for the part where none of us were laughing. Much.

Saturday was certainly far better organized with the only real drama being one porta potty at the start for 200-300 antsy runners. The bushes behind the watercraft check station at Spooner Summit have all been watered and dare I say it sufficiently fertilized.

Of course, because I actually had a crew I not only didn’t have any shuttle drama, I was also the second person to use said single porta potty. Oh yeah, baby. It was mine, all mine.

Tragically, I would later find myself wistfully daydreaming of the rugged little green portajohn filled with angry hairy spiders jammed up against a utility trailer, rocking ever so slightly with every breath. But we’ll get to that. Aren’t you lucky?

I once again woke up at oh dark thirty, except this time it was more like oh dark fifty since the race started 45 minutes later than the previous day. The first thing I noticed when I woke up was how good my legs felt. They were rested. No soreness. No stiffness. No complaints.

The same could not be said for my head and stomach, which seemed to have teamed up to torture me in some sort of migraine aura. I choked down the requisite Trifecta breakfast of twFo mini whole wheat bagels with Nutella and peanut butter before taping up a couple of toes, slathering myself in Body Glide and strapping on my faithful purple Brooks Adrenalines for another 13.1 miles. I took a couple aspirin for the headache and willed my stomach to stay calm. It’s not that it was doing anything particularly worrisome as much as I had this lingering feeling of nausea. I drank loads of water hoping it was nerves or a little dehydration despite my massive water consumption.

The boy, aka the crew, drove me right to the start line and then let me huddle in the passenger seat with the heater on until nervousness and excitement eventually forced me from my cozy cocoon, headache and stomach completely forgotten, to visit with my fellow runners. I met up with Washington Keith then ran into dog sport pal Libby and the instigator of all this running madness, Kate. She is still out on injury but her hubby was running in her stead. Good man. This was then followed by Coach Michael and the fellow club runners – all doing the Triple Marathon of course. We were pretty much having a party right there at the start line when all of a sudden without warning, the crowd surged forward and we were off.

Apparently we missed some sort of hand signal start thing? I don’t know. It didn’t actually matter though because let’s face it…any time runners are within a 100 yard radius of the start line we are frantically searching for satellites, fingers poised on the start button and anxiously watching for any sign that the race has somehow begun with or without us.

The crowd surged and pulled back, surged and pulled back until finally we began to funnel our way out of the parking lot and down Highway 50 toward Incline Village. It was a nice downhill. A pleasant downhill. The kind of downhill that makes you feel all sorts of warm and fuzzy. And that is when Libby struck. Just before she left me in her dust she said, “This is a nice course. Only two hills then it levels out!”

Hills? HILLS? I don’t remember calculating hills into this equation. Of course, now I know why. With the lack of course map availability I assumed a different route entirely. An all downhill route. Nope. There were hills. Fairly decent hills.

Knowing this, however, didn’t deter me from opening up a bit and enjoying a nice comfortable trot down the mountain. The views were beautiful and traffic control was significantly improved. There were even more runners, more people to pace with and this of course meant new friends to make.

The first three miles went along without incident. Well, the first three miles went along without incident FOR ME. I can’t say that for the half dozen people bailing out of the race and picking up taxi cabs at the first aid station. Note: This is why you are supposed to carry a crisp new twenty with you when you run, right?

Still, things seemed to be going well but then I started to have a nagging little feeling in my gut. If you are a runner, you know of what I speak. It was not pleasant. It started to involve some cramping. I walked a few steps, it eased off, I called it good and picked up the pace, it stirred again.

I knew for sure there was a restroom at Sand Harbor five miles ahead but try as I might, I couldn’t ignore this so I scaled a hillside above the road in search of Mother Nature’s latrine. I only managed a brief wee before stage fright struck. But I felt better. Maybe that was it? Ha!

Any guesses what I am trying to do here?

I continued on my way feeling quite proud of myself for managing a forest pit stop-a racing first for me. I felt great for about a half mile when my stomach began to tighten and turn again. It was getting ugly fast. Still no restroom for miles and so I found myself running off into the woods a second time. There was no stage fright. The whole thing was rather awful-particularly the part where in my haste to get the hell out of dodge I managed to scrape my delicate cheek on a branch resulting in a 6” welt accompanied by a puncture mark. Yes. There is an exclamation point on my ass.

I also stopped here. Awesome.

Note: This is always why you should carry toilet paper. And hand sanitizer. I once again hugged my Camelback with its oh so handy extra pockets a little tighter.

Feeling every so very much better, I took off again. Tragically during my tree branch caning incident I somehow managed to stop time on my Garmin. I didn’t realize it for about a quarter mile. Dammit. I hate when that happens. I was less concerned about the distance and more concerned about the time. I caught up to Washington Keith who was able to give me the accurate time and distance. Apparently I only missed a few minutes in that quarter mile. Not let’s say 10 minutes from the pit stop AND then running like I feared.

Bolstered by this I soldiered on. I felt great and the scenery certainly kept me entertained. I love Tahoe. There are so many places where you can look down through its crystal blue waters and see the rocks below. It is stunning. Plus it also helped to have my buddy with me. We lamented over the hill incident and both complained of stomach trouble. This is of course a universally accepted topic when running in the middle of nowhere but just watch us clam up if a non-runner asks.

I was also in awe when the elite cyclists came whipping up the hill I was running (jogging, shuffling, whatever) down. It was epic. It made me want to cycle. Then I thought of my poor injured ass and one of those unyielding seats and the thought was dashed from my mind.

From there, Washington Keith and I played leap frog and tag (figuratively, not literally – but that might be fun for next time!) over the next few uneventful miles. During one of my solo stints, I startled passing cyclists and drivers with my best impression of Steve Irwin battling the Stingray (you’re welcome Nikki for that reference) as blinding pain shot up my right foot from the pinky toe. Crikey!

Seriously, it was like that.

Traffic literally stopped. I think the driver in front really thought I had gone all crazy zombie “I want to eat your brain” and was going to attack the car. Or maybe she thought I might fall into traffic since we runners were confined to a rather narrow 10” of pavement on the traffic side of the guard rail.

Contrary to popular belief (real or imagined) I did not become zombified nor was I battling an evil stingray. I actually suffered my very first lost toe nail, though I wouldn’t know this until about six hours later.

Of course I had a small first aid kit tucked into my Camelback (really this thing is like that tiny hand bag thingy Hermione uses to carry everything including the kitchen sink around in for the last two Harry Potter movies). I ever so gracefully climbed (stumbled) over the guardrail and set about removing shoe and sock to survey the damage.

I’m not gonna lie. It was gross. There was some blood. And some tissue. And it looked like I had a second toe growing out of my regular toe. And…well, I will leave it at that. It was gnarly. Fortunately, one of the Triple Marathoners happened upon me and offered to help tape the toe so I could get back on the road. Good woman. Actually, she was a great woman. She even ignored some mild profanity when the tape was applied. Neither of actually could tell what had happened but as is custom, you tape and continue.

Later that afternoon, I carefully snipped away at all the loose skin and found that my nail was imbedded in the outside of that little pinky toe. Yeah, check out those lovely feet.

I profusely thanked her and we headed on our way. I have to say, the tape did the trick. I didn’t notice the toe at all. I did, however, have to make there more pit stops-fortunately all at park bathrooms. I even managed to get locked inside of one. Yeah, that was a moment of sheer panic. I still don’t know if I was freaking out because I was locked in a dark bathroom at a state park with no cell phone reception and might not be found for days OR because it was killing my time. Either way, after much banging and some help from people on the outside, I was freed and allowed to continue.

This happened.

The race finished in the heart of Incline Village using a really nice public walking path. The houses were beautiful and folks out for a walk or a ride waved hello and wished me well. And then former pro running guy came up behind me to let me know that he thought I had more heart than most people out there because I was still going, still smiling-and rolling my feet and using my arms just like I should. Never quit, he said. Never quit. Awww, thanks former pro running guy! It was literally the pick me up I needed to get the last mile or so in.

And in just a few minutes time I rounded the corner to see the boy and an unexpected cheering section!

Nikki and I

Once again, there was no chute, no time clock but there were medals and snacks and on day two of the Trifecta, that was really all I needed!

Afterwards, we all headed off to T’s Mesquite Grill for beer, chocolate milk, tostadas and burritos. It was fabulous.

Official Time: 3:12:37 :: 14:42 pace (13.1 mi) – Target time: 3:15 hours, Mission accomplished!

Final conclusion on the race: This was a beautiful and scenic route. While it was a little scary going head to head with cyclists and cars, traffic control was great and the course was clearly marked. Bonus: All the aid stations were there! The views were pretty much fantastic.

Final conclusion on my performance: Note: There is no such thing as too much toilet paper. I’m just saying. Despite the Great Stomach War of 2012 as well as the Toenail Apocalypse, I really did feel great. Well, I felt great after taking an Imodium and downing a beer.  After that I was truly ready for day three.

Am I being attacked by stingrays or have I gone all zombie? No. I was just cracking up over Nikki’s celebration chants!

Mileage to Date: 42.4 miles

Mileage Remaining: 13.1 miles

Next up: Lake Tahoe Half Marathon