I was supposed to run the Seashore Nature Trail 50K (31.2 miles) on December 14. This was my fall ‘goal race.’ Leading up to that race, it was a six plane ride kind-of-week, three city kind-of-week. I was exhausted from the late night flights. I hadn’t run all week (except for two quick short runs on a dreadmill), and most importantly, I was dehydrated. When I hop around that much in one week, I tend to dehydrate easily (shocker). Everything was working against me for this race. Our plan was for me to be in the Philly office Friday morning (after being in NYC and Arkansas earlier in the week), come home after our work yearly Town Hall, pick Reilly up from school and start our drive to Virginia. Six hours in the car…and run 32 miles Saturday. 😳. I came home in tears thinking about all I needed to do before we could even leave (e.g., finish work, and drive six hours and somehow drink 2 liters of water along the way without stopping so I wasn’t dehydrated…but get there as fast as possible so I could get a good night’s sleep). It all wasn’t happening. It was all way too much. I basically decided that I couldn’t do it all at 3 PM on Friday, so we didn’t go. It’s not very often I DNS (did not start) a race, but I was overwhelmed.
I, of course, beat myself up for not running the one race I trained for all fall. After injury, this was my goal race for the fall. My goal was to do better at this distance. My previous best 50K time was 8:10 (that’s trail with elevation)–I was shooting for a 6:30 and trained for a 6:30 or better.
Once we settled into shutdown, I did some research and found the Savage Seven series in Florida, potential heat and humidity (because it’s Florida), but flat. This Race Director puts on a half marathon, full marathon and 50K…every single day…from December 26 through January 1…and there are people that do a distance every single day. This is the 10th year. The course is in Ocala, Florida, at the Marjorie Harris Carr Greenway. It’s a beautiful small 5-mile loop park. I’m usually not a fan of the loopy course, but I sometimes do better with zero noob distractions (my patience is wearing on over-crowded races with runners lacking etiquette). Nish and Reilly were planning on skiing on December 26 anyway (and I wouldn’t go), so the timing of me running the 50K on December 27 was perfect. I signed up on Monday–to run on Friday. I used points for hotel and flight, and wallah, off to Florida. The magic of being a road warrior is having points to fly whenever you want, last minute (“magic”).
It’s amazing what some downtime can do to the mind, body and soul. Although it was a little nutty leading up to the holidays, it was still a plane-free week before the race (other than getting to Florida, obviously). I needed this. I sometimes go into race weekends after hopping around to two or three cities and zero training runs. It makes it so hard to do well and I’m usually disappointed with the outcome. I had a 6 a.m. flight on December 26 into Orlando (definitely put a damper on my ‘Christmas day wine drinking’), then a 1.5 hour drive to Ocala. I was checked-in by 11 a.m., and I spent the entire day relaxing. I was sleeping by 8 p.m. It was the kind of relaxing I’m not used to before a race.
I showed up at 5:30 a.m. for a 6:00 a.m. start. I wasn’t used to the heat. I had already adjusted to winter running. It was 66 degrees at the start and 100% humidity. YIKES. By the end of the race, it was almost 80 degrees and 66% of humidity. Not sure which was better? The heat kills me. The humidity kills me. My goal for this race was simple (sort of), keep moving (which means absolutely no walking), and finish in 6 hours 30 minutes or less. It is so hard to start back running after a walk break. I’m actually not good at it at all. I allow myself to stop and walk through aid stations and that’s it.
I got going, and I felt good. There were about 35 runners for all distances for this race. My kind of race. It was pitch black when we started, so I needed my lamp. I kept going, loop-after-loop, in my own little zone, and before I knew it, I was at 26.2. I was really happy with my time. With a bathroom break and a good minute or so at each aid station to eat, I was at 4:50 for the full marathon. It was getting so hot though, I didn’t know if I could keep the pace for the last loop, BUT… not only was I on target to finish in 6:30 or less, I could almost finish in less than 6:00 hours. That was my motivation.
I did my last loop with one of the other 50K runners. His goal was one 50K per day of the seven days (yowzers). We actually helped each other along for the last 2-3 miles because the heat was so unbearable. We finished. He finished one minute ahead of me and I finished in 5 hours 55 minutes, and I was so happy with this time. Had I done this race after a week of chaos, I would have likely been annoyed with the loops, heat and humidity, but because I was relaxed, I was in the right mindset.
I did enjoy this small race and would likely do it again. It’s an easy fit-in between the holidays. Maybe I’ll go back next year!