I'm thankful for many things following the final 60K of the Capt'n Karl's race series (including the fact that the series is over!), but I'm especially thankful for the many angels at the race. Here are a few of them:
- The Rockhoppers members who attended the race. Seeing how I moved to Texas just under a year ago, not knowing a soul in the entire state, it's such a wonderful feeling to show up to a race and see friends. And I don't know of more hospitable, kind, caring, and inspirational friends than the trail runners I've met in the last year.
- The volunteers, who gave encouraging words, filled water bottles, and poured ice water over me at each aid station.
- A guy who tried to warn me about a rattlesnake coiled under a rock on the trail ahead. Unfortunately, my new headphones blocked all ambient noise, so I couldn't make out what he was saying and had to wait until after the race to hear about it.
- My friend Emmett, who I got to see at the race, and who was responsible for me running my first 50-miler earlier this year and registering for this series, as well as the Tejas 300 series.
- My friend Elizabeth, who took great care of me after the race, put up with my fairly grumpy mood at 3:30 in the morning, and handed me my award for 1st place woman for the series. (An award I'm a little uncomfortable with, since I never actually won any of the races, but whatever.)
- My coach, who talked some sense into me after the race. I was disappointed about my 4th place finish, because I thought I was in 2nd place; a volunteer had told me I was the 2nd female going into the final loop. But my coach asked me, Would you have pushed as hard in the final loop if you'd known you were in 4th place? And I know that I wouldn't have. So it was actually a good thing I'd been misinformed; I got a better time, and I got practice digging deep and pushing myself hard. It's amazing how a little question like the one she asked could totally shift my perspective.
- Mi novio, who led us in prayer before the race, and surprised me with a "congratulations" flower delivery the day after the race. (And who put up with me wanting to stay at the race until one of my friends finished, which was at sunrise.) (And who let me play my Notre Dame Glee Club CD on the ride home.) :)
In case bulleted lists aren't your thing, how about a random story?
It was the final 5 miles or so, maybe around 2:30 or 2:45 in the morning. I'd run about 33 miles at that point, beginning at 7pm, so by then I'd spent about 6 1/2 hours running in the dark, alone. I'd had 30-odd ounces of EFS slurry, but no solid food, energy gels, or anything of that sort since before the race started. It was at that point that I noticed my headlamp was starting to dim. I was worried that it would run out before I reached the finish line, and I couldn't remember if I had extra batteries in my pack. I didn't think I did, and I didn't want to stop and check, because I'm always concerned about my time. So I switched my headlamp to a green filter, thinking maybe it would conserve the battery and/or help me see better. Almost immediately after I did this, a red, yellow, and black snake slithered across the trail ahead of me.
Or did it? After I finished the race, I described the snake to my friends, who said it sounded like a coral snake, which is venomous. But my boyfriend told me the light from my headlamp (which I'd switched back to white light shortly after the snake incident) didn't appear dim at the finish line, and when I got home and googled pictures of Texas snakes, none of them looked exactly like the one I'd seen. Was it the green filter that made it look completely different to me? Or was I just hallucinating (about the headlamp and the snake)? I've heard the rhyme about coral snakes since I've moved here: "Red next to yella will kill a fella" but I hadn't studied a picture of a coral snake. Maybe my mind conjured up its own version of a red, yellow, and black snake, as well as the idea that my light was going. I'll never know for sure, but I guess I'm inclined to believe I actually saw a coral snake, which is pretty cool.
The only other tidbits I have to share from the race are that Reveille Peak Ranch is one of the most beautiful landscapes in Texas, the moon was big and orange and gorgeous that night, and the ants here bite, which is rather mean.
Anyway, what's on the docket for September? Recovery, strength-building, and gearing up for my 1st 100-mile race, which is in October!
St. Sebastian, pray for us!