Steep Canyon 50K – Ultramarathon

My race recap may not be as entertaining as Shawn’s but it comes from a deep place still the same.  Make sure to give his a read:

On September 10th Shawn and I ran our 2nd 50k of the year.  I think we prepared way better for this race.  We ran LOTS more hills and worked more on our hydration and fueling.  This race was a little different than others. It took place on a Thursday at 12 Noon.  Most start at the crack ass of dawn which I hate.  I have more anxiety/ panic (story for another blog post) having to get up early and try to fuel before a race.   Thankfully Mimi and Grandpa A were visiting and took care of K-Bug that day and night while we drove up into the NC Mountains to attack our next event.  This was a 10ish mile loop we would do 3 times.

The farm was beautiful.  Wide open green pastures… mooing cows… crowing rooster… and a view of a wooded mountain that we were going to explore.  It was close to 80 degrees that day which was hotter than we had expected and hoped for in the mountains and early September. Shawn and I had planned to run together.  I was prepared to let him “free” if I got a sense of his anxiousness with wanting to mountain goat this race like I know he could.  We were called to the start and I had felt really good that morning. My anxiety was gone and I was excited to get started.  The countdown begin and whack there went the starting golf ball hit.  We were off.  Start out climbing gradual on a gravel road till we go to “the house”.  This was the picture perfect, seen in books cabin house by the river.  BEAUTIFUL!!  I can say in all honesty that if there was a For Sale sign on that house Shawn and I would have been signing the ownership papers as we finished that race.  Ok sorry… back to the race. Miles 1-3 we climbed, and climbed and climbed and climbed… you get the picture.  My breathing was a little ragged but not bad (oh yeah I have asthma if you didn’t know).  We got to the top of the first “hill” and were like wow that was awesome and kept moving forward.  I tried to just take it in, look around get familiar with this trail because I was going to be on if for the next 7 hours at least.  We ran by horses that checked us out from time to time.  Stopped and pet a few on different passes. We completed the first loop in just over 2 hours.  Wow, we are doing great I thought.  The pace was strong considering the difficulty of this course.  Loop 2 was much slower.  We walked more, took time to eat and also walked along a few other runners.  The Ultra community is awesome.  Everyone supports everyone else regardless of ability.  Even if your passing or being passed on the trails you say or hear great job, keep it up or looking good stay strong.  Everyone has a goal but that stays internal these people are genuine about the support they give.  As we started our 3rd and final loop I was feeling exhausted and depleted.  My stomach was queasy and I was too cautious in my eating.  I just didn’t feel like eating and I knew I needed to.  We reached the top of the first major climb and I was struggling.  My breathing was labored and wheezing.  Shawn looked back and said how you doing and I said not good I can’t breath. He said hit your inhaler. I told him it had only been an hour since the last time.  He’s said woman! those rules are for normal people that aren’t running up these fucking mountains, they are sitting on the couch.  Take A Hit of the Inhaler! I hate it when he is right… my breathing regulated back and we were still trucking along.  He kept saying during miles 20-23 we need to keep the pace up or we are going to get stuck running in the dark.  He did have a headlamp but still, who wants to run in the scary woods at night.  Around the marathon mark I hit the wall.  I’m talking bug splattered on the windshield hitting the wall.  Shawn was ahead of me and he was getting further and further away.  I knew he wasn’t going to leave me but my spirit was diminishing fast.  Tears welled up in my eyes and I couldn’t hold it back in more. They rolled down my face.  My quads were SCREAMING.  It felt as if my muscles were being pulled from the bone.  Shawn had looked back and saw that we had a greater distance and slowed down to walk.  I wiped my face as I got closer to him; I didn’t want him to see how much pain I was in.  He saw my face and said what’s wrong.  My quads are flipping cramping and hurting like hell.  More tears… He grabbed my hands and said stretch.  I held onto him and tried to stretch them out as best I could.  I took some deep breaths and composed myself.  He said eat some gels and suck down those electrolytes.  We walked for a while and said nothing.  I was ready to quit and if he hadn’t been there with me I would have walked the next 6 miles.  When you think your body can’t possibly do anything more it surprises you and digs a little deeper and pushes on.  I was in a dark place and Shawn helped me pull out of it some to get through those next few miles.  He spoke up and said we need to run to get done before dark, breath, make your peace with it and smile.  I saw myself punching him in the face however I smiled and said let’s just run.  I tried to keep my mind quiet and not think about how much I was ready to sit down and not be running.  Instead I either listened to Shawn be manic “This is so awesome”, “I could keep running for another 4 hours”, I love the trails… weeeeeeeeeeeeeee!” or I thought of funny lines from movies or songs.  When we saw the horses for the last time I keep saying “Thank you baby Jesus.  I like to picture my Baby Jesus wearing a tuxedo t-shirt because it says I like to party. See clip….

The race director was waiting for us at the end waving his hands, clapping and smiling and throwing us High Fives!  I will never forget what he said as we got to him “I’m so proud of you guys!”  It was pure and a genuine emotion.  Thank you, thank you Trucker Hat Director YOU ARE AWESOME!!  I’ve never been so happy to get and earn a trucker hat after a race.  Thank you Red Headed Bearded guy who was handing them out with a huge smile and a congratulations.  You both touched my soul.

Shawn is right, (damn it I said it again) this race was epic.  Not only because it challenged us physical and mentally but it strengthen our relationship and created a bond that can never be broken between us. We started and finished together.  That was our goal and we accomplished that.  I love him so much for standing by me and picking me up when I was so low and holding my hand to keep me moving forward. I’m so proud that he has found a new love, a new peaceful place he can go and just be.  I’m proud of myself for again going beyond what I thought I could.



My credit to those that helped me during this race:

Steep Canyon 50K – Ultramarathon & Relay Hullabaloo

*Check it out… plan to run it next year.  You won’t regret it.

Boulder Filming- Great race photos


*I used these all through the race.  Keep my stomach at ease and gave me energy.

*Interested in ordering? Use FFGVILLE code and get 25% off a bag

 Bolder Bands- Best headband I’ve found for running

*Stayed on my head for 31 miles… pretty good test