Running4theMasses has been updated for 10.31.12.
SO, this past weekend, I sort of had this big event I was participating in, the 1st ever G.O.A.T.Z. 50K race. What an incredible experience. The picture above is some of the trail we ran on. Absolutely incredible.
For me, this experience didn’t start with the race itself, but back in the summer when I was looking to take my training for my marathon to a different level. Enter the @GreatGoats, and the man with a great vision, Scott Giddings. I was looking to run some new routes and trails, and I was curious about a certain lake area in Omaha I had never run. I posted a statement on Facebook, and within minutes, I had a response and invitation to join this group, and join them for a Sunday morning 10 mile run on the trail around the lake. I took them up on it, and that was the beginning of the end for me. I fell in love with the trail out there, and it became a regular Sunday morning run in my training. I was told about this 50K race they were planning. I was intrigued and interested. I was entered. My experience didn’t stop there.
As the summer months passes, and as Sunday mornings approached, I started to meet more members of this group, even leading a few group runs out on the trail. From there, I even got a few friends interested in joining the group and doing some trail runs. They’ve had the exact same experience.
As my marathon approached, which was my 1st, I kept getting messages of encouragement from the members of this group. Some I had met in person, and some I’d never met, but corresponded via Facebook. The support was overwhelming. What made it even better was at the end of my marathon, and as I’m coming down the final stretch to the finish line, who do I see coming in my direction to give me a high-five, Scott Giddings. What a great moment!!!!
(photo courtesy of Laurie H.)
After the marathon, I got plenty of congrats and such from the group, and it just made the fire burn to want to conquer the 50K. I definitely didn’t run as much as I should have leading up to the race; however, I still felt good as we got closer.
Being that this was my 1st time ultra experience, I wanted to get input from those that had done this before, and again, the support and input was overwhelming. It was great, and it made things seem more attainable.
Now, race weekend is upon us, and it is time for packet pick-up. What a simple and easy process. I showed up at Mama’s Pizza, and saw nothing but smiling faces, and even had the opportunity to meet a few more G.O.A.T.Z. The great part is that I’d never met these people before, and when I came up to get my stuff, they knew who I was. Oh, the pleasures of all the different media outlets we have. It was so great, and again, I felt so welcomed.
October 28 is now upon us, and it is time to do this. What organization upon arriving at Cunningham, even when it is pitch black out, with the exception of lights that are on by the starting area. Parking was simple, and well thought out, and just the sight of all the runners that were starting to arrive made the excitement even more real.
As we inched closer and closer to race time, I got to meet someone for the 1st time, who became very instrumental in my finish of this race, Richelle Hall, and talked briefly to my running companion for most of the race, Brandon McAllister. Next thing you know, we are lining up to start the race. WOW, the rush that went through me was incredible, but I had to keep it bottled up so I wouldn’t just start sprinting out and be done before we even got going.
Things started out well. Nice even pace, lots of encouragement from runners and spectators alike, and we get to the creek crossing. No problems (for now), and away we go. Things started to flow, runners started to spread out at their own pace, and all things were good to go. We had a great game plan going, easy on the trail, walking some of the more steep hills, eating and rehydrating as needed. There weren’t an extreme amount of places where spectators could cheer you on, but in the places there were, it was OUTSTANDING!!!! The support was great.
Now, we reach the 1st manned aid station, and what a thrill that was to experience as you come off the trail. The volunteers there were incredible. As you come down the small hill, they were approaching you, smiling, cheering, asking what they could get you from the array of items they had there. It was a spectacle to witness. This aid station would become instrumental as the race went on.
As we reached the end of lap #1, the support of all the runners on the course was incredible. It was so refreshing to pass a runner who might be walking say “GREAT JOB, KEEP IT UP”, and to reply the same back was refreshing, because usually, it seemed like I’d run alone in other races. Here is the best part, as you get to the finish line, seeing the smiling face of the race director meet you and give you a high-five was the icing on the cake. You don’t get that personal interactions elsewhere.
Loop #1 was not bad at all, and after 10.5 miles, I still felt pretty good, but decided that there would be a little more walking this loop, and I would concentrate on keeping myself nourished a little more. Things went well, the support was again unparalleled to anything I’ve experienced, even though the numbers weren’t the same as other races. We got to the aid station, and again, the energy was invigorating. This time, I took a look at the sampling, and grabbed some gummi bears, which was something I was already carrying with me. I didn’t want to do something that might upset my stomach or cause any distress, even though, some of the stuff was quite tempting.
As we started to get towards the end of loop #2, things started getting a little rough for me, but I was still sticking with it and was still with my running mate. Again, we approached the start/finish line to begin loop #3, and the smiling, encouraging faces were there yelling “YOU LOOK GREAT!” I was thinking, it was easy for them to think that as I was starting to really tighten up all over, but had to push on.
This is where this event made it all worth while for me. Through about the 1st 3 to 4 miles of the final loop, things were OK for me. I was drastically starting to fade though, and my running mate was looking strong. He pushed on, I fell back, and then, everything seized up on me. I literally could not move forward as hard as I pushed, and, there was nobody around me for sometime. Finally, a few runners came upon me, and asked if I was OK and asked if I was injured. I assured them I was not injured, but that my entire body was seized up. The 1st runner that came upon me walked with me for a few minutes at my snail’s pace, and then I told them I would be OK as I started to get a little life in me and started to move, at least for about 50 yards, and then, BAM. I doubled over and had to sit down. I tried stretching, massaging my legs, everything, and nothing worked.
I finally pulled myself up off the ground and continued to move forward, no matter how slow it was. Another runner came upon me, and this time it was comforting because I knew this runner, and his encouragement and enthusiasm got me to a point where things turned from bad to awesome.
I still could barely move, but was fortunate enough to get to what I will call a blessing in disguise or divine intervention. I’m so glad that at that moment, I was introduced to Richelle’s brother, Chris. I was at the point in the loop where there was a small creek crossing with a few logs laid over the gap. The 1st 2 loops, I was able to jump over this gap, thanks to Chris, he helped me navigate across the gap to the other side.
At this point, I was ready to throw in the towel and listen to my body telling me to stop, when I had no desire to stop. Chris wrapped my legs in a warm blanket from his vehicle, and for 10 minutes, had me rest, all the time stretching things out. After 10 minutes, we took the blanket off, and he asked how I was. I said, I’ll push forward. He said he’d see me at the bridge which was still about 2 miles or so away. I said OK. I walked up to the top of the hill where I was at, overlooking the lake, and then, I was off, running again. I only stopped to walk up some hills, and there was Chris waiting for me at the bridge, a smile on his face, and a high-five as I passed him. It was quite possibly the most incredible feeling I’ve had in running. The next stop, the aid station for the final time, and this one was special!!!!
As I came out of the woods off the trail, I just heard cheering, and it was incredible. I had made up so much time that I caught up with Richelle, who passed me earlier when I had stopped. She and a group of others were cheering as I came RUNNING to the aide station.
(photos courtesy of Jody Green) These above pictures where me coming to that final aid station.
After a final water refill, it was time to finish this thing. The pace was not blistering; however, I was going to finish the exact way I started, running.
As we got to the final stages of the race, I could tell it was almost there. I could hear the crowd and the music, and as I got to the top of the hill overlooking everything, I knew that in a few short minutes, it would all be worth it, I would complete a 50K race.
As the finish line approached, my running mate for most of the race, Brandon was there cheering me on as I moved closer to the finish line. Then, there he was with a big smile, Scott Giddings, with open arms, a high-five, a big hug, and then, it was official. I had finished something I had never thought possible.
I will never forget this experience for the rest of my life whether I run another ultra or not, this was my 1st, and because of all that were involved, will be my most memorable.
Thanks to ALL the G.O.A.T.Z. for their undying support throughout the entire race. INCREDIBLE!!!!