I would like to start this post with my absolute admiration to any and all runners out there that train/race in the South over the summer. I just do not see how you do it! I came to the Full mOOn 50k in hopes of getting a taste for what will be in store when I attempt the Arkansas Traveler 100 in October.
The AT100 starts and finishes at the same place and part of the Full mOOn runs on the AT100 course. I thought this would be a good chance to get an idea of the trails, test my gear and have some fun, but in the name of fun, I made some rookie mistakes and I underestimated everything. If there was something that could go wrong for me, it did and most things were my own fault.
I flew into Memphis then drove to Little Rock. Living and training in Utah (where the heat is warm and dry), I was not ready for the heat and humidity that awaited me. Friday night I decided to take get a little shake out run in. I thought if I waited until 9:30pm I would beat the heat. Well, when it comes to summer in the South, there is no such thing!
10:00pm, 85 degrees, high humidity and a closed Baskin Robbins is NOT cool Memphis!
About 10 miles from Little Rock, I hit the worst traffic that added over an hour to my drive so I finally got to my super speedy friend Marc Gill's apartment (who was nice enough to offer me a place to stay) about 1:00pm. We went to get some lunch and went back to his apartment so I could prepare for the race.
Me holding Marc's 1st place Rooster!
I got all my gear together, including a duffel bag that included a change of clothes, some Tailwind (that Marc gave me), my spare Garmin and some spare batteries for my headlamp and flashlight (which I was going to put in my pack when I got to the race).
Packet pick-up and the race start and finish was held at the Camp Ouachita Girl Scout Camp in the Ouachita National Forest. The race started at 7:00pm so I made sure to be there by a little after 6:00pm so I could pick up my number and relax a little before the start. I got a 20 minute cat-nap before driving to the race, but that was it.
The Start/Finish! (Photo courtesy of the Full mOOn 50k)
The first thing I noticed when I got there was how hot and humid it was. I was actually a little worried about how I would hold up. Heat is my downfall when it comes to racing and I was already soaked with sweat and I had not yet run a step.
A friend told me to make sure that I take in extra electrolytes to compensate for all the salt I would be losing in sweat, so while in Memphis I stopped at Breakaway Running and picked up a new (to me) electrolyte powder called Scratch, which I added to my water just to make sure I had enough.
After I picked up my bib, I was going to drop my t-shirt back off to my car when I saw my friends Annette and Arland Blanton. Annette graciously let me put my shirt in her bag which saved me a long walk back to the car to drop it off before the race started.
It is always great to see the Blantons!! (Photo by Annette Blanton)
Getting ready to run! (Photo courtesy of the Full mOOn 50k)
Being the only person from Utah on the course, People started calling me Utah! "How's it going Utah?" "Great job Utah!" was fun to hear! (Photo courtesy of the Full mOOn 50k)
At 6:45pm, Race Director, Susy Chandler gave us the trail briefing. I turned on my Garmin just before the start and saw what every runner hates to see: Battery Low! MISTAKE #1- DOUBLE CHECK THAT YOUR GARMIN IS FULLY CHARGED! (It can get turned on in your luggage and drain the battery.)
No worries! I had a back up Garmin for such an emergency, but I forgot it was in the duffel bag in the trunk of my car (which I didn't return to when I got my shirt). MISTAKE #2- MAKE SURE THE EMERGENCY GARMIN IS WITH YOU! (It does no good in the trunk of the car.)
Race Director Susy Chandler giving us the trail brief before the race. (Photo courtesy of the Full mOOn 50k)
We got started on time and I felt pretty good. Despite the heat and the fact that my hydration vest was not only super heavy, but since dropping some weight it is a little too big and it was bouncing all over, annoying the heck out of me, I settled into a comfortable pace and felt pretty good for the first five miles. I was drinking my electrolyte drink when all of a sudden I felt really nauseated. I was super hot and thought I was just overheating. I stopped to walk for a minute and made sure to keep drinking, but the more I drank, the more nauseated I felt.
I was feeling good the first five miles. (Photo courtesy of the Full mOOn 50k)
I started walking the hills and running the flat and downhill sections until running downhill made my stomach worse and I threw up for the first time. I have NEVER had stomach issues in a race and really didn't know what to do. I was only about 8 miles in (with no Garmin, that's a guess) and every step I ran made me want to throw up. Eating anything was the last thing I wanted to do and the heat was making me want to pass out.
I drank some more electrolyte drink and about 2 miles later, I thew up again. By this time it was dark. Marc had told me what a great running community Little Rock had and he was right. Every time I had to stop, someone stopped to check and see if I was all right. A few folks even offered to stay with me until they knew I was OK.
This race also had a 25k. Those 50k people who couldn't continue were given the option of dropping at the 25k. Once I got to the 25k, I sat in a chair and had one of the fabulous volunteers fill my water bottles. One volunteer handed me some salted watermelon and I broke out the salt tablets that Marc had given me. The watermelon tasted so good and it seemed like it was going to stay down. One runner saw me sitting in the chair and said "Be careful, that's a black hole your sitting in", but without that chair, I may have not continued, I felt that bad!
After about 5 minutes, I put some ice in my buff and put it on the back of my neck and I felt much better. I started the second half feeling pretty strong. I was passing people that stopped to help me and they seemed happy that I recovered. Then I took a swig from the bottle that had a small amount of electrolyte drink left in it and I immediately felt sick and threw up again. It was at that moment that I knew it was the new electrolyte drink that was making me sick! MISTAKE #3- NEVER TRY ANYTHING NEW ON RACE DAY!!
I got to the next aid station, sat in the chair ate some watermelon and drank some plain water, and again, I felt much better.
By this time I was not only feeling tired physically, I was feeling really sleepy! I almost felt like I wanted to lay down on the ground and take a nap. My headlamp was going dim, so I broke out my new flashlight, which was really bright, but in the last few miles, it too was losing the brightness I needed for running downhill. I would turn it off when hiking up hills (the dim light was OK for hiking), then turn it on when running. I decided to put my spare batteries in my headlamp, but realized all my spare batteries were also still in the duffel bag in the trunk of the car! MISTAKE #4- WHEN THERE IS NO DROP BAGS, MAKE SURE YOU CARRY YOUR SPARE BATTERIES WITH YOU!
I hit the last aid station about 4 miles from the aid station. I again sat in the chair while the volunteer filled my bottles with plain water. I still didn't want to risk eating anything too sweet so I just stuck with oranges and while tired, I was actually able to run at a pretty good pace to finish feeling strong.
Christmas in July? Where the heck was the snow?!
After I finished I went to see if I could eat some real food. They had a hot breakfast of scrambled eggs, pancakes, bacon and sausage, so I grabbed some eggs and a pancake, sat down, took my phone out of my pack and turned it on to get my Google maps directions back to Marc's house. Unfortunately, my phone started some kind of wacky update and it cleared everything in my phone! Pictures, contacts, texts, apps, all gone! I no longer had the Google map history or the text Marc sent me with his address and it being 1:00am, I didn't want to call him and wake him up. After two hours of trying to get my phone back to normal (which was hard in the woods where there was no cell service), I headed back down the mountain to where I could get service. On the way back down, I remembered the cross street near Marc's house and I was able to make my way back, walking in the door at close to 5:00am. MISTAKE #5- ALWAYS WRITE DOWN IMPORTANT ADDRESSES AND PHONE NUMBERS IN CASE SOMETHING HAPPENS TO YOUR PHONE!
I got into the shower and promptly found out how bad my vest had chafed me with all the bouncing. MISTAKE #6- NEVER WEAR A VEST THAT WEIGHS OVER 5 LBS AND NO LONGER FITS CORRECTLY!
Oh the chafing!! OUCH!!
Sleep felt so good, but I was up by 10:00am. Marc and I chatted then went and got some Mexican food. Salted tortilla chips and cheese hit the spot! We then walked over to "The Old Mill" which was less than a mile from his apartment. It was used in the opening credits of one of my favorite movies "Gone With The Wind"!
Old Mill Selfie!
There were cute turtles in the lake!
By the time we walked back to Marc's apartment, I was sweating my butt off! We watched the Western States 100 movie "Unbreakable", but I was so sleepy, I dozed off in the middle of it. When it was over, I went into take a nap while Marc went for a run.
About 12:00am, I packed up and headed back to Memphis (stopping for a 30 minute nap in a gas station parking lot), making it in plenty of time to drop off my rental car at 4:00am.
This is what I LOVE about the Marathon Maniacs! I get to meet the greatest people! I can't thank Marc enough for opening his home to me and being such a good host. He is also doing AT100 for the first time! See you in October my friend!
I made it to the Memphis airport in plenty of time to get a selfie with mosaic Elvis!
My review of the Full mOOn 50k? Great race at a great price with great people! The heat (and not feeling well) was the only part of this race that was not enjoyable. The race website says this is a good race for a PR, but in my personal opinion, unless you are a mountain goat or someone that runs A LOT of hilly trails all the time, it did not seem like a PR course to me. It would be tough on a good day!
I am good about beating myself up when I have a less than stellar performance these days, but this time I will give myself a break. My only objective in this race was to investigate and get in a long run. I may have felt terrible and ran slower than I wanted, but what I learned in mistakes will be what helps me at AT100.
I gained a whole new fear and respect for what I will attempt in October. Lord help me!!
I gained a whole new fear and respect for what I will attempt in October. Lord help me!!