War Eagle 50k Race Report...Demand the impossible!!!

So the pic is me post race...happy and needing a bath.  Check out the cool amulet I got from Louis Escobar. Soooo...Sitting in our hotel last night tracking weather. Many tornados for friends and neighbors in Oklahoma.. For War Eagle, lots and lots and lots of rain, lightening and thunder.  My goal for this race was a cool impossible for me...sub 5 hr.  I sat at Doe's Diner eating tamales making sure my calculations for what I would need to pace at were on.  I knew it would be tight, last year my time was 5:27 (and to give some perspective on where this crazy trail racing has taken me in 2 years..my time in 2011 was 7:46 with a cutoff of 8hrs.). So pacing strategy down on paper napkin, on to a cool experience. Louis Escobar would be presenting his photos of the Tarhumara runners at the community building.. In Bentonville Arkansas! He came not only to share pictures, but to take pictures of us as we raced. SOOOO COOOOL! I was entranced, an amazing photographer, amazing people of the Copper Canyons. Had a raffle at the end and scored a necklace he got from the Hawaiian islands-he was photographing HURT 100 I think he said. I determined I would wear it in the race for good vibes and reminding me to experience the earth and everything around me as I run--to soak it in. Ok, moving on to the actual race...

Heavy storms this morning, lots of lightening and pouring rain. Got time to chat with other runners a couple of which will be at Leadville this year, including my pacer. lightening delayed the race start, but once the lightening eased up a bit...or it was determined it was not going to let up completely...we started. Right out of the gait the race is up and down. I got myself toward the front and a few racers passed me. Then there were about 5 guys lined up right behind me. I mean RIGHT behind me.  It made me terribly nervous, feeling like they were wanting to pass, but maybe trying to be nice? A few times I offered to let them around. Finally, the one right behind me said, "oh no, we know what time you are pacing for". How do they know me...or what I was pacing for. More nervous!! So I lead a group of 5 or so along the trail.  I got kinda tickled.  My hair in 2 braids, with my native amulet around my neck, leading a pack up the trail.  I wondered if this is what Sacagawea felt like leading Lewis and Clark! After a few more miles they fell behind and I was by myself. I relaxed a bit but noticed my effort seemed high for my heart rate and pace.  Based on my Garmin, I was not hitting my pace goals/splits.  Around 7 miles my legs were already feeling more than a bit tired and I noticed my breathing was hard and effort felt pretty moderate despite my low heart rate.  I was becoming a bit disappointed. And a little unnerved. Taking in plenty of calories? yep.  Water? yep. What's the matter? Dunno.  Maybe I'm just tired, fatigue? Maybe. Whatever the reason, I realized that I would have to focus on making the most of what I had.. which were tired legs and  heavy breathing.  I slowed a little to a more comfortable pace, knowing but trying not to think much about how this was going to affect my time.  I was thinking about what I was going to tell my coach, "I dunno coach, my legs were just tired. The effort was there coach, I promise. My breathing was hard coach, I don't know why". So I took one last look at my watch at about 10 miles...looked like not only was I going to miss my sub 5 cool impossible, but I was pacing to finish around 5:30-5:45. Ok, Lori, it's time to let it go and just focus on systems checks and maximizing what I had left. I had to BELIEVE I WAS giving it my best...this is where those thoughts like to creep in...you know the ones... "you're just being a baby...you're just not trying hard enough..you really can go faster, you just don't want to bad enough". Thoooose thoughts that if left unchecked will spiral out of control. 

It was tough, I was only 10 miles into a 31 mile race.  I no longer looked at my watch. I remembered what Louis said, feel the mud, the dirt, the sky, the water. I said a huge thanks to God for the rain...I struggle with heat and knew if it were a hot day the situation would be amplified. Selfish for me to think God brought the rain just for me, to make it easier on me, but I was grateful nonetheless. The rain and fog were amazing...the lightening a little nerve wracking! I heard an owl a few different times. No glasses and no contacts in made negotiating signage a little tricky, they had several people pointing us in the right direction which was awesome...until I mistook Louis Escobar...the famous photographer for one of these individuals forcing him to put his camera down and get me pointed in the right direction. Sorry Louis! 

 As I let go of the negative thoughts I was able to focus on systems checks. I was able to get in plenty of calories and fluids without nausea. I noticed my form was breaking down, so I focused on correcting it, bringing my shoulders up, not shuffling my feet, keeping my feet under me better on downhill instead of reaching or "pawing" out in front of me...unfortunately I realized this one a bit late going, but I don't think the consequences will be great. I made myself speed up a bit on the flat/downhill sections--not get lazy here and back of on the uphills to keep me in a good place and not fight them and fall apart going up.  The constant up and down was fatiguing, I longed for some long flat sections.

The aid station volunteers rocked, they hollered, hooted, and cow-belled me every time I came through. There were several people that knew who I was and where I was from even though I had no idea who they were. That felt good. They were very encouraging.

There were 3 miles left, I decided I would look at my overall time so I could prepare myself, and not be too disappointed when I saw it on the time clock at the finish. I looked down....4:25....Holy @#$%!  I yelled and probably jumped 3 feet in the air!  I was shocked....3ish miles with 35 minutes to go. I thought I was already well over 5 hrs!   I thought...go get your cool impossible girl! The fatigue in my legs seemingly vanished ... very temporarily ;) I was on the go!  Hit the last heartbreaker of a hill and knew it was gonna be by the skin of my teeth.  I had to power hike a few sections of that last steep hill. I came up off the trail and hit the pavement and through the finish.  5:00:28 seconds. New female course record (by only a minute mind you) and Not sub five, but way cool!!!!!!!!!

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