Friday, April 25, 2014

Riverboat Series Day 1, Columbus Belmont State Park (KY) - April 12, 2014

I've now been home from my last big runcation for almost a week, and once again, I am staring at a blank screen trying to think of how to write these blog posts in such a way as to do this fabulous experience justice. This is the first post of 5 regarding the Mainly Marathons Riverboat Series which took us through 5 states in 5 consecutive days (KY, TN, AR, MS, LA). For some reason, the days of the race are seemingly blending together... something which significantly compounds the problem of writing about this experience.

I struggle about writing for a number of other reasons, but mostly because of the other runners and the amazing volunteers. From what I truly learned on this trip, they are all amazing people with awesomely inspirational stories. Some people present had over 1000 full marathons under their belts, some folks were out there doing their first half marathons, some were celebrating milestones, some were just plugging away putting one foot in front of the other (like me). But each had a story. And each of them was absolutely amazing.

I was in awe (once again) of what I was seeing happening, even within myself. I've been through a lot this year. Getting injured in the early part of 2013 really played a lot into it. Yes, last year I was able to still participate in many half marathons including my 6 halfs in 6 days fiasco which included Center of the Nation Series (also by Mainly Marathons), but I also spent the greater part of the year in and out of the orthopedic surgeon's office, in various medieval torture devices for my foot, and searching for answers about how best to not only allow me to have a future at running, but ensure that I could walk in the years to come.

When I signed up to participate in the Riverboat series, I had high hopes that my foot would be back on the mend, and that I would be able to run all 5 races at my normal pace... but that just wasn't in the cards. A month ago, I realized that the months upon months in a boot had left my ankle weak and at an even greater risk of rolling (causing more damage). I accepted these limitations and went into this series knowing that I would be walking, and really getting my money's worth in terms of time on the course.

Which brings me to Kentucky, at the Columbus Belmont State Park. This gorgeous park, overlooking the Mississippi River (which I had never seen before) is a 160 acre park with chain and anchor used during the Civil War to bar the Mississippi River and separate the Union from the Confederacy. The course was a figure 8 with upper and lower loops. The upper loop, brought us up a steep hill (ridiculously steep) overlooking the Mississippi (and the spectacular view), past the anchor and chain, then around an antebellum home built in 1850 that once served as a Confederate hospital. From there, we traveled even further up a hill, and around a campground area, returning to the start, to wind through the second part of the course.

As if the hills in the first part of the course weren't hard enough, the second portion proved to be even more difficult as they brought us off the roadway and through the trails. To get there, we had to climb an almost vertical 4 foot area, then into the trails. It had rained heavily the night before, so the trail area proved to be slippery and muddy. When not working hard to avoid the mud, we had to be extremely careful of exposed roots (multiple people reported twisted ankles), and wildlife (SNAKES!).

When we emerged from the trails, we returned back to the start, collected our first rubber bands and repeated until we had earned the required number of rubber bands signifying that we had finished our distances.

I have to admit that this was by far my favorite course because the views were spectacular, this was also the hardest course I have probably done in my entire life. I went into this with an agreement with the Husbeast that if I was experiencing any pain, I wouldn't let my pride get the best of me and I would listen to my body knowing when to call it quits. I just didn't realize that I would be faced with that dilemma during the very first race. Being careful to protect my bad foot, to not roll my ankles on the trails, or slip in the mud was taking its toll on my body. By the 4th lap, I was having some significant pain in my right hip. Thankfully there was no pain in the foot or ankle, but every time that I attempted to bear weight on the right leg, the top of my femur would scream. It felt as if the head of the bone was going to shatter off, and brought tears to my eyes.

For the entire 5th lap, I found myself weighing the options. After a much needed pep-talk from Brina, I forged forward and finished the event. And looking back, I am happy that I did.

I finished in 4:29:28.

I was a little slower than I had expected, but all things considered (walking, pain, course difficulty), I'm still proud of my time.

After collecting my medal I treated myself to a massage from a fellow runner who was doing 30 minutes for $30 to raise money for charity. Without this massage, I am not sure that I would have been able to continue on to day 2. I was just that spent.

To be continued...

*Disclaimer: Nearly none of the photos that you will see in the posts about this trip are mine. I chose to not bring my camera with me during the races and instead rely on other people. To the people who have contributed photos to help tell this story, I am thankful.

1 comment:

  1. Snakes! Oh, no. See, I was just thinking how much fun this series sounded (another blogger I read did it as well), but now I'm thinking ya'll are nuts. LOL