have you ever watched so many YouTube videos that you convince yourself you are capable of doing something?  only to discover it was substantially easier to watch YouTube videos than actually go out and do it?

the first hint that I should not have been attempting a 50 km trail run that involved 8000 feet of elevation should have been the fact that it was 50 km with 8000 feet of elevation

the second hint was that I had not ran in a month…  I hurt my knee running a marathon in Edmonton a month ago (in my trail shoes because I stupidly thought I should break them in for this trail run I was training for) and was in a shocking amount of pain… took some time off and then did some yoga and pilates but no running…

the third hint, other than a month long ‘taper’ of nursing a knee injury, was how I was popping Aleve and Advil pills like they were Pez candies… building up my tolerance so that on race day no amount of pain killers would dent the knee pain…

the fourth hint was my inexperience with ‘mountaineering’… just because you can run does not mean you can run up and down hills…

but I naively thought that 50 km is just 8 km farther than a marathon, which I knew I could hobble/shuffle through just fine…  so I found myself getting up at 4:15 am on Saturday, taping my knee up, getting in my vehicle and nervously heading off…

*** side note: just when I am feeling like a champ for being on the road at 5 am on a Saturday, I meet roughly 18 vehicles in the first few miles of my drive…  could people please stop working so hard so I can at least feel good about myself for one day?

this is my running buddy…  Jocelyn…  she had ran two marathons this year and I had ran a 10 km, half marathon and marathon so we thought we knew what we were getting in for…  she even planned on working her night shift after we knocked this ‘jog in the hills’ out of the park…

the run is called Beaver Flat 50lesson learned, when attempting a race for the first time, perhaps start with a shorter distance and work your way up…  or even work at the race as a volunteer and then do it the next year…  

this is us at 8 am…  misguided confidence written all over our smiling faces…

(we were also just happy to not be near the six port-a-potties… as you can imagine, when you are heading out for a potential 6-10 hour run with only one bathroom stop, the smell of the outhouses was somewhere between music festival bathrooms and a feedlot)

the race directors ask you to please file off in what you would determine to be your skill level, as it is a single lane trail and you don’t want to be holding faster runners back…

I found this very confusing due to the fact I was not sure exactly what I was looking for in comparing myself to other runners…  it reminded me of gym class in elementary school when you are picking a team…

am I looking for gender, height, weight, type of hydration backpack, age, choice of running shoes, size of quads and calves, general sense of confidence…

we filed in and tried our best to not be in the way

the beginning part of the race, after the big initial climb, was relatively flat and this is when my knee was still feeling half decent and I thought we should be maintaining a 9 minute mile pace…  we ended only going at about a 12 minute mile pace… 

Jocelyn had some stomach issues gurgling up at the beginning and by the time we arrived at the second aid station she had decided the solution was to down a glass of pickle juice… I have never seen anybody drink pickle juice before so this was a delightful experience for me to watch… I’m not sure if that is what solved it for her but she eventually got feeling better…

for someone like me who cooks for others all week long, the aid stations were the highlight of the run for me…  pb&j tortillas, potato chips, peanut m&m’s, gummy bears, pickles, pepperoni sticks, coke, electrolyte drinks, water, gels… you name it they had it

there are so many questions I have about trail running… such as, should you aim for a certain pace or just try to run with what the terrain allows you to do?

with the way my knee was, Jocelyn and I ended up passing each other on every hill…  I would power hike the hills, with my hands on my knees, and then shuffle/run at the top and either slide on my butt or gingerly tiptoe down the hill, while she would blow by me…  after doing this for hours on end we got into a certain rhythm with it!

the hills were dry and sandy with just the right amount of cactus to stab your hands and butt with…  then at the bottom were these soggy swamp areas, where your whole foot would sink under… (especially if you were at the back of the pack like we were!)

soon I realized I was going to have to make a decision if I could finish the race… they had advised us that the 33 km aid station was a good place to drop out of the race if you needed to…

so as we were coming into there I had made my mind up I was done… I’d have to come back a different year and attempt it…

I told the volunteers there I was done and sat down… Jocelyn went to use the bathroom and a girl we had been racing with came and offered me some ‘biofreeze’ gel for my knee…  she told me to change my socks and see if I felt better before I quit…

Jocelyn got back and I asked her what she was going to do… ‘keep going’ she said

I said ok and off we went… the biofreeze felt great on my knee for the first while and I felt a surge of strength and could run again…

this was gone by the time we rolled into the last aid station…  they told us 6 km to go… this is when Jocelyn caught her second wind and we left the aid station feeling excited and relieved that all this was going to be over soon!

and then we ran for another hour and a half...

this is when I hit my wall…  and sobbed…  we had three major ascents and descents left in the last 6 km and I cried my way down every one of them…

the wind had picked up and it was raining

for the final descent I had Jocelyn go ahead of me and put my hands on her shoulders and she guided me down…

as we crossed the finish line, it was a feeling of survival, accomplishing the impossible and relief…

one thing I did discover…  yes, we were not ready for the race… mentally perhaps (due to extensive YouTube watching and Jocelyn’s ability to push through anything)… but physically we were not quite where we should have been…

but those volunteers and race directors are just so excited to see you finish it… no matter what place you come in… in fact, the ones that are out there four hours longer than winner might be more exciting to see come in because you are so happy they can finally quit!

the girl that helped me came in after us and her husband was there to hug her… they were so cute and happy… and he looked relieved to see she was alive…

he mentioned to us that he had been watching so many others cross and everyone looked to be in so much pain he wondered why anyone would want to do this…

 I said ‘other than it being one of the sexiest sports out there, it is because we are curious to see if we can do it

as we were giggling hysterically at our ruined shoes, our blisters and the sheer amount of time we were out there for … we realized we both still had to drive two hours home…

and to top it all off Jocelyn locked the keys in her vehicle

doesn’t get a whole lot more glamorous than this

interesting people find life interesting… and this is why I love the running community so much…  everyone has their reasons to be out there but everyone that I meet is so generous, kind, encouraging and excited about life…

they want to know what your next adventure is going to be and they want to see you accomplish it…  I have loved competition my whole life and I finally found a way to compete in a friendly, non-hostile way… and that is through running…