The 2016 RC Cola Moon Pie 10 Mile Run

So! As the title of this post suggests, I ran the 2016 RC Cola Moon Pie 10 Mile Run on Saturday. The weather was not nearly as hot as it has been, thank goodness, though it was every bit a humid as it has been.

I was really looking forward to this race. My training has been going very well over the last few weeks. Even though I had not put in as many miles as I wanted before the race, due to illness and the excessive heat, I felt prepared. The course for this race is very hilly, but the scenery is beautiful. I wasn’t trying to set a personal record (PR) – I just wanted to enjoy the race and not finish last.

Well, half of that came true. I didn’t finish last.

The first 5 miles of the race were just plain awful. I have never had such a hard time in a race, and that is including one when I had torn ligaments in my knee and one when I had a 102 temperature and didn’t know it. Apparently, earlier in the week, I ate something that disagreed with me, or I got a stomach bug or something. My stomach has been a little queasy all week long. However, Friday, I was feeling better, so I was hopeful for Saturday. I felt good when I got up, but on the way to the race, my stomach started feeling bad again. We rolled into the little town of Bell Buckle, where the race and RC Cola Moon Pie Festival are held each year, and the first thing I did was dash for the port-a-potties. I felt better afterwards, so I figured I was good to go.

Bell Buckle is beautiful, and the 10-miler is one of my favorite runs. However, there is one thing that bugs the heck out of me about this run. The bib pickup for the race is on the town square, at the bottom of a hill. The port-a-potties are in the festival area, sort of near the town square, also near the bottom of the hill. Parking is at the top of the hill. The starting line of the race is not anywhere near any of these other areas! You have to park at the top of the hill, walk down the hill to get your bib and visit the port-a-potties, then back up the hill and a few blocks over to get to the starting line, which is in front of someone’s house. The up side of this is that all the runners reach the starting line already warmed up from hiking all over town.

ANYWAY, so the race starts, and I feel good. We head down the hill from Sam Buckle’s house (or whoever’s house it is) into the town square, then turn and head back up the hill towards the parking areas and the school. Yes, a big hill right out of the gate. Before runners reach Mile 1 of the race, they have run down a hill and up a hill. Luckily, adrenaline is surging so that first hill doesn’t seem so bad, and plenty of people walk it anyway. I am feeling pretty good so I am still running halfway up the hill, when someone trots by me who apparently BATHED in patchouli. I am allergic to patchouli. My lungs completely closed up, and I began to wheeze heavily.

I pulled out my phone and texted Steve, who I had been with me at the starting line and had my race bag, to tell him I needed my inhaler. Then, I spotted him up ahead on the sidewalk about to turn into the parking area. I started wheeze-yelling and waving my arms until he turned around, drawing lots of strange looks from the other runners. I caught up with him and dug through my bag until I found my inhaler, and took two big puffs. When he asked what happened, I just said “Patchouli”. He said that he had smelled it too, even from the sidewalk, and had been looking around trying to figure out who it was because it was SO strong, and that’s when he saw me waving my arms.

A side note here: Runners! Please don’t wear strong perfume or (God help us all) patchouli to a race. People are trying to BREATHE, for God’s sake! Perfumes are powerful lung irritants. If you are worried about smelling, shower. We are all going to smell at the end, so who cares?

Back to my story. Since I was in the process of running up a hill, I wasn’t able to take deep enough breaths to get the inhaler medicine into my lungs completely. By the time I felt OK to go on, all the other runners had passed me. I pocketed the inhaler, and started walking up the hill. At the top, I tried running, but I still couldn’t breathe well. I slowed down, slowed my breathing, and took another hit of the inhaler. I was heading down the other side of the hill now, so I was able to jog a little bit. That’s when I noticed that I had another problem.

Every time I jogged or ran, I would be fine for about 10 seconds and then I would start feeling like I was going to puke. I would drop to a walk and immediately feel better. So I would try to run again and feel sick again. And, not to be gross, I keep feeling like I needed to burp. Luckily, I was in last place, so when the urge hit me to burp, and just went right ahead and did. I tried sipping on some water, but that actually seemed to make it worse. It was as if everything was just staying in my stomach and not moving on through.

At this point, I seriously considered just quitting. I could call Steve and he could come get me. But I told myself, No, I’ll tough it out until Mile 2. There’s a water stop there, so it would be easier to find me anyway. I was able to run a little on the downhill to the water stop, and I noticed that my breathing was finally improving. I was able to take fairly deep, regular breaths. I then had to STOP running because two big trucks decided to turn onto the road right in front of me. (Seriously, guys? You couldn’t wait? I was the LAST person). I stood around for a couple of minutes, waiting for them to get the f*$% out of the way, and forgot that I felt crappy, because I was pissed at how rude they were. I could see them ahead, honking at runners to moved over, as the went on up the road.

Most of the next couple of miles was rolling hills. I walked up the hills, and was able to jog down, though every time I jogged I felt sick. I was starting to get a headache. Around Mile 3, I decided to take a salty GU. I thought the salt in it might help. I managed to choke it down, but boy oh boy did it NOT sit well on my stomach. I had to stop running completely. By walking briskly, I was able to maintain an even distance from the next two people in the race, a couple about 50 yards ahead of me. They seemed to be taking it easy too. I thought to myself, “If I can stay close to them, they will notice when I collapse.” Seriously, I thought that.

We reached a flat area around Mile 4. I stopped to refill my water bottles and chatted with the people at the water stop. I knew that even though I was walking, I was still ahead of the cutoff time, since the ambulance that doubled as a sag wagon was nowhere in sight.

There is a big ol’ hill at Mile 4.5. Seriously, it is steep! The kind of steep where you have to push down on your legs to keep going up. The kind where half way up, you have to turn around and walk backwards because your legs are screaming. Half way up the hill, I screamed “This hill SUCKS!” which brought laughter from the couple ahead of me.

At the top of the hill, I caught up with the couple. The guy looked OK, but the girl looked how I felt. I chatted with them a bit, then jogged fairly briskly down the back of the hill into my favorite part of the course – a little green valley with a farm in it. It’s so pretty and quiet! I always think that I would like to live there. The biggest cotton-tailed rabbit I have ever seen ran across the road in front of me and disappeared into a field of wildflowers.

At Mile 5, the family that owns the farm had come out to cheer runners on, and hand out bottled water. They offered me some water, but I said, no thank you, as my stomach was still sloshing. I did stop and thank them for what they were doing, though. They weren’t part of the official race support; they just handed out water to be kind.

By this time, my body was starting to complain. Since I had been walking quite a bit, my legs were getting sore. The hills had ripped into my quads. I am guessing that the little bit of running I had done was with very poor form. I felt pretty beat up. However, I had passed the half way mark, so I told myself that the quickest way back to the car was the way I was headed.

There were a lots of wild roses growing next to the road by an old abandoned barn, and I stopped to take a picture. The breeze blew across the road and I could smell magnolias. I kept sipping water and poured some over the back of my neck. The sky stayed overcast, sparing the stragglers like me from a pitiless summer sun. I ran just enough to maintain my distant ahead of the couple I had passed. I saw another couple ahead, two women, and decided to pass them as well before the end of the race. One woman was clearly struggling, but doing well, while the other one was talking a blue streak.

I reached Mile 6, and a man in a pickup truck told me that my time was 91 minutes and some odd seconds. There was a water stop there. I let one of the women fill my water bottles because my hands were shaking so bad.

Between miles 6 and 8, I started feeling better. My body still felt beat up, but it seemed that my stomach had finally decided to move its contents on through to the next processing area, if you know what I mean. I had planned to have another GU, but I decided not to risk it. I kept drinking water. My headache went away. Some residents along the road had a mister set up for runners to run through. I stop and chatted with them while I stood under it. Their adorable dog barked at me the whole time.

I decided to pick out points along the road and tell myself, “I will run to that point”. I picked a telephone pole, then a fence, then a gate. I was gaining on the women in front of me. I was well ahead of the couple behind me.

I made it to the turn back on to the highway at mile 7.5. I thanked the police officer who was directing traffic there. At this point, there is another, long hill. I walked it. The Mile 8 water stop was at the top. I chatted with the workers and told them that I thought there were only a couple of people behind me. We talked about how it was not nearly as hot as it had been. They wished me luck and I headed on up the road to the town.

Going down hill from the water stop, I was able to run. I got a good rhythm going, and my breathing and stomach felt pretty good. I passed the women in front of me at the bottom of the hill. I climbed the last hill into town, running just enough to stay head of them.

The top of the hill is Mile 9. My legs were killing me. Another half mile on, I saw my daughter. She smiled and said, “Hi! How are you?” I think I might have said, “I’m dying.” I passed my husband, who high-fived me. I could barely raise my hand. I wound my way through the festival-goers towards the finish line. I remember vaguely feeling happy. I didn’t have much left to give, but I was able to pick the pace a little as I crossed the line. Then, I just stopped running, and immediately headed to the runners tent in search of my RC Cola.

Steve and Dharma caught up with me at the tent. I was sucking down my RC and had a Moon Pie clutched in my hand. Dharma wanted a funnel cake so we headed to the funnel cake booth. Then, we strolled (they strolled, I hobbled) through the booths to see what kind of stuff was there. There were beautiful artisan booths with wood-working and blankets, as well as a booth selling t-shirts that said “Imprison Hillary 2016”. Steve was hunting for a hot pretzel vendor. We finally found one on the way to the car. He gave me a bite and it was good. Then Dharma found a booth that sold cool leggings. She and Steve went to look, and I went and sat down on a stone bench under a tree in front of a little church. It was so nice in the shade. I ate my Moon Pie and finished my RC. Somehow that moment made the whole thing worthwhile.

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We strolled back to the car, admiring the beautiful homes and gardens, with the magnolias, day lilies, gladiolas, and hydrangeas all in full bloom. Dharma ran ahead to sit on the swing by the school and finish her funnel cake.

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I made it back to the car and changed out of my soaking wet running clothes. We then headed home, where I had a cool shower, drank a strawberry-banana-spinach smoothie, and went to sleep.

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