Sunday, October 6, 2019

Fuck Tejas: Reflections on surviving a 25K in the Texas summer

It was already 80 degrees when we started at 7am. Just the walk from my car to the start was about a mile and I was sweating.  The sky was dark and the stars were big and bright on the East side of Texas but the humidity was suffocating.  It was in these conditions that I started the most grueling race of my life: Mission Tejas 25k.

I was supposed to be running the 50k and joining the ranks of the ultra marathoners but I had to leave for a work trip 48 hours later and the doctor didn’t want me to run the race at all so between not running and the running the 50K was the 25K.  It was seriously horrible.  People were dropping out of the race left and right.  People were cramping.  I passed several people just sitting on the trail, just trying to breath.

Mission Tejas is beautiful.  I had run close to 15 miles there in July.  If I could handle July heat then surely by the time the last Saturday of September hit I would be good to go!  Fucking hell dammit all, I was not okay.  Going into the race I knew I hadn’t really done enough training runs.  My doctor wanted me to rest.  He said my nagging leg numbing issues were from lack of rest.  I was dealing with some other issues, ie no sex drive, and that was from a lack of rest as well.  I pulled back but I needed to finish Tejas.  I had marked my summer with the end goal of finishing Tejas.  I’m way too goal oriented to just let it slip through my fingers without a fight.  What a fucking fight!

I knew that physically I could do the race.  Maybe I won’t beat my Hells Hills time but I could finish.  I knew it would be an issue of my mental state rather than my physical one.  By the time I hit the snack/water table before going into my last full loop, I was done.  I was crying, like ugly crying.  I wanted to quit.  I had done all of this twice and I needed one more loop.  I was convinced that one more loop would kill me.  People would find me half way up the steep steps and have to finish their loop in order to report me dead.  I would be in the hot Texas sun just rotting for hours.  I just knew it. I can’t do this.  I can do lots of things but this wasn’t one of them.  Then the crew of Trail Running Over Texas brought me back to my senses.  Of course I could finish.  I still had 10 hours before they called the race and only had 5ish miles to ahead of me.  Fill up your water.  Cool off in the ice and keep moving forward.  Forward I went.

My time/pace wasn’t great but I finished.  I was tougher than I had given myself credit for.  I am stronger than I thought.  I am a trail runner and I am not going to get over halfway through a race and just quit when I’m not hurt just being challenged.

I still don’t want to run Tejas again for a good while but once it cools off, like in December, I’ll go back out to Tejas.  It really is beautiful.  For sure I’ll run with T.R.O.T again; seriously they know how to run a race and the crew of volunteers were amazing.  I know as we were running and cursing the ground we were on, they kept us hydrated, carbed up, and iced up as much as they could.

Was Tejas the hardest thing I’ve done, no.  I birthed two children naturally without any medical intervention, that was hard.  Tejas was the most difficult race I have done.  I think Hells Hills was more physically taxing.  Wayne’s World took longer and it was a new distance for me.  Tejas had so many wonderful places to quit.  I passed my car before going into the hardest part of the race.  My last loop, I saw my car, started crying, and cursed myself for not having the guts to just walk to my van and leave.  Tejas broke my spirit and then I emerged a stronger person.

Challenge yourself.  Change yourself.  At the end of my life, I don’t want to wish I had tried.  I will get there and know I lined up.  I showed up for me.