Hot and Bothered: A CDR Recap


Hot and Bothered: A CDR Recap

If this is the first time you’ve heard me mention CDR, it stands for Charleston Distance Run.  The Charleston Distance Run is a 15 mile race that is always Labor Day Saturday in the lovely capital city of Charleston, WV.  This race is considered “America’s Race”, as it is may be the only 15 mile race in the country. There is also a 5k and a 15 mile 3-person relay. And this year happens to be the 50th anniversary. Because of nostalgia and peer pressure, I signed up for the full 15 miles. As my mother used to say, I should have my head examined.

Over the years, I have done every distance offered. In 2008, I ran the 5k. The only race I have ever, and will ever, run. I was very pleased with my time. But running a 5k was a bucket list item. Checked off and done!  In 2012, I did the 10k (no longer an option) that takes you through a very hilly cemetery. I figured if things don’t go well, I’m in the right place. In 2015, I did the 15 mile for the first and only time until this year. And in 2017, I did the 7 mile leg of the relay. Because of my past experiences with the race, it wouldn’t be unheard of for me to step up and do the 15 miler again. I knew training would be the key. And I was prepared and ready!  I had my schedule, I had my running/walking posse always there with encouragement, support and even doing training walks/runs together. At this point it is all smiles and miles.

Training was about 12 weeks, several days a week, always ending with a “long walk”. The long walk increases every week. So the first couple weeks aren’t really that long. But as it increased, it was also getting to be the thick of summer, making start times earlier and earlier to avoid the brutal heat. Everything went smoothly with training, including the 15 mile trial walk where I did the whole course about a month before. My last long walk was 11.5 miles the week before. I felt like I was as prepared as I was going to be. But in the back of my mind I was very aware that none of my long trainings mimicked the usual conditions of heat, sun and humidity like race day. And I wondered how my body would react when those conditions were present. That turned out to be the least of my concerns.

You can imagine how pissed I was when a few days before the race, I started having very bad neck and shoulder pain. Full disclosure, I’ve always had those issues but this felt different. I had to decide if I was going to drop to the 5k or stay committed to the 15 miles. There’s no shame if you have to switch races. It would be better to drop down than to risk long term injury or having a DNF (do not finish). Several of my friends had to drop down for various reasons too. So I would be in good company if I had to do it. I just really didn’t want to. I worked so hard over the last 3 months and I didn’t want that effort to go to waste to just do 3 miles I could do anywhere and any time.

In the meantime, I made an appointment with my chiropractor to see if he could help with the pain and give guidance. He was able to give me an adjustment and an ultrasound treatment. Told me to watch my posture and don’t stick my neck out when I walk uphill. That’s a lot easier said than done. But I consciously made an effort on my next training walk and it seemed to help. The race is now 4 days away. I decide to make my final decision at packet pickup the night before the race. That day I was feeling pretty good, so 15 miles it is! I started hoping and praying for a good race. One more sleep and it’s race day!!

Here we are….

With great anticipation I get up at 5:30, shake off the sleepiness, have some breakfast, take care of other morning “rituals”. Anyone who races will tell you a good poop is key to a good race! Now it’s time to get dressed, put on my bib, make sure I have everything I need- gum, music, phone, knee brace, sunglasses, headband, etc. I arrive around 6:50 for a 7:30 start. I see all my friends, give and receive good vibes for a good race, meet my sister who is my cheerleader (more on that later) and shake off any last minute jitters. I line up close to the back since I walk and I don’t want to get in the way of the faster runners. And BANG! The gun goes off. It’s go time!

First few steps.

The course is flat (3 miles), then hilly (5 miles), then flat again (7 miles). For the start, we got a false sense of encouragement when the temperature was 60 degrees and a little bit of a breeze. That did not last long. If you’re new to the race you think the 5 miles of hills are the worst part. That’s a logical assumption in most cases. Not this time! The worst part is the 7 miles of flat after the hills, for many reasons. First, coming off those hills your legs are jelly for the first couple miles of flat. Second, there is no shade for the last 7 miles. Third, in addition to no shade, it’s now 15 degrees hotter than the start and the sun is beating down on the pavement. Basically roasting you from the bottom of your feet from the asphalt to top of your head from the sun. And finally, at this point the herd has spread out and, no matter what speed you are, you are usually alone out there and you start to question your life choices with each step. Your mental state is completely compromised.

The 5 miles of hills starts with a mile of punishment.

The first 8 miles I was good. I was on pace, I was watching my posture on the hills, I was interacting with spectators and racers as we passed each other. And then I hit the flat. The first mile and a half was pretty good. It went downhill from there. But I haven’t mentioned my secret weapon yet.  My sister, the cheerleader!! She had 4 stations on the course to cheer for not only me, but everyone who passed her. She has gained a fan base just from cheering on strangers. You have no idea how much that means to us when we are out there. Anyway, she also was armed with a cooler that had water, cold towels and energy waffles. At about mile 11, I was struggling so hard. My neck and shoulders were starting to hurt, my breathing was labored and I was tired! I was coming up on my sister’s station. I couldn’t even talk. So I text her and said, “I can’t talk please have a cold towel out for me”. I grab it from her, keep walking and threw it on the ground about 50 feet later for her to pick up. Same thing at the next (and last sister stop) at about mile 13. Then it’s just sun, pain and my negative thoughts for the last 2 brutal miles. I was slowing down more and more but refusing to stop. I passed the last water stop and everyone is cheering. That was just the motivation I needed to get to the end. 

The Finish Line!

The race ends with doing a ¼ mile around a track. I see the finish line and say an enthusiastic “ALLELUIA” as I cross the final timing mat. I had a goal to finish in 3:30. My official time was 3:29:46, 14 seconds to spare. #GOALS And then everything goes south. I immediately need to sit down. As soon as I do, I say “bad idea” and I stand up. I promptly said “nope, bad idea” and sat back down. Eventually I settled on sitting down for fear I would pass out if I stood.  I drank water, soda, Yoohoo (believe it or not chocolate milk is a great recovery drink). My sister is asking me how she can help and what I need (bless her heart). And I honestly have no answer. Meanwhile, I am still nauseous. And now I am in problem solving mode. (TMI alert) The problem is I am either going to throw up, poop or both simultaneously. None of which are good options.  The lesser of the evils is to poop. But the bathrooms are up a little hill. The hill looks like Mount Everest at this point. But I can’t risk the alternative. I ask my sister to accompany me to the bathroom, bringing all my beverages and 3 cold towels. I make it up the hill and into a stall, with all the drinks and towels with me as my sister waits outside. The bathroom doesn’t have A/C so it’s not cool.  I am sweating profusely.  And then it gets comical, which definitely lightened my mood. I am so sweaty that I am sliding all over the toilet seat!!  I am having a hard time “doing my business” without sliding off the seat. I even LOL at the absurdity of the situation. Eventually I took care of business. I am a new woman!! Let’s go another 15 miles. Just kidding, not happening.

But I was able to make it back down to the track to celebrate with my friends, at least the ones that were kind enough to stay that long. Not only that, but then I went with some friends to a local music festival and got some much needed food.  The rest of the day was a shower, my couch and my cat. The purrfect recovery combination.

The Ones that Stuck Around.

At the end of the day, I am glad I did the race. I am thankful I finished and have the support from my sister and fellow racers. But as I was accepting my medal and trying not to pass out, I looked at my friends and said “Never again. You can take your peer pressure and your 15 miles and shove it up your ass!” Said with love but I meant every word!

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