Running a 50 mile race is mind blowing to a lot of people. But, to do it in South Carolina is crazy to most. I live in North Carolina so I have been training in the head and preparing for hot and humid with little wind, and good thing I trained in those conditions because that is exactly what it was.
As I got to the starting line, along with 40 other people, I knew it was time to run my race. When you train and train and get to a race, it is hard to remember to run your race. What I mean by this is run the race how you trained. I had trained to run for 6 minutes then walk for 1 minute, a 6:1 the whole race. I started out not running my own race, I ran the first 1 hour without a break just chatting with another racer. I had a great conversation but after the first hour I had to drop him.
I got to the turn around, mile 12.5 and was feeling great, my legs were holding up and my body was ready to push itself to the max. The next turn was at mile 25, the half way point. I was expecting to get there in around 4-4.5 hours. I looked at my watch coming in and saw 3 hours and 50 minutes, fast, maybe too fast but I was feeling good. I changed shoes, put on more sunscreen, as the day was getting longer it kept on getting hotter and hotter and the sun was brutal. I stretched my legs and then out I went, to finish the last 25 miles.
Around mile 27 I started feeling a sharp pain between two of my ribs on my left side. The only thing I could think of was that this is where my heart was. I am only 29 years old but have heard of young athletes having heart attacks so I started walking and checking vital signs to see what was going on. Working as an Ocean Rescue for 5 years allowed me to do this on my own without having to call someone. As I was walking all I could think of was the US runner who was 27 who had a heart attack and died during a race. Sounds bad, but your mind goes to random places during long runs.
My crew was waiting for me at mile 28 and they knew something was up, I was walking for more than one minute. My fiance came up to me and asked what was wrong, and I told her I had a sharp pain in my chest where my heart was. My dad offered to walk with me for the next mile or so and it was a great bonding experience. My crew consisted of my dad, stepmom and my fiance, Holly. As my dad and I walked I was quiet, didn’t want to talk, which is not me. He had seen me at my worst during other races and knew this was not a good sign. I started running again with him and the pain started again. It was not hurting unless I was running.
Running hurt, like no pain I had felt before, and I was scared. My heart is pretty important and I didn’t want to hurt anything. Holly ended up riding the bike next to me until mile 31 where there was an aid station. When we got there she asked me how much I had gone to the bathroom during the race. I hadn’t thought about that, I had not gone yet. I had drank 1 full water bottler every 2 miles for 4 and a half hours and had not gone pee, which leads me to thinking dehydration was playing a part in the pain.
Sitting under a tent in the middle of nowhere South Carolina I had to make one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make, do I walk the last 19 miles and hope that my pain goes away and run when I can, or do I take the DNF (Did Not Finish) and play it save. With a wedding coming up in October and our future I played the cards safe and took the DNF. It is something that I was not happy with at the time but it was a blessing.
Everything happens for a reason. This race was not the race for me to get my 50 mile race in. It is not the end of the world, there will be other times in life to try this distance. This is something that goes along with Coats Disease, which in the process of training and running this race I raised $850, everything happens for a reason. You might not know what the reason is but it happened and how you take the news or the race the minute after makes the person who you will be. This is something that I have learned through the years, yes bad things happen but it is up to you to turn that around and make something good out of it. It can happen and you can do it, just keep pushing through.
Read more about Chris and be inspired here: http://specialtybrandsonline.com/nowenergybar/athletes/chrisbarnes/2012/07/23/50-mile-turns-into-a-50k/