Medal Monday: Cane Field Classic 2017

OK, it’s not exactly Monday, but it’s close enough, right? So, let’s jump right in.

I had a planned trip this past weekend to sherpa for my son at Ironman 70.3 New Orleans, so when I saw that the Cane Field Classic was the day before his race, I kind of jumped on the registration. You see, last year my friends, Susan, Erika and Kim, did this race and had such a great time, they insisted that I put this on my list for consideration in the future.

I believe it was kismet that the races were on the same weekend.

So what is the Cane Field Classic? It’s actually three races. The first is called the Sugar Mile and it’s a one mile race on a dirt path. The second race is a four mile race on trail, a little more technical and really pretty through tall sugar cane stalks. A little more technical, but nothing bad. The third, and final, race is called the Rows of Hell and is two miles through very tight, shoulder-high sugar canes. The sugar cane stalks are sharp and the dirt between the rows are rutted out and only wide enough to put one foot directly in front of the other, otherwise, your ankles are rolling in the whole time. When you complete all three races, you earn a machete!img_6906-1

Packet pickup was pretty standard. A bib and a shirt. The shirt was a super soft cotton that came in a variety of colors. I chose the blue shirt and Sean chose a red one. The car dealership gave out reusable water bottles and made sure there was plenty of water for all of the runners each time we went through the start/finish line.

img_6834Because they are three back-to-back races, I was worried about maintaining a pace that would allow me to finish in time to start the next race. I was assured it wouldn’t be a problem. Come to find out, the group didn’t start the next race until the last finisher came in from the previous race! It was such a great experience to see all of the runners, including the fasties, cheering on every single finisher. This was truly more of party than a competitive race, which was evidenced by the fact that the kegs were tapped before the first race began. LOL We received a dog tag at the finish line of the last race, and then turned in our wristband for the customized machete.

img_6830The post-race party was a blast! They had jambalaya being made while we ran, so there was delicious food to be washed down by the beer. The weather was actually really good Saturday morning and didn’t rain, as had been predicted a few days earlier. I understood why they recommend a pair of long pants for the last race. My legs were torn up a little bit and stung like crazy. Note to self: seriously, wear pants. On the plus side, I did put on a pair of knee-high compression socks that morning. Despite the fact that I thought I looked a little dorky, they were a godsend out there because the tall grass squick me out. 

Verdict: I had a great time! The Rows of Hell was truly the hardest 15 minute miles I have ever run, but it’s hard not to laugh and sing the whole way with the rest of the runners. I would totally do this race again if I find myself in Baton Rouge on race weekend. I met some great people out there and decided that I *might* need to buy a pair of trail shoes soon. Uh oh! I hear some dirt calling!img_6844

 

 

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Find the friends that pause your Garmin…

I love my little “Time Hop” app. I take a bunch of photos (most of which don’t show up anywhere but my phone) and I love to be able to see a glimpse of where I was a year ago or longer. It’s my way of celebrating life every single day. But I noticed over the last several days that I had NO photos pop up from a year ago. Sure, I had them from further back, but it was crazy that I had none from this week last year.

Then this one came up this morning…

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And it all came rushing back. I was in the hospital again, fighting. I was praying that I could just get back to my usual daily level of pain. I was, frankly, a little worried about my family because it was the first time that I felt like maybe this kidney wasn’t playing games. An infection had free reign to cause all sorts of havoc and not one of my internal organs had the strength to fight anymore. It traveled through my blood, making a pit stop in my heart and lungs, which was my ticket to an all-inclusive stay at Baylor Hospital, where I can assure you, the food doesn’t taste like it does on the beaches of Mexico.

img_6570I don’t talk a lot about this particular incident because it’s the closest I’ve come to completely shutting down. When even the infectious disease doctors are telling you they are throwing everything at it and your body isn’t responding, and they are talking about ICU and days not years, you know crap’s about to get real. Clearly, the smart doctors were able to synthesize an IV-cocktail of nuclear bomb proportions, because a year later, I get to tell this little story, so silver lining and all…

 

But this is probably one of my favorite photos of two friends that wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer and came to see me and cheer me up. They stuck by me before and after this photo. They paused my Garmin when I collapsed on a training run (seriously, only the best of friends remember to do that!). They helped me joke with the nurses that they were there to help spring me from the joint so I could go for a run (apparently they took that seriously, because they had a nurse stationed outside my door 24/7 after that). They cried with me when my marathon six weeks later fell apart and I had to walk the final 14 miles after again, blacking out mid-run, because I didn’t want my daughter to see me as a quitter. We don’t talk about the fact that I *might* not have been cleared to do this race. And we don’t talk about the fact that I know, looking back, that I should not have run.

But looking back at all of this, this photo represents something even bigger for me. It has been an entire year since I have been in the hospital!!! After this last brush with a bright light, my kidney doctor played around with my medication and we have found something that has been able to generally keep it from doing anything nutty. I’m not quite sure what to do with all that money I’m not spending in deductibles this year. Maybe new sunglasses? LOL

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Find the friends that pause your garmin when you fall…

 

“Gracious in Defeat”

Crazy? You bet!  Our sixteen year old son was looking for a 5K race for his benchmark this past weekend.  With it being 100+ degrees in Dallas these days, there are no races to be had, so if he wanted to race, we were going to have to drive.  Most people wouldn’t dream of driving for such a short race, but I am positively certifiable and thought it would be an adventure.  I found a race in Eureka Springs, Arkansas that looked promising.  The temperature would be at least ten degrees cooler than at home, so I jumped on the idea of getting out of town, even for two days.  Only after I registered him did I find a copy of the course map with the elevation.  Hmmm. I might have screwed up.  Apparently, this race is in the mountains.  Yikes. We don’t have mountains in Dallas and I’m not sure Alex is ready for a crazy steep climb over a span of a mile.  Well, we’ll just hope for the best, right???  (Insert Cheshire Cat-grin here..)elevation

The night before

While on the walk of the course the night before, Alex and I saw some great spring wells!

While on the walk of the course the night before, Alex and I saw some great spring wells!

After a nine mile long run with our training groups Saturday morning, we piled into the car and drove the six hours to Arkansas. We made it to the hotel and I got directions to the local Italian restaurant and we took off.  It wasn’t easy to find at first with all of the winding mountain roads.  My poor phone navigation was a mess. Ermilio’s doesn’t take reservations, but was highly recommended, so we put our name on the list and was told the wait would be an hour and a half.  We began walking around and I realized that we were on the course that Alex would run the next morning, so we passed by the hotel and changed into our running shoes to walk the rest of it. It was such fun to see the little town and all of the springs in town.  This is truly a historical little town with so many beautiful Victorian homes.  A tumble down the steep mountainside left Alex with a big gash on the back of his leg and us finding a grocery store for some band aids and Neosporin.  That’s about how our trips roll.  On at least two occasions in the course walk, I turned around a mouthed something inappropriate to my husband about the steepness of the climb.  Seriously, I was starting to worry…

Race day

The morning was beautiful!   Alex and I walked the quarter-mile downhill from the hotel to the start line to pick up his bib.  He did a short warm-up and then lined up.  I look over at the start and see him cutting up with one of the othereurekan start runners his age.  I always wonder what they talk about right before a race.  He started the race pretty conservatively, as everyone did, knowing what was ahead of him.  I texted Sean and told him to be on the lookout.  He and our daughter stayed behind at the hotel to cheer him on at the 2.5 mile spot which signaled the end of the uphill and the beginning of the 200′ drop in elevation in about a half mile.  I asked Sean to text me when Alex passed by and to tell me how many runners were ahead of him.  It was just at 16 minutes elapsed when he passed and I got the text that there was only one runner ahead of him by about 20 seconds.  I jumped up, excited that he would be approaching very soon.  But it took forever for him to come.  Five runners passed by and he was nowhere.  The only thing I could think of was that he fell.  But around the bend he came at a speed that was unreal.  He was yelling and clearly agitated.  The course wasn’t clearly marked, there was no lead car or bike, and the course monitor was apparently more interested in his phone rather than the race.  Both the lead runner and Alex took a wrong turn.  Alex made it about a quarter-mile before he realized he was off-course.  Thank goodness we walked the course the night before!!  He quickly turned around, but had to seriously climb yet another sizeable mountainside.  By the time he got back onto the course, he flew, picking off ten runners like they were standing still.  His Garmin topped him out at a 4 minute mile on that descent.  He finished sixth (second in his age group) with a course distance of 3.6 miles.

Lessons Learned

at the finish lineThe mother of the runner that veered significantly off course literally went grape ape on the Race Director in front of everyone.  She demanded that they give her son the first place win and change his finish time to what it “should have been.”  For a moment, I saw who I used to be as a hockey mom and it scared the living daylights out of me.  My son smiled and said that I wasn’t THAT mom and he felt bad for the kid because he looked humiliated and angry.  We discussed the race and I reminded him of a phrase we have used frequently by an old coach: “Humble in Victory, Gracious in Defeat.”  Alex would be measured not by his finish time of one single race in his lifetime, but how he chooses to react would form who he becomes in the future.

The Race Director was calm under pressure and, while he sympathized with the boy’s issue, he reminded everyone during the award ceremony that sometime this happens to the fastest of runners.  They don’t have anyone to follow, which is why it is so very important to know the course.  Does it suck that he didn’t win the race? Absolutely! Is it crummy that his finish time wasn’t what he wanted? Sure. But that’s why we race.  Any weekend, anyone can win.  That’s the beauty of it.

We would probably come race The Eurekan again.  It was a small race with not a lot of frills, but the course was challenging enough to want to tackle it again. His glutes might disagree, though. 🙂

Emma Grace and I at the Texas state line, Alex collapsed on the star

Emma Grace and I at the Texas state line, Alex collapsed on the star