Monday, January 17, 2011

The 6th (and final) running of the Ghost Town 38.5

Dear Diary,

Last year, I talked about how the town of Hillsboro, NM haaaaaates runners.  So, this year we stayed at the Lakeview RV park out by I25, which has KOA cabins that are just the funnest bit of nostalgia you can get for $25 a night.  Electricity, heat, A/C, bring your own linens.  They have great showers.  I recommend them highly.

Now, due to the town's outright hostility toward this race and some people who confronted Susan about various aspects of the race, there has amassed over the year a number of rules regarding ones conduct.  

Things one can do to get disqualified and/or banned:
  • Have anyone you know or are related to run any part of the course on the day of the race.
  • Complain about the course, race organization, or any part of the event, even jokingly, since these comments are sometimes reported.
  • Run on the wrong side of the road.
  • Run on the correct side of the road, but angle in toward the finish instead of making a right turn across the street from the finish line.
  • The Ghost Town 38.5 course map and profile.
  • Make any comments to the RD or her husband about continuing the race.  
There's more, but you get the idea.  Things were getting tense.  So this year, Susan announced that this was the last year of the Ghost Town 38.5.  I wasn't planning on doing it this year, but since it was possibly the last year, EVAR, I decided to go do it.  

Last year my finishing time was 11:16.  This race has a special spot in Sweet Baboo's heart because it was his first ultra.  Less than 9 months after he ran his first 5k, he ran his first ultra.  Because he is - say it with me now - a freak.

I was pretty stoked about this race because of the weight loss and stuff, but also worried about my achilles.  In fact, I had been favoring that leg quite a bit, and when climbing, I had been leading with my other leg (my left) so much so that when it was clear that I didn't need to do that any more, I suffered.

Whatever muscles lift your leg for climbing steps had weakened a bit while I was favoring it, and so I wound up with a sharp pain right in the front where my right leg bends.  It started around mile 20 and by 30 it was almost unbearable.

But that wasn't the dumbest thing I did, oh, no.

I talked last month about having trouble coughing at Tucson, which I assumed was a cold, and it was, sorta.

But then at yesterday's run I had the same aching chest, but since this was a harder run, I got an extra bonus: breathlessness.

That alone would have not done me in, but for some reason campfires are very popular with race volunteers - woody, smoky ones - so that at one aid station, I had to change shoes from road to trail and while doing so, was completely enveloped in smoke.  A couple more instances like that, and I was done in.  My asthma was in full swing and it wasn't letting up.

I slowed down dramatically on the way back from the turnaround at mile 20-point-something, because I couldn't get on top of my breath.  I couldn't catch it, I just couldn't.

Ghost Town 38.5 elevation profile
Now around mile 28ish, right before the last long (2 mile) climb, I'd decided I was done.  This was it.  I just couldn't breathe.  I needed to get a ride and get hooked up to a nebulizer, stat.  I'd used the crap out of my inhaler, but it wasn't making a dent.  I came up on a guy named JJ and he asked how I was doing, and I mumbled something about how I was going to quit soon, and in the true tradition of ultrarunning and ultrarunners, he proceeded to distract me from this idea by having me power-walk with him, running the downhills.

JJ is in his 70s, retired, and hundred-milers are his hobby.  The Ghost Town 38.5 is his last long run before his taper for the Rocky Raccoon in three weeks.  I told him about my Achilles (which, by the way, had bothered me very minimally during this race, although it is a bit swollen) and he said, simply, "you need to stretch your hamstrings more...they're too tight".  Why didn't I think of that?  I mean, it makes sense.  My Achilles started acting up after doing two marathons and a half marathon in the same 90-day period, and I never did stretch after that.  A gentle Achilles' stretch, to be sure, but hamstrings - that also makes total sense.

I thanked JJ several times for hanging with me because by mile 34, I was so breathless ALL I could was powerwalk at that point.  He said, "oh, no problem, you're helping me meet my goal of finishing this and expending as little energy as possible," which is code for, your slow ass is helping me not have to work hard at all.

Sweet Baboo's Mobel sleeves.  Dragons.  Very butch.
I can't find a picture of the sleeves I got.  
Baboo's finishing time, by the way, was 6 hours and 40 minutes.  Yes.  He finished, drove back to the campground, showered, dried off, then came back to Hillsboro to hang out and watch me finish.  Leisurely.

The finishing prize was Moeben sleeves!!  When we finished, I went back to KOA and showered, and me and Sweet Baboo got foot-longs at Subway.

After we arrived back in ABQ, I hooked up my old nebulizer machine and then coughed up a lot of crap.  That's when it hit me: at both runs I had taken 12-hour pseudofed before going to sleep.  However its mechanism - and I don't promise to know anything about this shit; I can tell you have antidepressants work but not this stuff - it caused an enormous amount of congestion in my chest.  The fires and dust didn't help, but I could have tolerated them without an airpipe full of junk.

Anyway.  It's 4 am and I'm up eating a bean and cheese burrito and a glass of chocolate milk.  It's awesome.

Next up: Rocky Raccoon 50-miler, in three weeks.  Where, you may recall,

I walked the entire race last time due to IT band syndrome.  This year, I'm planning to run most of it.  I've heard that's actually a bit faster. 



  1. Wow! Nicely done Misty! The way you challenge yourself continues to inspire!

  2. Wow what an adventure! But definitely worth some Moeben sleeves! Congrats!

  3. Congrats! You are my hero. Seriously, wow. Someday I hope to do an ultra. :) No more sudafed before races!!!

  4. Those sleeves rock. What a cool finishing prize.

    Your JJ story made me laugh. In 2009 I did a metric century, and an older guy rode up and started talking to me. In the course of our time together, he mentioned he'd recently had a pacemaker put in, I was nice to ride behind because I'm big, and that he was glad he came upon me because he'd been starting to break a sweat. So, to recap: I'm fat, slow, and in worse shape than a guy almost twice my age who just had a pacemaker put in. Yee haw.


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