Saturday, April 6, 2013

BUS 6 Hour Run, Valley Stream, NY. 4/6/13

Two days ago, there was a family crisis that is not my story to share so I won't.  However, along with many others, my life is likely to be significantly changed as a result.  The lack of control over my world plus all the worry for those directly impacted and all the praying for a positive outcome is exhausting.  All of this from what amounts to a blameless accident and it had me feeling like I was suffocating.

The last thing I wanted to do today was to get up at 5:00 am to head out to Valley Stream to run for 6 hours in a bit of a cold day (which turned out to be perfect weather).  I could not image anything good coming from this.

I had a minor melt-down this morning, explaining my distress to Sid.  I hoped he wouldn't think bad of me for feeling shook up when so many others are in a much worse place. He did not.  He is a good man.  He understood.  He validated.  He did not judge me.  He shared that some of his concerns are the same.  He helped me to feel better.

And then he ushered me out the door, telling me that I should get in the car and go run.  There was nothing I could do from home anyway.  If I ran even just part of the 6 hours, it would likely help me decompress.

Photo Credit: Donna Sajulga-Tabios
So I left much later than I wanted to, but I arrived with 30 minutes to prepare.  It felt comfortable when I stepped out of the car, maybe mid-30's. But once in the wind I was cold.  The loop was short, 1.43x miles.  This meant I could layer up and strip down lap by lap until comfortable.

Richie says GO! The course was mildly inclined on the way out along a river. At the peak of the up, we turned right over a bridge and ran the decline down the other side of a river (with view of the runners behind us).  By mile 1, we ran around a lake, then a right turn through a large parking lot, and final right turn back to the S/F line. Pretty flat fast course with enough slight elevation variation to help the speed.

Photo Credit: Donna Sajulga-Tabios
I started about 7:50-8:05 pace for the first few miles,  As I ran along, I kept accidentally running past the Aid Station. By lap 4 I finally started fluids.  I grabbed abt 6 oz of gatorade when I did drink. I ate cantaloupe when I ate.  I alternated between those options or nothing at all for many hours.

I led the women's race from the gun and hit the 14.4 miles in 2 hours (8:20 pace).   Last time I ran the BUS race, Jodi beat me by about 900 ft and I had no idea I was even that close to her.  I don't know Jodi except by her reputation as an incredible runner who I tend to get beat by.  I was closely paying attention to where she was in relation to me.

At some point, I was passed by a woman in purple who was running very fast and easily putting distance on me.  I figured she was on 45 mile+ pace and since I did not recognize her as someone who could run 45 miles or more in 6 hours, I concluded she would either be phenomenal and crush the ladies,  crash hard at some point later in the race, or maybe she was just out to run a hard 20 mile, marathon, or 50k and call it a day. Regardless, my pace was perfect for me and I wasn't going to chase anyone this early.  I just let her go and watched her trail off.  I saw her later on the massage table and then she left... likely after about 26 miles.

Photo Credit: Donna Sajulga-Tabios
I hit 20 miles at about 2:47 (8:20 pace).   I ran with a girl in black who looked extremely fit and strong.  I believed I was a lap up on her at that point.  As I attempted to pass, I could see it was very easy for her to stick me with.  I knew that with 3 hours to go, I needed to pay attention to her.

I started to get a little tired.  I grabbed one small macaroon and drank some Mt Dew that I had brought with me.

I hit my marathon in about 3:42 (8:28 pace). I had to laugh because this was faster than my Cape May Marathon time last weekend and I didn't feel nearly so terrible today.

I did a lot of thinking out there, for the entire 6 hours, and it made the "pain" of running pale in comparison.

At this point the race within my mind begins.  I was moving well but getting very tired.  I had started with my racing flats (Brooks T7s).  My feet were starting feel very achy, like the ground was so very hard.  I had a pair of Brooks Launch as well. They are not as fast as the T7's but I hoped the extra cushion would help keep me running.  I ran my PR 6 hour race of 41.15 miles completely in T7 so I had no trouble opting to start with them.  However I am a few pounds heavier than I was so my feet may have more of a right to complain.

Photo Credit: Donna Sajulga-Tabios
A lap after the marathon I took about 3 minutes (timed it) to sit down and change shoes.  It took longer than it should have, with no chair and non-functional cold fingers.  In comparison to the racing flats, the Launch felt heavy at first. I was not sure if was a smart move, but in a few minutes all I felt was happy cushioning.   Soon I was back to the pace I left off at.

I hit my 50k in 4:26 (8:34).  At this point I remembered my 50k split from my best 6 hour was about 4:25.  I was actual happy for the first time in a few days.  I tried to not think of the time left.  An hour and a half of running can seem daunting after running for 4.5 hours. I tried to think of miles left and LESS THAN 9 to go until 40 sounded possible!

But things started to slow down. I felt like each mile was taking forever. I was hovering around 8:45-9:00.  I started to reassess the position of my competition.  I knew when I stopped to change shoes the girl I was worried about had passed me and was now on the same lap as me.  But where?  I could still see Jodi about .5 miles behind me or less each lap, but we were staying pretty much in that position, give or take (except for when I stopped for my shoes, when she got a little too close for my comfort).

Photo Credit: Donna Sajulga-Tabios
At an hour to go, I was slowing down in to the 9+ minute mile for a bit. I could see Jodi reeling me in and I knew I had to fight, but I wasn't able to spot the girl until 5:35 into the race.  At that point she had entered into the .5 mile window I could see clearly.  And she was moving fast.

Crap.  I really needed this win.  I know it seems so insignificant, but I felt like with my life becoming so out of control, running was something I could control.  I wanted to know that when things get tough for me, I can dig deep and find more when it matters. (I dont feel every single race is a test of my will, but today I did).  I needed to believe that it takes a lot to break me (even if it doesn't always seem that way).  I wanted to call Sidney and tell him I thought about him for hours and because of him I won. I really wanted to make that call even though winning this race is meaningless in the scheme of things.

I marked a checkpoint by selecting an object that she would likely pass in my view. I checked my Garmin to see distance. I watched and when I saw her pass me, I checked my Garmin again. I discovered she was about .25-.30 miles behind me now.  She was running a phenomenal last hour!  With 25 minutes left and only .25 of ground to make up, she could very well catch me.

Photo Credit: Donna Sajulga-Tabios
I didn't want to loose this race in the last 25 minutes so I dug and ran harder.  I got parts of that loop back to under 8 minute pace (not for entire miles... but for segments). With some effort I clocked an 8:10 mile while literally counting down: 24 minutes to go... 23 minutes to go... 22 minutes to go.  Those were the longest minutes ever.

I compared the clock to my watch time and saw that the official clock had me with less time to go than my watch, which I started a few seconds late.

I just ran hard and planned to be prepared to fight with a kick if needed.  With less than 6 minutes to go, I took off for the last lap, hurting, grunting, and hoping that when I saw her again she would be too far behind me to make up the distance in the time left.  And when I saw her, I noticed she was still .25 -.30 behind me with 3 minutes left. All I needed to do was move forward and I should the lead!

I kicked hard to be safe and ran until I heard the horn.  I was overwhelmed with emotion and did all I could to hold back tears. I was so happy to stop moving.  I plopped right to the ground at the last little red flag marking partial loops and sat there until a race official recorded my partial lap number.

And then I made the painful shuffle to the finish line, realizing that I was probably exactly half way around the loop!  After running 41+ miles, walking .7 seemed like it would hurt! LOL!  (But there was a short cut that make it ok).

I am happy I went. I am proud of this race.  I was not prepared to run this fast.  I had a whole lot of tension built up within me that needed to come out.  I felt a lot better for those 6 hours.

I called Sid and told him I thought of him all day and because of him I won.  He told me that it was because of me I won, but I know better.  Now back to waiting for change to happen, whatever that may entail.

Distance: 41.48 miles (new PR) (8:40 per mile)
1st Female
5th OA


  1. What a great, inspiring story, Shannon. Sometimes amazing results come out of frustrating situations. There are so many things to be learned from your story.


    Doug Brandt

  2. Once again, Shannon, you inspire me significantly! I'm impressed with your "dig deep" and how you handle racing stress, something I really need to work on.

    I'll be praying for you and your family and whatever it is you guys are dealing with. Hang tough, and yes, Sid is right- always go run. :)

  3. Congrats Shannon, great work out there, and nice job holding on for the "W". "Extreme Awesomeness" are words that comes to mind :)

    With the best of wishes to you and yours.