It’s 5 a.m., instead of being in a hammock at a campsite per the original plan, I’ve been in a soft comfortable bed in an air conditioned house for 4 hours. I’ve woken up twice already. It might be the small, but surprisingly painful patch of chaffed skin on my upper thigh. It could be nausea or it could be hunger, sometimes I can’t tell the difference. It might be catching the sheets on the toe with the little blistered tip and the perpetually mangled toenail that reminds me I sometimes run or hike distances that are hard on my body. It is definitely because I just spent a few hot sweaty hours running in the woods and my body is reacting to the effort.
The Full mOOn 25K/50K course uses parts of the Winona Scenic Drive in the Ouachita National Forest. While the race is not on technical single track trail, the gravel forest roads, especially in the dark, can be precarious and the more than 1600 feet of elevation gain on loose gravel is taxing. With a 7 p.m. start for all the 50K runners, they get to enjoy the scenery of the forest and Northfork Pinnacle in the fading light. For the 8 p.m. 25K start, the darkness sets in quickly, the headlamps come on and the fun of navigating with little more than a spot of light and the bobbing lights of the runners ahead begins. Glow sticks in the bushes and the tendency for many runners to stay fairly close together for the first half of the run makes navigating a little easier. It’s also nice to have running buddies, even if that buddy alternates over the course of the race with runners leap frogging one another as their paces change and bodies tire and bounce back.
This is my fourth consecutive running of the Full mOOn, three times for the 25K and last year I ran the 50K with my best running buddy Ashley. It was hot; but it’s always hot, so I’m not sure the nausea that began almost immediately was anything other than poor nutrition preparation. Luckily the feeling mostly subsided before the half-way point turn around and the return run was much better than the run out. It was humid; my clothes were completely soaked through and though I was wearing a tank top and sweat wicking-quick dry running skirt, I could wring a bucket of sweat out of them at the finish line. It was hot; I drank four 20 oz bottles of water in a little over 3 hours, plus a dixie cup of coke, and did not stop to let my body rid itself of extra water once. Anyone who has ever run with me knows my need for multiple breaks on long runs so this was a huge surprise and honestly a bit worrisome. It was hot; the nausea and the heat made it hard to eat even though my head was saying “if you don’t put something in, you could bonk with 2 or 3 miles to go and that would suck.” Did I mention it was hot and humid?
How can I complain about heat while surrounded by 400 other people also out running, jogging, hiking, pulling through the long miles? It’s easy because everyone complains. Yet somehow the discussions of the heat, humidity and the high ratio of folks who finished complaining of intestinal distress does not diminish anything. In fact if you ask “how was your run?” the answer is typically framed in a positive way- “it was good, I had a good run” before the “but you know, I suffered a little nausea out there” or “I have never had to poop so many times on trail”. One of the many joys of running with friends-getting to know their GI systems up close and personal. Thanks to the Williams Junction Volunteer Fire Department, anyone who was up for it and wasn’t outside talking about their churning tummies could get pancakes, bacon, eggs and fresh fruit including cold juicy watermelon at the finish. Spectators and finishers sat in the dark, many with ice chests of cold beverages to last the night while they stayed to cheer in the 50K runners that might take advantage of the full 9 hour cut off limit.
Races don’t happen without fantastic volunteers and race director Susy Chandler always has the best team of volunteers possible. Thanks Susy and team, and the US Forest Service, for another year of watching the mOOn rise.
Over 500 photos from the event available for FREE on our Facebook Page.