Jackpot Ultra Race Report, Cookies, and Bloody Stumps

by Carilyn on April 29, 2021

(Warning: This is a total bait-and-switch post. If you are squeamish, turn back now.)

Getting back to “normal” has been harder than I thought. I guess I believed that once we were vaccinated, the world would just go back to the way it was before. But so much has happened in the last year, and now, whether I want it to be or not, everything is different. Or I’m different. I really can’t tell.

I tried to race last weekend for the first time in over a year. Unlike so many, I avoided virtual races and FKT attempts, mostly because I was lazy and unmotivated. I kept training, but the thought of having to race (which I don’t much like under the best of circumstances) just seemed unbearably unpleasant without at least the fun of being around other sweaty, panting, snotty humans. I like company when I’m suffering. So, when I found out a race I love, Jackpot Ultra, was going to be held, albeit two and a half months later than normal, I jumped at the chance to fly to Vegas. Because it hosts the 100 mile national championships in addition to the the fixed-time races, it is always a great place to see longtime racing friends. I was psyched. I was ready. I was trained.

But apparently not trained in the one way that actually mattered – heat trained. End of April in Nevada equals pizza oven heat with haboob level wind/dust action. Day 1 wasn’t problematic, or so I thought. After a few hours of direct, unrelenting sun, I started to notice that people were staring at my legs. I wrote it off to the fact that we were passing each other over and over and over again all day, and people just start looking at each other weirdly. But when I stopped to eat the dinner Tim had brought me, he greeted me with, “Holy shit. What is wrong with your legs?” I looked down and saw this:

After much consulting with Dr. Google, I came to the self-diagnosis of a “sun rash” (yes, there is a bigger sciencey name for it, but you get the drift). I decided Day 2 would definitely necessitate tights. Ugh.

At the end of Day 1, I was two hours ahead of my goal. I was happy, energized, and ready to kill it. Until I wasn’t. Around hour 30, my feet had become unbearably painful. I figured it was just because I had a lot of gravel in my shoes. I hadn’t worn gaiters the year before, and had zero problems, so I couldn’t understand why my feet hurt so badly. I was wearing the exact same shoes, the exact same socks (new, but the same brands, you know). When it was time to eat, I sat down and took off my shoes, and saw blood. A lot of blood. This is never a good sign unless you are watching Hannibal on Netflix. And I couldn’t get my socks off. They were stuck to my bloody stumps. WTH? When I was finally able to muster up enough courage to peel my socks off (taking a nice chunk of flesh with them), I saw this (plus a lot of blood and ooze – I know you wanted to know that. You’re welcome.):

And once I got my shoes and socks off, I just couldn’t get them back on. The blisters extended all around my heel on onto the bottoms of my feet. I was in agony. I decided to go to the hotel, clean them up, and then reassess. And my assessment was that I could not walk for another 42 hours on these feet. This picture is from two days later, but even now, I can’t wear shoes – which is genuinely unfortunate for the world because I have some major monkey-toe feet that aren’t particularly glamorous under the best of circumstances.

So, bottom line, my first race back was a total bust. And we all know the only way to get over bloody stumps is with chocolate chip cookies. (You didn’t think I could bring that around full circle, did you?) I feel like they are a good consolation prize, and a necessary accompaniment to the time I plan to spend sitting on my couch watching Hannibal.

I guess things haven’t changed that much after all.


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