100 Miles to Redemption - Page 3
We ran into Juli, a friend of mine who was doing her first 100-miler. She was in a low spot. She told me she’d already cried twice and I told her to suck up some of my energy and push on. She did just that. Turns out, her pacer couldn’t keep up and she dropped him.
The temps dropped to 50 degrees with a cold, steady rain (we found out later a lot of people dropped due to hypothermia). I said to Dave, “We will just have to run faster to stay warm.” He agreed. We pressed on.
We tackled the big hills in the mud as best we could. That meant two steps forward, one step back. We finished the lap on schedule and I grabbed a small bite to eat and headed back out just before the sun started to move up in the sky. Somewhere near Richie’s Haven, Dave realized he’d passed the 26.2 mile mark, which was the farthest he'd ever run before. A few miles down the line I passed the 62-mile mark, the farthest I'd ever run. At 9:10 a.m., I saw my crew. We kept moving forward, loving every minute of the uncharted territory.
When Dave dropped me off for my next pacer Mike, he'd just finished his first 50K. I gave him a hug and said thank you and keep moving. To keep me moving, Mike played music on his phone and told me to stay close enough to hear it. If I got more than a dozen steps behind him I couldn't hear the lyrics so I kept up. He has long legs and he was only walking. I warned him before he said he would pace me that it would be late in the game and I would be struggling to keep up with him. He still agreed. He’s good at fast walking. Every time I asked him if we are on pace he said yes.
I forced myself to run the flat sections but still needed more and more walk breaks. I didn't feel like chatting and could only produce one-word answers. I didn't have the energy to talk. The climbs and descents became increasingly hard.
We crossed the start/finish line for the fifth time just under 24 hours later. I had one loop to go! My crew posted a photo on Facebook saying I ws looking good and had an excellent attitude. I started losing time, unable to get my feet to do much more than a shuffle. My left shin started to hurt. I felt a blister pop. My feet were so swollen I wanted to loosen my shoes but also didn't want to waste a minute. I touched the orange “remarkable” bracelet on my arm and drew energy from it.
My back and neck were getting sore. I leaned on a tree from time to time trying to stretch it out. I almost fell a few times, but luckily, didn't. I thanked my trail angel, Joyce, for that.
The temps were mid-60s, perfect. My clothes dried from the overnight rains. I never bother to change into anything fresh. Still, I kept losing time and Mike kept telling me that I was still on pace. Next time I saw my crew, Eric asked how I was doing. I told him that my shin hurt. He said, “No, it doesn’t.” He told me to keep moving and so I did. A mile down the road, though, a sharp pain shot through my shin. I thought it might be the end of my race. I yelled and Mike instructed me to keep moving forward. A few miles later Juli blew past us with a new pacer and a whole lot of energy. I never saw her again. The author with crew and pacers after finishing.
Somewhere in mile 99, after hallucinating for several miles, I saw the campfire at the tent closest to the woods. I screamed out in joy. I was given a peace-sign finisher medal, an awesome belt buckle and a hat. A bottle of champagne was produced. Hugs and toasts with several of my ultrarunning fiends, crew and pacers. I told my husband I will NEVER run another 100-miler. His response? “We will talk about it tomorrow.” I woke up after nine hours of sleep and still couldn't comprehend what I did. I held the buckle. It seemed so unreal. Who am I? I am just a normal person. I love running. I had a goal. I ran 100 miles. I finished in 29 hours 28 minutes 26 seconds. I was close to last, and that was fine with me. 149 people registered for the 100-mile race. Only 69 finished. I was number 63.
They say in ultras that there are three kinds of people at the finish line: The competitors, the runners and the survivors. I’m not sure if I am a runner or a survivor, I’m just glad I finished.
Eric wakes up and asks me what is on my mind. I simply say the name of the next race on my radar, Burning River 100.
The author with her crew and pacers after finishing.