Fast forward one year. As some of you know, my training through the end of last year and the beginning of this year has been greatly interrupted. It turns out that having a couple of injuries and a debilitating chest cold can really throw things off.
I was happy to head to Henderson, Nevada, in spite of my ill-preparedness for the task at hand, Mostly because it was 17 degrees here in Utah and 77 degrees there. There was a tiny part of my brain that thought that I could magically wing my way through the event.
|Look how nice and sunny. Thanks to Scott M. Stringham for taking all of the pictures contained in this post.|
The day started out with a gathering of Idiots. (Idiots Running Club, for those who don't know.) A gaggle of them had gotten to the park before me, so I received a warm welcome. Most were there to support Kristie Cranford while she rocked her 100 mile effort. But they were just as happy to see me, and also ended up adopting three other runners. "No Man Left Uncrewed" was the motto of the day.
|The 28 brave souls, waiting to get this party started|
Scott came down with me to crew and also to volunteer at the aid station. He was also my race photographer, which was pretty handy.
|See? Handy documentation of race goodness.|
|Sitting sure feels nice... Too bad this is only about 11.5 hours in.|
|50 miles in and trying to pretend that it doesn't hurt like hell|
At first, these little lie downs were helpful in relieving the pain that my feet were experiencing. I managed to grab a bit of sleep each time, too. The fatigue accumulates rather quickly as the hours tick by. I never slept more than an hour and a half at a time, most naps were less than an hour. There are only a couple of people that I've heard of that can keep going for 48 hours straight. I am not one of those people, just FYI.
|Feeling a bit sassy after a nap and a sunrise.|
Unfortunately, the sandals weren't a perfect solution and I ended up having to put shoes back on. One of the nice Idiots propped my feet up and brought me a bag of ice for them, which helped get the swelling down enough to re-shoe.
So I had reached 60 miles right around the 24 hour mark. The next 24 hours would only bring me another 28 miles, and incredible amounts of pain. I was reduced to trudging. The pain in my feet was so intense that I would stop at each bench I passed to sit for a moment. At one point, I had my shoes off and was trying to massage some happiness back into my Pillsbury Dough Feet, a fellow runner stopped and did the foot rub for me. It was one of the nicest things anyone has even done for me. I got a good solid hour of faster movement thanks to that foot rub.
Scott was also incredible in his role as support crew. About mid-day on the second day, maybe 70ish miles or so in, I broke down. It was becoming painfully (literally) clear that I wouldn't hit the 100 mile goal that I had set out to accomplish. So what's a girl to do? This girl fell into a heap on the cot and started sobbing. Big blubbery sobs of infinite sadness. Scott gently removed my shoes, got me wrapped up in the sleeping bag, and went to the store for some Icy Hot and Tums. He didn't yell at me or try to make me keep going, he just helped me get through it, which was exactly what I needed.
He let me rest and when I was ready to sit up and get ready to head back out, he rubbed my feet down with the Icy Hot, put fresh socks on my feet, and somehow managed to get shoes back on me. He packed up a bunch of food and made me eat while we made our way slowly around the loop. He ended up walking about 14 miles with me that second day.
|Sunset on the second day.|
|Feet up, food going in, expression: loopy.|
|Right before choosing to take that long break. My face says it all.|
Sleeping outside on the cot had worked out alright for awhile, but the cold was an issue. Even in a good quality sleeping bag, I was getting so cold while I slept that I would shiver myself awake. Just getting out of the elements and into a real bed for a couple of hours changed my whole attitude. After the sun rose on the third day, we made our way back to the park and I knocked out two more loops before the time was up. I was even smiling through those two loops. I managed a bit of running, even. I was completely astounded that I could run after 80 + miles.
|I did it. I survived somehow.|
I learned so much from the experience, so even though I didn't get my 100 miles, I got life lessons instead. Those are valuable, too. Lesson 1: you can't be under trained for an event of this magnitude and expect your sheer stubbornness to carry you through to your goal. Lesson 2: invest in a pair of shoes half a size larger than normal for when your feet swell. Lesson 3: ultra runners are the nicest people on the planet. Lesson 4: coming to terms with what you're capable of at that moment won't kill you. There is time to get better, to get ready to try again.
Failure isn't always a bad thing. It's a teacher. You learn more from a failure than a success. I have a renewed sense of purpose and drive for this year now. I will train smarter. I will be more focused on getting my body ready to meet the challenges that I have set up for it. I have already chosen the venue for my next attempt at the 100 mile distance. Next March, I'll try again. And mark my words, I will be ready this time. I'll leave you with this quote from Theodore Roosevelt, which I often think of when attempting these crazy things.
"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."
Until next time, happy running!