Well, in my case it was SD73.25. Darn it! Wanna know what happened? Because you already know what didn't happen, I didn't get that buckle.
What to do? Put your head down, hydrate and try to get the darn race done. The pre-race briefing went well. As well as can be expected when your 6yo blows a gasket and has a huge meltdown, making you 30 min late and frazzling your already stretched thin nerves. The one thing I took away from the meeting? 'It's going to be ridiculously hot, finishing rates will be low.' Ouch.
The next morning my super awesome crew chief chauffeured me to the start line. I mean for real, she picked me up at 330 am....
Some pre-race shenanigans with my fellow runners.
|Check it out, these two studs FINISHED the race.|
|Picture with the RD, Scotty Mills.|
Finally we get the all clear to go. I cannot event recall if it was just Scotty telling us to go or if there was more fanfare. I just remember going. Running, feeling amazing and so happy. The first 2 miles were so incredibly dusty, but the weather was fabulous. I wanted it to stay that way all day. At the first hill I started power hiking, I'm not proud. I have all day (and night, and day) to be out there, I'm saving energy where I can. My friend had told me about this crazy purple flowered bush that causes extreme itching that was blooming. So I made myself a mental note, stay away from purple flowers. What did I do in the first field? I saw purple flowers, attempted to make sure I stayed away, ended up turning my ankle (shouted 'I'm ok!' out of sheer habit, because I doubt anyone running near me cared), and nearly fell straight into a purple flowered bush. Lovely. Now my ankle hurts, my leg is itchy and I'm paranoid. I'm fairly certain I just fell into stinging nettle plant. But I'm not going back to investigate.
Aid station 1 was at mile 7.5, the lovely Running Skirts group was there to give all the runners ice cold buffs to help combat the heat of the day, then they sent us up Stonewall. I ate 2 pieces of watermelon and 1 small of piece of potato before leaving. I definitely took this segment a little easier than I probably should have. I wasn't aggressive if someone was slower than me and walked some of the sections I usually run here. I was telling myself I was conserving energy. Well, that'll come back to bite me later. During the fantastic run down Stonewall I started to get a hot spot on my foot. What the heck, I'm barely 13 miles into the day and my toes feel like they need more lubrication. This does not bode well. As I follow a fairly spaced out line of runners through a tall grass field where I can only occasionally see my feet, I'm constantly thinking 'Oh, please don't let me step on a snake!!!!'
Can you see the wild turkeys?
The line of runners got slightly harder to see as the trees get a little more dense, but there was a runner directly ahead of me. And with him in my periphery, I was concentrating on not falling on my face. When he stopped to fix his shoe, I ran past him. A quarter mile, and I see runners next to me.... on the other flipping side of the fence. Darn it! I made a wrong turn and now have to backtrack and get on the right path. Ugh, it was only 1/4 mile each way, but still! Me and the other guy get on the right trail and make it to the second aid station. I'm ashamed I got lost and grumpy. And my foot hurts, so I have to take some time to fix the foot thing. I can only hope I don't get lost again. I see so many of my friends at this aid station, one who politely, yet firmly tells me to slow the heck down. Got it, slowing down. I left after getting some ice (they were already running low) a slice of watermelon and put some Run Goo on my foot. The next section was exposed and warm, and it was only 9am. At my next aid station I would see my amazing crew, I couldn't wait! I knew I needed to eat more, but it was so hot I didn't feel like eating, but I was able to drink. I had trained with Vitalyte and had planned on using that to get some electrolytes and calories, and frankly, it was yummy. I did choke down a Gu and got a little more spunk, but I was really trying to not burn myself out as the temps were rising. In hindsight, I should have run more. I made it to Sunrise 1 (mile 21) and saw so many friendly faces. Grabbed more Vitalyte, got ice, ate something small and took it with me. I had sent a message to my friends to get my handheld filled with ice water, grabbed that and out I went. I planned on using this to douse myself and try to keep cool.
The next section was even freaking more exposed and hot! Omg. One of my friends was running with 7 water bottles. I'm not even sure how he accomplished that. We kept snaking around and winding our way along the mountainside. I would love to go back and run this in the fall, because it was breathtakingly beautiful. But all I could think was 'I'm not on Noble Canyon yet to climb and I'm climbing. This sucks. I'm hot.' My friend who cautioned me to slow down had caught up to me and we chatted for a bit. He was also feeling wiped out from the heat. We complained a bit to one another and he abruptly said he was dropping back a bit. Since this section rolled a little, I tried running flats and downhill and walking the uphill. I started chatting with a lady from Florida. And I had noticed on the list of entrants that someone was from my home town of Niceville Florida. Imagine what a town called Niceville looks like. You're probably right. And 300 people register for a race and 2 are from Niceville? Sure enough, I found Dee, from Niceville! (PS, Dee finished and did great!) So we ran into Pioneer Mail together (mile 28). I ate a couple more pieces of watermelon, grabbed a salt tablet and got some ice and water. I couldn't remember if this was a crew station or not. I saw my crew there, but I couldn't recall if they were allowed to help me. I dropped an ear bud cover, and spent a few minutes looking for it because I knew the next few hours were going to be a slog, and I really needed to distraction of my book or some music. Because I didn't know if I was allowed crew help, I didn't know if I could get my replacements or not. Turns out this IS a crew station, so I could have saved my time looking for the cover and just refilled and left. Leaving the aid station I felt good. But, like all things in ultra running, that would change.
I left the aid station after getting some more ice water in my pack and my bottle. It was just as miserable as I had been expecting. Someone told me later that the temperature in this canyon was 108°. Looking back, I can see why it was miserable. But I didn't have that information then. I was chugging along and came it a blissfully shaded spot, I attempted to sit down for a second and almost immediately jumped up because the biting flies were now out in full force. Arggggg! Every freaking time I attempted to stop, more biting flies. My friend Neil passed me and I was hoping the flies would be attracted to the fresh meat, I mean, guys are tougher about being bit by bugs, right? No reprieve. Still biting me. Every person that I came up to or who passed me was expressing similar thoughts to what I was feeling 'I want to drop at the next aid station.' I saw two guys who were headed back down to the previous aid station to drop, not wanting to make the climb in the heat. (Everything written about dropping says drop at an aid station. If you think about dropping in between, drop at the next one.) But honestly, heading downhill as opposed to up sounded good. Dropping sounded good. I caught up to a veteran running friend, she's tough as nails and she was walking and debating dropping. What in the world? The flies were ridiculous. You know those funny videos of someone swatting away at an unseen fly or bee, who looks crazy because you can't see what they are swatting at? I looked like that. My friend directly ahead of me looked like that. Any exposed surface was a potential target. They swarmed our hats, our shoulders, our backs and our legs. My death toll count for flies was 15, I got 15 of those suckers and didn't even get close to the number of bites that were inflicted on me. I have never seen anything like this before. Prior to leaving the last aid station (Pine Creek) I saw a bottle of something on the table that I think was bug repellant, but it was probably just rub-on sunscreen. I was death marching, swatting, swearing and day dreaming of that bug repellant. I've never day dreamed about wanting something so much. Our conga line of misery continued on. 'I just need to make it to night fall.' That's all that was going through my mind. But making it there felt impossible right now. I couldn't even make it to the next aid station for heavens sake. I felt like we walked forever, everyone was in terrible shape and 80% of the people capable of talking kept talking about dropping. We finally made it to the Penny Pines 1 aid station, and if possible it was even worse than Pine Creek. People were laying on the ground, slumped in chairs, or handing over bibs... I told myself I had some time to spare. I'll give myself a few minutes, let my crew know I was taking some extra time at the aid station and see how I felt. Because right now I felt defeated and beaten down.
My main concern was light. I was hours behind schedule and had no headlamp. I did however have my phone and a small amount of charge left on it, it was time to stop listening to my book and save the battery. The two guys laying on the ground next to my chair said that last year at that time they were at mile 57 (where I had anticipated being at this time) and they were dropping. One of the guys under the shade of the tent had been anticipated to finish in 21 hours (He would finish in 29:45). Needless to say, I was concerned. After what felt like 20 minutes, but was probably 30, I pried myself out of the chair and got moving. While at the aid station I had 2 cups of soup, a coke and had taken time to put more foot lubricant on. I couldn't wait for a new pair of shoes. I sent a text to my crew to ask for my mile 56 bag (which contained my change of clothes, headlamp, flashlights and new shoes) at the mile 48.8 aid station, and to see if my crew chief felt up for running 7 miles with me. I really felt like staying at this aid station, but I had told myself that only serious injury or the race people making me stop would make me drop. Neither of those things were imminent. So I gathered my fellow crazy fly swatting friend and we left. I had no cellular service at the aid station, so I wasn't sure if my crew was getting info or if I would reach them before the info did. I ran on in blind faith that they were smart folks and would anticipate my needs. And I did, I ran. It felt so great to finally be able to run again after having to walk up the mountain. If the ground was flat, I ran. If it was downhill and not rocky, I ran. After a while I took my phone out of my vest and used it as a flashlight and kept running. My battery was at 15%, and because of my wrong turn, I wasn't sure exactly how far I had until my aid station. So I stuck with a runner who was running/walking a little slower than I would prefer, but I didn't know how much longer my light would last. I finally saw the aid station, knew I could get a long sleeve, headlamp, and some new shoes. Hallelujah!
This guy said I could blame him and call him the jerk who wouldn't let me go on. That was awful nice of him, because it wasn't him. I'm well aware of that. It was me. It all comes down on me and wasted time in certain areas and lack of aggression in others. And, inexperience. It was my first 100 attempt. I had really hoped to make it. I've never dealt with a DNF before. It's now 4 days later, absolutely nothing hurts except my pride. I want to run that race right now.
Will I try again, absolutely. My family gave the ok to try it again.
Am I looking forward to the mega miles involved in training? No.
Will I do them? Of course.
Will I run smarter? Absofrickin'lutely.
What did I learn? I need to eat more. Plan for the unexpected. Eat more. Use sunscreen. Eat more. Use bug spray. Eat more....
What do I regret? I regret asking so much of my friends and family for this race. My friends and husband missed work so I could do this race. My crew took the day off. They drove an hour to come out and see me for maybe 5 minutes. Spent lots of time standing around and waiting, time better spent doing other things. I love that they love me enough to do it though. I have amazing friends and family. After my drop, I found out so many people had been following my progress online.
I can't believe I have to wait a full year to try again.