|I ate 4 consecutive In N Out meals to prep for the race. It is the one thing that I know does not upset my stomach...and it is delicious.|
If you know someone who is an ultra marathoner in any capacity, you need to immediately meet them with a warm embrace. I now speak from first hand experience that you may think you know what "hard" is, or how "sore" feels...you have no idea. No frickin' clue. These people are a special kind of incredible crazy that deserve your support and praise, because never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined any event so mentally and physically demanding as a 50 mile run. Send these people your love, that's an order.
Roughly 1,000 people signed up for the event, around 850 finished. My wave began at 6:15, immediately following the first wave at 6am which mostly included elites. I pushed off the line and never looked back, rolling through the first 25 miles at around 8:30-9:30 pace. The first half of the course was flat, primarily road or bike path, and relatively easy to pass other runners. It wasn't until I hit that aid station at the 25 mile mark that I hit my first (of what would be many) wall.
|Mile 12 - Willow Creek Aid Station|
By this point I had caught much of the back-half of the first wave, which was good news because we entered the single track trials for the remaining 25 miles. Around mile 30, my knees started to go. Aid stations were doubled-edged swords; a sight for sore eyes and a place to make sore legs worse. Exiting the 30-mile aid station was the beginning of the end for me.
|Mile 25 - Granite Bay Aid Station|
Runners with high spirits and all their mental faculties were blowing by me at mile 40! What the hell? That's when I almost lost it. Rolling into the aid station at mile 40 - my folks looking helplessly on as their daughter rode the brink of total meltdown - knowing I still had so far to go, yet was entirely too close to quit... It was all I could do to keep from bursting into tears. Not sniffles, not "woe-is-me" misty eyes...I'm talking the ugliest of the ugly, inconsolable sobbing. But I choked it down. Swallowed that lump in my throat. Bit my quivering lip until I tasted blood. To cry would mean wasting precious fluids, not to mention what it would mean for my mental state. So I pressed on at 13 minute pace with my head down and 10 miles to go.
|Mile 40 - Rattlesnake Bar Aid Station|
Everyone walked. We'd been out there for just about 10 hours, and no one was going to attempt to run up Everest and risk rolling all the way back down to Sacramento.
"3 miles left," the sign read. "2 miles to go," said the next. I was barely lifting one foot in front of the other. There was no daylight to be seen underneath my feet. Relentless forward motion. I started jogging, taking my 15 min walk to a 14:30 "jog."
I saw the "1 mile" sign off in the distance. That was it. This had to be over. I could hear the roaring crowd at the top of the hill, but the announcer on the microphone was still to far to discern his words.
My knees were shot and I was fighting hyper-extension with every step. But suddenly I didn't give a f*ck anymore. I ran. I ran fast. I picked up my pace to a swift sub-8, rolling up a steep grade of probably 4%. I blew by competitors who'd passed me 30 minutes prior.
"You can do anything for a mile," my coach used to say. I believe him now. I was yelling to myself, "You CAN DO THIS!" And I did, sprinting up the steep hill, burning around the corner, hitting the grass and never looking back until I cross the finish line.
10 hours. 24 minutes. 20 seconds.
People tell me, "I can only imagine how hard that must have been." No you can't. You can't even begin to fathom the gravity of that type of run. I trained 35 miles and still had no clue what I was getting myself into. Totally surreal that I completed it.
|Getting in that 1 mile...reluctantly.|
What a triumph. Braving physical, emotional and mental fatigue. I couldn't be prouder of myself. I trained for 4 months....from scratch, others were worried they'd cut it way too close with only 6 months. I have never run a marathon. In fact, I've never raced over a half marathon. I had no nutrition help, no training program, and no pacers during my race. The odds were against me and I beat them. That's my take-away, even when the odds are against me my feet always find the ground.
Go right this second and give your ultra marathoners some love.
Thank you +Oiselle for giving me strength beneath my wings. Thank you to Jill for being my constant support from the start of this outrageous journey. And thank you to all my friends and family for offering encouragement when I needed it most.
More to come. Until then, my streak continues. Day 97. #streak 365