Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Rocky Raccoon

Bottom Line......I made 40 miles and couldn't go any further. But I had a blast!!
Friday....Got a call at home from the airlines that the flight was cancelled. Made new reservations for 3 hours later, but when I got to the airport, that was delayed two hours.
While waiting for the flight I heard my name being called. It was Juli Aistars, a runner from my running club, and a great ultrarunner. We chatted until the plane boarded and she gave me lots of encouragement and tips. She was going to be pacing a first-time 100 miler(and she was successful--the runner was DFL!).
We got in too late to make it to the packet pickup, so I woke up earlier on Saturday to figure out how to get to the Start. My daughter was driving me there, leaving my Mom sleeping so that my daughter could come back, sleep some more and have breakfast with Grandma.
Coach Lisa saw me as soon as I walked into the packet pickup and told me to get moving, the race was starting in 1/2 hour. I thought it was an hour later!! Yikes!! I got my number, my chip and went outside where Lisa introduced me to other Dreamchasers (she had 40 of us there!). I set up my chairs and drop bag by the Dreamchasers tent and lined up. I threw my daughter a kiss goodbye and took off. Soon enough I was one of the last runners....which was just fine with me.
I kept an easy pace....enjoying the beautiful scenery and the runners around me. I carried a water bottle and had a fanny pack with salt tablets, Cliff Bloks, electrolytes and tissues--and many notes of encouragement from friends. I made it to the first aid station. I saw Deb, a long-blond-haired lady, who wrote on the ultra list that she'd be at this station and I introduced myself. She was as sweet as could be and chatted with me for a bit, showing off her 500 mile jacket. As I ran off, grabbing a handful of m&ms, she yelled out, "Best advice I can give you is to have fun!" This became a joke as I wished other runners passing me to "have fun" and they made comments to the affect of--"if this is fun, we're nuts!"
I was going along easy, marvelling at how many runners passing me in the other direction were voicing encouragement. I passed Bad Ben, recognized him and yelled back, "Hi Ben", and he yelled out, "Hi Lora". Funny this whole blogging community. I also recognized Kim from the Trails and Tribulations blog--quite smart looking in hot pink! Catra was also on the trail. How cool is all this!!??
The first loop of 16.6 miles took me 5 hours. I was on track. Coach Lisa predicted 15-16 hours for me, so all was good. I took off on the next loop with the walkers that Lisa introduced me to, Colleen and Marisol. They were a blast, and the three of us were busy admiring the guys that were running towards us (another bonus of being a runner!!). I lost them after about 6 miles, so I trudged along on my own. I continued eating M&M's at the stations, along with oreos, potatoes dipped in salt and chicken soup. I had no problems with my stomach and no issues from sweating.
Between Debs aid station and the next, I noticed a very young, fit guy running ahead of me. He had no shirt on and his back was full of salt. He was at the next aid station when I got there and I knew that couldn't be good for him if he was keeping up with this old lady. He stayed in front of me on the way back to Debs aid station, walking most of the way. When I got to her station I asked him how he was doing. He said he was wiped out and that this was his second attempt at a 50-miler, the last one he DNF'd. I mentioned that he lost a lot of salt, and asked if he was taking any supplements, "No Ma'am" he said (love these Southern men!), so I gave him my last salt tablet, walked a bit with him and then he took off. I hope he made his goal! I saw Bad Ben again and we high-fived each other--he looked fresh and I suppose he must have been on his 3rd lap, going for the 100. How inspiring!
I struggled after about 13 miles on the second loop. As I got closer to the Start, I called my daughter to come find me on the trail and help walk me in. She asked if I was going out again and I told her I had nothing left. But when I got back to the tent, Coach Lisa wouldn't hear of it. She asked me what was bothering me the most and I told her my feet were killing me. We checked that I had no blisters--I didn't-- and she said she had "magic" shoes, and made me put them on. Then she told my daughter to put my shoes on. I got my headlamp on and accepted that I had to go back out there. My poor little Jewish Mother was not happy. She begged me to go back to the hotel, but I told her I'd be okay with Steph with me and she was more accepting of it. I found out later that Colleen and Marisol drove Mom back to the hotel so she wouldn't have to wait up til midnight waiting for me. Thanks Gals!!
Steph and I took off. It was around 6:30pm and darkness was setting in. I had never trained in the dark and I was actually pretty excited about it. My daughter, though, was freaked out. The further along we went, the more scared she became. My focus became her, and I told her how cool the aid stations were and she looked forward to getting there. But after we left the first aid station, things got worse for her. She clutched onto me and I had to soothe her while I was struggling myself to keep moving. The next aid station was 2 1/2 miles away, and I knew it seemed like it would take forever to get there based on my last two laps. The noises in the woods were thrilling to me, but to Steph it was totally creepy. I kept soothing her but she started to cry and when we finally made it to the next aid station, I knew I couldn't go on. One guy at the station tried to refuse to let me drop. He gave me an awesome foot massage, where he had all the guys around him admiring my high arch. Gosh--runners are weirder than I thought!! :)
We had to walk 1/2 mile to the next aid station, off the trail, in order to get driven in. This was even creepier for Steph because here there weren't even other people around with their headlamps (some had awesome yellow, green and red lights!). But we made it, and she stopped crying. She felt terrible that she made me drop, but I assured her that my feet and legs were hurting terribly.
We met up with Lisa at the tent and I was nervous about telling her that I dropped out before finishing, But she was great. She said something I'll never forget---"Anyone can run a marathon, but very few can run for 40 miles." Thank you Lisa, for all you've given me to get me here.
What's next?? I'm not sure yet. But I know I'm not done here.

Coach Lisa & Moi

My Daughter, Me and Mom