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.


Kent said...

Congratulations Lora on a great race - 40 miles is an awesome accomplishment. Sounds like you had a great time. Since you liked the night running, you might want to try the 38 mile night fun run that is part of the Kettle Moraine 100 - it starts at 8pm. Continued good luck with your running, and if you're ever out in the San Francisco area let me know, we've got tons and tons of beautiful trails I'd love to show you.


RunBubbaRun said...

Great job out there. Glad you are okay, looked for your name on the results page.

10 miles left, just means you have to try again, right?

Congrats on your accomplishment.

Jack said...

Forty miles is a long way, great job - you'll be back. You said something that really jumped out at me, "...my focus became her...". When I struggled through my 50-miler last October before dropping at 42.5, I spent a lot of my time worrying about my pacer. Your short statement makes me wonder if I spent too much time worrying about her. I know you aren't blaming Steph, but do you think you would have struggled on further (or quit earlier) if she wasn't frightened? In any case great job, I can't wait to hear what you are up to next!!

Cassie said...

"Only 40 miles"??? Sounds like a lot to me! Great job! I loved reading your report :-)

(ps I really like your "Lora Runs" banner on your blog!)


Rajeev said...


It was nothing but a 40 mile training run for your next race. :)

Good luck for the next big one.


olga said...

Oh, bummer, I hate when my comments don't go through!

The power of Mom...that is what it was. Sorry it didn't lead to the finish line, but I bet it lead to a stronger bond. There is always next time. Good job!

robtherunner said...


40 miles is a long ways to go. Be proud! We are.


Firefly's Running said...

Great job on an awesome race! Way to go!

Bedrock said...

Just found your blog. Great attitude and you are right, only a very small few even sign up for 40 miles, much less run it. You will get the finish next time. I will add your blog to my list.


Lisa Smith-Batchen said...

so nice to have you, your daughter and mother there to celebrate your mothers 75th! way to celebrate..
beautiful family
we are all so proud of you

Black Knight said...

Great job, congrats! About the airlines.....be happy, you don't know what Alitalia is able to do.....

*jeanne* said...

Most people (me included) don't even have the chutzpah to TRY this sort of event!
And it also takes courage to STOP when it's simply been "enough".
If you aren't enjoying the journey...what IS the point, anyway?
40 miles FINISHED! You did GREAT!
And if you want to try again, you'll be much more knowledgable about what to expect.

Brooklyn said...

Lord you are amazing. I can't imagine the challenge of going 40 miles. Absolutely a wonderful feat.