I was sprawled on my back on the desert floor, uncaring about the dirt & dust beneath me, energy less. As life went on around me, I had the barest flicker to join in. Just like Bear 100 five weeks before, I knew that my race was over. However, this time, unlike Bear 100 where I’d dropped at mile 68 with an “unclearable mental fog” - this time I’d finished 100 miles. I was prone on the ground as I’d continued for 28 hours with the promise to myself that at the end, when there was the end, I would indulge myself with doing ..absolutely nothing. No cartwheels celebration, no elaborate champagne toasts, no excited story telling. Just the luxury to do - absolutely nothing for 10 minutes, after running & trudging & walking & crying through the open skies of the Arizona desert.
An hour before, Ann (my coach & pacer) & I had been walking steadily. There was less than 3 miles to go in the Javelina Jundred, and I remembered the Dick Collins 50 front runners telling me “I just want it to be over” as they’d passed me 3 weeks before. I really, really just wanted 100 miles to be over. I’d always wondered how people could drop at mile 98.1 (Robie Point) at Western States, but now I got it. My feet ached. My mind was used up. I hadn’t slept in over 30 hours. I just wanted it to be over. So badly. But I couldn’t finish until I was at the finish line. Ann urged me into an “ultra-shuffle” - and I tried, as it wasn’t much more energy than running. So we shuffled & ran. Patty & her pacer had given me some of her coca-cola at mile 97, and it had perked me into a sporadic shuffle from a dull plod. But at best I was doing 19 minute miles, instead of my triumphal planned 13 minute miles [Patty passed me at mile 97 & finished 20 minutes ahead].
Ann had patiently been with me since mile 74, seeing me through the night & past dawn into day. She’d only planned to pace me for 15 miles (75 - 90), but she’d gone out on the trail to find me at mile 74. When I saw her going by in the other direction, I briefly thought she was a hallucination before I yelled "Ann!" and she joined me. At mile 88 at daybreak she was worried I wouldn’t make the cut-off, and said she would continue with me. I tried to tell her I could finish without her, she’d already done too much, but she said “I will go with you if you want me to go”. & I wanted her to go with me.
Ken Michal told me that running 100 was like peeling layers off the onion of your soul, and a layer peeled off for me at mile 98. I apologized to Ann for being stuck with me me instead of the “Pixie Ninja”, who finished in ~13 hours ahead of me, or someone setting a master’s record. Instead she was with me, an at best mid-packer, who trumpeted to everyone that once (once) through an extreme fluke I’d finished 2nd at a 50 miler. I was sure Ann was deeply ashamed to be seen gutting through with me.
“Ann, I'm sorry you're with me, I’m sorry I'm not an elite at your level.”
Ann said something that shocked me.
“I’m not an elite.”
“Ann - you hold the WORLD RECORD.”
“I just like running, & I’m shy just like you.”
“Ann - I’m not fast like you.”
“ I think you work so hard for your goals, especially after not finishing at Bear100, you turned around & kept going, and entered another 100 five weeks later.”
“You’re not ashamed of me?”
“I didn’t think I had 100 miles in me. This race was my last chance after failing at 3 prior hundred mile races. Thanks for believing in me.”
I’d like to say that I found a fourth gear & started running, but I didn’t. I cried & Ann rubbed my shoulder as we kept walking. Finally we were in sight of the toilets 1/4 mile from the end. I knew I’d have no energy after the finish line, so Ann & I both went to the bathroom. Then we walked past Karen, Karen yelled for me to run!, & I ran over the finish line. I’d finished 100 miles.
Whenever I had a low point in the race, I’d look at the Running Stupid band that Ken had flicked at me. & I’d remember how many people were pulling for me, on and off course. Misha who was crewing me, my favorite musicians Gabriel&Dresden who’d sent me a download full of new to me Organized Nature episodes from ’07, Karen who had encouraged me, and most of all, my excitement of running from mile 75-90 with my running inspiration, Ann. All the time, money, and energy I’d spent training for this day - I could not, would not discard it at a momentary lull.
Things I did well:
- Misha was huge help to drive me to & from start, as well as fun pre-race meal Friday.
- Gamified loops - re-started timer at every loop, tried to keep time below 4:30
- Ice on back of neck (like Ian Sharmian said) kept body temperature low
- Meep-meeped R2D2 (Alina & other dude dressed in InkNBurn r2D2 shirts)
- High fives & encouragement to people I knew, & some I didn’t - some 100K’s & 100 milers were out there a long time
- Thank you’s to volunteers (especially ice girl at Jackass Junction)
- When my light was poor in loop 45-60 buddied up with another runner with brighter light, went with him from ~50 to 58.
- Changed batteries at mile 60 for brighter light [thank you to mystery runner who gave me fresh batteries]
- No iPhone til mile 68 when I needed pick-me-up
- Emptied shoes & feet felt so clean
- Felt hot-spot at mile 75, changed shoes, avoided blister-pop
- body-glided, mostly no chafe
- Chest chafed from bra, changed bra at mile ~58 from drop bag
- carried watermelon & cantaloupe with me in baggie, asked volunteer to cut off rinds so could carry cantaloupe
- Good tunes courtesy of Gabriel & Dresden
- Tried to eat continually. Spit up soup at mile 63, let stomach settle, started eating again
- Looked at Running Stupid wristband & remembered how many friends on trail & off rooting for me.
- Red Red Bull pepped me up
- Flew in on Thursday so not stressed about flight on Friday
Things to improve on:
- Inadvertently carried ~1.5 pounds of espresso beans, 2 headlamps with me - just not very snappy when sleep deprived
- Work with crew (if I’m so lucky) on transitions. Some were 15+ minutes due to setting up gear on cooler which everyone else wanted to get in & out of
- Too many electrolytes - was taking one every 30 minutes during day, which made stomach turn
- Slight screw up on drop-bags - I had packed AAA batteries but couldn’t find them, ended up with 8 double shots at Headquarters, none at JackAss