(Me, The Cookies, Libby)
*Side Note: I know I was gone awhile, so I should say that technically this was my third attempt at 50 miles... I made an attempt in October at Palo Duro Canyon, Texas... but when mid-day heat hit 108 degrees in the canyon, I just couldn't keep pace and I got pulled at mile 37.5 due to time cut-offs. For the record, I never thought I would be thankful to be pulled, but I was! I was so drained and done.
(Me at Palo Duro Canyon back in October 2012)
Highlights of the weekends:
1. NO MUD -- Do you remember my report from last year? There was a downpour and there was calf-deep mud at some points. Hills were slick. Lower legs were extra stressed from lifting your feet out of suction cups. Lots of time spent between loop getting mud scraped out of my shoes, cleaning off feet, re-lubing them, and changing socks. Misery. When we entered the park this year, I shouted (literally) "OH MY GOODNESS, there isn't any mud."
2. RUNNING BUDDY -- Libby and I had agreed to attempt to run this race together. We are also both pretty logical and discussed before the race that if at any point we needed to split, that would be that, and there would be no hard feelings. 50 miles is a long way to tolerate someone. Well let me just say, we ran every step of 50 miles together. A whopping 12 hrs 35 min of highs and lows and still managed to tolerate each other. I attribute it to being really good at reading each others up and down times and knowing when the other needs a pep talk, or a funny moment, or just silence. And there were some great moments of hilariousness. There was A LOT of smiling from us on the course. There was a load "weeeeeeeeeeeeee" every time we cruised down a step hill. There were moments of incoherent babbling. There were dance moves (our traditional 40 mile dance party as well as the occasional random power ranger move).
3. SUPPORT -- At a run this distance, I can't tell you what a pick-me-up it is to see friends on course. Every time we saw our boys Josh and Reece, their cheers and support had us picking up our pace. When Matt or Brian flew past us, the encouraging shouts kept us going. Seeing Suann, Martin, and Chris at the Dam Nation aid stations was a huge boost that we got 2x every loop (Side note: More than once we got chased out of the aid station by Suann screaming "Get out of my aid station and move your butts."). I anxiously waited every loop to find friend, Tony, who was on his way to his first 100. Seeing Jeremy at the finish of every loop was a nice comfort, not to mention his readiness to help us get what we needed and get our butts out of there and back on the course. Seeing Greg (who did his first 100 there last year) twice during his crewing/pacing gig was a boost as well! I cannot list the other 50 people we saw on course... trail running is very community-oriented, which is one reason I really love it. Even elite Mike Morton would cheer on other runners that acknowledged him as he blew past the pack. THANK YOU to everyone who cheered, encouraged, supported us.
(Libby and Me after her 1 hr 12 min PR and my 46 min PR)
4. EPICNESS -- Yes, the word epic is generally overused, but my friend, Tony, on his second attempt at 100-miler was bound and determined to finish. After 4 hrs of sleep, Libby and I got out of bed, shoved down some 4am breakfast (I think we were the only sober people at iHop), and headed to the last aid station on the course. I got the awesome honor of pacing Tony for the last 5 miles of his first 100. He was in A LOT of pain (really, duh, I mean he had already gone 95 miles) but he was going to finish this thing. We were a little worried about his kidneys, so he, of course, offered to pee in my hands so I could analyze the color (yeah, there are no boundaries at mile 95). I declined... pacer failure! HA! Running across that finish line with him was an awesome, epic, and proud moment. I am extremely proud of you Tony!
(Libby, Tony, and Me)
I think my friend, Matt Florence, summed it up perfectly this morning in his race report:
We weren’t meant to face life alone. With about a half mile to go Jon said something about me being a beast. I replied in truth, “I’m just an idiot that knows how to pick amazing friends.”
I couldn't have done this without my amazing friends... without their constant support, guidance, and cheers. I was really worried about this race. I missed my peak weeks due to 2 weeks of the flu, and wasn't being overly consistent before the flu. The 3 weeks I did have post-flu were low mileage. I was really worried about this race, to be honest... but it went better than I imagined it could have. I was amazingly proud of Libby and me and how much we pushed and kept moving. Just the kind of 50-miler that makes you ok with the fact that you signed up for something insane 8 months from now............