The night before, I spent an hour trying to figure out all the essentials I needed to pack - extra clothes, socks, towel, gaiters, water bottle, Garmin, visor, fuel, snacks and drinks. Oh, and my Shewee (google it)- I can't believe I almost forgot that - and you may laugh or get grossed out, but I find it amazing because I despise portapotties! Back to the night before... I chugged a huge thing of Zyco coconut water (my secret mojo juice) and didn't fall asleep until after 11:30. I was a big ball of nerves. I ended up hitting snooze when my alarm buzzed. When I finally got up, I mentally prepared myself to run for 12 hours, possibly all day in the rain. Ugh. I was running late on meeting up with Larry, Helen, and Cealen, but they had already reserved us a spot to set up our tent. It was a wet and dark morning and Dan and his crew had set up glow sticks and Christmas lights to lead us to the base camp. There was a lot of excitement in the air - despite it being a smaller turnout in the race this year and the undesirable weather. All of my MRTT crew were up and at 'em. I wish we could've sat closer to them, but the spot we had was nice - especially for my trips behind the trees to put my Shewee to use! I saw my CREW and Striders folks, and met many others who traveled from other cities to run this ultra. I had a really nice conversation with a couple from Warner Robins, one of them a breast cancer survivor. I'm sad this will be the last one :( I absolutely LOVE this course - a 1.8-mile route with asphalt path, wooded trails, semi-gravel paths, and grass - and there's tree coverage so whether rain or shine, it's still a nice shaded course. Also, this race benefits a great organization, Liam's Land for Lymphatic Malformation. Liam was out there the whole day with us. It was awesome!
Dan asked me to kick off the race with the singing of the National Anthem. I stood behind the runners and began to sing...and then I started thinking about the lyrics and before I knew it, "for the land of the BRAAAAVVVE.....(pause)...ooops!....FREEEEE... and the home of the BRAAAVE!!", happened. Ha! I can't believe I just did that. I'd like to say that it broke the race jitters since everyone helped me chuckle it off and I'm glad at least it was amongst my running family and friends.
I started running with Helen, Larry, and Cealen with the strategy of running 5 min/walk 1 intervals. We were all nervous because we hadn't run this long - EVER. It rained on us early on, but then held off for the rest of the day. It was an overcast day so not much of chasing the sun at all. The temp was great!
After several miles, my crew decided to adjust their strategy to best suit their needs and I kept on with the 5/1 intervals. I was feeling strong. Damien came out to support us and ran a few laps with me. I was glad for the company. Afterwards, I ran by myself for the majority of the race. I embraced my alone time. It was peaceful and I did a lot of thinking. I talked to my mom and I think she was a big motivator for me. Any rustling of the leaves or a cool breeze to me were signs from my mom letting me know she was there for me and that I could achieve it if I set my mind to it. A few days before the race, Matthew, threw out the idea of running 50 miles. I told him I didn't want to announce it because I was scared of not meeting the goal. He encouraged me to go for it. I was unsure. I felt so good once I hit 30 miles, I thought maybe 50 was a possibility! So I started aiming for it! At mile 39, I asked Tony and Bren if they thought I could get 50 and they cheered me on! I was in game mode!
The volunteers were extremely helpful in making sure we needed hydration, fuel, and even company on the course. Thanks so much to Emily, Lisa, Takis, Victoria, Tony, Molly, Stacy, Dan, Jenny, Wesley, Gregg, and Mary Jo (sorry if I'm forgetting anyone) and all the others who offered encouragement, as well as making sure we were taken care of. It was much appreciated! Their encouragement at the start/finish line always put a smile on my face.
Towards the end, Bren screamed my name as I was making my way for another lap to let me know that I'd hit 50 in this next lap. I was so excited! I forgot all the fatigue in my legs and started jumping up in the air in excitement. I finished my last lap with Pam D. and chatted the entire time. It was nice. Once I crossed the line, I let the guys at the table know that #1206 was done. I had completed 50 miles - something I had once thought was absurd and impossible. This goes to show how much you can achieve if, and once, you put your mind to it. I will always remember everyone's excitement, along with mine, in achieving this goal! Thank you all!
Today I'm sore, but it feels so damn good!