This journey that I started back in October was a way for me to channel my energy and to focus on obtainable goals, to challenge myself mentally and physically. To push myself harder. I had no idea what I was getting into at the time. When Anthony told me about the Fleet Feet training program I jumped at it without hesitation. Little did I know how much I would grow from the experiences I had during AR50, TRT and now SNER.
SNER didn't end like I had planned it too. In fact I was crushed when I had to drop. In fact that was the hardest decision I made all day. It is hard to deal with a DNF especially when I was so close to the finish. Here is how my day unfolded......
The early morning came far to quickly, I was awake from 1am to 2am. Fell back asleep and then woke up before my alarm went off. It was going to be a great day. I was feeling mentally focused and I was for the most part physically feeling stronger then I have had in a few weeks. Again this race was going to rock!!!
As the excitement and anticipation built up while waiting at the start I took a second to look around and really take it all in. This is what all my training has been for. This was it. I was ready. As I started I knew the course which would be a huge benefit I thought. I knew that I didn't have to go out to hard there was plenty of room on the fire road for all us runners. I didn't push. I ran a comfortable pace leading into the single track that heads to twin rocks.
As I passed twin rocks and started the tougher terrain I was right on schedule with fueling and water. I was eating and drinking. I also noticed that it was warming up pretty quickly. During this stretch I noticed a burning sensation coming from my back. It felt like my back was on fire. I have never had this sensation before. My back was hurting it was just on fire. I made a mental note of it and kept on moving.
While running towards horseshoe I found myself in the lead with a few runners on my heels. I asked if they wanted by but they declined. I thought OK and kept the pace. Eventually though I stepped off the trail to let me pass as I felt I was running their race and not mine. I felt like I was being forced to run harder then what I had planned. As soon as they passed I continued on and was more comfortable on the trails.
I fueled at horseshoe and off I went to Rattlesnake. I knew my crew was going to be there. That gave me a mental boost. I was still feeling strong, legs were moving well, the burning sensation in my back would come and go and occasionally my ribs would scream at me.
I flew from horseshoe to rattlesnake, the terrain didn't bother me. Guess it pays to train where the race is. I knew what to expect, I knew when I needed to hike. The day was unfolding perfectly. As I approached rattlesnake my crew was there waiting for me. Kirk was also there. As I was with my crew Kirk removed my pack filled it with water and told me I was in great position, reminded me it was 8 miles to the next aid, and also reminded me to eat and before I knew it I was off and running again.
This next stretch things started to go South for some unknown reason. I was cruising along with another runner on my heels. This was his first ultra so I chit chatted with him a little bit. It actually enjoyed talking to someone out there during this stretch. But eventually I stepped off the trail to let him pace. I felt like I was being pushed a little bit to hard and once again not running my race. I let him go, even though I enjoyed his company. That would be the last runner I saw during this stretch until Kuni passed me as we neared the base of the dam hill. I was having to walk more and more. I thought it was because I hadn't hiked some of the hills like I normally do so I was just recovering. I in took a few GUs. All I kept thinking though was I really need that aid station. I need some solid food.
I could see it in the distance, the base of the dam hill. As I rounded the corner there was the aid station. I filled my pack and ate some food and started my ascent on Cardiac. Cardiac kicked my butt. I kept pushing up having to pause every now and then. Here is where Michelle from fleet feet passed me we both encouraged each other and joked around about Cardiac. The switch backs never ended. Eventually I reached the top and the canal. I jumped in and submerged myself. It was a shock to my system but after doing that I was focused and not so foggy.
Now it is just a two mile run along the canal, here is where Brent my brother in law was. I didn't recognize him but he yelled "Meme" and that sparked another gear in me. I was so happy to see him and Bradyn and Kristina were about half a mile away. What a totally awesome surprise. As I neared Bradyn he saw me and came running toward me. I gave him the biggest hug. I was almost to the aid station and there my crew was once again waiting for me.
What a awesome surprise!
At the overlook, I drank half a bottle of endurox. I was trying to get calories in me as food really didn't sound to great at this point. I refilled my GUs my crew sprayed me down and off I went. Kirk was also here, he helped me fill my pack, told me to take it easy going to no hands. He also reminded me to eat, asked how my stomach was doing, squeezed cool water on head and off I went.
On my way to No hands
It was hot by now. I don't think I was drinking as much water as I should have been looking back. As I dropped into no hands I had planned on hiking the hills and running the downs. That is just what I did. Here I saw Anthony on his way back, he looked strong. As we passed we both updated each other on our situations he was cramping and I told him I was doing good. Not to long after seeing Anthony I saw Jenny from fleet feet. She told me it was going to be hot on the way out to load up on ice. I told her she looked great. It was awesome to see them on the course and gave me a boost.
Going to no hands was tough. It was hot, I would climb down and then have to climb up. But eventually I made it to the 26.2 mark. I loaded my pack with ice, drank numerous cokes ate some food and off I went to return. One of my friends from work surprised me here. Another boost.
The return trip I had planned to do hike the climbs and run everything else. Only I couldn't run anymore. I could only hike. Every time I tried to run I had excruciating pain radiating from my ribs to my back, each step I took. I could only hike. That is what I did. I probably only ran a little bit when I could tolerate the pain. As I am hiking out Garmin dies on me. I start to get concerned because I thought that now I was racing against the cut offs. I was hot and I still had a ways to go. It was only 4 miles but felt like forever.
As I hiked out of no hands and back to the overlook I knew I had to do something about my ribs. Once I reached the overlook my pacer and my crew were there along with my family. My pacer asked me how I was doing and I told her "I am hurting, I can't run." I also am freaking out a bit about the cut off. The aid station crew said I was fine I made it and just as I finished that sentence the medic comes over and asks if he can help. I didn't want to tell him to much for fear of being pulled. I told him I needed my ribs taped, I needed pressure on my ribs. He said he could do that. he also cooled me off with water and my crew just kept handing me things to eat and drink. I am not sure what or how much of anything I took in. I also couldn't answer any of their questions as to when the last time I ate something was, or my last s-cap. In fact I didn't even know what time it was.
I am in some serious pain, I am having trouble breathing. As my ribs are getting taped my pacer told me that the aid station crew was a bit shocked at seeing someone getting their ribs taped due to a rib being out of place. Once he tapes my ribs I stand and take two steps and ask him to tape my back. My ribs felt better but now the pain was shooting to my back and making it hard for me to stand. The medic taped my back for me. While I was drinking some coke the medic told my sister that they needed to get me going before the pain got to bad. They did just that. I was off.
"Meme, are you OK"
As we starting running on the canal, I was hyperventilating. I couldn't catch my breath I was in so much pain. And then I was on the ground doing a flip. I fell. I tripped over the one rock that was on the trail. I landed hard on my left side which is my bad side and flipped. I was covered in dirt. I looked like carnage now. My pacer helped me up and I took in a GU and started running again. If I was hurting before well I was now hurting even more. I hadn't even made it to Cardiac and I fell.
Do you see any rock? I don't, but my feet found one
After falling. I am caked in dirt
We cruised down cardiac, there really is no easy way down. At the aid station I ate some food and applied some Vaseline on my legs. My legs were feeling a little chafed. My shorts by this point were covered in salt, I could see the salt ring. No big deal. Only it was.
We left Cardiac and headed out into the longest stretch ever. 8 miles. During this time my pacer, kept giving me GU every 30 min. Salt every 45 min. This section is runnable only I wasn't able to run it. I was hiking and then pretty soon I was walking. I couldn't muster up the strength to run. My legs were on fire, my ribs and back were killing me and I also had a headache. I ran every now and then, but it wasn't much.
Mentally I was drained. I was hot/dehydrated and in some serious pain. I had to stop a couple of times just to catch my breath and relieve some of the pain. I knew the trails, so I broke it down in my head and gave myself small goals to reach for. The first goal being Mormon bridge. Once at Mormon bridge I sat down on the rails. My pacer soaked my hat and I just sat there. She eventually got me to move again, but it took some work on end.
After Mormon bridge my next goal was the water pump station. We were able to run some to the water pump and here is where I used the bathroom for the first time all day. Probably not a good thing. After this small goal my next goal was Avery's pond. I chuckled to myself about this and then told the story of why this was so funny to me to my pacer.
My pacer did awesome keeping me moving, every time I stopped she would coaxed me to stop in the shade up there a bit not the sun. She kept giving me GU and salt until I flat out refused it. We reached Avery's Pond and I sat down on picnic table. Pretending to empty out dirt/rocks from my shoes. My pacer again got me to start moving again. If it was up to me I would have sat there for longer.
I was walking/hobbling. My goal was the Fleet Feet aid station. My crew would be there but also Kristi from fleet feet. I knew we were getting close. I also knew that I was done. That is why I was so upset, because I knew this was it. As I walked into the aid station all I focused on was Kristi. I stared at her for what felt like 5 min. I wasn't speaking I was a walking zombie.
Kristi- whats was going on?
K-Wait what! Talk to me. what do you want to do?
Me-I don't know, I'm done
K-Whats going on?
Me-I don't know
K-What do you want to do?
Kristi gets me sit down and then starts firing questions at me.
K-when was the last time you ate?
K-When was the time you had an s-cap?
My pacer told her my last s-cap was an hour and fifteen minutes ago, she immediately gave me two s-caps, and told me to suck on some potatoes. I was given coke. She also dumped water on me, and that brought me back a little bit.
Mentally I was done, physically I was hurting and I also knew what kind of terrain was coming up. I cried some here sitting in the chair. My crew told me I could do it. What they didn't know was exactly how much pain I was in. Kristi asked me again what I wanted to do and I said "Can we call Anthony?" She somehow managed to get Anthony on the phone. I think she had to call Julie Fingar the race director and Julie found Anthony. Wow what support.
I vaguely remember talking to Anthony. I do remember him telling me that I didn't sound to good and asked me what was going on. But by this point I was incoherent. I was crying. Somehow, maybe after sitting for a bit and eating some I decided to give it a try.
But first there was a issue we had to take care of. My legs were on fire from the chaffing. In fact it hurt to put Vaseline on. But I did with Kristi's support. I even had a great idea to Vaseline my shorts. Wow, brain function is coming back. Then she cut the liner out. During all of this I was hyperventilating and having difficulties breathing. My ribs were killing me. Every time she asked me if I wanted to go on, I would start to panic. Kristi even told me "don't make me pull you. I don't want to make the wrong choice and let you go if you think you can't do it." I managed to calm myself down and get my breathing under control. She took my pulse and was amazed at how relaxed I was considering not to two seconds before I was hyperventilating. I decide to push forward. Kristi told me that horseshoe was only 1.8 miles away run aid station to aid station. After that it is 5.8 to twin rock and then the finish. Awesome words, aid station to station.
Thank you so much for awesome support. The Fleet Feet aid station really put me back together after being there for 45 minutes to an hour. How they did it I am still amazed.Before I left I thanked my awesome crew and the awesome aid station. I walked into that aid station and I ran out of that aid station onto horseshoe. My pacer and I flew into horseshoe. I was feeling pretty good here. The aid staff was really helpful. They cooled my off and were real supportive.
Alright only 5.8 to twin rocks. Running aid station to aid station. Not maybe a mile down from horseshoe I was hiking again and then I was walking and then I sat down on trail right before a big climb. I just sat there with my head in my hands and I was crying. My pacer coaxed me back up and encouraged me to keep walking. The sun was fading fast. I was crushed. I kept walking, runners passed me and offered encouragement. I walked I ate some food, and then I refused to eat.
The sun went down and thank God that at the Fleet Feet Aid station a volunteer had given us a flash light. I walked and tripped over the rocks and I cried some more. I heard voices coming from behind and I stepped off the trail. They said they couldn't pass they were the sweeps. I was panic stricken. First thought was I was being pulled this is it. I am done. They must have saw my panic looked because they reassured me I had plenty of time and all I had to do was keep walking. I did just that I walked. They gave us some distance but made sure they could see us.
Walking in the dark, the inches felt like feet, feet felt like yards, yards felt like miles and miles felt like I was walking to the moon. I knew the trails but in the dark it is a totally different experience. I was lost, I was following the ribbons. I was incoherent I was crying and I was in pain. The sweeps caught back up to us and asked my pacer what was going on with me. Was I cramping? No not cramping. Was I dehydrated? Probably. She told them about getting my ribs taped and they responded with "ohhh, your rib girl." I am rib girl. They explained that the medic who taped me informed them of a girl on the trial with a rib injury and to be on the look out for me. They found me. I asked them how far to the aid station. They replied, you can throw a stone and hit it. Not sure how far it was but using that sentence made the aid station seem really close. I stumbled into the aid station and immediately told the volunteers I was done. The said I did a great job considering everything I had to overcome. I should be proud of myself.
I dropped at twin rocks, I couldn't go any further. I was mentally empty, I was physically drained and in a lot of pain and I was emotionally drained. I dropped less then 5 miles to the finish. I was devastated. It was the hardest thing I did all day. The sweeps called Julie for me again and she told Anthony and Lily that I was OK, and dropped at twin rocks.
The volunteers at the aid station gave me a jacket and then they wrapped a blanket around me. I was freezing. My body was shutting down now that I had stopped moving. I was shivering. My pacer gave me a ride back to Cavitt where Anthony was waiting for me. I cried on his shoulder. He took me to Lily, and I cried on her shoulder. She said she was so proud of me. Kirk and Jenny were still there and Kirk said group hug. I cried on his shoulder as he hugged me and I cried on Jenny's shoulder as she hugged me.
I just kept saying I had 5 miles to go. Chuck the medic and friend asked me some routine questions and he even gave me a huge hug where I cried again.
Lily and Anthony took me home with them, I slept on their couch and the next day hung out with them all day. It was a tough race. Most runners probably would not have toed the line in my condition, but I am not like most runners. This race was a journey and one that I will not soon forget.
"Your toughness is made up of equal parts persistence and experience. You don't so much outrun your opponents as outlast and outsmart them, and the toughest opponent of all is the one inside your head." -
“The essential thing in life is not so much conquering as fighting well.”
– Baron De Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympic Games