I started this journey with the inspiration to run a race for my beloved grandpa. I knew I wanted to do something big. So I decided to do the same race that I ran 4 years ago as my first half marathon but as a 50 miler this time. I love my grandpa more than anything and this is how I wanted to show him that.
|My grandpa and I visiting on the porch like old times.|
This whole experience was surreal, it feels like a dream that didn't really happen. Which, I know I am extremely fortunate to be able to say that. I had many downs in my training, from ending a relationship, to trying to find a new place to live and moving, to getting injured but I made it through all of that and race day came whether I was ready or not.
|Mom and I doing last minute crew planning the night before!|
I had planned on my whole family crewing me during the race but the week of the race things fell apart last minute. My mom (Karen), nephew (Joshua) and best friend (Tiffany) came through for me though. We planned it all out and were ready to go, with the coordinates and maps handed out to each person the night before we were ready.
The next morning my sister (Kaurine) took me to the start line to see me off, which was great! Never want to start a race alone, never as encouraging as when someone is cheering you on.
|Aid station 10!|
Things were going great at the start! The first 10 miles just flew by. I ran into aid station 10 where mom and Joshua were waiting for me with fresh water and gels, after a quick refill I hit the ground running. I was still feeling awesome when I pulled into aid station 15, but noticed my mom and Joshua standing there waiting for me and thought it odd, evidently I had written down the wrong coordinates for the next meet up! I just asked them to meet me at the original meet up of mile 18. I started out again and after a bit I noticed my mom's truck in the distance, oh no! They were still only at mile 16.25! I decided to get aid anyway and dumped out my shoes from the small gravel bits, got water and gels and continued on.
At mile 23 we met up once again, I was feeling alright but getting a little tired and had started slowing down earlier than I had planned. I changed out my socks, refilled on all of my things and we had debated if mom and Joshua should wait for me there until I hit that spot again or not but we decided they should go on with their other plans for the day and that I would be fine until my next crew spot where Tiffany was to meet me. With my back drop coming up in just two miles.
I hit the turn around (mile 25), still feeling strong. I sat down for a bit and refueled. I was concerned about meeting the time requirement for the race. But decided that I wanted to keep pushing even if I wouldn't make it.
I started back out feeling pretty good but starting to feel a bit of the stress from the race. I started to slow down quite a bit, way more than I had planned. I even ended up walking quite a bit. I sat down on a bench just to catch up a bit. I was feeling the mental break down starting. I was having a really hard time by mile 31 and mile 32, where Tiffany was to meet me I lost it. Why? Tiffany wasn't there and I needed the support, more so emotionally than physically and I just wanted to give up. That's when Katie found me, distraught and hopeless.
She calmed me down, refilled my water from her own pack and convinced me to keep going at least to the next aid station. She walked with me a bit and then got me back up and running. We did a 30/30 split. 30 seconds running, 30 seconds walking. And we finally made it to aid station 35.
I stopped my watch, sat down, said I was quitting, called my mom to have her pick me up, that Tiffany wasn't there and I couldn't do it.
The crew immediately got into action. They gave me food, pickle juice, water and started saying that I could finish, that I could do it if I had already come that far. Katie started saying the same thing and that if we had already run that far together we could easily finish the race! In the very least, go on to the next aid station and see how I felt there. (Keep in mind, there were still 15 miles left at this point) I said ok, called my mom back, told her to meet me at the next aid station to pick me up and was pulled up out of my bad place, started my watch back up and continued on with Katie.
Katie kept me going, chatted with me the whole time and completely turned my spirits around. By the time we reached the mile 37 aid station I was ready to finish that race! All of my confidence was restored.
When we got to mile 37 mom, Joshua and Tiffany were all waiting for us. Turns out that I had just botched the coordinates for Tiffany and she had been waiting for me for hours not knowing where I was. Everyone worked together to get my shoes and socks changed out, they were soaked from 30 miles of running through endless water on the trail. Refilled everything and Katie and I set back out!
|Chowing down at mile 40!|
We just carried on, chatting and having a really good time. We reached the mile 40 aid station, had some delicious water melon and other snacks, good music and friendly faces.
|Katie and I at mile 40! We look amazing!|
This was the last stop for mom until I saw her at the finish line. It was good to see her one last time before the last 10 miles. Tiffany and Joshua met up with us at mile 47 though! Which was really nice, then Joshua and Kaurine, who popped out of nowhere! Ran Katie and I in the last three miles of the race. It was really really sweet of them to do that. They just kept trying to keep the mood light and by that time Katie and I were starting to feel the time and distance. We slowly chugged along, our 4 person caboose headed into the finish line.
What we met at the finish was completely unexpected. There were dozens of people waiting for us! All sorts of running friends were waiting for us to finish at the beer tent (many waiting over 4 hours to see us cross that finish line!) It was completely overwhelming!
When we crossed the finish line it was as if a ton of paparazzi were waiting for us. There were so many people taking pictures that I just didn't know where to look! But more importantly, my grandpa and aunt were waiting at the finish line.
I never felt so loved surrounded by my friends and family seeing me complete something that I never thought I could do.
|Crossing that finish line!|
|Definitely can't forget to stop those watches!|
|Katie and I were the Caboose of the race.|
We all stood around happy to be finished, goofy faced from relief and exhaustion. I remember distinctly saying "Can I take my shoes off now?" Which everyone found hilarious, and I was dead serious. Thankfully I was hastily directed towards a chair in which I could take of my shoes.
|From the left: Kaurine, Joshua, me, and my Grandpa!|
After saying many thanks to Katie, we wrapped up the race by heading to Steak and Shake! Where I had my favorite hot-dog and fries and ginormous milk shake. That it turns out was all hard to eat because my mouth was sore from breathing hard for 12:39 hours!
Recovery was interesting. The next day my muscles just didn't seem to want to function. I wasn't sore per say, just had an extremely hard time walking. (It was painful to stand up and sit down but that was about it.) But I managed to go to IHOP, have a great breakfast with my Mom, Grandpa, Aunt Janet and Kaurine.
Afterward Kaurine and I went to the park and played with my family a bit before I headed back home.
|Both ankles taped as a precaution, not actually injured. I also met my two personal goals for this race, 1) Finish 2) Finish injury free!|
I can't everyone enough who supported me in this journey.
I love you all!
Keep on Running!