My journey started back in Feb 2017. I was a bored, workaholic, over scheduled mom of 2 and I needed more. (No moms can relate right?) I signed up for a half marathon. It was to be the farthest I was going to run EVER. Kristin Henry sees a post and says “ get off that street, lady, and get on a trail.” A what!? Followed by, “you should train to run Ruck a Chuck with me, it’ll be fun!” I remember this now and laugh.
A few calls later and we are in business with Coach Peter Fain. I enter a learning curve and a world of massive blisters, lost toe nails ( they’re overrated by the way), ASTYM for tendinitis, stitches from falling on rocks during a run, long healing times, and hard lessons of nutrition and running. I’m constantly questioning that people do this for fun as my mileage builds and I’m counting down days. Naysayers line up, there’s always a few, and my supportive spouse and I are on the move.
I arrived in Auburn Friday. Kristin is trying to make it through white out conditions as I’m watching it hail from my hotel room. All I can think is “I’m screwed.” Hours later, the glitter unicorn arrives and we are staring at my food supply for my pack. Kristin is now asking “where’s the protein?” It was the second time she said it and the flood gates opened. I’m clearly having a moment. I’m trying to figure out what possessed me to decide to go beast mode and run 31 miles. In a blink Kristin is in Christmas pjs singing leprechaun songs to talk me off the edge. When she is convinced I’m not going to call myself in on a 5150 hold I’m sent to my room to sleep.
It’s race day. I’m awake, dressed and slightly terrified. We’re standing under a tent to stay out of the rain as the race director is advising how we will go through the creek crossings. I’m mortified. I can’t back out now. I have to get through this, and we’re off.
Mile 1-3 is a blur. Kristin is pointing out a teradactyl nest trying to keep things light. I’m in awe of what I’m surrounded by. It’s stunning. The river to the right is like nothing I have ever seen. I want to take photos but can’t get to my phone (smart move Kristin), so we have to keep moving. I crossed that creek, reality slaps me in the face and I realize I can do this. From there, it’s on!
We hit the aid station, a quick stop, we keep it moving and I’m feeling good. At mile 9 I am informed we must handle “business”. Kristin is looking for a tree- this can’t be good, she never looks for a tree. Five minutes later I have witnessed how a group of mix-sex trail runners will stop mid race for female issues to be handled on open trail (there’s apparently a lack of trees mile 9) and I’m in awe.
We’re chasing turn around point at mile 16. It’s a trek for sure but I’m feeling good as we work through slippery mud and hail. Unicorn is calling out mile markers. It’s killing me. We grab our beads, take a photo and I start to text. Kristin is throwing me tone “What are you doing!? Peter doesn’t want this! We don’t have time we have to do negative splits.” Damn Peter. He wants us to bring it.
Earphones in and were moving. It’s hailing and it’s beautiful, but something is off. I’m assessing. Things are cramping, the wall is coming. I’m having a moment. Kristin demands that food starts going in asap. I can tell she’s not kidding. One bite of fruit bar and I’m whole again. I realize I’m bonking. The rest of the bar goes down and we’re back at aid where I’m being asked if I want a shot. I’m eyeing white capsules stating “you have xanax here!” Too much enthusiasm apparently and it becomes a bit of comedy hour as I’m shoving food in. I leave that aid station a new person.
We’re headed down the switchbacks at mile 17 and then it happens. We’re climbing. I’m in pain, head down and repeating “handle the task at hand.” I don’t look up, we climb. Pain cave 101 and the suffer bus just dropped off. I obviously had a first class ticket. At the top of that section I stop. I breathe, assess pain and realize we’re finishing this.
Cold creeks that I now look forward too, long flats, and the hunt is on. We tick off miles. I’m not looking at the watch but I feel it buzz at the markers. Aware we’re close because that 2.6 mile climb to the finish just slapped me in the face. I look ahead and I whimper. No tears will come out, everything is too tired to cry. Kristin is begging me not to look ahead, head down. I go silent. I’m repeating a Bible verse in my head, and it all hurts. Trying to embrace it but “the suck” is alive and well. It’s brutal but there are zero options. We’re finishing.
I swore I had a mile to go. Strava is off and Kristin is steps ahead at the curve screaming and pointing at the finish line. Things are going in slow motion.
I finished my race. I’m still taking in the fact of how good I felt through a huge part of it. We identified problems fast, solved them and kept moving. I felt like family with this group that encouraged me the whole way.
There are so many people to thank. Two of them are Kristin for sticking with me for a year and helping me complete this goal. Peter Fain for making sure I was ready. When I doubted myself he sent me back out. (30 minute rule turned to 3 hour rule). The transformation happened.
In the end, I’m a new person. I’ve been reminded of the gifts we carry.
1. Dream big
2. Use/ find your resources
3. Dont be afraid to suffer, when we work through darkness there is light
4. There is always a way. How bad do I want the goal?
Lastly, do I hit the purchase button for the ultra sign up cart that has my next race waiting? Where’s the pusher man, Mr. Fain? You bet!