I am back from a long, wild and adventurous weekend. A 100 mile weekend to be exact! Yes, I ran my first 100 mile race and have lived to tell you about it. Let’s recap, shall we?
So lots of you have been asking me what was next on my race roster and what I had been training for these last few months. I registered for Rocky Raccoon 100 last year as an item to cross off the bucket list. I had completed 2 50ks and a 50 miler so I felt like I was ready to step things up in the distance department. I trained for months on end, often logging back to back long run weekends, peaking my mileage to 85 miles a week and 324.4 miles in a single month. It was an exhilarating feeling and honestly I’ve never felt more on top of my training game. It was finally time to put my body to the ultimate test.
I made it to Huntsville State Park on Friday afternoon for the briefing and to pick up my race packet and etc. There were hundreds of folks signed up for this race, from total 100 mile virgins to trail veterans. Actually the USA 100 Mile Trail National Championships were being held here so there were some super fast runners present as well. I’m always so super inspired by crazy fast trail runners because they just seem to glide across rocks and roots without a care in the world. Perhaps that will be me one day. I am a bit of a moving liability since I teach classes at the gym so I try to do more of a relaxed pace. Which I actually love. Some days you just need to get off the roads and immerse yourself into nature.
Anyway, I got my race number…headed off to my hotel and got my goodies ready for race day.
Saturday morning I was up bright and early for the 6 AM start.
The course itself is 5 20 mile loops which honestly is perfect for someone running their first 100 miler. It breaks things up perfectly and allows you to have a pacer assist you if you so desire. We were not allowed pacers until mile 60. I was so SUPER thankful for my Dallas Dirt Runner friends who actually had their own aid station and were out there being amazing volunteers. They had a few folks who jumped in and helped runners out when we were struggling.
The first couple of loops seemed to literally fly by. They had aid stations along the course and one where you could drop off a bag with all of your essentials and etc. I always LOVE the trail aid stations.
I mean, where else can you indulge in fruit, random candies, mashed taters and yes, quesadillas? I cannot tell you how amazing a quesadilla and/or sausage tastes at mile 30 or 60 something. Absolutely incredible. I actually thought the hardest thing about ultrarunning would be keeping up with my eating. I didn’t have too hard of a time with that. I kind of just ate little bites of what looked good at the time, and that worked for me. They also had V Fuel energy gels which I loved, way better than GU in terms of texture.
I didn’t reach a low point really up until it got dark outside. My headlamp got dim and I left my batteries at the very last aid station before the next loop started, so I ran a lot of the end of loop 3 solo, in the straight up darkness. Doubt started creeping in around this time and my legs got real tired past mile 55 or so. This was without a doubt the longest I had EVER run in life. There was a long 7 mile stretch with no aid station and it was kind of a lonely feeling being out there on my own. I said a lot of prayers around that time and just tried to keep one foot in front of the other. I SO BADLY wanted to finish this race. Feeling good, without injury. I don’t think I’ve ever wanted something so badly in my life. And just honestly where I’m at physically and mentally in my life, this was something that I just needed. To channel some emotions and fight some issues I’ve currently been dealing with in my personal life. I actually wanted this race to break me down a little bit. And THAT, it did. The third & fourth loops consisted of a lot of kind of hiking/running. But I got it done.
You see that guy? During loop 4 I picked up an amazing guardian angel pacer by the name of Kevin. Kevin is a member of the Dallas Dirt Runners who I had met before and another guy Agustin thought he would be the perfect candidate to get me though 60-80. He jumped right on in like a trooper, being so super encouraging the entire way. I tell you, I was at such a low point mentally during this time when it was like 2 in the morning and I was simply exhausted from running literally all day long. I just wanted to find a chair and put my feet up. He kept me going, playing music from his phone, making me laugh. I have never seen someone with such an amazing heart that wanted to help another runner the way he did. I am forever thankful for him for getting me through a point where I probably would have thrown in the towel.
Morning hit once again around loop 5 and the start of another day gave me some fresh energy. We got a bit of light rain that started up as the sun came up over the horizon which was kind of relaxing! It felt like I was running through a rainforest or something. I also admittedly kind of like slightly muddy trails because the ground is nice and soft. I got through the last loop and crossed that finish line feeling like a champion. 29 hours and 33 minutes of laughter, tears, extreme highs and lows. I freaking did it.
I have to tell you, you cannot run a distance of this magnitude without being changed from the inside on out. I did not run this race for pomp and circumstance. Didn’t run it to prove something to my running club buddies or for likes on Instagram. I did this to prove to myself that I was strong. That I could look adversity in the face and conquer it head on. I did this for my family. I want to be strong for my family, friends and just in my everyday life. I proved to myself that I can overcome challenges and dig deep when all hope seems to be lost. I am excited to face more challenges in 2017 and so excited to have started off the year doing something incredible.
Snagged that damn buckle. I’m up for more.
How was your weekend? Any other HUNDO finishers out there?