Running is my job and I love it. This has been my week so far. Philly Marathon, Back on My Feet Kick Off, maiden voyage of Harlem Run and then the first Annual Bronxville Beer Mile.
Running Past the Old Goal- Ghost Train 100
It’s been two weeks and I still haven’t really processed it….
I just ran 100 miles, 3 HOURS AND 42 MINUTES FASTER than I ever have before. I managed to hang on to come in 2nd woman and 6th overall at the Ghost Train 100, improving my overall time on that course by several hours and a few podium spots.
The race started like any other and the fact of the matter is, I felt pretty crappy for the first 50k. Tired and a little “off”, I managed to make it through with my pal Karna (below left) at my side.
I told myself that no matter what, there would be no DNF…I just might run a few less laps than expected. That’s the beauty of GT100; you can run as far as you feel like going. It was wonderful to see my hubby and mom and aunt every 15 miles ( they are simply the best cheering squad ever) but for a long time I rehearsed in my head what I would say, stuff like ” You know, I’m just not feeling it today or, 60 mile is plenty. Where’s the hard cider?”
Something shifted in the late afternoon though, and I still can’t quite tell what. Usually I slow down as dark approaches, but not this time. I even picked up my headlamp early, just in case. I made it back to the team one last time before mom and Jean had to head home. They were awesome, yelling ” you beat the dark”! I felt better, markedly so, and for the first time all day, sped up. Soon, I was by myself, passing people as the light faded.
On the first ” getting dark” loop, John Bigl, AKA the best Aid Station captain EVER, suggested I try some of the magic lentil stew he’d prepared. It was amazing! For the rest of the night, I called it the “the secret sauce” and stashed my own personal supply in one corner of the AS. Every time through, I snag a mouthful, a few chips and head out. It was magical, and I am convinced played a large role in my success.
Ben and Emily, dear pals who were on their first JOINT ultra adventure saw me going into mile 70 and remarked how well I looked. Ben said “you are completely dialed in. Go for it” and it was then that I realized I was. I was passing people like crazy and everything still felt good. Mile 80 came and went and I was running sub ten minute pace. Mile 85 brought a few of the familiar twinges which crippled me at VT100. I had more stew, and stayed up on my water intake. The quads cooperated.
Mile 90 came and I had just 1 out and back left. I passed a runner who was in the hurt locker, badly, and asked after him. He said he was just trying to stay under 22 hour pace. I was completely perplexed. Sub 22? Wasn’t that my stretch goal? What pace was I really going? What was happening?
At 92 the quads came roaring back; sharp cramps tightened everything and my running gait was hobbled. I repeated my mantra ” the longer you run, the stronger you get” and willed myself to run another mile, then another. The turn around was marked by a flashing light… and it seemed to be moving away from me. It was then that I realized it was the taillight of another athlete, and I had to refocus. Where was that damn light?
It finally appeared around the bend and I shuffled madly towards it; tagging the top. Five miles to go. I made it back to John’s AS for more stew. My quads locked up solid and refused to give… Time to go to plan B- the power hike. I am fortunate to be really long legged and have spent the last ten year walking New York pace. I maintained 12:30 miles as the clock ticked down.
With a mile left, and the lights of the camp just visible to the right, I had a moment where I realized… this is big. I am onto something HUGE here. This is not just a PR, but a monumental one, and I am totally coherent and with it to realize it. Most giant moments in your life you only recognize in hindsight. I was IN IT and needed to make the absolute most of it.
I had been running for 30 miles with one earbud in, which had been crazy valuable and it was then that the Ipod shuffle threw out AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck”.
As I approached Camp Tevya, I moved as fast as legs lacking quads would allow. Ben ran out from the tent, yelling his head off in the early morning darkness. He ran beside me through the turn around and in the last 100 yards I was greeted by Em and Michael and all the guys from TARC. I hit the scorers table with both hands and yelled ” 607 is DONE!”
Levi, timing guru extraordinaire, smiled widely and handed me the finisher’s rail spike as he delivered my time. “Nice work Mare, 21:07”.
Levi went on “you are the second woman and 6th overall”, but I barely heard him. I fell into Michael’s arms, crying, overwhelmed. Not only did I beat my goal of sub-24, I smashed it. Barring anything super-crazy, I should make the list of top 100 female finishing times this year.
All those times I ran repeats and intervals until I tipped over or barfed… they were worth it.
All those times I wrecked myself on rough trail and willed myself to get back up and try again…. they were worth it.
All those times when my feet and legs we so swollen and cut up I couldn’t get shoes on or walk like a normal person… they were worth it.
There are no words for how good this feels.