When I was about 3-5miles from finishing loop two, I sent a message to the crew waiting back at Camp Remi that I had some blisters that I was going to have to take care of before going further. At that point, they weren’t bothering me too much but I knew I still had 20 miles to go and they were only going to get worse. The sun was now fully set and darkness was setting in as I arrived back at Camp Remi. Jade, Jodi and Chris were there waiting to help out with what they could.
Chris and Jodi refilled my water pack and water bottles while Jade helped me with my feet. Luckily, the blisters weren’t too bad, but with a little First Aid, they would hopefully not get worse. As I sat there going through my list of supplies I needed with Chris and Jodi, I began thinking about what this next loop would bring. This was going to be 19.5miles on trail that I’ve run over twice now, but this time, all of it would be in the dark. The warmth of the day had disappeared and it was getting chilly again. I had run out of dry long sleeves to wear and snuck one of Fred’s! Luckily, he is small guy! 😉 lol
Jade is an experienced ultra marathoner and I figured what better time to pick her brain than while she helped me with my feet. I asked her, ‘What should I expect out there? I know it isn’t going to be easy, but do you have any suggestions?’ She reminded me that it’s going to get darker and most likely colder. She suggested that I do what I can to keep moving and to keep my forward momentum, even if that meant slowing to a steady hike. Splitting the distance into landmarks, such as the aide stations, in case I start to feel tired or overwhelmed with the distance ahead of me. One of the last things she said to me was, ‘It’s going to be tough, it’s going to hurt, but just remember that the next time you are back here…you will be done! You will have done it!’ I began crying, hearing her say those words, it finally hit me that I was doing this, I was really doing this. I had already run over 11 hours and I’m getting ready to head out there for more. Luckily Jade knew what she was doing and immediately stopped me before I got myself worked up! lol 🙂 She just said, ‘Stop, don’t cry now. There will be plenty of time for crying when you get back here. I will let you cry to me as much as you want, once you are done!’ And with that, I was off on my third and final loop.
The first two or three miles back out there, all I could think was, ‘I’m doing this. I’m actually doing this.’ It really brought a wave of excitement to me and I felt as if I had a boost to keep plugging through it.
To briefly sidetrack, one of the main influences in me deciding to run the entire race was the chance to prove someone wrong. Who is that someone? That someone is myself. Simply put, I am my own worst enemy (as I’m sure many of you may have experience with that yourselves). For many years every success or achievement I have had, behind it laid a list of reasons as to why it could have been better or ways I should have tried harder. A lot of self-doubt hung around in my head. I have gotten ‘fed up’ with that side of myself and have made it my goal to kick those thoughts to the curb in anyway that I can. The more I thought and contemplated about running this race, the more I knew it was something I had to do. This was my chance to go out there, alone, in the dark, cold and tired for hours on end and prove to myself how tough I am, how strong I really am. Deep down, I knew I could conquer anything I put my mind to, but I just needed that one experience, that one showdown for that lightbulb to finally come on.
About seven miles into my last loop I made it to the first manned aide station. My exhaustion seemed to hit me like a ton of bricks. I walked up to the table and a very sweet volunteer looked at me and asked, ‘What can I get you honey?’. All I could do was stand and stare at him blankly, I seriously tried to form words but couldn’t. Finally, someone behind him yelled out, ‘Does anybody want a hug?!’. My voice came to me and I said, ‘Yes please!’. He came around the table to me and gave me a big bear hug and I whispered to him, ‘I’m so tired.’ He very enthusiastically reminded me that I was on my last loop and only had 14 more miles to go. He also pointed out that even if I “walked like an old lady at the mall” I would still make it to the finish before the cut off. Those words of encouragement gave me enough of a boost to get myself eating and drinking a few ‘shots’ of Mountain Dew. It was around 7:30pm Saturday night when I left that aide station.
The distance between the first manned aide station and the next felt like an eternity. In all actuality, it was somewhere between 7 and 8 miles. This particular section of trail had a couple long straight stretches of gravel road through the woods. Those parts were nice because you didn’t have to worry too much about your footing but not so nice because they seemed to never end. It was quite dark and hard to see too far ahead without the light from my head lamp. I tried not to focus on how tired I was but how good I felt for those first two loops and continued to remind myself that this was the end, not much longer, not much longer. After the long straight stretch came the section of the trail that followed closely along the Quantico Creek. It was also very narrow and rocky at times. Being so tired, I wasn’t picking my feet up as high off the ground and got caught up on the rocks and roots a few times. The pain in my ankles and feet was growing with each step and misstep I took.
To Be Continued…… 🙂