Cry Baby Double Beast

Beast of Burden Summer 100
I LOVE the Beast.  It is as much a reunion of friends, as it is a running event.  It is a four loop (25 miles each) course along the Erie canal.  It is pancake flat and there is NO protection from the environment.  As pretty as it looks, it is tough and unforgiving.  It scares the hell out of me. 

The first loop was fun.  I was battling some stomach issues, but I was able to stick to the race plan.  I started with my traditional cry.  I really don’t plan to do this, but I get myself so worked up during taper, that I’ve got a lot to let out once I can finally do what I do.  Jim and Marco know that once I say, “give me a minute”, that I’m going to take off and let loose.  I do my best mile splits during those times…

During the second loop, the wheels fell off.  First I didn’t make the bridge.  Uggh—up and over I go, which is REALLY painful after running 26 miles.  Things were good until about mile 35.  The nausea was back and I was worried about hyponatremia.  I got to the aid station and found Jim.  OH, THANK GOD!  We assumed our recovery position on the floor, feet up on a chair and laughed  hysterically.  I stayed in time-out until I could keep down some veggie broth.  I still wasn’t feeling well, but I could move.  Okay, back at it.

Finally, somewhere around mile 42, I decided to call it quits.  I started doubting my ability to do this at all.  I was really beating myself up, and trying to justify my choice.  Thank heavens the aid stations are so far apart.  First, you can’t just quit when the urge strikes you.  Secondly, it allows me to send a quick ‘hail Mary’ text to Jim:  “You in?”.  “Heck yea” was the immediate response.  It was all I needed.

When I run with my daughter, I often tell her not to listen to the voices screaming in her head, but to pay close attention to the little voice that whispers.  I stopped in my tracks and the whisper said, “suck it up, buttercup”.   I can’t tell you how many times I repeated that to myself until I finished that danged lap.  I put the wheels back on

The third lap is my favorite lap.  It is serene, except for the night critters.  The sky was star-filled. I could escape the heat of the day.  And,  there wasn’t a ripple to be found on the entire length of the canal.  It was beautiful.  The only thing that went wrong was that my iPod got fussy.  I compensated by listening to a comedy station on Pandora.  I’m still giggling over a raccoon story!

For the fourth and final lap, I did my very best to put my head down and get to work.  The nausea came and went throughout the race, and hit me hard when the sun was strong.   There is NO shade on this course, and I spent much time trying to balance dehydration/hyponatremia.  It’s what makes running in the heat so much harder than the cold.  I was buoyed by inspirational words, an unexpected physical jolt of energy at mile 83, and popsicles at the aid station.

With eight miles to go, Jim texted me.  “What do you need?”  “Cherry Coke”.  Within minutes he, Marco and Marco’s effervescent girlfriend Nikki were at my side with the best dang cherry Coke I have ever had.  I had to do the pirate ship slide before they would give it to me, but it, and they, were a godsend.

The course is on the Erie Canal, with bridges set about a mile apart.  Jim and Marco came up with a plan that they would alternate pacing me.  One would be with me, while the other drove the truck to the next bridge and then they would switch.  Nikki took on the role of cheerleader and I found myself looking forward to see what she would do next (BTW Marco---she is PERFECT for you!!!!)

It is of note, that both Jim and Marco were hurting.  Their races did not go as planned, but they still wanted to get me across that finish line.  I am so in awe of this act of friendship.  I mean it when I say I could not have done it without you.

Marco was with me at mile 98 when we looked across the canal, and I saw a bouncy little Asian kid holding a tough cookie sign.  OMG!  MY KIDS ARE HERE!!!  Bratty Noah yelled out, “run faster!”  

In true Marco form, he said, “That’s great!!!!  I’m so happy for you!!!!  Keep moving.  Don’t cry.”  I complied, but moved at the fastest pace my body would allow.   Jim went to go pick up Noah, but told me not to cry when I saw him, as we were not done yet.  We still had a mile to go.   We were also able to add my friend Andy to the herd as he completed his race.   With about 1/10 of a mile to go, Natalie and Mark appeared, with a frozen cherry berry cooler.  Oh, this is good!

I got to cross the finish line surrounded by those I love, and those who love me.  Immediately after crossing, I grabbed both Jim and Marco, and I cried (a little).  Gentlemen, you mean the world to me.  I’ll never be able to thank you enough.

Finally, I got the coveted “Double Buckle”.  I am one of only three women who could get it this year, and I am immensely proud of it. When I look at it, I don’t think of my efforts.  My thoughts go to all the friends who were there for me…. every step of the way.

Oh, and the chicken silo----we cool


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