Never Alone...

So…I freak out the night before 100 milers.   Seriously.  Freak.  Out.  I wander out of conversations mid-sentence.  I sweat the small stuff.  I introvert.  I can’t sleep.

Roger usually takes the lion share of my absurdity.  The poor man has earned his spot in heaven, simply for dealing with me before races.  It started innocently enough when he texted, “you in taper mode?” and I spiraled down from there. 

My final message was, “Rog, why don’t these (100’s) get easier?”

His reply:  “Easier?  I don’t think a 100-miles will ever be easier, even when you drive it”. 

I had three goals for this race:

1.     It has a challenging hill at mile 99.  I've named it 'Monster'.   I needed to know that I could handle that type of technical climb so late in a race, because Oil Creek offers it’s version called ‘The Hill of Truth’.  I’ve only climbed it once, on a training run.   It left me doubled over…sucking air.  

2.     I wanted to set a personal record time.  I was on pace to do so at the Winter Beast of Burden and Mother Nature decided to throw a wind storm at me.  Score another one for Mother Nature.

3.     I wanted to run without the safety net of friends and family.  I wanted to test my mental toughness, by surviving one of these long races, simply on my own two feet.

The course was the C+O Canal, somewhere in Maryland.  It was a two-loop course, with the first loop being 58 miles and the second 42.  It rained pretty hard the day before, so there was lots of mud to be found, especially on Monster, which I had to descend in the first mile.

So, first mile….splat.  I butt wedgied, when I was exactly 57 miles from clean clothes.  Awesome. 

The rest of the course is flat and runnable.  The scenery was gorgeous.  There were beautiful blue flowers and purple/pink trees in full bloom.  I could see water that would alternate between calm and serene and rough with rapids.  I longed to kayak it, and I’m putting that on my list of things to do.

The trail was almost completely isolated from civilization.  I could see a few houses, here and there, on the other side of the canal, and other than the occasional train, I didn’t see any motorized transportation.  I was simply in a beautiful world of runners, hikers, walkers and cyclists.  Ahhhhh……heaven!

My running was steady and on pace with the race plan that I spent too long obsessing about.  I hit lows, but was able to accommodate with nutrition, gear, and/or stubbornness.  I drew huge motivation when I hit a 50-mile pr.  I was truly proud of myself.

I do carry my phone when I run, as I am often alone.   I always keep in mind that I am a woman running on a trail that although quite, peaceful and docile is open to the general public.   Better safe than sorry.

I would occasionally check it and the text messages that I received really buoyed my performance, filled my heart, and made me smile.   Here are a few:

Go get it Tough Cookie

I’m thinking about you

Be great today

Run fast!!

You are doing great!! Keep it up!

Rog, I did it.  I set a PR.  I want a cupcake
               A PR deserves a dozen cupcakes

Mom, when are you coming home? I hungry

Relentless Forward Progress!  B Strong Eva!  Proud of you!!!

Are you singing yet?

B’s win 4-2!!

You really pushed yourself on this one…So proud!!

Love you too

So, in the end.  Yes, I powered up Monster.  I set 50-mile, 75-mile and 100-mile personal records, and even scored a top 10 Women’s finish.  But no, I did not complete the race on my own.  I had lots of loved ones who let me know they were with me, supporting me, thinking of me…every step of the way.

Thank you….you made it easier.

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