Writing a race recap for 100 miles is difficult for obvious reasons…I have 100 miles worth of content which is exactly 23 hours and 17 minutes, 10 laps, a lot of water, rice, quesadillas, laughs, and straw to talk about in one post.
So how do you recap 100 miles in one post?
The reality is you probably can’t really write about it – at least not in a way that does it any justice – so instead of cramming 100 miles into one post I decided to focus my first post purely on the experience and nothing more. No detailed accounts of my nutrition, gear, or anything like that – I’m simply going to talk about running – one foot in front of the other. And if you don’t like it, I don’t care.
As many of you know, I had two previous 100 mile attempts. The first attempt was Pine to Palm in 2012 and the second was Born To Run 2013. I DNF’ed Pine to Palm at mile 76 and Born To Run at mile 80. Both DNFs were a result of dehydration, bad fueling practices and a stomach that just wouldn’t quit. It was both scary and gross – projectile vomit for days y’all.
Coming in to this year’s Born To Run, I had mixed feelings. When asked about my training, I’d reply, “well I’m not overtrained…” and then most likely start giggling. And while I wasn’t crushing it from a miles perspective, I did feel good about my base of fitness and the fact that I was coming to this race with far more experience. Deep down I knew my legs and my body in general could handle the miles, I just needed my stomach to get on the same page.
Race week crept up on me…
And before I knew it, Alyse and I were cramming our cowboy hats, hobby horses, Swedish Fish (all the important things).. jugs of water, coolers, tents and running gear into our borrowed white Buick Verano (thanks again Buick!).
We arrived at the campground in the late afternoon after a long (but enjoyable) drive down to Los Olivos; we had to make a record amount of pee stops along the way because I was on a hydration mission. We set up camp, explored the grounds and then waited for the rest of the troops to arrive. Andrew, who I will forever refer to as my Trail Angel was the first to find us. Andrew paced me during last year’s Born to Run attempt; after seeing all the pain, vomit and struggle I encountered the first time around he offered himself up to help me tackle the whole hundred from start to finish. We talked about our plan for the next day which mostly involved where we’d stand at the start line and how often he’d check in on my water intake.
Becky arrived shortly after and joined us for dinner — which was literally a bowl of rice for me — I was taking NO chances this year. No beans, no guac, no vegetables – just plain old rice, thanks. Shortly after Becky, Casey arrived and miraculously found our campsite in the pitch black.
And while the rest of the campground danced under the moonlight while drinking Fireball straight from the bottle, our crew was lights out. My tent was comfortable but despite my best efforts to get a LOT of sleep, I was mostly restless and awake. In fact, I woke up long before the official camp alarm clock went off – the 4:45 am blaring mariachi music and shotguns. I started to assemble my gear, got dressed and then woke up my crew. We had a bit of a frantic search for my hand bottle which I was determined to start the race with but eventually found it underneath a bunch of stuff in the car. I shoved some peanut butter toast, banana and a few pieces of my leftover Snickerdoodle in my mouth. Hungry or not, I was determined to eat early and often. Again, I was taking NO CHANCES this year.
We made our way over to the start line and the reality of what was about to happen started to set in. I parted with my warm blanket, hugged my crew and then the shotgun fired. Andrew and I started out in the back of the pack and set ourselves up for a conservative pace. My first ten miles were a HUGE change from the year prior. Instead of bolting past people on the first straight away, we hung back. And before we’d even completed a mile (only 99 to go!!), I was already drinking from my bottle. The first 10 miles were easy and beautiful; we enjoyed the crisp morning air and made our way back to the campground. We started taking S Caps early on and doing bottle checks to make sure I was drinking enough.
On our next loop, the harder of the two, we kept a pretty consistent pace and started talking about our plan for the heat that was sure to come. We decided that we’d slow it down a bit during the two hottest loops of the day – both by slowing our roll and by spending a little more time at aid stations and with our crew.
We got into a good rhythm during the first two laps and came in with an almost identical time. I knew the true test was still yet to come — would I still feel this good at mile 40? 60? 70?
Mile after mile, lap after lap, we settled into a comfortable pace and fueling strategy. The time and miles seemed to be flying by…the only way I could even tell that time was flying by was the position of the sun since I refused to look at the time during the majority of the course. When we came in through mile 40, I remember feeling strangely excited. I was in good spirits – even joking around with my crew as they slathered a sweater of sunscreen on my body and force fed me licorice (poor me). While trying not to fight off my crew and their sunscreen, I started to think hmmmm my legs aren’t trashed, my stomach isn’t trashed…everything is WORKING. Weird….
But I didn’t want to jinx it just yet. As the miles got hotter, I knew I’d have to be extra careful with my hydration and tried to keep my mind from wandering into a negative spiral. The hot loops we had anticipated were indeed hot. I kept the talking to a minimum so I could focus on breathing and hydrating. Every so often I’d comment that it felt like we were running through an oven. Every exposed ridge and every long, hot hill climb felt extra long but we just kept moving forward. And at every aid station, I iced myself down and filled my bottle with ice water. We took extra salt tabs and tried to keep each other’s spirits high. And it was weird because I found that the more I smiled, the easier it became to ignore the heat. The more I focused on forward progress, the less I even felt the fatigue in my body. As we neared the campground again, we discovered yet another treasure on the course…STRAW. There were literally mounds of straw (which probably used to be a hay bale) covering the ground for about a mile. And if you went ahead and ran through it, it felt like running on clouds. We sang songs to the straw and declared our love for it as we giddily tromped through it.
We kept placing one foot in front of the other and before I knew it we were coming in at mile 60. I saw the white car (my favorite landmark following the straw) and knew we’d pretty much completed another lap. I was still smiling and it wasn’t even dark out yet. I was still OK. Like really OK. I had survived the hottest laps, my stomach wasn’t doing gymnastics, and I was still smiling. I was even a little peppy. As we came in and found our crew, I finally decided to say something..it went something like this, holy shit you guys, I think I’m going to finish this thing! 100 miles is about to be my bitch.
Since it still wasn’t dark out, we packed my bag with extra layers, gloves and my lights and then we set out. As the sun went down, I felt something like a second wind pass through me. I felt like talking, joking and even picking up the pace a little bit. We were cruising along and having…fun? Was that even possible? The first sundown miles seemed to end in a flash.
As we came into mile 70, I opted for a slight outfit change: my calf sleeves (after a battle trying to get them over my bloated, fat feet), a new sports bra and shirt and a long sleeve. I kept the shorts on and stowed the other layers in my pack because it was still really nice out despite the darkness.
Miles 70-80 were amazing. One of my best friends and funniest people I know, Jackie had just arrived and was ready to run. She settled into our pace (and our mood) easily. She even got as excited as we were about the upcoming quesadilla aid station and then the mac n cheese aid station after that. When we were coming up to the quesadilla aid station, Jackie told us one of my new personal favorite jokes (thanks Jackie!):
What do you call a bear with no teeth? –>>>> a Gummy Bear! HILARIOUS.
We were laughing like crazies and saw a headlamp was running towards us. It was an aid station volunteer coming to take our quesadilla orders. How cool is that? SERIOUSLY. At first I thought maybe I was hallucinating…only it was real…really really real… and we were all pumped. Quesadillas were only a few yards away. It’s the little things….
We pulled into mile 80 and I knew it was on. I was really, seriously going to finish. We grabbed Casey who was pacing us from 80-100 and set back off into the night. We got Casey up to speed on jokes, straw, quesadillas, and everything in between. During this loop, I literally felt like we were floating through the night. I couldn’t really feel my legs anymore but I also didn’t really care…as long as they were still propelling me forward. The air was crisp but not freezing, the moon was right above us (and so gorgeous!) and we could hear frogs and coyotes talking to each other somewhere in the distance. When someone stopped for a pee break, I was shining my lights around and had yet another test of real or ultra hallucination. I saw three sets of green eyes up ahead. Were there cows on the trail? Was my mind playing tricks? I waited for Casey and Andrew to reappear to confirm if the eyes were real (thankfully they confirmed). And as we got closer and closer, we noticed the bodies weren’t at all cow bodies…but three wild horses. It was like a scene out of Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle – three horses, three runners – I was pretty sure they were ready to gallop us over the finish line. Neiiiiggghhhh.
Shortly after our wild horse encounter, I almost stepped on a big bull frog. I swear he ribbitted at me. Again, I sought confirmation and again I received it – real, not hallucination . When I saw the big kitty cat on the trail and the dinosaur below the ridge, Casey and Andrew assured me that those were most certainly hallucinations. Towards the end of that loop, as we galloped into OUR STRAW, I was overcome with emotion. We would only go through that straw one more time. Because we only had ONE MORE LOOP. 10 more miles. That was all. I was ecstatic, emotional and driven by the thought of the finish line.
We came in to mile 90 and I almost couldn’t believe it. Hey guys, this is the FARTHEST I’ve EVER RUN. EVER. (I may have said that about a gazillion times). Jackie and Casey were both running with us for our final lap. And after not knowing what time it was all day long – from practically the first mile to the 90th – Andrew finally told me. He said it was 2:50 am meaning that we had 3 hours and 10 minutes to finish under 24 hours. He asked me if I wanted to try and push that last loop so we could make it in under 24 and then some. And of course, I said hell yeah. Our pacers geared up for a slightly quicker pace and we set off.
We said goodbye to all of our landmarks – Goodbye (and f* you) Skeleton Hill, Goodbye Funky Tree, Goodbye (and we love you) Quesadillas, Goodbye Stupid Hard Downhill…I spent most of that final 10 miles saying goodbye and listening to Jackie & Casey talking…focused on one foot in front of the other. Soon, we were saying goodbye to the straw….and then to the white car….and then we were crossing the finish. 23 hours 17 minutes. HOLY SHIT. An aid station volunteer saw us all hugging, laughing and cheering and asked us if we had just won a trip to Disneyland…hahha… I guess we were SUPER EXCITED… and then offered us some grub. I took a few handfuls of salty snacks and said, actually I just want a chair. We walked back to the campground and I found myself a chair, a blanket and Casey and my brother helped me get my calf sleeves off (which took what felt like an hour). Sitting was pure bliss. Taking off my shoes was even more amazing (and smelly). Pretty soon I was waking up in a hotel room with thoughts of an epic brunch on my mind. And epic brunch we did. Race results: http://livensr.com/btr14/results.100m.php (10th place overall – woop woop!). THANK YOU. HUGE THANK YOU to Andrew, my Trail Angel. I learned so much from you out on the course that day — and feel so lucky to have a friend like you! THANK YOU to my amazing pacers – Jackie and Casey – I have the best friends in the world (and best fiance). And of course to my faithful and amazing crew – Alyse, Becky, Justin, Miya, Mom, Allyson, Ted, & Connie – y’all made my day being out there.