Wednesday, June 10, 2015

SD100: Running, Cartwheels, and a Tiny Purple Pocket Penis

      I have never written a race report.  But I just ran 100 miles and would like to take some time to reflect, so here it goes. DISCLAIMER: THIS IS LONG AND I UNDERSTAND IF YOU SKIM THROUGH IT, ONLY LOOKING AT THE PHOTOS. 

     The first thing I must say is I could not have done this race without Team La Chiva, my amazing, incredible best ever crew: Ben Nichols (el capitan), Nichol Tran (la madre), Jon Schaller (el asesino), Wendy Jameson (la reina) and the love of my life Miguel Moreno (el chivo).

     A little over a year ago, a friend and I got the idea that we should run 100 miles. We ran our first Aravaipa night race together, our first 50k together, even crossed the finish line holding hands at our first Crown King 50k attempt.  I probably would never have gotten this crazy idea to run 100 miles if it weren't for Nadine.  We'll come back to this amazing chica later on. We chose SD 100- pretty sure Jamil Coury recommended this one.  Good first hundred, he said. Easy Jamil, right?

     Race week.  I don't think I really realized what I was getting into until I met up with Bret Sarquist for a beer at Mother Bunch Brewing. Bret had been advising me throughout my training.  Thank god beer was involved in this conversation.  Great suggestions all around, but his words that kept echoing in my head during the race were "When it get it gets bad, smile."  I felt like an idiot doing it, as Bret said I would, but it really worked.

     Crew meeting Tuesday Night.  I started with 3, then this grew to 5.  I am amazed that these people wanted to give their time and energy to help me to run 100 miles.  The least I could do was make a pie, and of course Coki provided fresh tortillas. We went over the course, logistics, food, and I tried not to freak out (a failed).  Team La Chiva was already impressing me with their dedication.

Team La Chiva hard at work
Miguel showed off his laminating skills with my course flip book

     The Thursday night before the race I packed up and went to Miguel's to try and have a stress free evening. I hung out with Ricky and Lailani, Miguel's kids, and also had the privilege of sharing a meal with Arnulfo Quimare.  He has become a frequent guest at Miguel's home and it is amazing to sit down with him and realize he is just like you and I, aside from his superhuman running and Tarahumara get-up.

Arnulfo, Mario, Lailani, Miguel and I having a last minute race meeting
      Friday morning we were on the road.  Tim Hackett drove while Jeremy, Nichol and I consumed as many donuts as possible.  It was National Donut Day, so this was mandatory.  Somehow the conversation turned to college mascots, and Jeremy's favorite, the Evergreen College Geoduck Gooey Duck).  I have never heard of this completely phallic creature.  Jeremy's team name because team geoduck, obviously.  For those of you who have yet to see this, here is a visual.
Road trip! Jeremy, me, Kiara, Nichol and Tim
The Geoduck
     The Geoduck Fight song wold be Jeremy's race mantra:

Words and music by Malcolm Stilson, 1971

Go, Geoducks go,
Through the mud and the sand,
let’s go.
Siphon high, squirt it out,
swivel all about,
let it all hang out.

Go, Geoducks go,
Stretch your necks when the tide
is low
Siphon high, squirt it out,
swivel all about,

let it all hang out

          When we arrived to Julian Race Headquarters overlooking Lake Cuyamaca, we picked up our packets and ran into some Arizona friends, including Erin and Rich McKnight.  Beautiful location for the race start, and for a pyramid.
     Next, pie in Julian, and out to the house that team Arizona rented, thanks to the help of Tim and Ben.  Race briefing, followed by beer with Jamil and Sabrina at the local brewery, Nickel Brewing. Great stout. Jamil ran the race last year, and thanks to him we all knew not to miss that out and back to the aid station at Todd's cabin.  Jamil unfortunately missed this last year, added on some miles, and amazingly still managed to catch up and pull second place. While enjoying our beers, I decided it was a good time to pull something out of my purse that I like to take out from time to time.  A tiny purple penis pencil topper I must have acquired at a bachelorette party long ago.  It recently resurfaced, unfortunately, when I was painting with Miguel's 8-year-old daughter and found it among my watercolors.  Whoops.  Anyway this wonderful item ended up at the bottom of Jeremy's glass, and a new race plan surfaced.  I believe it was Jamil's idea- I should carry this with me during the race and perhaps ask aid station volunteers to hold it for me while I attended to my other needs. We will revisit this later.

      Afterwards back at the house, most of us were relaxing and enjoying another brew.  I, on the other hand, was running around like a maniac, preparing coffee for the morning, briefing Nichol on every cold weather outfit I would have available for the following evening, and making every kind of checklist I could. Panic arose when I was unable to contact two of my crew members, Ben and Miguel.  But everything worked out and I knocked out as soon as the Benadryl kicked in.

      Race morning.  Began my routine- salsa music, coffee, braid hair, eat oatmeal with banana, fill pack.  I ran around while Jeremy calmly consumed his pre-race donut. I reminded him he would most likely end up miserable and crying during the race due to his lack of appropriate cold weather clothing and poor race day nutrition.  As we drove to the start, I wondered if Miguel made it.  More panic.  I should probably start taking Xanax before races. 

      Made it to the starting line, where Miguel was helping out the volunteers.  Sorry for doubting you.  This was it.  FINALLY WE WERE RUNNING.  As soon as my feet start moving in a race, all of the anxiety always disappears.  Now all I needed to do was run, so simple.  Listening to the calming sound of soles hitting soil and rock, I relaxed into an easy pace.  I knew I had to hold back for the first 50.  My plan was to stick with Tim Hackett, my 2nd dad and one of the most consistent runners I know.  Our splits were supposed to be about the same.  He took off.  Oh well, my race.  I moved along slowly, enjoying running amongst trees and wild flowers rather than the cacti I was used to.  I met up with Neil Barnsdale early on, who I had run with a few weeks prior at Born to Run, and chatted about what was to come.
Running with Neil
      To my horror, after a long and rocky downhill section around mile 7 or 8, I could already feel a blister forming on my toe. I tried to calm myself out of going into a complete frenzy. I never get blisters!  And we had barely gone 10 miles.  I stopped and tried taping.  I tried not to dwell on this tiny issue.  But seriously, who gets a blister less than 10 miles into100 miler?  My spirits lifted some when I left one aid station and did my first cartwheel.  I always wonder if expending the energy to do these costs me minutes in my race, but I do believe its worth it.

      When I got to Sunrise 1, mile 23.3, I met my crew.  Team La Chiva donned their team hats, complete with flying goat pinned to the sides.  Nichol was ready with sunscreen and snacks. Miguel and Ben promptly removed my shoes, cleaned my feet, taped, and I was off.  I may have reprimanded my crew just a LITTLE for not having the checklist I had made them out.  I also told them they had full permission to slap me in the face if I was being a bitch. I should mention that Jamil Coury had his camera out recording all of the drama ensuing.  I went off on my merry way feeling great, almost entirely due to seeing my awesome amazing best crew ever ever. The next stretch wound around the side of the mountain, with astounding views in every direction. Before reaching the next aid station, I ran into Jamil and Sabrina staked out with their cameras. Another cartwheel, and as I was running off the tiny purple pocket penis made its first debut as I explained to the camera man my plans for the little guy.

La Chiva
team la chiva taking care of me

team la chiva sporting their hats
      My crew was at the next aid station, Pioneer Mail 1, as well. My favorite moment here must have been when Ben hand fed me a chocolate frosted donut, which ended up dribbling down my face.  Like a true crew member, he cleaned my face up as if I was a toddler, and again I was out in about 5 minutes, still feeling great.  Everyone I consulted about running 100s had told me I would have highs and lows, and at this point I was grateful I had felt awesome during pretty much all of my first 30 miles.  I knew everybody was way ahead of me, but I also knew I was running my own race, and being smart.   Maybe I took it too easy, but I did make it to mile 50 feeling pretty outstanding. 
Coming into an aid station
        In the next section between Pioneer Mail and Red Tail Roost there was a significant climb.  I made a quick stop at Penny Pines where the aid station volunteers warned of the climb which would be very hot and exposed.  I refilled only my perpetuem bottle, as I knew my pack had just been filled 4 miles ago.   It was hot, but I was ready for it after some training runs mid day in the Phoeix desert heat.  In this section I kept up my positive attitude with my own musical talent: mostly Disney songs, show tunes, and James Taylor.
           I met some great folks as well.  An older woman named Amy who was a seasoned veteran at these things.  Edgar, who had been a doctor in Guerrero, Mexico, but moved to San Diego where he became a nurse.  He shared that his son, who would be pacing him later on, had just won the San Diego Rock'n Roll marathon.  To my dismay, as I was finishing up my conversation with Edgar I realized my bladder was empty.  I was perplexed.  My other bottle was still about half full, but I had 3 or so miles to go, it was hot, and I assumed the climb would only be getting worse.  As I kept moving rather quickly due to my panic, I realized the trail was flattening out and I only had about 2 miles to go.  I would survive.  At this point I came upon Alan, who was at a low point in his race.  This was also his first 100.  I was feeling great so we chatted about our race history and I kept him moving.  He also had the honor of becoming the first recipient of the tiny purple pocket penis.  He carried it for me to the next aid station, where I excitedly shared with my crew that I had finally released this treasure.

Alan and I with tiny purple
pocket penis
         I was getting close to mile 50, which I had hoped to reach before 12 hours. I had been running for almost exactly 12 hours when I hit 50 miles. The sun was beginning to descend, as was the trail, and going down I started to feel my toes jamming into the front of my Newtons.  These were supposed to be my go to shoes, but my feet were sliding around.  I tightened my laces, which helped a little. The light shining through the trees here was stunning and I tried to focus on the beauty around me. My morale started to wane, really for the first time.  I got into the next aid station and for the first time had a hard time smiling, I felt my voice start to crack. I changed into my Solomons, which I hadn't really trained in much, but were my last resort. It was time for a clothing change, since the sun was starting to go down.  I realized I would not be seeing my crew again until mile 72, and despite the fact that I would be picking up my first pacer, Ben, at the next aid station, I felt a little despondent.

        I took off again and about a minute out I went to take a swig of my perpetuem and realized someone had filled it with tailwind thinking it was water and then added my perpetuem powder.  Please never try this concoction. This was really not a big deal, but in my state it almost brought tears to my eyes.  Fortunately I quickly linked up with another runner, Christina I believe, and with conversation my mood improved.  Turned out she was from Flagstaff and remembered me as the runner who was one place ahead of her at this year's Crown King 50k.  We talked about a lot of the people we both knew, the fact that we were both doing our first 100, and then picked up a few more ladies.  I felt great again, and for the 2nd time my friend the tiny purple pocket penis escaped from my s-cap pocket and was introduced to my new friend.  One runner kissed it for luck.

        At the next aid station I picked up Ben and felt better.  I gave him shit once I realized he was responsible for the tailwind/perpetuem debacle, but its hard to get mad at this guy.  We took off on a long descent as the sun went down.  I was nervous for the night, which I assumed would bring an insufferable cold.  I was prepared with several layers- jackets, hats, socks, leggings- that my crew had ready.  Ben and I had a little therapy session and focused on picking other runners off- one thing I'm embarrassed to say really motivates me.  The rocky downhills were taking their toll on me, and I worried about my knees and quads slowing me down.  Bret's words came into my head "Smile," and I forced myself into a grin that did help me stay positive.

          We had a big climb coming at mile 64.1, so I took out my tunes for motivation.  Poor Ben had to listen to me singing while gasping for air.  We had a solid hiking pace for a while, and were flip flopping with Erin and Rich McKnight for most of the stretch.  Around this time I also passed the tiny purple pocket penis to Ben, a gift thanking him for pacing me.

           Ben got me moving faster again when we decided we needed to catch the McKnights before the next aid station.  I love these guys, but catching them became my goal and I was able to coax my legs into keeping up with Ben's pace. We were really moving again.  We caught them just before the aid station, and suddenly it seemed very important that we leave the aid station before them.  Miguel and Nichol were there to feed and encourage me. Miguel would take over the pacing from here.  It was pretty warm, so I decided to take off a layer, and  Miguel was heading out in shorts and a t-shirt.  At this point I was having a really hard time holding food down as well, I thank my pacers for force feeding me.

         Miguel and I got out of the aid station before the McKnights, and I was ready for Miguel to push me for the last 20 miles.  A couple minutes into this stretch, which would be from mile 79.4 to 88, Miguel stopped and waited for me for a moment.  As I approached him, he took one of his full water bottles and splashed freezing cold water in my face.  I guess this tactic worked, because it got me pissed off and moving at a decent pace.  Dick.  This would be interesting.  I knew he was my pacer now, not my boyfriend. But then we held hands and ran for a while.  Hmmm. He kept me moving for a couple miles, then we slowed down and he said he was giving me a break.  I did not appreciate this.  I was in a nice groove, I wanted to keep moving, and I wanted to tag the McKnights again.  We continued walking.  I asked him what his strategy was.  He said he had consulted James Bonnet on this and I should trust him.  Wasn't the last 20 miles the time to start really racing?  I knew I was far from meeting my 24 or 26 hour goal at this point, but I still wanted to push.

          Then it got cold.  Really fucking cold.  I was cursing Miguel and Nichol for letting me take my layers off.  In my head, it was not my fault.  Looking back, I see it was just as much my responsibility as it was theirs.  Mostly I took all of my misery out on Miguel.  I told him I would probably die of hypothermia.  At one point he let me warm my hands on his belly.  Other than this I got very little sympathy.  Little did I know he was freezing his ass off.  He didn't complain, he tried to convince me it was all in my head.  I said no, its fucking freezing out and my body is cold.  I don't know how long this all went on, it must have been at least 4 or 5 miles, but it was definitely my low point in the race.  Miguel kept me moving, and for that I am grateful.

           When we got to the next aid station, Chambers, I was a mess.  Nichol was there with a blanket, and as she enveloped me in it and her arms, I fell apart.  First and only tears until the finish.  We found a heater, I had some pancakes, and things got better. 12 more miles, that was it.  This was the time to really move.  As we had come into the aid station, I was surprised to see Rich and Erin leaving.  We weren't that far behind.

            There would be two more climbs before the finish.  At this point I was dreading the downhills more than the climbs.  Miguel and I took off at a good pace, though I'm pretty sure I was still pissed at him.  We slowed down.  I had trouble staying motivated.  Miguel went ahead, trying to pull me as much as he could.  I wasn't keeping up.  We caught up to the McKnights, and I lost all desire to pass them.  We hiked with them, talking about how we were ready for this to be over.  We joked.  I was having fun again, and this was what I needed.  I could tell Miguel was frustrated.  He was trying to do his job, I wasn't moving. 

            As we went into the final aid station, I got another water bottle in the face from Miguel.  The volunteers at the aid station seemed both shocked and entertained.  We were in and out fast, but as we were leaving I made sure to get Miguel back, which I believe the aid station volunteers enjoyed even more.
             The last  7.1 miles were both challenging and entertaining.  Miguel tried again to keep me moving, and I still was lacking my drive.  We hung with the McKnights, and Miguel must have given up on his pacing tactics and resorted to something else.  He pulled down his pants.  I was actually not surprised to see his bare ass running it front of me, as this is something he does on a pretty regular basis, but when I said "Go show Rich," and he sprinted ahead to pass by the McKnights, there may have  been some real damage done.  Next, after commenting how beautiful the grass and flowers in the field we were running along were, he jumped into them.  Flat on his back.  It was at this point that Erin realized what I deal with daily.  Last, as he was running ahead of my I heard a rustle in the bushes and Miguel had disappeared.  I had an idea what had happened, but when he popped out of the bushes Erin just about died.  Literally.  We pondered how unfortunate it would have been if she had actually had a heart attack due to Miguel's shenanigans and we had to carry her to the finish line. That guy.
Erin and I post race

             Last 2 miles.  At the top of the hill, we were with Rick and Erin.  Nature called so they went ahead, then Miguel and I continued a few minutes behind.  I was sure I wouldn't be able to run down the rocky trail.  We got moving, and Miguel started pushing.  He was behind me, his words trailing me, "This is it, this is everything you worked for.  This is what you love."  His words kept me moving, and the pain went away.  Soon I was flying (or felt like I was flying) down the trail, dodging rocks (Miguel :"The rocks are your friends, trust your eyes and your feet.")  Everything was hitting me, I had to keep it together, just to the finish line.  I felt so strong, I couldn't believe it was almost over.  As the finish line became visible, I realized it was over.  It always amazes me how you can dig deep inside when you think you have nothing left.  You see the end and every ounce of energy you have left propels you faster than you can imagine your body can handle after all you have put it through.
The finish: 27:50:48
              At the finish line I was greeted with a hug from race director Scotty Mills.  It's heart warming that he gives every single finisher a hug.  I'm sure its very smelly too.  I lost it, but I think my tears were hidden as I hugged and congratulated Erin (seconds ahead of me).  My crew and friends were all there.  I didn't think it'd be possible, but I managed a strong cartwheel.  I had made a point of not asking how everyone else was doing while I was running.  I didn't want to worry, I didn't want to compare myself to anyone else.  But I was delighted to hear that Jeremy killed it with a time of 22:57:55. Tim came WICKED close to his goal at 26:15:53.  And remember that gal that helped me come up with this crazy idea of running 100 miles: 1st place female for her first 100 miler.  Incredible. 

Embrace from Miguel at the finish line
        And that was it.  Done. Honestly, not as bad as I thought it would be. Had a couple sips of beer and almost passed out.  I have never been so tired and emotionally drained. I have to finish again by giving thanks to my crew... I just hope I can convince them to come along for the next one.

         Big congratulations to all of those who ran, whether finishers or not.  We did this together, and everybody kicked ass.
Post race carnage- Tim Hackett, Tyler and Chris Clemens, me

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