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).
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|
|Road trip! Jeremy, me, Kiara, Nichol and Tim|
Words and music by Malcolm Stilson, 1971
Go, Geoducks go,
Through the mud and the sand,
Siphon high, squirt it out,
swivel all about,
let it all hang out.
Go, Geoducks go,
Stretch your necks when the tide
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.
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|
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.
|team la chiva taking care of me|
|team la chiva sporting their hats|
|Coming into an aid station|
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|
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|
|Embrace from Miguel at the finish line|
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|