Big Fat Deal

Fat Dog 120. Some of you know it as a tough 120 Mile Endurance (Ultra) Run through the insanely beautiful mountains of Manning Park, British Columbia. It nails the elevation gain of Mount Everest and is quickly gaining notoriety for being insidiously difficult. August 12 – 14, 2016 – one month ago – we got’r done. This is my story, my tale of this trail.  Like childbirth, the details and discomfort are fading quickly from memory, leaving bare the emotions of the event.

I have to warn you, the path from planning to finish line were not straight. There was an injury (or two), there was drama, there is a long prologue. If you are only interested in my take on the actual event, please skip forward to “Back to Fat Dog…” several paragraphs below 😉

flower-field

OK – the preamble: Last fall, 2015, still riding the high of my first 100 Miler experience at Cascade Crest in Washington State,  Coaches Gary Robbins and Eric Carter, of Ridgeline Athletics, helped hatch the plan for the year. It would include downhill skiing at Whistler (hell, yeah!) and three events before the ultimate goal (A race) of Fat Dog: (1.) the Boston Marathon (girlfriend weekend, April 2016), (2.) Sun Mountain 100 K (to get back on the trails and increase endurance, May 2016), and (3.) the Edge-to-Edge Marathon in Ucluelet (C race and an excuse to go on a weeklong family holiday in Tofino, June 2016;).

Boston was kind of the wild card:  I had run it before and wasn’t a fan. The crowds and the heat (92 F) pulverized me and besides, I prefer the trails and trees. But my friend wanted to give the iconic event a try. What the hell, the speed training would  be good for me as you, sure as hell, don’t speed up after 50. Coaches were absolutely on board – hell yeah! – we can help make you one of the fastest lil’ol ladies on the planet (or so, that’s how I read it). The plan included a little more speed work than I was used to in the past. I lapped it all up, put my nose to the grindstone, and was absolutely amazed by the speed (and endurance) that came out of it. Yes…I was getting excited…

You know what they say about the best laid plans:

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Yep. April 2, 2016: Two weeks out from Boston – 1.5 hrs into my last long progression run before the taper – my right foot exploded. 4th metatarsal stress fracture. Not a single warning sign. Just Wham! Hit the bottom of the hill from UBC to the beach and – an axe through my foot. Unravelling the What? Why? it appears that I was quite the idiot for training exclusively on pavement. Prior to that, my feet had become used to ski boots and softish trails. I thought I would toughen them up for that concrete jungle we call Boston (you know what they say about training “specificity”). Coaches had recommended (unbeknownst to me, the reason)  tracks (oops, they are padded) and assumed I would be on trails  part of the time (I live in Whistler and Vancouver). It all knuckled down to a gentle, “Vic, even the elites stay off concrete whenever they can.” Hard lesson learned.

So, I lost those three races, including the girlfriend weekend, flights, accommodations, and race entries. Fat Dog was, at best, now a big question mark.

The next 11 weeks were a flurry of X-rays, Docs (sport and foot), and careful planning by Coaches to keep some endurance up. Aqua jogging interval training, walking with soft cast followed by hard soled hiking boots/shoes/cycling shoes, and a strength training plan (accommodations for bum foot) by Lewis Morrison of Peak Centre. They tried to get me on a stationary bike, but after an hour (or three) of staring at the walls, TV, magazines, my phone, I was in the “kill-me-now-and-why-the-hell-would-anyone-voluntarily-sign-for indoor-cycling/spin-classes” (Hah! Triathletes of course). So, we ditched the bike.

The sport doc recommended the Exogen, a bone healing system which was a little off the grid. I would heal, but the Exogen may help heal faster and better. He had seen super results with his Olympic athletes and one of my Coaches had used it for a “similar” fracture, so we gave it a go. I found a used one for $500 bucks, in pristine shape, from a female athlete who turned out to be a wealth of info and giggles. Hell of a bargain considering she purchased it for $4,000 and some change.

 Well, I’m sure by now you’ve heard the saying: life is 90% mental and 10% in your head. Yeah, well, in athletics (especially endurance athletics) it’s really the case. You can train your body to the best of “it’s” ability, but your head can really make or break you. Your body and your brain have important feedbacks. Keeps sport psychologists in business.

Studies have shown we also have a limited capacity (imagine water in a bucket) to cope under stress. Work/life stresses can start to fill our brain bucket so the mental reserves/coping begins to get squeezed out. Our physical bodies feedback to our brain and our brain back again. Simple, right?

Although most were unaware, my small bucket was filling rapidly: the last year (hell – the last 5 years) had delivered some significant blows (drops in the bucket): (1.) my cancer diagnosis August 31, 2011, (2.) my precious brother’s illness and death August 31, 2013, (3.) my beautiful, brave mother’s stage 4 cancer diagnosis in January 2015 (4.) followed by her death November 2015, (5.) recent major career decisions/changes, (6.) 16 year old daughter who has discovered the wild side (oh Lord…help us now).

Grief upon grief. Worry upon responsibility. All this while real daily life was swirling. To say I had began to feel jumpy when my cell rang, or that there were days that felt like I was moving through sludge would not be an overstatement. Middle Age Madness. I was not coping well.

So, there I was. Friggin’ broken foot. I know: too bad, so sad and get over it (TTFU would also apply). That’s true. And it’s not like I was broken and stuck in the backcountry orthat a tiger was chasing me. Hardly life threatening. No one was holding a gun to my head. I do count my blessings and the list is ridiculously and embarrassing long. There are far more serious issues in the world. People experience loss all the time (divorce, death, bankrupcy), betrayal, abuse, war, natural disasters… I should’ve coped just fine.

What I was actually getting to (in a long winded sort of way) is that I had, albeit temporarily, lost my cure, my drug, and maybe even my fix. What coping I did, was aided by running. From the first step, my breathing falls into line and, with it, my thoughts. The hypnotizing sound of your own footsteps, warm embrace of trees, soft sounds of nature (well, maybe not so much in the City) all act as a beautiful form of meditation. The long distances, intervals, and running with a pack give me the rush and pure sense of well-being (runner’s high) that I believe we were all made for. It would not be much of a stretch to say that an athlete, without their adrenaline fixes, their highs and lows, suffers mentally and physically. Hmmmm…sounds a bit like addiction, eh? Like I said, my fix was being threatened.

It was a long 11 weeks. No excuse: I had lots of support and the coaches kept me busy. The aqua jogging intervals helped keep the endurance up but, more importantly, gave me some semblance of an adrenaline rush and tired me out (in a good way). Gary repeatedly stepped into the shoes of a shrink. Both coaches, Gary and Eric, each in their own way, made sure I kept my expectations real: “Let’s get you this“,  tempered with, “we gave you a 1% chance of starting, and a .5% chance of finishing”. The walks got me outside in the fresh air. I used the Exogen two – sometimes three – times a day. Followed recommendations to a T: bumped up calories and protein, figured out how to get more sleep in. Even though my foot started to feel better at about 7 weeks…neither Coaches nor Docs would budge to let me cheat.

Fast forward 11 weeks to June 20, blessed June 20, 2016: the Docs gave me the go-ahead to start training. “Stop when it hurts”.  Yay! After a figurative high-five and champagne (over the phone), the Coaches hatched a plan to get me to FD with – hold your breath – 6 weeks training. This, after no real trail running since November 2015. I’m sure Gary and Eric’s stress buckets were overflowing half way through coaching me through this. And – you will notice this as a repeated theme – I will never be able to thank them enough.

So, from week one (16 hours of hiking “real” terrain with some actual elevation gain, and including a SQ50 O-run plus a pool session and a couple of strength sessions) through week 6 (which cumulated in a 4 hour trail run on Saturday followed by a 61.5 k “Double Rubble and then some” on the Sunday), we had done all we could.

During those 6 weeks (in particular the first two weeks) my joints, ligaments, and muscles from the knee down would have to learn to work with each other again. There was discomfort. There was lots of talk about  how lousy endurance runners are at interpreting discomfort/pain. I was second guessing the niggles and owies – a lot. Amazingly, endurance was not an issue. That aqua jogging did the trick. What was the issue…was what was in my head. I had lost so much confidence. I trust in my training and usually this acts as a powerful ally. What I could not trust in (actually, no one could), is that my foot would hold up…or that I would be able to pull the actual 120 miles off with so little training.

I had worked hard. Rehabbing and healing is hard, hard work. But I had not been able to put in the miles nor the intensity my teammates did, the miles that give me confidence. It was this that was the main complicating factor. I was glad it was taper time. I was tired.

Now that it looked like it was going to actually happen, and now that the sharp 11 day taper had arrived…

Back to Fat Dog…

Planning for a “100” is like taking on a small military operation. I’m pretty sure most us (ultra-nerds) take over a room (or at least a large table 😉 with our lists, sticky notes and cue cards, mandatory racer (and pacer) gear, nutrition stuff, drop bags, etc. Planning is critical. Visualizing just as important: I could see myself at the end, but was having trouble with the stuff in between. I focused on trying to align drop bags and Crew with a wide range of times, thinking about the start and that big hill, remembering the hurt and the bliss of Cascade Crest. I hyper focused, overpacked, over prepared. Had no idea how I would handle the sleep deprivation – after all, this event would take me over two (not just one, like my 28 hour Cascade Crest) nights. I was very uncertain how my foot would hold up – heck how my body would hold up – with so little time to train. But, it was my choice. Time to stand up and git’r done.

Some pacer drama ensued. This one I can laugh at. Another prime example of, “shit happens”. OK, first of all I “gave” my now friend, (and CC Pacer from last year), M, up to a team mate, way back when I broke my foot. Why hold such an amazing talent back with so many uncertainties whirling around me? So, when it looked like I was going to run the FD after all…I was scrambling. Folks were either booked into their own races, or had pacing gigs already. Two amazing women in my life tried to help: My “Boston” friend, made a gallant attempt, but that didn’t pan out. I searched, and begged/bribed and turned over every lead I could. My wonderful sister-in-law, Wendy, offered to step up for Leg 6, but one week before the event, she was riding Khyber Pass and….

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Ow! Oh, Wendy ;(  Clearly  I had  “pacer curse”. And it sucked up a disportionate amount of my now limited mental reserve. I was really intimidated to take on the two nights alone. But it looked like I had two choices: drop out OR suck it up buttercup. Gary helped me dig deep and look at the bright side. There was a good chance I would buddy up out there, or I could enjoy my time alone. It wasn’t “the alone” I was worried about. It was not the cliff drop-offs nor the bears, but rather, getting lost. I wasn’t sure how much of my limited sanity/sound judgement would be left after 40 hours and this worried me – big-time. I’m the woman who got lost on – promise you won’t laugh – the Whistler 50, Lost Lake trail. Clearly marked, and clearly urban, I missed a marker in the dark and…yep – the dork who did the extra 5 km…

Time to get the show on the road:

Our kids and critters (aka the Zoo) safely tucked away with my Aunt Vicki and Uncle Charles, “Crew” aka (enthusiastic, handsome, chatty) Husband, and I drove out to Manning Park a day early to scout out the crew points. I made sure he was given a “nice” schedule – one where he could sleep most of the two nights. After all – one of us would need our sanity in order for the pack to survive. Next day we attended the “electric” mandatory meeting in Princeton, followed by settling into our Princeton hotel.

crew

My mantra (always important) would be “relentless forward movement” with generous splashes of “gratitude“. Not “strength”. Nor “whoah”, the soft little sound you make to calm horses (my daughter is an equestrian) which works like a hot-damn on me, too. Nor “strength of an ox, speed of a cheetah, and when all shit hits the fan, you will prevail”, like in the past. I just needed to keep moving forward. Gary and I figured between 40 and 45 hours. I could do this.

I was ready for it – the inevitable hurt/periods of bad attitude which were part of this sport. After all, if there were nothing to endure… This is what many of us come to this spot for. This, because the flip side of the hurt, of the dark, is the sheer euphoric bliss. Colours brighter, senses heightened, primal transcendence of worldly concerns. (Did I write that?) It’s not always like this. Yes, I had doubt: this could be a miserable humiliating suffer fest. But, you know, I felt that flutter, that gut feeling. Terrifying, no happy ending guaranteed, but just – maybe – within reach.

At some point, we were advised the event would add an extra 2 miles distance, and 240 m elevation gain, to accommodate moving the exposed Heather Aid Station. So now, the run was 122 Miles and the elevation gain would be greater than Everest. A good friend reminded me to suck it up buttercup cause that’s only 1.6% more. Thank you, George.

Been meditating for a few years now, and breathing usually conks me quickly. Not this time around. Of course. But here we were, everything was prepared, breakfast eaten, coffee consumed, restless chatter among friends/teammates and soon to be friends. Perfect weather. There was nothing more I could do to prepare.

The start: Photos with teammates (they looked awesome and practically pawing at the ground) and Gary at the start. We all needed to put foot to ground, desperately. I hung back – no use doing otherwise. My goal, after all, was to finish standing up and smiling. Of course in order to do this, I had to beat the sweep. I later found out that everyone, everyone, was unusually nervous before the event. An event of this magnitude has that effect on folks.

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First Climb: From practically the first step, there was a crazy bottleneck. Everyone had to cross a tiny goat bridge, then climb straight up for about 2,000 meters. It was slow going, but felt good. I fell in step behind a fellow who was familiar with Garibaldi/Rubble Creek. We hit it off and you will hear more about “K” as we go along. Folks started dropping (DNF), even on this first climb. OK – Vic, just keep moving. Came across a man bleeding from a hand gash. Gave out my first bandaids (useless), then used my mother’s scarf (tied to my pack for luck) as a sort of tourniquet. She would’ve been pleased that it went towards a good cause. By the time I was half-way through the event, I had given out all emergency stuff: the bandaids, blister stuff, Tums, the electrolytes, the Advil, the Sunscreen…. Being a back of the pack-er gives you a new perspective on a whole bunch of stuff.

Second Climb: Heat of the day. I was moving along with K, who had run it before. He warned me that this was a steep one. Somehow, that got to me. Weird, because I love climbs. I felt  suddenly and overwhelmingly exhausted. Deep exhaustion, what-the-hell-was-I-thinking-and-how-the-hell-could-I-do-this kind of exhaustion. Fortunately, Gary had coached us on this: “The lows can hit you at any point. Could be ten miles in, could be 90 miles in, could be multiple times.” So, with K to follow, I dug in. One foot in front of the other, repeat. At the top, teammate N was working the Trapper Aid Station. Good to see a familiar face. She reassured me that we were not that far behind (yet) the rest of the crew and helped “fill’er up” 🙂

Bonnevier: It was dark (night one) when we pulled in and had first meet up with Crew (Michael, Husband). Popped some major heel blisters. Michael did everything he could to help K and I, but it was looking like my new friend was feeling the effects. We lingered for far too long…then finally headed out with Crew’s urging.

Third Climb: Beautiful pitch darkness. It was night and we were deep in the trees. I was safely with two men, K and “very tall young military guy”, from here on known as “VTYMG”. Yakking it up and moving along very slowly. I was beginning to feel pretty damn good again, and the truth be told, if I wasn’t so worried about that getting lost thing, I could’ve powered up that hill. But I didn’t. The choices we make. I was acutely aware, even at this point, that if we kept moving at this snail pace it was going to be a very looooong event. And, yeah, it was. The flip side is that, unlike previous events, where I could trust in my body and training, I had little  confidence. 6 weeks trail training, an 11 day taper, and a newly healed foot which I was testing on a 122 Mile, Everest gain (and then loss) course was near to madness. Screw the time – just make it through. If you can pull this off safely, next year will be your year.

We made it to the River Crossing – gosh damn that water felt good on the feet. On to…

Heather AS: (the infamous extra 2 miles) brought us morning light. Again, we lingered far too long. Honestly, I think about 10 hours of this event was eaten up lingering at AS. Coach had warned me against this, but this year was different. I promised myself that I would use this sting and experience – in the future – to avoid dallying.

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While VTYMG still lingered on at the aid station, K and I climbed out of the Heather AS and into the light. The next few miles were really pleasant. Morning cool, flowers, easyish terrain. It felt like dancing. The scary bit of rock that had turned off my Boston-friend- almost-pacer, seemed like nothing. The downhill (usually my nemesis) didn’t seem all that unreasonable. Unfortunately, my buddy, K was really, really struggling at this point. I stayed with him for several more hours, tried to convince him that he needed medical attention…but he continued to drag along. I had to make a decision: blow this event entirely (the sweeps were licking at our heals) or leave him. It was a bitch of a decision, but in the end mutual, and I moved on.

Nicomen Lake AS: was somewhere halfway down that descent. Teammate J and lots of friendly folks were waiting. Two bottles of To-kill-ya and 6 or 7 bags of “herb” were offered by a friendly young man. How did they know I was straight outta the 60’s/70’s? Laughing, I moved on to look for some real food. There was none! Crap and dagnab it!! Crankiness was inevitable with neither coffee nor real food after 24 hours of travel. Thank Gawd my old fashioned Perpetuem could keep a corpse alive. Note to self: next time you decide you will be at the back of the pack – bring real food!! Those bloody front runners had devoured it all. Again, a new lesson in back of the pack perspective.

Cascade: from Nicomen to Cascade I was on my own. From Cayuse Flats to Cascade was a short, devilish series of climbs. It felt good. Race directors love these things. And man, this course director was something else 😉

Crew was waiting at the AS. I devoured some food (I’m a hard core vegan, but screw that – I almost bit the hand of the poor voly who unwittingly got in the way of me zeroing in on the last cheese wrap – the only food besides a banana I quickly stole while they weren’t looking). A lovely young woman, who I discovered was the fiance of VTYMG, helped me with my feet. She was waiting for her man and planning to pace him the last leg. I told her I had spent the first night with him and that he was ok but very tired at that time.

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After far too long, again, I left with another runner, T, who had been “leapfrogging” with us for miles. Quite the character, I was happy to set out for the second night with him. He was to meet his pacer at the beginning of Leg 6 and – if I could keep up – we could threesome it up that last bloody hill. Hah! If I could keep up.

It was a good matchup. Both a little older, we grumped through the 3 km highway section (ugh), enjoyed a nice rolling section, then hit the horrendously buggy “Swat’um” (actually Shawatum) flats which seemed to never friggin’ end. I was stung twice and we were tormented by black flies and mosquitoes. There was a New Mexican (my husband is from NM, so it was hilarious how familiar he seemed) limping along behind me with 100% Deet in his pack. He kindly offered me some – which I gladly splashed on. Melted my legs and pack, but what the hell. These were desperate times.

Finally finding the Swat’um AS, in which everyone had bug tents to retreat to, I scarfed some more food (yay avocado enchiladas). I bullied T into moving his butt back on the trail. His sweet wife was so wonderful and grateful her husband had a companion for the trail. And I was grateful for his company, too.

Do you remember K? He came trotting along as we were heading out! One of the most interesting and endearing people (never mind tough and enduring) I have ever met, was crossing our path again.

It was soon headlamp (night 2) time, again. We were about 34 hours into it and I was not one bit tired. The bugs started to drop off with the cool of the night, and I could taste – literally taste – the last leg (Skyline) ahead. For a brief moment, I recognized that my Ridgeline friends would be pulling into the finish line about now (turned out I was right about that – Yay!!!! Team!!! Absolutely Amazing!!!). You could feel the anticipation – the sheer let’s get this f’n thing done. I knew I was going to make it now, and with impatience for being so far back in the pack, I was ready to rock.

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Skyline:  102 Miles in. Night two. The last leg. The infamous last leg. We were about to experience it, and all I could feel was excitement and anticipation. Crew wasn’t there (did I take so long I missed him?) but T’s wife and Pacer, W, were. That lovely woman had dragged Tim’s coffee along that horridly long and difficult road to get to us. I finally got to meet W, T’s pacer. Instantly liked him: he had never paced before – had only done road marathons – but he was obviously a fit backcountry kind of guy. T & W were entertaining as hell. It was one of those times when you realized a man and his buddy…well, it’s really a very special bond. We girls don’t have the patent on that.

I answered all the “sanity questions” and felt 100%. We all did. And all I can say is…what happened over the next 20 miles shows you how effective those sanity questions (a series of questions and answers we had to be able to regurgitate 102 miles into the race in order to be able to continue for the last 20) are.

Crew came along, just as we were leaving. He reported that someone had said there was a big guy wandering a few hundred meters away – hallucinating. VTYMG’s fiance was waiting, ready to pace. She ran off to find the hallucinating big guy, which was confirmed later to be VTYMG. Also trotting in was Mr. K!!

As we’re dealing with complete disclosure here: the other boys were perhaps not too happy to have K along because of concern about his state of well-being. T and W made it pretty clear that they would be patient, but not too patient with K (and myself if I chose to stick close to K). As it should be, the goal was for T to finish this thing – no holds barred.

As hinted to, above, what happened over the next few hours opened my eyes to the craziness of staying awake for two nights. It was pitch dark and we were climbing like fireflies, higher and higher. K started retching behind. We heard others loudly puking below. We passed runners with their pacers that were sitting (or laying), unable to move.

T stopped to pee, again. While I averted my eyes and “patiently” waited, I spotted a bright light. There was a truck, a big, bright truck several switchbacks away. Several young men were trying to load a huge TV screen (strange, it was “on”) into the back, but having a hell of a time. They kept moving it back and forth, tipping in and out of the truck to try to make room. What the hell was a truck with a TV doing up here? A lodge? Strange…no cell reception or internet or anything. Maybe they were telecasting live results? Turning to K and pointing to the truck, I asked him what he thought was up. He couldn’t see it, but then again, he was so tired, he probably couldn’t see his nose. He asked me, “where?”. Impatiently (what was it with these boys?) I pointed to the really obvious, bright goings on, on the side of the mountain. “Vic – I don’t see it.” Right there! I pointed right at it again. “Vic – you are hallucinating.” By then the other boys had joined up. This time it was their turn for impatience. “Vicki. There is nothing there. You are hallucinating.” I looked again, and it was still there. My heart in my throat, I told K, the paramedic, I didn’t think I was capable of such madness. With pure gentle patience he said, “Yes you are. We all are.”

So we carried on. Our merry band of pukers, pee-ers, hallucinators (T soon started seeing cups and saucers on the trail). I refused to look off the trail after that. Once I stopped and asked K if he could see the paintings on the leaves fallen on the trails, but he reassured me that it was just my batshit-craziness. As they say – this, too, shall pass. And it did. Hallucinations stopped, just like that. I was fearful that things would escalate. That myself, or one of the boys would consider it perfectly ok to step off the very steep and dangerous trail into the abyss. On one hand, I vowed NEVER to do an event I thought I would have to do a 2nd night through again, and on the other hand, I was happy it was dark and I couldn’t see what was above and below!

K was, however, losing ground. His electrolytes (and probably blood sugar) were off balance, at the very least. I started to become impatient (and I feel absolutely horrible about this) and tried to convince K that he MUST get help at the next AS. Unfortunately, as a paramedic, he knew just enough to reason himself out of reason. He knew the answers – just enough to possibly hang himself. T and W were pulling ahead and I was getting pissed. Pissed at K for being so unreasonable, and really pissed at T & W for daring to pull ahead. Would they leave me with K, alone? That frightened and panicked me, because I really had no idea what would happen with him next. And – what if my mental state deteriorated even more? THAT was scary. I bullied K along till we finally caught up to T & W. As a gang, we finally reasoned K into sleeping a little at the next AS. I honestly thought I would never see him again. Felt crappy about that, but…as you can see, these were desperate times and unless I was going to join him (which I had absolutely no intention of doing at this point), I had to move along, again.

With K safely tucked into an emergency blanket at the aid station – high on that exposed bluff – T, W, and I made haste (finally) to get this thing finished. Up and down and over and across we went. Passed lots of suffering folks. There was some very, very, sketchy terrain. W was fantastic: so nice to have someone to fall in behind, guiding our every step. He fussed and damn near coddled T. The arrangement was: W in front, T in the middle, and me, behind. I caught T as he was just stepping off the thin trail to certain death (he was falling asleep). Both W and I were on him, loudly and angrily, as he (T) got sleepier – and sillier. This, too, passed when the caffeine from the last AS (or the morning light) kicked in.

night

Morning  had arrived (6 a.m.ish, Sunday). We just had to get over those last series of climbs and it would be home free. And it was exactly like that. The climbs were what I expected. All good races have diabolical and nasty climbs before the grand finale and – Boy oh Boy – this one was no exception. As the sun arose, I had another little vision- but minor – really. We met Peter, the Course Director, at the last aid station. Such a nice man – but he was clearly exhausted and in no chatty mood. On we went…

At the top of the last climb, I was beginning to feel like Super-Bitch again. There was a little patch of technical downhill, and Lord, you would’ve thought the boys were wearing high heels. Come on Boys…let’s move it!!! To paraphrase, “Well, Miss Priss, you take the lead!” I didn’t have to. The technical bit ended, and the boys finally started running. It felt amazing. Down and down we went. T started to slow it down, but I wouldn’t let him. With W’s clear approval, I bullied, teased and dared T to move much faster than he wanted to.  In my defence, the road here was wide, non-technical and it was daylight. The kindest thing to do at this point was to get this friggin’ thing done.

Cajoling turned into laughter, laughter into runners’ highs, runners’ highs into crossing the finish line (T and I together) to the hugs of each other, Gary, Michael, my team mate, Peter (who rocked it at 33 hrs), and so many others. Yes! Sweet Yes! It was done. About 10 minutes short of 47 hours (cut off was 49 hours). We had started out at 10 a.m. on Friday, August 12 and here we were – two mornings later – just before 9 a.m., Sunday, August 14, 2016.

And…my foot…was fine ;D

buckle

Some stats:

  • Ridgeline athletes rocked it. In the 122 miler: One podium (Hilary), one top 10 man (Peter) and two top 10 women (Hilary and Melanie). One top 10 man in the 70 miler (Ben). Gratefully, I can report my squeaking out of a 16th (women) – 90th overall.
  • I was the oldest woman in the race. Yay to BD’s! I turn 56 in October.
  • 112 folks finished. 57 dropped.
  • I reached my goal: Finish standing up and smiling!
  • The weather was perfect (especially compared to nasty 2015).
  • K finished after all. He’s the race hero to me.

Words cannot describe how grateful I am for my coaches care. Gary Robbins and Eric Carter – you’ve earned the respect, admiration and loyalty  of every single one of us. Thank you!!!

gary-crew

Thank you, Matt, Nadine, Josh for so selflessly serving all of us at those hot (and buggy) Aid Stations XXX   Hope I didn’t miss anyone else!

Again, words cannot convey how grateful and full of love I am for my patient, handsome husband. You not only put up – and fully support – this middle age passion of mine, but you make good Crew! It just doesn’t get any better XO

Here’s to next year!!

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If you are going through Hell    KEEP GOING.      – Winston Churchill

The key to endurance is enduring. The secret to endurance is ENJOYING.    – Pearl Izumi Ad

 

 

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