Running…Post 100 Miler, Yeti100!

You always remember your first. Almost four months post Yeti100! The memories are fresh and I am still beaming with pride daily at my accomplishment.  It was certainly my largest running accomplishment to date.

Yeti100 video recap thru the eyes of my sweet 16 year old daughter, and our  boxer dogs!

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Madelyn was so proud of her Mom! I was so glad she was part of my journey!

How do you top that? Do I need to top that? These are questions I continue to ask myself and don’t have the answer to.  I am constantly asked “Whats next?” almost as another epic accomplishment it is expected of me.  I don’t have an answer.  I do know,  I don’t have anything to prove to anyone but myself and unless my heart is in it…it won’t happen. I wanted the Yeti 100 buckle so bad. I poured my heart, soul, and six months of training into making it happen.  I am confident that strong yearning was the foundation for my strong mental state that made my 23hr 52 min journey so pleasant. Yes I said pleasant! I was a happy runner all the way!

Yeti 100 ink! My first Tattoo.....from the lady who said I would never get one! Never say NEVER!

Yeti 100 ink! My first Tattoo…..from the lady who said I would never get one! Never say NEVER! This Tattoo pays! As the 25th Yeti Trail Runner to get a Yeti Tattoo, I have lifetime free entry into Yeti Trail Running events! Jason Green, Founder, is such a cool guy!

2017…I will bask in the continued glory of my accomplishment.  When I feel the tug and yearning for another event, I will know it’s time.  No hurry! Run and enjoy! That is what it is all about…JOY! Sheer JOY! That is why I do it!

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Buckle UP! Yeti 100 Race Recap!

Yeti Ready…Lets Roll!

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Taylors Valley Aid Station mile 56…Keeping my eye on the PRIZE!

The instant I saw the Yeti 100 Endurance run pop up in my Facebook Feed, I knew the Yeti was going to be my first 100 miler.  I was elated, and felt the “running Gods” dropped it in my lap.  It was definitely meant to be. (backstory on how this went down)  Hosted by Yeti Trail Runners,  on the the Virginia Creeper Trail, one of my favorite places, it was the PERFECT setting.  If you are going to be physically  and mentally taxing yourself you might as well do it in a place you find enjoyable. The handmade Buckle…OMG!

I met Jason Green, RD and founder of Yeti Trail Runners, at Grayson Highlands Half/50K. What a genuine guy who greeted me with a bear hug and encouraging words for my first 100 miler!

I met Jason Green, RD and founder of Yeti Trail Runners, at Grayson Highlands Half/50K. April 2016. What a genuine guy who greeted me with a bear hug and encouraging words for my first 100 miler! This was my first of many hugs from this guy!  Awesome pod cast on how he started Yeti Trail Runners and his unique approach to the ultra running scene. Meet Jason Green, Ultra RunnerPodcast.com

I had 10 months to prepare, I was 100% committed to make it happen.  Those who know me, will attest, it’s all or nothing with me. Before I could get started, I had a couple of things I need to address.

100 Mile Preparation…these all contributed to successful Race Day!

Training plan– No brainer for me as I have relied on the information and plans in  Bryon Powell’s book- Relentless Forward Progress, A Guide to Running Ultramarathons since I ventured into the ultra running world.  I have worn this book out and highly recommend it for anyone considering ultras.  I love that fact the book, provides several options for plans and makes suggestions for adaptations.  I initially was going to do the 70 mile per week plan, but came to my senses that with a full time job, husband, and kids this was not going to work. I settled on the 50 mile, 26 week plan.  I ran 5 days a week, and cross trained with Cross fit and Yoga one day a week.  In previous training plans, I was able to successfully maintain 2-3 days of Cross fit.  It became obvious very quickly, that one day of Cross fit was all that I could manage.  I added yoga in the final two months and love it! I stayed consistent with my training plan. Some weeks were better than others.  I really focused on back to back runs and this proved very helpful. The best part about high mileage is building in races into your training.  Long training runs with support are awesome.  My highest weekly mileage was 55 miles.

Wheezing– My running buddy Kmac, who happens to be a Physicians Assistant, had been telling me for several years that I wheeze when I run.  I did not notice during my runs, only post run chest tightness and smoker type cough. It was so minor I did not make it a priority.  It wasn’t until my first run after a 6 week illness at the end of 2016 that I realized I could not breathe.  I had to bail my run.  Kmac was right.(she is always right :)…really she is).  My general practitioner diagnosed me with exercise induced asthma. She hooked me up with an inhaler and eventually a daily prescription for singular. Wow! what a difference it made!

Failed run Selfie with #internetfriends Anj and Todd!

Failed run Selfie with #internetfriends Anj and Todd!

Weight– I had not weighed myself in several years. Like most women, I hated the number I see and go by the way I feel.  I  knew I had put on some pounds after starting Cross fit but attributed that to muscle.  While much of it was muscle, a lot of it was not.  It really became evident to me when I saw my post 75 mile finish line pic.  Wow! I was healthy in more ways than one. I was eating healthy, but my portion control needing reigning in.  I joined a Macro Wellness challenge at Cross fit, tracked my food intake in My Fitness Pal app and dropped 18lbs.  I was feeling great, eating right, and running faster than ever! Amazing what dropping a few punds will do for your running.  It also helped I could breathe.

Pacing Umstead 100– I was so honored to be part of Jenica and Janet’s first 100 mile at Umstead.  Jenica and Janet, both from Portland, OR, crushed the Umstead with sub 24’s.  I was so honored to be part of their journey and it was so great for me to witness my first 100 mile race.  I paced Jenica for her final 25 miles.  She was happy as could be and it was so awesome getting to know her over our 6 hours together.  I learned from her to zip thru the aid stations, eat on the go, and to walk fast as hell.  I can honestly say this experience helped me greatly!  Love you girls!

Umstead 100! The happy finishers Jenica and Janet with Happy pacers, Myself and Carol!

Umstead 100! The happy finishers Jenica and Janet with Happy pacers, Myself and Carol!

Gear Adjustments– Outside of shoes, my only major gear purchases were the new Garmin 230 (I wanted the auto sync to my phone), Petzl Tikka RXP headlamp ( I had Lumen envy at my last 24 hour race) , and Ultra Vesta, Ultimate Direction hydration pack.  My Nathan vest had served me well but I really wanted more hydration options and storage.  The vest is made for women and has many adjustments. It was weird at first but I have come to love it.  The body bottles are the best!

Best feature of my new Garmin was the customization countdown face. Also note my All things are possible bracelet from my sweet friend Erin and my Mothers day bangle from the kids with my ultra progression distances on it

Best feature of my new Garmin was the customization countdown face. Also note my All things are possible bracelet from my sweet friend Erin and my Mothers day bangle from the kids with my ultra progression distances on it (42.6, 63.4, 75.7)

Love this headlamp, with rechargeable battery packs. But I cannot lie, I taxes my brain so I had to create a cheat sheet label inside the band.

Love this headlamp, with rechargeable battery packs. But I cannot lie, I taxes my brain so I had to create a cheat sheet label inside the band.

Running Nutrition– I had long given up on gels…NASTY! I relied on real food, Nuun, and S caps.  After reading up on benefits of Tailwind Nutrition, I gave it a try. It  worked great for me. So easy and fast to get our the door.  Like any hydration supplement, you do tire of it but it is worth avoiding “gut” issues.  My preference is for the naked,unflavored.

My tailwind hack- Making Tailwind ice cubs for my hydration pack prevented watered down nutrition. This proved to be very beneficial and easy to do!

My tailwind hack- Making Tailwind ice cubs for my hydration pack prevented watered down nutrition. This proved to be very beneficial and easy to do!

Feet– My sister, Amy, said to me after my first successful ultra, “If you are going to keep up running this distance, you have to do something about your feet”  She was right!  I will spare you the photos.  Trust me, when I say my feet/toes were slayed.  Hence, started my 3 year foot wellness journey with the help of John Vonhof’s book, now in the 6th edition, Fixing Your Feet!  I have ready every page of this book and continue to reference it regularly.  I am amazed at the number of people who ignore preventative foot care. Your feet have to be healthy to carry you the distance, why do people ignore them?  I guess my feet issues early on, set me down the right path. My friend Anj nicknamed me #BlisterSister the blister whisper.  It makes me laugh…I am happy to share my foot/blister care input with anyone.  My claim is…I read the foot book so nobody else has to!  I found the REAL blister sister at Blister Prevention.  Rebecca is all things foot care.  I reached out to her with some questions via email and she was quick to respond.  Check her out!

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Pre- foot care, out of my foot care container,  Yeti 100 Training run captured by @AnjWiley

Feet…My final Foot Plan– My foot care journey continued well into my training.  After three years, I felt like I had finally nailed it.  Feet issues were not going to stop me from crossing the finish line.  I am happy to report, post 100 miler, my feet were in the best shape of my running journey! Whoo hooo!  What worked for me:  injinji toe socks ( fresh pairs at miles 17.9, 48.9); Dirty Girl Gaiterstransition to Altra ( Olympus, Torin) from my previously coveted Hokas; Kinesio Tape ( taped my feet and toes night before); Superfeet Berry; and ENGO blister patches on my insoles and inside of my shoes.  I had one minor blister I felt within the first 17 miles, while wearing my Hoka Challengers(17.9 miles). I took a huge risk switching shoes two months prior to my race, but totally worth it!  I am now an Altra convert with a large collection of Hoka’s.

Altra Love on Raleigh Greenway!

Altra Love on Raleigh Greenway!

 Race day run plan– I procrastinated the shit out of pulling this together but in the end I am so glad that I did! Early on, running Friends Anj and Fred said they wanted to pace me!  I was blown away with their support  and willingness to take on this monumental task.  Of course my sister Amy was going to pace, but how far, was the question.  With pacers queued up, a plan for 4:2 run walk segments,  I built a very detailed google spreadsheet for my pacers and crew.(I had a relapse of OCD)  The spreadsheet had links to everything we needed for the weekend but most importantly my mile by mile plan, pace estimates, crew instructions, directions, etc. I am very happy to share for anyone who is interested.

Rolling aid station for my crew. Everything was labeled and in containers ( OCD relapse)

Rolling aid station for my crew. Everything was labeled and in containers ( OCD relapse)

I was fortunate to have covered over 88 miles of training runs on the creeper in preparation so I had some solid pace data to work with.

Yeti 50k Training run June 2016

Yeti 50k Training run June 2016.  Whitetop to Abingdon

Hubs, Dan, crewed me on my solo 50 mile training run that ended up being 55 miles. Thanksfully not 60, thanks to Randy Road Angel. Abingdon to Whitetop and back to Damascus. Aug 2016

Aug 2016 Hubs, Dan, crewed me on my solo 50 mile training run that ended up being 55 miles. Thankfully not 60, thanks to Randy Road Angel. Small navigation error during runner bliss!  Abingdon to Whitetop and back to Damascus.

Intimately knowing the course proved to be a huge mental booster for me. While I know this is not always possible. I will certainly make this effort for future races.  I love every aspect of the Creeper Trail, I will never tire of it, and this went a long way on race day. Love where you run!

Orthopedic Visit/PT– Four weeks prior to race day my right knee started a sharp pain on the inside of my knee cap. WTF? I had come way too far to have my race de-railed with three weeks to go.  I took a week off, but the pain persisted.  The pain was manageable but the unknown of it stressed me the F*&^% out. Dr. Google was no help, so  I hesitantly made an ortho appointment. In my 7 years of running, this was my first trip to the Dr. for running related pain.  Long story short, he said you can run, back off, and lets do three weeks of PT. If you still have pain we will give you a cortisone shot.

First day of PT, I was diagnosed with tight quad muscle. I was elated to know the cause! I was given a series of daily stretching exercises and we taped my knee.  I felt relief immediately! It was not gone but got significantly better each run.  I got my final taping the day before the race.  Race day..I felt no pain! Wow! Or I mentally willed it away! Crisis avoided! I am now a firm believer in stretching and PT! Thank you Cary Orthopedic!

This Rock Tape made me happy! I love my PT picked it out for me:)

This Rock Tape made me happy! I love my PT picked it out for me:)

Finally…Race Day…I am certain time stood still 3 weeks prior. I was excited, anxious, and ready. It was the first time in my life I felt the taper crazies and second guessed all my training and if I was tapering correctly.

Hubs, Dan, and our Boxers Lucy and Potter, drove me to the 5:45am race shuttle.

Hubs, Dan, and our Boxers Lucy and Potter, drove me to the 5:45am race shuttle.

Familar faces at Whitetop! Clay and John!

Familiar faces at Whitetop! Clay and John!

7:00 am, Jason sent us off with “Go have a F$%^ing good time”.  I settled into my 4:2 segments right from the start.  The 17.9 miles of gradual downhill is a great way to start a race but will eventually slay if you  don’t hold back. I was relaxed, the weather was a perfect 50 degrees, and life was good!

Anderson, Dan, and the Boxers greeted me just outside of Damascus

Anderson,my son, Dan, and the Boxers greeted me just outside of Damascus.  litter blurry but we were moving 🙂

I was about 45 minutes ahead of my scheduled arrival in Damascus. I quickly hit the Damascus aid station for a sock and change out of my Hokas into my Altras. I had been feeling my right pinkie toe for about two hours and was really looking forward to a shoe change.

Only minor blister post 100 miles. This toe was taped!

Only minor blister post 100 miles. This toe was taped! Yes…my toes are not pretty.  No shame!

My “Crew” was very busy while I was running repairing for my arrival.

My DAD is coloring! OMG!

My DAD is coloring! OMG! My Mom must have been on Facebook 🙂

Laury, my sister, and Madeyn, my daughter.

Laury, my sister, and Madeyn, my daughter.

Chalk Art...I love this picture! It also captures the crazy outfit Laury had on that I pondered on my run. What the heck was she wearing? hehe

Chalk Art…I love this picture! It also captures the crazy outfit Laury had on that I pondered on my run. What the heck was she wearing? hehe

Mile 17.9, New Tailwind bladder, body bottle of water, Turkey Avocado Wrap, Perrier, and chips to go. Surprise addition to my Crew with the addition of my Aunt Sally who drove up from Boone.

Mile 17.9, New Tailwind bladder, body bottle of water, Turkey Avocado Wrap, Perrier, and chips to go. Surprise addition to my Crew with the addition of my Aunt Sally who drove up from Boone.

I was off and my next stop was end of the first lap in Abingdon, mile 33.4.I arrived 45 minutes ahead of schedule in Abingdon. I easily spotted my crew and had to yell from the trail to get their attention. My already large crew grew again with the addition of Cynthia, Fred,  and my Cousin Erin and her two kids.  I had never met my cousins kids and had not seen Erin in three years. I had no idea she was coming!  It was so nice of them to drive 3 hours to cheer me on.  Wow!  I was feeling great!  Seeing my family and friends just energized me more.

Surprise visit from my cousin Erin and her precious kids!

Surprise visit from my cousin Erin and her precious kids!

Fred, Pacer #2, Cynthia and Ang , Pacer #1.

Fred, Pacer #2, Cynthia and Ang , Pacer #1.

 

My Family! and Anj! Wow!

My Family! and Anj! Wow!  Anj and I met on twitter so we like to say this is Anj and her #internetfamily

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Hugs from RD, Jason!  Seriously…what is not to love about this guy!

Happy, Happy, Happy! I was having social hour as the poor Yeti volunteered refreshed my water bladder.

Happy, Happy, Happy! I was having social hour as the poor Yeti volunteered refreshed my water bladder.  It was crazy with all the cameras in my face.  Famous for a day!

The "J" shield. This was my favorite sign!

The “J” shield. This was my favorite sign! Oh and freshly manicured nails…certain they made me run faster:)

Lap 1 down…2 to go.  Next time I was in Abingdon, I would be crossing the finish line!  I refilled my bladder with tailwind and water, popped some motrin and was off!  The sun finally peaked out around 3:00.  We had been under cloud cover all day. The temps were still great and it was good to see the sun.

I came up on Brad and razzed him for walking and had him join me in my 4:2 segments.  It was nice to have company and he entertained me with all his crazy running adventures. Just when I thought he had told me the craziest thing I had ever heard he topped it. Thanks Brad for the entertainment!  I regret not getting a picture with Brad at the finish line. He finished 20+ min ahead of me.  At the finish, he thanked me and said I inspired him to finish the race. WOW!  After we parted ways, he programed the 4:2 segments into his phone and finished.  Seriously……knowing I helped him in such a small way is priceless. Ditto BRAD!

Running into Damascus with Brad! Thanks Brad for sharing some miles.

Running into Damascus with Brad! Thanks Brad for sharing some miles.  Cynthia and Fred, greeted us at the Damascus park.  They were waving and yelling.  I was in such a zone I did not realize it was for me until I practically ran them over.  In the zone!  

I arrived 30 minutes ahead of schedule.  Still feeling great and was excited to pick up my first pacer Anj.  We had only texted the past few weeks so we had lots of catching up to do.  As Amy loaded in a new Tailwind bladder into my pack, I ate some twix bites and chugged a Perrier and coke.  I was growing tired of the naked Tailwind so the Perrier and coke tasted great.  I grabbed my turkey & avocado wrap, chips to go,  and we were off.

Mile 48.9, Pacer #1- BQ Anj!

Mile 48.9, Pacer #1- BQ Anj!

Before we headed uphill to Whitetop, I hit the aid station to .put on dry clothes and a final sock and shoe change.  I knew it was going to get cold and I wanted to make sure the majority of my clothes were dry.

My only time sitting was when I changed my shoes.

My only time sitting was when I changed my shoes.  I look like I am sleeping!

I was still warm so I put on dry clothes and stuffed my Yeti Wool shirt, gloves, and vest in my hydration pack. I am amazed at how much stuff I can cram in the back pocket and bungee.  I changed into my Altra Olympus..by far my favorite Altras.  They are really wide in the toe box and make my feet very happy.  My feet were holding up really well and I was thrilled.  We walked while I ate my turkey wrap then we hit the 4:2 segments up to Whitetop.

Photo opp in Taylors Valley

Photo opp in Taylors Valley

As the sun started going down, I started to get cold. I put on my yeti wood shirt and gloves.  It was so glad I had them.

It was about this time that Anj and I came upon the “Creeper Kids”.  Two “children of the trail” who were somewhere between 5-7 years old. They zoomed passed us on their bikes cutting us off.  I was paranoid they were going to plow me over.  They said the only people who could go fast on “their trail” were bikers.  With one eye covered, we cautiously watched their bike tricks. I went in total mom mode and advised one of the boys doing bike tricks in cowboy boots was probably not a good idea. I envisioned this kid was going to crack open his skull and we were going to have to take care of him.  That was not the reason I wanted to DNF.  They then proceeded to zoom past us beyond our sight and jump out of the woods to scare us.  OMG, we  were being terrorized by “children of trail”.

We thought we were living a scene from the Goonies with a few less kids!

We thought we were living a scene from the Goonies with a few less kids!

At this point it was really starting to get dark.  They were running beside us trying to find their fort.  Anj said, ” Can you go past this trestle?” Thinking perhaps they had limits.  They quickly responded they could do whatever they wanted and said “let them come look for us”.  How in the heck were we going to lose these kids who had no flashlights…only a pocket knife.  We were totally entertained and a little freaked out. We decided we had to lose them.  We took off at a faster pace, not looking back, and finally we lost them.  It was so freaking funny.  At this point it was pitch black.

We continued our 4:2 segments up to whitetop.  The incline, while not too bad, definitely slowed my roll with 50+ miles on my feet.  We were encouraged by the runners headed back down the mountain at how fast their pace was. That was something to look forward to.  We hit Whitetop, about 15 minutes ahead of Schedule around 10pm.  I was in need of Motrin ( I dropped my bag somewhere on the trail after sharing some with Brad) and food.  My crew was there and hooked me up with twix bites, Pierre, coke, and loaded my bladder with Caffeinated Tailwind.

I noticed someone sitting down and I asked if I could sit and Amy promptly responded NO! Dang…she looked so comfortable.  I thought she was a volunteer, but later found out she was a runner on the “struggle bus”  It was busy up there as my crew got me set and aided several other runners.  Fortunately, I had a very well stocked rolling aid station that they fed many runners in need.  Mile 66, and people around me were starting to fall apart.

I could not sit....so I enjoyed my lean with my fig newton...that I eventually spit out.

Mile 66- I could not sit….so I enjoyed my lean with my fig newton…that I eventually spit out.

It was time to head down the mountain.  I was looking forward to the 17.9 miles of downhill with Pacer #2 Fast Fred!

Fast Fred! 17.9 miles of downhill bliss

Mile 66- Pacer #2 , Fast Fred! 17.9 miles of downhill bliss

We were off! I had not seen Fred for several weeks so we had a lot of catching up to do (Kate style- save the chatter for the run). Fred was militant about making sure I was sipping my tailwind on every walk segment. It was getting hard to do but I knew I needed to do it for hydration and calories.  The Motrin was kicking in and I was ready to roll.  The trickiest part of this downhill section was the pesky rocks on the trail.  You had to be very careful to pick up your feet.  Fred tripped several times and somehow managed to stay upright.  I think I only tripped once…that was a miracle. It was VERY dark, and we both were trying really hard to stay upright. Surprisingly, the only wildlife I encountered was a large brown spider hanging down on the trail that I literally ran into with my face.

Funny thing is I had no concept of how much I had slowed down. I felt like I was running fast.  I was later informed that was not the case.  Fred was kind enough to continue running although my pace had slowed to almost walking speed. But I was still running!  I was determined to run the entire race.  Amy,  after working aid at many Graveyard 100’s ,  was certain I would be walking towards the end of the race.  I took that as a challenge and was hard set to keep up my 4:2 segments.

Fred and I started to discuss the possibility of me finishing sub 24.  Fred cautiously, mentioned that there was a lot of time and miles left in the race and anything could happen. We started passing people and it confirmed we were steady and strong.  It was at that point I mentioned that while passing people was great, I did not get nearly the satisfaction of passing a man as I did when I passed a women.  I am not typically a competitive person, but when I heard I had moved up from 13th to 10th place  female, it was a little motivation to push a little harder.

While I was defiantly slowing down, we still made great time and arrived in Damascus about 20 min ahead of schedule. Fred and I were greeted by my crew. I was impressed they were outside at 2:45am.  Amy dropped in my final tailwind bladder, I grabbed a Perrier, a coke and took off for 11.5 miles with by brother-in-law Jon. 16 miles to go!

Mile 84.7,Pacer #3, Jon, my brother- in- law

Jon was fresh with great stories to keep me entertained.  I still laugh at his comment early on ” I have too much pride to let you out run me tonight”.  I was confident this was not going to be an issue.  I paced Jon in his first marathon in 2009 so it was great for him to return the favor and run with me in the wee hours of the morning.  My spirits were good, his new Garmin, hot out of the box, kept us on our 4:2 segments.  As I unintentionally slowed, Jon and I discussed the fact I could finish the race sub 24.  Wow! This really was never part of my verbalized plan. When I worked out my run plan my estimated finish was 23:50 but I never dreamed this was possible.  I just wanted to finish and get get my buckle. At this point, I knew I was going to finish and a sub 24 was in my reach. I was excited and eager to get to the finish line.  Jon was militant with his “tough love” and said if you want to finish this sub 24 you need to keep up your segments.  I was still moving but it was not very fast. He pushed me to catch up with people ahead of us and pass them.  If my memory serves my correctly, we passed two people.

I was feeling good.  I was surprised I was not ” seeing things” in the dark. At one point,  I decided to look over the side of one of the trestles.  Why?  I have no idea. Bad idea…the ground was moving up and down towards me. EEEK!  The only other issue was looking intentionally at the mist in my headlamp beam.  Jon mentioned it, I looked at thought I might fall out.

We finally came upon Watuga Trestle, where Jon would drop off and I would be paced to the finish by my sister Amy.  When I saw the lights from my crews led umbrella ( purchase so I could easily spot my crew), I was hit with a rush of emotions and the tears began to flow.  I quickly composed myself and fought back the tears.  I thought they went un noticed but apparently there was not fooling them.  I hit the porta potty, grabbed a Perrier and a bag of bugles and we were off.

Pacer #4- My sister Amy!

Pacer #4- My sister Amy! I included zip lock bags in my aid bag for easy transport of food to go.

4.5 miles to go!  It was surreal that I was so close to finishing.  Amy kept me distracted with great conversation.  I was still talking, happy, and weaving.  She ran alongside of me and often held onto my hydration pack.  She was so paranoid I was going to drift off the side of the trail.  I am sure I look like a drunk trying to run.  About two miles in, Amy said ” I have some notes I want to read you”.  Instantly I began to cry and said “You are going to make me cry”.  Her firm response was ” WE HAVE NO ENERGY FOR EMOTION“.  I replied “OK” and quickly snapped back to my happy weaving self. Bottom line best line ever that she pulled out of her ass! Way to go Amy!

Believe it or not, the miles passed quickly.  Again, I thought I was running fast, but I wasn’t.  In my mind I was so that was really all that mattered.  Amy kept me on the 4:2 segments. At one point, I just wanted to be done and kept running.  She quickly scolded me that I need to stay on my segments and my plan.  Reluctantly, I started to walk.  It was my only act of defiance/rebellion towards my pacers.  Given my feisty personality, this is even shocking to me.

Finally I saw a red light in the distance.  I said, “Amy do you see that red light?”  She said, ” There is no red light”.  I said “Yes there is…..see”. Finally she saw the light! In my mind we picked up the pace.  My brother in law Jon was at the head of the finish shoot and yelled to alert all we were there.  OMG!  I was hit with a rush of emotion and could hear my family and friends screaming.  I am not sure what I said.  I do remember someone dressed as a unicorn 🙂 and  Amy yelling ” WE HAVE NO ENERGY FOR EMOTION” over and over as we ran up the chute! I DID IT! I was done!  I finished far stronger than I ever imagined possible.  100 Miles!

23:52:47!

8th female, 1st age group 40-50,  26th overall!  ( all this took me by surprise)

My final and best HUG and BUCKLE from Jason!

My final and best HUG and BUCKLE from Jason!

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My first Buckle and it is SWEET! #earnedthatshit

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Handmade buckle….I am partial but this is the coolest buckle I have ever seen!

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looking like an old lady! Post race epson salt soak

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When you run 100 miles, Beer is acceptable at 8am! Thanks Anj for my Yeti beer 🙂

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My sisters coordinated gathering letters of support for me from all circles of my life. There was even a letter from my preschool teacher. I laughed, cried, rested and read some more. I was blown away with the kind words and support from family and friends. They wanted 100 notes but had close to 70! it took a long time to read them. I will cherish them always!

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Everyone needs a 100 sash!

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Post race margaritas at Hey Joes

The Yeti 100, hands down, was the most rewarding physical and mental challenge I have ever accomplished.  All miles beyond 75 were uncharted territory for me.  When I finished my 75 milies at Croatan 24, I could not even fathom running another 25.  Honestly, it scared the crap out of me.

I attribute my Yeti 100 success to my race preparation ( which started months in advance), run plan, along with my physical and mental preparation.  I was on my mental game.  I never dreaded what was ahead of me and approached it with sheer excitement from the day I registered.  I knew it was going to be tough, and there was a strong possibility that I would face some some race day woes, including failure.  Deep down, I was doing what I loved, running in a beautiful place with like minded crazy people.  I was determined to enjoy every single mile.  While there were times I was not sure if a burp would actually be a retch, I mentally willed away things that would steal my joy. Oddly, I never felt my nagging knee, perhaps it was there but I was having not part of feeling it. I was a happy, slightly emotional ( towards the end) runner for all 100 miles.

My Crew! My family and #internetfriends! My family joined me for my 13.1, 26.2, skipped the 42, 62, and 75 miles. Rejoined for 100 miles! My local running friends, no longer able to keep up with my running craziness, encouraged me to expand my running network to give them a break! Hence, came Anj and Fred. Long time social media contacts and now friends!

My Crew! My family and #internetfriends! My family joined me for my 13.1, 26.2, skipped the 42, 62, and 75 miles. Rejoined for 100 miles!
My local running friends, no longer able to keep up with my running craziness, encouraged me to expand my running network to give them a break! Hence, came Anj and Fred. Long time social media contacts and now friends!

I was so fortunate to have the support of my family and friends as crew.  As I reflect back, would my experience have been different without them?  100%!  Seeing them out on the course was a true mental boost and I looked forward to it. My Pacers were an absolute game changer. They were excellent! So fresh and committed to getting me to the finish line. Those dark hours would have been so different without them. They all kept me chatting and laughing.  I am certain, everyone heard us coming.  Perhaps this is what scared away the wildlife.

Two weeks post Yeti, I am still giddy with excitement with what I accomplished.  I am thrilled to have  such a strong 100 mile finish behind me. I know in the ultra running world, I have a lot of challenges ahead of me and certainly some DNF’s.  It’s all part of the lure that keeps me coming back.  If it was easy, everyone would do it.  I am motivated by the sheer fact that failure is a strong possibility.

Will I do another 100?  Absolutely!

When…..I don’t know.

Whats next? Gosh……I am struggling with that questions right now.

For now…I was bask in the glory of my shinny kick ass buckle!

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Here are some misc pictures:)  The course is BEAUTIFUL, since I had run the course twice before, I made the conscience decision race day not to slow my roll with pictures.  I was taking it old school and searing the images in my mind!

Packet Pick up. Wolf Hills Brewing, Abingdon

Packet Pick up. Wolf Hills Brewing, Abingdon

Everyone needs a little Jesus! I spotted Jesus on the training run beside the trail at an auction house. Jesus Take The Trail #JTTT

Everyone needs a little Jesus! I spotted Jesus on the training run beside the trail at an auction house. Jesus Take The Trail #JTTT

#JTTT

#JTTT

 

Very sweet text message I received from a long time church friend who thinks I am crazy. It touched me so much, I wrote it on the back of my race plan and stuffed it in my pack. I ready it and recited it very often.

Very sweet text message I received from a long time church friend who thinks I am crazy. It touched me so much, I wrote it on the back of my race plan and stuffed it in my pack. I ready it and recited it very often.

Prep- Run Plan booklet for my crew. Yes, I put it in a project folder and labeled it. I labeled everything.

Prep- Run Plan booklet for my crew. Yes, I put it in a project folder and labeled it. I labeled everything.

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Pre- race love from Kmac!

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Pre Race love from virtual #BRF and fellow #BAMR Kim. I pick up money while I run and put it in a special cup so hence the pennies.  I found a quarter on the Creeper Trail during my solo run and I had it in my pack along with the Penny Agj found during the Yeti Training run.  It was good Karma!

Anj found a penny on our Yeti training run. She gifted it to me:) I ran right over it!

Anj found a penny on our Yeti training run. She gifted it to me:) I ran right over it!

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From my sweet virtual #BRF and fellow Portland, OR #BAMR – Mel! Early in the race, I was ping ponging with a group doing segments. One of the guys yelled out “You Do You” it was great! This is my banter with Mel! Fat M&M’s is a reference to my friend Smitha, virtial #BRF, whom had never seen Peanut M&M’s. She called them “Fat M&M’s” it stuck!

 

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Seriously Kate! Over the top! She made me into my favorite candy! Like an M&M…I am hard on the outside but soft on the inside.

Kate! Stella & Dot, yeti 100 bar necklace. Sure glad I finished!

Kate! Stella & Dot, yeti 100 bar necklace. Sure glad I finished!

My ridiculous family during the dysfunctional crew meeting. We should have recorded it. It is permanently sealed in my mind! It was a riot!

My ridiculous family during the dysfunctional crew meeting. We should have recorded it. It is permanently sealed in my mind! It was a riot!  My favorite comment was from my Dad, after I lost my composure with a brief emotional moment ( my feet were  taped with my blue Kinesio tape) ” I think you should be concerned that your feet are turning blue”

 

Post Yeti celebration in Raleigh during Hurricane Matthew.

Post Yeti celebration in Raleigh during Hurricane Matthew. These are the brave ones who ventured out.  We all should have been home!

Beautiful shot of the Damascus sky! Until next time..........

Beautiful shot of the Damascus sky! Until next time……….

BoxerRunner100 going for Triple digits!

Its happening! 111 days from now I will be running The Yeti 100 Endurance Run on the Virgina Creeper Trail.  

At the finish line of  my 75.7 miles at Croatan24, my running buddy Jeremy approached me and asked if I had another 25 miles/6 hours in me.  I don’t believe my response is “pg” rated.  However it was a valid question since the conversations of me potentially running my 1st hundred miler started a few weeks earlier while volunteering at the Mother Earth Brewing Iron Clad Half Marathon.  Jennifer and my sister Amy are 100% responsible for getting this conversation started.

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Jeremy and me post 100 mile discussion.  He ran 13.1 and I earned my beer volunteering.  Just realized he has on his Yeti hat…we did not know at the time we would both be running Yeti100! (just another sign…..)

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The 100 mile instigators….Jennifer and my sister Amy! ( pic prior to my Ultra Redemption Run)

The “100 mile” seed was planted but no firm plans of when it might happen.  Little did I know the plans were being made for me.  Monday morning, as I lay in bed, post Croatan24, I called Amy ( after all she is 100% responsible for my running addiction) we were causally chatting about Croatan24 and she said “well I guess you are running a 100 miler. ”  I said “What are you talking about?”  She said, “Read your email”.  I immediately, went to my email and saw a confirmation as a participant in the Graveyard100!  OMG! I thought I would vomit! I had been “signed up” a form of “race bullying” at its best by  friend and Race Director Brandon Wilson.  What a tremendous vote of confidence.  Brandon is tough! A first class heckler and taunter but deep down inside he is a very sincere supporter and has been a part of all my ultra quest.  Thanks Brandon!

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Highfive from RD, Brandon Wilson after my 75.7 miles at Croatan24.  Great 24hour event, now Tideland24! (I am living proof you can run up to  50 miles a week and gain weight! OMG…at my heaviest and had no idea! )

Fast forward a few weeks, and due to personal issues Brandon was not going to be Rd’ing Graveyard100.  I was crushed.  I did not want to attempt this 100 miler if he was not RD.  My excitement waned and I was silently on a quest for another 100.  That week I had been talking to my husband about riding the Virgina Creeper Trail again in the summer. We had two prior visits and we loved it.  I really wanted to go back.

BOOM…the running Gods dropped the Yeti100 Endurance Run on the Virgina Creeper into my Facebook feed.  I don’t lie…it literally happened just like that.  Wow, this was meant to be! Dan (my hubby) and I discussed the idea of me running my first 100 miler.  We don’t often discuss my running, while he is very supportive, I am a very independent person who does not often seek input of others.  This was a big deal and I wanted his input and support.  He agreed it was meant to be and I should do it.

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My running widower Dan! He is awesome! Thanks Dan! Post my fist ULTRA FAIL! Pine Moutain 40!

Registration opened day after Thanksgiving and I registered myself and Jeremy.  Poor Jeremy lost his debit card so I fronted him the cash and got him registered.  After all I was not going at this alone.  I needed him there!

Training is in full swing! I am feeling great and absolutely appreciate the support  and encouragement from my family and friends.  The confidence my family and friends have in me give me that extra push.  I want this, and I am determined to make this happen!

“Proceed as if Success is inevitable” ~ unknown

Pics from  Grayson Highlands Half /50l April 2016 & #yeti100 Endurance Run Training 22 miler June 4th.

 

All friendships have limits, and my “tried and true” running friends threw up their hands in surrender as I ventured down my ultra running path.  While absolutely supportive, they asked that I call in reinforcements.  Hence, my friendship with Anj and Fred, previously limited to twitter and Instagram blossomed! Huge thanks to Anj and Fred for joining me on the training run last weekend.  It was so much fun!

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Running friends “Tried and True”..Kate, Kmac, me, Becky at Grayson Highlands half/50k! Runbumtours.com

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It was an honor to meet Jason Green, founder of Yeti Trail Runners and RD for Yeti100 at Grayson Highlands.  He was so encouraging of my quest. What an authentic guy!

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Yeti100 Endurance Run..33 mile training run with my #internetfriends #newfriends Anj and Fred!

 

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Yeti friends!

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along the creeper

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I found Jesus on the Creeper! This will be comforting as I pass three times!

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Friends helping friends….the second half of run got hot!

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Officially my #foundchange nemesis  Our past two trail runs she found $

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This selfie does not do this rolling hills farm justice. It was beautiful!

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Done 33 miles….trestle #1` of 141 on the Virgina Creeper!  Beautiful run. I cannot wait until September!

 

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Elevation…Yeti!00….Thankfully only one trip back up!  Planning on running than in July.

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Until then…Cheers to friends old and new and many more miles!

Croatan24 Race Recap 2015! ( Now Tideland24 )

JmartAMRResolutions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(This race is now Tideland24 Great 24 hour race!)

During my New Years Day solo run, I decided my running goal for 2015 would be to run 75miles at Croatan24. I had checked off 4 out of 5 of my running goals so it was time to check off #1!

November 7th, finally arrived.  I was excited to have recruited #BRF’s Katherine and MaryAnne. Katherine completed her first 50k with me earlier in the year and set her sites on 50 miles. Mary Anne skipped right over the marathon and set her goal at 50 miles as well. I have to say I am most proud of the fact just a few years prior Mary Anne said to me ” I don’t run races”  I gifted her first “race” to her and she was hooked.  My plan worked!

5 days out the weather forecast was horrific with 90% chance of rain.  One thing was certain it was going to be wet. I learned early one, don’t stress about the things you cannot control.  Adapt and make a plan.image

I have to say my packing strategy worked out really well.  I decided on my son’s sterilite camp truck we picked up this summer at Walmart for $20.  It was perfect to store all my gear and keep it dry.  I bought three additional clip boxes for foot care/medical, clothes, electronic misc. It was great!  Definitely a repeat for rain or no rain.

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I took it to another level and labeled my boxes. Overkill? I don’t think so!

We arrived at the Cedar Point Tideland trail head about an hour before the start.  We had set up our tent/canopy the night before so we just needed to set up our chairs and gear.

READY!

READY! Hoka & Dirty Girl Gaiter LOVE!

Photo Credit- Susan Scott , SOS Photography

Photo Credit- Susan Scott , SOS Photography

8:00 am, 72 degrees,  we were off!!  Following the lead of current and former military personnel.  I cannot think of a better way to start a day of running. It was a honor to run among so many military personnel.

The race beneficiary  was the MARSOC foundation,  which provides benevolent support for the families of active duty and medically retired Marines.  

The 1.33 mile loop trail was very pretty.  A great improvement over the alternate location where we ran the 2014 Croatan24.  I now know why so many runners were grumbling last year. My plan, like 2014, was to run 6 mins and walk 2 from the very start.image

The hard packed trail was easy to navigate with very few roots.  There were several bridges through the marshlands.

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Some runners found the bridges to be challenging but since I train on hills they did not bother me. I welcomed the slight elevation change to engage different muscle groups.  Whoever said running “flat” was easy is dead wrong in my mind.  The mix of flat, bridges, and one slight hill was just great!

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The sun peaked out early and the temperatures began to rise.  Temps peaked at 83 degrees. It was HOT!  There was a slight breeze around the water that was very welcomed.  There is no doubt the warm weather slowed me down.  Thankfully, I trained all summer in the heat but it still takes a toll on you.

Mile 14, sock and shoe change.

Mile 14, sock and shoe change. My plan was to change shoes and socks every 14 miles.

Notorious for feet issues, I taped my feet early on.  Thank goodness for the tent that provided awesome shade and later shelter from the RAIN.  The day was gradually getting hotter and we dialed in an ICE SOS to Mary Anne’s husband Steve who was headed over to the race to hang out. Ice is a must have race essential for me!

Trail Happy! 4:00pm, 8 hours in!

Trail Happy! 4:00pm, 8 hours in! Mary Anne does not even look like she has been running! Fresh as a daisy!

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Our support Crew! Cooler of ice and red coke! Yummy!

Our support Crew ! Cooler of ice and red coke! Yummy! Eli was the water runner. Willingly filling up our water whenever needed.  Gosh they were so helpful!

Race Crew- Clive!

Race Crew- Clive!

We pushed through the heat sticking to the 6/2 interval.

3:00pm I was drenched! in an effort to stay cool

3:00pm I was drenched! in an effort to stay cool

We welcomed the nightfall anticipating a much needed temperature drop.  The dust views of the trail were fabulous.

5:00pm, 9 hours in and still smiling!

5:00pm, 9 hours, STILL HOT and still smiling!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo -Susan Scott/SOS photography

Photo -Susan Scott/SOS photography

Headlamps on, we were off into the dark. After Hood to Coast, I swore I was going to buy a better headlamp.  While my headlamp works just fine, I really want a brighter light. NOTE TO SELF- buy a 200+ lumen headlamp before next night run. Katherine had an extra headlamp so I ended up wearing two!

Nightfall!

Nightfall!

I had been grazing on food all day! The girls could not believe all that I ate.  Clearly, I have a stomach of steal.  When the final race brief email arrived I opened the menu first! Big girl has to eat!

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The food tent is like the water cooler at work…you never know what you will hear! Great job Suzanne on all the grub!

Steve grilled some burgers and I happily devoured  along with a coke! Something I would never drink normally.  Gosh, it was so good!

Burger on a plate! Thanks Steve!

Burger on a plate! Thanks Steve! 2nd Burger of the day!

 

 

 

42 ish miles in!

42 ish miles in! Feet were feeling good!

The rain finally settled in around 9:00 and did not stop for the next 6 hours! BUCKETS of rain and wind! Flash back to Hood to Coast! So much rain, the trails flooded ankle deep in many spots.  FINALLY, the rain brought cooler temps.   As I was running in the thunder and lightning, I was questioning my sanity. Thankfully, it was minimal! My next 20 miles were completely rain soaked.  There was not a dry spot on my body. It was a great re-fresh from the heat of the day and enjoyed it.  When your completely wet you have no excuse but to run straight thru all the puddles!  There were snake sightings but fortunately I did not see any!

50 miles DONE!

50 miles DONE! Omg…that face Kmac! That is what 50 miles will do to you!

MA and Kmac were done! I was so excited for them! BUT, I had 25 more miles to go so I had to keep rolling! I continued on for another 10 miles and  planned a shoe/clothes change at mile 60.  1:48am, I finally put on dry clothes.  I took me forever to peel off the wet clothes in the cold.  I dried my feet and added additional tape.  Amazingly, the Kinesio tape was holding strong!  Good stuff!  Race essential for me!

I decided to take an extended rest.  I set my alarm just in-case I fell asleep. No sleep to be had.  I was freezing.  Literally, shaking in my dry clothes under a blanket.  Around 3:15am, I set off to finish my final 15 miles!

I decided to put my trail shoes back on.  I noticed a weird pressure point on the outside of my toe when I put them on.  I even took off the shoe to see if there was something in them. Nothing! Duh! it was a blister but I had no idea and it never crossed my mind.

Headed out for final 15!

Headed out for final 15!

It was hard getting started.  For the first and only time, I broke my 6/2 interval and walked the entire 46th lap.  At the end of the lap, I did some quick math with Brandon, RD, to figure out how many laps I needed to reach my 75 mile goal.  It was at that point, I realized that I needed to stay consistent on my remaining 9 laps in order to reach my goal.

The remaining nine laps were long! I started seeing things. I swore I saw bears on the trail (it was the bridge), my next sighting was a dinosaur( it was a large fern)and finally a marsh rat ( it was nothing).  I laughed at myself and ran on.

I was determined to meet my goal! I laid it down, picked up the pace and nailed a consistent pace for the final 10k! I was tired, determined, and running strong! Lap 53, with two more laps to go I was hit with a wave of emotion.  I fought it hard, but ultimately let some tears fly. I worked hard to contain myself.  Hyperventilating does not go well with running!  It was refreshing and fueled me thru the final 2 laps!

Sheer Elation and gratitude as I came up the chute on my final lap to the cheers of all my fellow racers!

55 laps!

75.7 MILES, 4th Overall Female!

I DID IT!

75.7 MILES DONE! GOAL ACHIEVED!

GOAL ACHIEVED!

Highive from RD, Brandon Wilson. Thanks Wendy for this pic!

Highive from RD, Brandon Wilson. Thanks Wendy for this pic!

8+ minutes to spare!

8+ minutes to spare!

My ultra pal Jermey! (Picture from Kinston Mother Earth Brewing Half Marathon) Minutes after my finished asked me if I could imagine another 6 hours and completing 100 miles! I did not say NO!

My ultra pal Jermey! (Picture from Kinston Mother Earth Brewing Half Marathon) Minutes after my finished asked me if I could imagine another 6 hours and completing 100 miles! I did not say NO! He swore point to point races were better! This is a guy who is running Tarheel Ultra! 8 day race down the entire coastline of NC! (my kind of crazy!) Go Wendy and Jeremy!

YUCK! Horrific!

YUCK! Horrific! No wonder my shoe felt weird.

We watch the award ceremony and a special presentation for Brandon!

A RacENC buckle! He earned it!

A RacENC buckle! He earned it!

8:15 am we hit the road for Raleigh.  I have to admit, that was probably the most uncomfortable car ride I have had in a long time. I was so looking forward to a warm Epsom salt bath at home!

After a 6 hour nap, Kate and Kayla doctored up my feet so we could head out for a celebratory dinner!

After a 6 hour nap, Kate and Kayla doctored up my feet so we could head out for a celebratory dinner! They also brought me a bowl of twix bars and balloons! AWESOME friends!

Bad Daddy's here I come!

Bad Daddy’s here I come!

Thanks Kmac for my AWESOME Koozie!

Thanks Kmac for my AWESOME Koozie!

Monday, I treated myself to a pair of OOFOS! They are not pretty but man are they comfortable! A post race essential for me!

ahhhhhhhh!

ahhhhhhhh! Swollen piggies and Cankles.  My only complaint was sore toes!

What a great run! I ran so strong! I persevered! I never considered calling it quits! I had FUN! Ultimately, that is what it is all about! 75.7 miles won’t be easy to top but I will have to make that happen in 2016!

Ultra REDEMPTION ACHIEVED… CedarIsland40!

Redemption has never felt so good! It was personal! I had nothing to prove to anyone but myself!

42.54 miles complete!

10:01:21!

I did it!

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Redemption Smiles & Bunny Ears!

CedarIsland40 was my ultra redemption race. This was my opportunity to learn from my previous defeat,  push my mental and physical comfort zone, and succeed. To succeed, I had to put in the work.  I was the only thing that was going to get me across the finish line and I had to be ready! I owned it!

I committed week one of 11 to nail all my training workouts and stick with my program. While, I did not make every single workout I am very happy with my efforts.  I can honestly say in my 5 years of running, I have never taken training so seriously.  It felt good, and gave me the confidence I needed race day  I knew I had put in the work and that I would cross the finish line.

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Race Shirt and Pre-race carb load…just one:)

Katherine  (KMac- my awesome friend who accompanied me to the race) and I volunteered at packet pickup that was  hosted in a private room at Sammy’s Seafood House and Oyster Bar.  It was great to mingle, meet, and eat with some of the fellow participants. I was in awe of the ultra runners I would be sharing the course with.  Participants ranged from ultra virgins to ultra legends. Everyone was super nice and very supportive.

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KMac and I at the start! Little fuzzy but it was not even 5:00am yet

Big Thanks to Kmac who sealed my race strategy down for me. I knew I was going to do a run walk segment but had not given much thought to what that would be. Thankfully, KMac suggested 10 min run/2 min walk.  I loved it and immediately programmed the interval into my Garmin.  This was my saving grace! AWESOME!

Jason, Garrett, and I ready!

Jason, Garrett, and I ready!

3:50 am wake up call came super early! We picked up two fellow runners Jason and Garrett, whom we met at packet pickup, and headed to the starting line. Jason and Garrett were very trusting individuals to rely on complete strangers to get them to the start of the race! We were happy to help!  The minute the doors of the car closed they were no longer strangers but our newest friends.  Jason  was running his first ultra to celebrate his 40th birthday.  Wow! The Irony of that was surreal since my first ultra attempt was for my buddy’s 40th birthday…and we all know how that turned out 🙂  Garrett, signed up two weeks before the race and decided to join his buddy!  No training outside of a single 3 hours run.  He does not even like to run!  Now that is a good friend!  Crazy but good!

5:00 am the race was started with a “ready, set, GO!” by my adorable niece Chloe. Headlights bobbing in the darkness we were headed from Morehead City, NC to the Cedar Island Ferry (42 miles)

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The sunrise was beautiful…but hard to capture

The temps were mild, warmer than I had desired but we were off to a good start and feeling great.  Around mile 2, Ashley and I fell into step with one another. I inquired about her race strategy and shared my plan.  She liked my plan and that was the start of our 40 mile journey together.  Ashley, a seasoned ultra runner, is also a good friend of my sister Amy, whom was the race director.

Aid Station 1 Ashley and KMac

Aid Station 1 Ashley and KMac. Ashley sporting her LUNA Sandals!

I had planned on running alone and was totally fine with that. As extroverted as I am, it is shocking to people that know me well that I am perfectly content running alone.  Partnering up with Ashley was a race day bonus!

Cedar Island 40 route along coast of NC

Cedar Island 40 route along coast of NC

The course while very remote ran through beautiful coastal tidelands and marsh. The views were absolutely beautiful.  There was definitely more traffic than I anticipated and was unnerving at times but nothing we could not handle.  We got a friendly honk from an 18 wheeler and a wagging finger from a grumpy old lady.  One passerby was so curious as to what we were doing she slowed down to inquire.  When we told her we were running 42 miles she flipped out!  She screamed  “You go girls!” and drove off.

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Prius escort!

We had been warned of a one lane, wooden plank bridge along the route.  As we approached the bridge we contemplated what our strategy for crossing would be.  We certainly did not want to get taken out by a car on the bridge.  Before we could finalize our strategy, my brother-in-law Lee, whom was monitoring the course appeared and escorted us across the bridge.  We felt like running royalty. Perfect timing!

Bridge Selfie!

Bridge Selfie!

We ran over several bridges and the views were always breath taking! It was also a great excuse to stop and take a “selfie”.  This was the first of many!

"Color Run" drive by!

“Color Run” drive by!

On course support was often and entertaining! We never felt abandoned as Amy and her volunteers did a great job of monitoring the course and keeping an eye on the participants. I almost  fell over in laughter when Amy and my niece drove by spraying silly string and shouting Color Run!  It was everywhere. It was a great pick me up!

"Color run" silly string

“Color run” silly string

The coastal towns along NC 12 are very quaint.  It was a nice change of scenery.

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Too cute not to take a picture of.

Not everything was cute.  While the natural beauty of the tidelands was pleasant, there comes a time when enough is enough!

Dire Straits....

Dire Straits….

My picture, while hazy, is a perfect representation of the steamy slog through a portion of the course called “Dire Straits”.  Its long,winding, barren, asphalt that seems to go on forever.  We survived!

Popsicle Delivery mile 24!

Popsicle Delivery mile 27!

As temperatures rose ( into the upper 70’s) and we grew tired we would often wonder what we were seeing up ahead on the road. We saw plenty of mirages while we were anticipating the next aid stations.  Fortunately, Heather’s Edy’s Lime Popsicle delivery was not a mirage! We deemed it Heaven on a stick!  It was the best Popsicle I have ever had in my life!

Heaven on a stick!

Heaven on a stick! Note my FroggToggs Chilly Sport around my neck!

The Popsicle delivery was such a wonderful surprise and a much needed pick me up!  Diligent with our 10/2 run/walk segments, we decided we would walk and enjoy our Popsicle! Ahhhhhhh!  I have to mention my last minute decision to pack my daughters FroggTogg Chilly Sport towel was a true life saver!  I had never used this towel or anything similar before but my gut told me to pack it and give it a try.  AMAZING! Why have I never used this towel before?  This is now part of my MUST HAVE gear list and will never leave home without it for warm runs.  It really stayed wet and cool.   I rolled up ice in it at one of the last aid stations for the super cooling effect.

Whoo hooo the end is near...kind of

Whoo hooo the end is near…kind of

Neither Ashley or I ever checked the mileage on our watches. We gauged our distance based on the aid stations having a general idea where they were.  I figured we had a long distance to cover and we would get there when we get there.  It was rather exciting, when the road side signs got close to single digits.

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It was hot but we ran on.  Both of us were feeling great and enjoying the run.  We had great conversations but also spend a lot of time running in silence.  We stuck to our 10min/2min run/walk segments and consistently fueled and took our Salt Sticks every hour.  The sun was out in full force so we also applied sun screen every few hours.  It was great having company and an accountability partner.  After running hours, upon hours in the heat your brain function slows and you need a little help from your friend to stay safe. We laughed that Ashley was a running traffic cone in her BRIGHT yellow and orange shirt.  A perfect selection for the day.    I kept my Amphipod Xinglet around my waist ( I wore it correctly before the sun came up).  Its so light I did not even know it was there.

I had a complete brain slip and forgot to put my nuun in my Nathan vest.  Luckily I did drop some tablets in my first 2 liters of water so I did have some early on.  Just none for water refills  The Salt Sticks did the trick! Thank God!

About an hour behind us were Jason & Garrett! We got updates from the course monitors that they were having a blast!  Wondering what those two goof balls were doing pushed me to get to the finish line as I knew they would have some great stories! They had no worries about time they just wanted to have fun, enjoy each others company, take in the sights, and finish before the cut off.

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Jason & Garrett….having a blast every mile! They texted pictures to Amy, Race Director, along the route.

Take note of Jason’s super cool camouflage shades! As the sun came up, Jason realized he forgot his sun glasses.  He thought he would  quickly remedy the situation by popping in one of the very few convenient stores along the route and buy a pair. Easy enough, all convenient stores at the coast have sunglasses right?  Well, not this particular store. Oops onto Plan B!  While most would simply do without,  Jason was on a quest for survival.  No glasses officially for sale the next best thing was to buy them off one of the customers. Yep, Jason purchased his glasses right off the face of a lady in the store for $20! Resourceful!

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Garrett’s first marathon distance!

Sometime after mile 26.2,at one of the aid stations, Garrett realized he had officially run his first marathon! Pretty darn impressive for a guy who signed up for his first ultra two weeks prior and his training consisted of one three hour run! YOUTH! Way to go Baby G!

Because running 42+ miles is not enough, in an effort to break the monotony Garrett decided to throw in some push ups…or perhaps they were burpees! Either way just crazy!

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Great form! Little aid station fun

Finally, we made it to the last manned aid station and knew we had 9 miles to go.  Hitting the single digits felt great! It was HOT , we were tired, but still enjoying the run.  We made good time and caught up with some fellow runners and had a surprise visit from KMac, whom dressed in running clothes, was there to run in the final 5 miles with us! Such an awesome surprise and a wonderful pick me up for both Ashley and I.

My favorite on course picture!

My favorite on course picture! All smiling with 5+ miles to go! ( Lee, top right was driving the course in air conditioning so of course he was smiling.  The rest of us were running)

The final miles were long.  Likely the longest and slowest 5 miles of my life.  We were elated to make it to the last aid station! 3 miles to go!

The "lonely tree"  final aid station and Jason!

The “lonely tree” final aid station and Jason!

Jason and Garrett,  recognized the tree at the last aid station as the “lone” tree on the CedarIsland40 web page and took the opportunity to snap a photo.  I had no recollection of the tree. I love that they captured this photo. Not sure how Jason was able to get up. If I laid down at that point in the day I would be staying until someone picked me up.

Ashley and I REALLY enjoyed Katherine’s company on our final miles to the finish line. The fact she surprised us made it even better. 8+ hours in, a fresh perspective was greatly welcomed.  She encouraged us, filled us in on the runners who had finished, those who had not and generally everything that was going on.  We took a brief pit stop to take our picture with a HUGE Crusty Crustacean whom had seen some hard times.  At that point in the day I felt like I could totally relate to this poor fella.

Kmac and I with Mr. Crustacean..missing some appendages clearly needed some love and attention

Kmac and I with Mr. Crustacean..missing some appendages clearly needed some love and attention.

Ashely and I giving Mr. Crustacean kisses!

Ashely and I giving Mr. Crustacean kisses!  I had some serious Guy Fieri hair going on!

We were so close! Ashley alerted us that if we pushed through and ran the next 1.5 miles without walk segments we could potentially come in under 10 hours.  Secretly, 10 hours was my goal/desire second to  JUST FINISHING.  We agreed to push through and run it in.

Amy( Race Director & my sister) with Ashley and I at the finish!

Amy( Race Director & my sister) with Ashley and I at the finish!

I was so excited to almost be finished.  My accomplishment of ULTRA REDEMPTION was so close I could literally taste it.  Where the hell is the finish line? I was running slower than ever and thought the finish would never been in sight.  Kmac informed me we would take a right just ahead.  The right hand turn finally came, I saw the FINISH LINE! My emotions immediately swelled, on the verge of hyperventilation, I declared I could not breath.  Ashley assured me I could breath.  It was at that point, I decided we were going to sprint it in! Ashley, whom all day, was trying to decide who was crazier me or my sister(Amy) yelled “YOU are crazier than your sister” and she sprinted with me across the finish line!

10:01:21! Redemption Achieved! Amy immediately hugged me after I crossed.  I had no words only BIG, UGLY, SOBS, and TEARS! It was an ugly cry like no other but I did not care… I was finally a legit ULTRA MARATHONER! Amy asked if I needed anything and I simply replied ” Just hold me”.  🙂

My  handmade finisher pottery and Mother Earth Brewery Beer!

My handmade finisher pottery and Mother Earth Brewery Beer!

The finish line was awesome with lots of food ( unfortunately I was not up for eating), cold beverages and live music.  It was a beautiful day! I iced my horrific feet then decided to take a rest in the grass and wait for Jason and Garrett to finish.

Horrific blisters! Both pinky toes had weigh bearing blisters that popped miles 30-35.  When the popped my balance was thrown off.  It hurt like HELL but I ran through it.  Ashley thought I had a cramp as i had to grab onto her.

Horrific blisters! Both pinky toes had weigh bearing blisters that popped miles 30-35. When they popped( not simultaneously) my balance was thrown off each time.   It hurt like HELL but I ran through it. Ashley thought I had a cramp as I immediately had to grab her to keep from falling over.

Amy and I with Kirk Cameron! Amy stated she was hoping to talk smack to be as I run this ultra in an attempt to getting back to me for putting peanut butter on her fav Kirk Cameron poster when we were kids.  Unfortunately for her, i trained too well.  No smack talking opportunities.  Thanks to google I found the poster imagine printed it out and surpised her by putting it on her bedroom door.  Many laughs! At one point during the race...she drove by holding the poster ( we could not see her face) and she said Kirk says keep it up! I almost fell over in laughter!

Amy and I with Kirk Cameron! Amy stated she was hoping to talk smack to me as I ran this ultra in an attempt to get back to me for putting peanut butter on her fav Kirk Cameron poster when we were kids. Unfortunately for her, I trained too well. No smack talking opportunities. Thanks to Google, I found the poster imagine printed it out and surprised her by putting it on her bedroom door the night prior to the race. Many laughs! At one point during the race…she drove by holding the poster ( we could not see her face) and she said Kirk says keep it up! I almost fell over in laughter!

They did it! Congrats Garrett and Jason!

They did it…with 24 minutes to spare! Congrats Garrett and Jason!

Post race pic!  Bummed we could not not hang out to share some more laughs but totally enjoyed our short time with these two! Such a great part of the experience!

Post race pic with a photo bomb by Jason’s little cutie! Bummed we could not not hang out to share some more laughs but totally enjoyed our short time with these two! Such a great part of the experience!

Never give up on what you want! Don’t let your failures derail you! Learn from your missed achievements and simply do better the next time! The satisfaction is priceless! 

MANY THANKS!

  • Coach Chennelle, Raleigh Cross Fit, for overseeing my training plan and weekly motivation.  She helped me safely integrate Crossfit into my training plan and kept me accountable for my weekly training more than she will ever know!
  • Bryon Powell, irunfar.com, for writing Relentless Forward Progress A guide to running ultramarathons.  I read every page of this book and loved my training plan! I was also super excited to blog chat with him as he somehow found, read, and commented one of my earlier blog post 🙂
  • Ashley, for covering the miles with me! You were a lifesaver I did not even know I needed!
  • KMac, for insisting on traveling with me to support and volunteer!
  • Amy for giving me the ultimatum to either volunteer or sign up for her race! Sisterly motivation at its best! You did an awesome job at your first Race Director gig! So proud of you.
  • RaceENC, Brandon, Heather, & Amy for  hosting a spectacular race.  The organization, amenities, communications, and course were top notch!  Job well done.  I cannot say enough good things about CedarIsland40 and your successful execution of it!
  • Last but not least my Husband(Dan), family & friends for never doubting my ability and encouraging me!

I have fallen in love with the ultra…just as Amy said I would.  Dimity McDowell sums up my new found love and quest so nicely “Going big isn’t really about the distance. It’s about taking on something that isn’t necessarily a gimme”  Well Said Dimity! Next quest(it makes my stomach hurt to type it)…100k (62miles) at Croatan24, November 8th, 2014!

 

Feet Prep  Supplies - RunGoo, Fixing Your Feet Book, Injinji toe socks, Arbonne foot creme!

Feet Prep Supplies for next Ultra – RunGoo, Fixing Your Feet Book, Injinji toe socks, Arbonne foot creme!