Here goes my first race report for my first 100 miler. It seems crazy to me I am even writing one as I never thought I would do this distance. Why did I decide to run 100 miles? After completing a 50 miler, I wanted to see if I could push myself that much farther, physically and mentally. I wanted the challenge of training and mentally committing to not giving up. I also wanted to run for a purpose. Therefore, I joined the High Hopes Challenge with Charlie Wittmack to raise money for the new cancer center in Tanzania. This challenge was a collaboration of Fighters 4 Life, The Foundation for Cancer Care in Tanzania and Radiating Hope. I had previously worked with Radiation Hope for this cause, so this was very near to my heart. I sincerely thank everyone who donated, and those names of loved ones were written on the prayer flags that hung from the crew vehicle. They were a mental reminder of why I was out here and why I was never going to give up.
The adventure started off with Ian and I arriving in Jacksonville only to discover that I had forgotten my suitcase! Luckily I had my gear bag and shoes, but I did not have my race day attire I was planning on wearing. I panicked for about 5 minutes and then we were laughing about it. A quick Target run and all was set. My crew included the amazing Thompson family: CB (Pops), Julie (mama bear) and Tamiya. Ian was going to pace me the last half of the race. I was so humbled and amazed at the amount of support from the Thompsons. They showed up with so many fun surprises. Ian had designed a special race shirt for the team: “ Slappin the bass mon”. (a favorite Paul Rudd scene from “I Love You Man”). The crew vehicle was decked out with special signs Julie had made and we strung the prayer flags and were ready to begin the adventure.
Race morning came and I was so excited to just get started. I started out feeling great, I stuck to my plan of taking it slow and walking about 2 minutes every mile. I averaged about a 12 minute mile and was having a blast. Then around mile 18, my hip injury and bursitis started flaring up. It was a hot day but the heat never bothered me as my crew did such an amazing job always having fresh ice, a cold wash cloth to wipe me down and a spray bottle. I never really felt all that uncomfortable. I got off the long beach section and went to change my socks and discovered a huge blister. Ian popped it while shoved half of a turkey sandwich in my mouth and I was off again. I grabbed my music around mile 30 and was having such a great time. The hip was manageable and the course was so beautiful. One of my favorite parts was catching a gorgeous sunset around mile 50. I checked into the mile 52 checkpoint and picked up Ian to start pacing me. My hip was getting worse, yet thankfully, Alex at the aid station had this magical medicated cream. This stuff felt so much better than Tiger balm! Ian and I took off into the night and then shit turned south around mile 62. The rest of the race was such a disaster. We made it to checkpoint 6 and at this point both my hips were bad and kept locking up. I had felt another blister and one of the volunteers pulled off my sock to check. We discovered a huge red blood blister that he didn’t want to drain. So, Ian named it Ruby and we had some delicious ramen and took off again. We were pretty much walking at this point and I was in a lot of pain and in a low point. I told Ian I didn’t think I would be able to run again at all. A few more miles later, I made the mistake of sitting in the van for a few minutes and we checked what I thought was another blister. Sure enough, another huge one had formed and Ian popped this one, only to have it squirt in his ear…hahaha. I went to stand up and everything had frozen. OK, no more sitting the rest of the race…lesson learned. We slowly crept along, and by this point the pain was the worst I had ever felt and I was so worried about missing the cutoff point. At some point, somehow I managed to work up to running for 2-3 minutes at a time. Then my tendon in the back of my left knee locked up. Ian was truly amazing juggling carrying a small cup of coke and another cup of crackers and trying to run at the same time with his water bottle. He took such good care of me the entire race, whether it was popping blisters…massaging my legs with Tiger balm or making me smile:) The rest of the race was a series of low points and just trying to get to the other side of the pain I was experiencing. My crew was so amazing and full of energy throughout the night, I always made sure I had a smile for them whenever I saw them. My stomach was a little upset and I couldn’t handle the thought of any foods, but was able to sip on ginger ale and keep moving. Honestly, I just wanted to poop! I felt so full and uncomfortable. Around 2:30 in the morning, Ian and I were pretty tired and decided to pass the time playing the “Penis game”. This lightened the mood and I think it was Jodi Samuel’s crew that happened to witness our silly antics. They later drove past us and yelled “Penis!” out the window. I know,classy right? The night continued to be a suffer fest consisting of multiple tiger balm slather sessions and even having Alex come find us on the course to deliver more of the amazing cream. By mile 85, my ankle tendons starting locking up as well. Overall, I was completely stripped mentally, physically and emotionally. I was crying and couldn’t get a hold of the pain, nor see how I was going to make it to the finish in the shape I was in. However, I was determined to make it to that finish line. We ticked off the miles one by one. I told myself that the human spirit is stronger than any pain. My crew was amazing at keeping me encouraged. At one point, Julie reminded me of every name on the prayer flags and why I was out there. After I left the last check in at mile 93.5, I literally had to stop every few minutes and bend over and massage out the spasms in my ankle. Jule was telling me just to get to the next driveway, and then the next. I don’t think I ever stopped crying. Pops tried cutting off my calf compressions to see if that would help and it did seem to a little bit. Jamie Woyton passed by and sprinkled some “pixie dust” magic to keep me moving. That made me laugh:) Ian joined me for the last two miles on the beach and at that point I couldn’t look up. I could only look at my shadow on the beach as we slowly hobbled along holding hands. Finally, he said, “I see the Thompson’s!” I looked up and saw the finish line and started sobbing again for the umpteenth time. Pops and Julie and Tamiya met us on the beach with the prayer flags and we made our way to the finish line. Crossing the finish line was surreal. I couldn’t believe I had actually finished…28 hours and 40 minutes. It was truly a team effort and I never could have made it without my crew taking such good care of me and having Ian there to not only crew but pace me and keep me moving forward. Never underestimate the human spirit! I am pretty beat up and swollen and blistered but my spirit is stronger than ever! Thank you to all the volunteers that ran such amazing aid stations, it truly was such an amazing course and race. Ultrarunning is truly a special community, I am already looking forward to the next race adventure!