For those of you who missed it, my friend Kim began her recap of her Running with Scissors double marathon yesterday. You can see part 1 here.
We left off with Kim just beginning the race and heading out for the first 4 miles before aid station 1. Here’s Part 2 of her recap!
…I stayed with a pack of runners for the first mile or two and then as we all thinned out, I found myself ALONE! I tried to convince myself that this was FUN and an ADVENTURE! But after about 40 minutes of running alone in the pitch-black and only being able to see about 6-8 feet in front of you, I started to get a little uneasy. Then, my worst fear happened… I GOT LOST! Not gonna lie, I definitely freaked out for about 30 seconds! After a 30 second mini-panic-attack, I remembered what the race director told us before the race, “If you get lost, don’t keep running; stop moving, turn around, and walk back the way you came until you find a trail marker.” I can’t put into words the feelings of relief and joy I felt when I found that trail marker! At about the same time, I saw a dim circle of light bouncing towards me. It was the headlamp of another human being! When we met, I told him my sad tale of getting lost and then he told me that he just got lost for 20 minutes! After laughing at ourselves, we started running again and I within a few minutes I found myself alone again.
Less than a mile away from the first aid station I encountered the first and most miserable stretch of the double-marathon. There I was, running along, trying to convince myself that I enjoyed running alone in the dark and that the moon and the stars were beautiful, when I sunk ankle-deep into a huge mud puddle! Cold, wet mud sloshed over my gaiters, into my shoes and soaked both of my socks! I took a few more strides forward only to realize that this was the “bridle path” that the course description listed and that the bridle path was actually a mud pit!
At this moment, I thought back to Scott Jurek’s book “Eat & Run” and the strategy he used whenever he encountered a rough patch during a training run or a race… Identify the problem, determine the best option and then keep moving forward. Weighed down with the realization that I would have to trudge through this mess four times before I would change shoes and socks at the start of the second marathon, the only thing I could do was to keep moving forward!
The small and informal party I threw for myself when the bridle path ended was rudely and abruptly interrupted when a big pile of mud vacuum-sucked my right shoe from my foot! At this point, I just had to stop and laugh at how ridiculous the situation was. I was alone in the woods in the dark, my feet and legs were soaked with mud, I only had one shoe on my foot and had another 22 miles to go before changing into dry clothes and shoes. However, I remember all of those horror stories that Hannah and John had shared with me. Their entire race was like the short muddy stretch I had just run through. I had nothing to complain about!
After regrouping, praying and thanking the Lord for humbling me, I ran the rest of the way to the aid station where Hannah and John were there cheering for me as I came in.
Every aid station was met with relief, happiness and pure joy, but those emotions were felt the strongest at this first aid station! Throughout the day, this aid station became my favorite because of the volunteers who were always waiting for you with big smiles and good food! John and Hannah gave me words of encouragement and then sent me back into the dark woods.
The next stretch to the second aid station felt one hundred times faster because the sun began to rise midway through! An ultrarunner friend had told me a week or two before the race that the intensity of the ‘bad’ you’ll feel in the low moments will be just as strong as the ‘good’ you’ll feel as high moments. My friend Bill was right! The low I felt as I was slipping in the mud just a few miles earlier was just as strong as the joy I experienced when the sun came up and I got to take the headlamp off and give it to Hannah and John!
Originally, Hannah was going to run the entire second marathon with me, but our plans changed and instead, Hannah ran the final 5 miles of each lap and the entire last lap (every lap was 13.1 miles). We both agreed that this was actually was a lot better because I looked forward to running with Hannah on each lap!
The first stretch I ran with Hannah was pretty entertaining because we got lost! We missed the trail marker that should have lead us to the left and instead looped us back around to the previous aid station! The volunteers’ faces were pretty funny when they saw us coming through the aid station again! So between the two times I got lost during the race, I think I actually ran closer to 53 miles!
I like to describe Hannah as, “the nicest slave driver in the world!” Hannah kept me positive, laughing, smiling and moving forward the entire time we ran together. Time and time again, she convinced me that I was doing great and looking strong! Without Hannah and her husband John, I know that I would have been miserable! Hannah and John met me at every aid station and were there (along with the awesome volunteers) to help me refill my pack, get food and more gels. One of my favorite memories from the race was at the second aid station of the third lap (around mile 34)… After John refilled my pack, he told me that I was doing a great job. I replied, “Thanks John! Man, this is really hard.” John then said, “Yeah, you’re right it is hard. And you still have a long way to go.” I burst out laughing and thanked him for not sugar-coating the situation! Another fond memory I have was also during the third lap when I forgot to lock the door on one of the public restrooms that was next to the lake we ran around. I’ll spare you the details from that story! Speaking of bathrooms, there was another funny moment from the race that happened at the bathroom near the second aid station… During the final lap, I stopped to use the restroom only to find that it was out of toilet paper. In real life, this wouldn’t be a situation that would lead to excessive groaning and despair, but after 47 miles, you can understand my sense of hopelessness (right?!). Just as I announced, “I don’t care and I don’t have time for this! I’m using the men’s room,” a little old lady that had to be at least 108 years old appeared out of nowhere and offered me some tissues. I’m ashamed to say that I ignored the lady and ran into the men’s room while Hannah stopped to talk with her and thank her for her generosity. After Hannah and I used the restroom we continued up the small hill that lead to the aid station (less than 100 yds away) only to find little old granny and her husband at the top of the hill waiting for us to ask for directions. Again, ashamedly, I kept moving forward to get to the shelter, food and smiling faces I saw in the distance, while Hannah stopped to chat with them for a few seconds. After hanging out at the aid station for a few minutes, Hannah and I left to finish the final 5 miles only to find Granny and Grampy hiking up the trail! As we approached them, they asked us, “How far to the top?” I’m sure you can guess who provided them with an answer and who kept going…
Going into the race, I planned to use a 5 minute run, 1 minute walk pattern. After about 8 miles of not following that plan, I came to my senses, put in my headphones to hear the timer and used the 5:1 run/walk the rest of the way. I am definitely thankful that I alternated between running and walking because it allowed me to keep my pace consistent the whole day. During the second lap, I listened to over two hours of recordings that my family, friends and softball players made for me. A few of these messages made me laugh so hard that at times, I had to walk a couple of strides! I would highly recommend this idea to anyone who is attempting an ultramarathon or any challenging distance! I was super encouraged by the words I heard from the twenty-plus people who sent me messages.
I think that the third lap (miles 26-39) was the most mentally challenging while the final lap (miles 39-52) was the most difficult on my body. I am very thankful that Hannah ran the last 18 miles with me because she was a constant source of encouragement! I know my slow pace killed her, but she never once complained about our (lack of) speed or the fact that I groaned at each beep that signaled the start of another 5 minute running segment. One of the final funny memories from the race happened when Hannah told me that we had just crossed the 50 mile mark. After hearing her words and thinking for a couple of seconds I said, “Hannah! I think I’m going to cry!” With a big smile on her face, Hannah turned around and told me, “NO. You will not cry. Keep going!” With a groan I smiled back and shouted, “OKAY HANNAH!”
I think the most difficult part of the race for me to put into words is the final few minutes leading up to crossing the finish line… JOY, ELATION, ECSTACY, RELIEF, PAIN… Those words just don’t fully articulate how I felt at that moment. I thought a lot about the 60 kids that would have new shoes, socks and a Bible (I also thought about the 10 double-wrapped, double-chicken Chipotle burritos I was going to consume after the race). Crossing the line and seeing Hannah, John and Steve was one of the best feelings I’ve ever experienced. The culmination of 2,000 miles during 22 months of running had finally arrived; the biggest goal I had ever set for myself was finally achieved.
So what’s next? I’m not sure. But I do know that whatever is next is definitely going to involve raising funds for Shoes 4 the Shoeless or another local organization! Thanks for letting me share my story with you!
I hope you all enjoyed reading Kim’s recap! I know I sure did! Thanks for sharing, Kim!