I got off my bike, and headed into a tent to change. Sparkles and Anne helped me change into my running clothes, and adding a TON of TRISLIDE to keep me from chaffing on the run. I was wearing some really small shorts (that make me cringe a little in the pictures) to minimize chaffing. I might be able to do an entire post on chaffing prevention. I was pretty preoccupied with it, and I did a really good job with managing it!
Once I got on my feet, Laura headed out with me on the run. Mind you, it was pitch black out, so I had on a headlamp. The course was a 1.7 mile out and back. In other words, it was about 0.85 out and the same coming back. You could see everyone on the course, which was wonderful. You had to do the course 30 times. I had the same plan to take a 10 minute rest after 10 laps and after 20. In those breaks, I took my shoes off again. In the last break, I changed into a fresh pair of socks and shoes. I had bought a pair of shoes in wide (which is not my normal size) from West Stride before the race for this time exactly. I only had one tiny blister after the race. My feet got very tired, but they were fine. My plan was to take in something every single lap. Sometimes it was just water, sometimes it was food and water. I took in water, coke, canned coffee drinks, powerbar gels in Kona Punch flavor, poptarts. Again, I had a plan, and I stuck to it for 52.4 miles.
You know that there was run bingo happening.
At some point in the middle off the night, I accidentally reset my watch. It read 0:00 from then on. It didn't really bother me though. I just kept running. I really had no idea what time it was for most of the run. I had no idea how fast or slow I was running. I had no idea what my lap times were. I just ran. And ran. And ran.
Looking back on my data, I was extremely consistent. We have my run time recorded at 12:26, and without those two ten minute breaks, my actual running time was 12:06. Except for the laps when I needed to use the bathroom, my laps were almost exactly the same time. I had no idea. I just wanted to run.
It was really important to me that I ran the whole thing. When I finished a lap, I had run next to the computer and hear a *beep,* that told me my lap had been counted. My crew was set up right next to there. They would walk with me for about 50 feet while I would eat/drink. I learned long ago that I can't run and eat. I just choke. So, for 30 laps, the only time I walked was to get some food and liquid down. There was a traffic line painted on the road, and it was my signal to myself to start running again. So I ran, and ran, and ran.
Eventually, I ran so much that the sun came up. It was beautiful. I was able to really enjoy and embrace the sunrise. It was great to see everything in the daylight. The morning felt so refreshing. Even though I still had a long time to run, I new that this would be the day I finished this race.
My crew did more than just take care of my every need on these 52.4 miles. Some of them even accompanied me on the run. Now, mind you, I can be quite bossy. I wanted them to run off of my shoulder from the beginning to the end. I wanted to be running my pace, and I didn't want anyone to be running even a step ahead of me. So they ran "like birds in a V" behind me. Laura has been training with me for so many of my long weekends. She flew me down to south Florida twice to train in the beautiful winter heat.
Laura ran over 40 miles off my shoulder. She was amazing. She might kill me for this picture, but this is what she looked like after that awesome 40+ miles. Mind you, she was never sore in the days after the race. She will be signing up for something huge in a matter of days, I am sure. I am lucky to consider Laura my friend.
Because there was so much running at night, I don't have many pictures of my amazing friend Sparkles running with me. I do, however, have a picture of her in a wonder woman costume. She had not planned on running with me as much as she did, but we were having fun, and I kept telling her that she should consider running one more lap with me. And she did. Lap after lap we talked, she told me stories, and we laughed. Not only was she an incredible crew member who danced, changed costumes, blew up the giant dinosaur, and never lost energy, she also ran countless miles with me overnight. She deserves and award for her endless friendship and support.
There came a time though, when I couldn't really talk or laugh back. Sparkles and Laura did an amazing job filling in this time with descriptions of vacations, food, prom dress colors, and stories from other races. And then came Scott Rigbsy. I am also lucky to be friends with Scott through Laura. We have trained together in Atlanta. I told Scott that I couldn't really talk anymore, and that was all it took. We went from "I'm glad you asked, because I LOVE 80's music. Let me explain to you exactly why I love it, and all of my favorite bands," to "Did I ever tell you about the time my dad brought home a pet bull named Henry?" to "I am one of seven kids, let me tell you about every single one of them." It was hilarious. I think that if I had been able to get back up, I would have fallen over laughing a few times.
When Scott and I ran the 29th lap together, he changed into his inspirational speaker self. You can TELL that this is what he does for a living. This lap was all about my accomplishment. He started reminding me that any time in life, when I wasn't sure if I could finish or get through something, I could call on this experience for strength. He told me to focus on the people who love me and support me. He told me how lucky I was to have a husband who loves me completely, and who will be there for me no matter what life throws our way. This is when I lost it. Now I was crying and running and running and crying. I thanked him, put my foot by the timing computer for the 29th time, drank some water, and George started running with me for the last lap.
Before I venture into that last lap though, there were two other people (and their crews) on the course, who felt like they were on my team. Jason and Dani are also athletes from Atlanta. They are incredible athletes with amazing spirits and determination. Jason finished second overall. He was so encouraging to me through the night out on the course.
Dani finished fourth overall, and second female. Her story here is all about perseverance. Pushing through injury before the race, and digging so incredibly deep during the race. She was more than a competitor during the race, she was inspiration.
They are an awesome team, and we are so happy to have them as friends. We hope to be in many races with them in the years to come.
I was about half a lap or so behind Dani. On my last lap, my husband, George, came out to run with me. Because of Scott's personal inspiration speech, I was sobbing when he picked me up. But then we started talking, and I was just so happy to have him by my side. We got to see Dani and I gave her my congratulations on her finishing stretch. George and I went back to the turn around. I said goodbye to the volunteers on that end. No more times out there! When we turned the corner, and I could see the finish, the tears started. George and I ran side by side with me crying.
As I approached the line, someone handed me a flag as the national anthem played.
I love these picture with my friends on either side of me and my husband behind me. He is behind me in everything I do.
I am so grateful for this opportunity. I am grateful for the strength of my body. I am grateful that my coach knows me so well, and was able to train me perfectly for this race. I am thankful for my friends who ran with me. I am grateful for my friends who weren't running, but were keeping me fed and encouraged. I am grateful for everyone who trained with me. I am grateful for everyone who had to deal with me and my exhaustion while I was training for this. I am grateful for my amazing Team Rev3. I am grateful for my family who believes in me and who raised me to truly know that I can do anything that I am willing to work hard to do. I am grateful for all of the love and encouragement I received on twitter, facebook, emails, phone calls, and texts. I am grateful that I married someone who embraces my goals and makes them his own.