HB Logo

Red Rock

April 30, 2016

Emotional 100

Short story, tough course, wanted to quit at 50, Mary saves the day, first buckle with red on it, 28 hours and 40 some minutes, forgot to stop my watch

I have been reading some of Brene Brown's books on vulnerability and Daring Greatly.  Her work has given me insights on why I try to run these wild adventures.  This race happened to catch be in a moment of vulnerability like no other and it tested my mental fortitude in ways I haven't been challenged before.

Let's just say work has been extra challenging lately and I just didn't think I really wanted to run a 100 miles.  I knew the weekend would be fun as there was five women going on the trip to Vegas and there would be lots of giggles.  Getting ready for a race is not just about the physical preparation as it is more about the mental prep. To run a hundred miles (farther than most people want to drive) you really have to be all in.  My mental prep was lacking.  I usually visualize the finish and commit myself to the pain and challenge of it all before I begin.  That didn't happen.  The night before leaving town I was at a gut wrenching work meeting which had been in the works for the past month, so no mental prep happened in fact I felt emotionally weak having been extremely vulnerable with my peers.

This was going to be Mary's first hundred.  We had run together at Cougar mountain talking about all the ins and outs of hundreds.  What to bring, what to be prepared for....then her hamstring acts up.  Will she even be able to go the full 100?  Sue also had a hamstring injury, what will she do?  Francesca had horrible blister issues and was trying a new tape job on her feet?  Will it work?  Nikki, what will Nikki think when she actually sees the course? 

Yikes the weather, here we expected sun, maybe too much sun for gals from the northwest....and the forecast is for rain.  At the last minute I throw my raincoat in my suitcase, thank goodness as it was 40 degrees and raining at the start, yes the gals from Seattle brought the rain.  The race started 35 minutes late due to the rain.  We were hungry at the start because we got up so early.  Oh well, off we go.  Rocks baby rocks.  Everywhere you put your foot there are all different size rocks.  This is not what the pictures showed.  It looked like dirt and smooth gravel, none of that was on this course.

The course is a figure eight with a nine mile side and a 16 mile side.  The main aid station in the middle at the start and finish.  Four loops, 8800 feet elevation gain (more like 10,000, still doable) but the rocks.  Dodging puddles and keeping warm was the goal for the first loop, then it warmed up and so of course we took off all the warm clothes, and then it rained again.  We could see the clouds off in the distance and went yikes. Luckily I was able to grab a garbage bag at the aid station, so I stayed kinda dry and semi warm.  

This was a tough course and I was perfectly happy to stop at fifty miles and get a finish.  If you went farther and didn't complete the 100 you would get a DNF.  I ran into Mary during the first loop and she said her hamstring was acting up so she would try to do fifty but no more.  On my first loop I ran with a local who said that the rain would make it so no rattle snakes were around to deal with but the big cats, Cougars might be around.  I swear I heard growling, big cat growling.  This kind of unnerved me as well as being out alone all night on a tough course...did I really want that buckle... Not really.

Then Mary catches up with me and we run from mile forty something and at the aid station the race director raves about the course at night saying that we really have to go the full 100 after surviving the rain. I am skeptical and still want to quit at fifty, my feet are achy and I just don't want to do this 100 thing.  On our way into 50 miles Mary says she wants to go for it.  Her hamstring is fine and she would feel awful if she didn't put it all out there.  After all she came to run a hundred.  Crap, nothing really hurts on me bad enough to quit, I have no excuse, I run through all my body parts again, and nothing actually is bad enough of a reason to stop, damn.  We are at the aid station at fifty miles, changing socks and getting batteries and readying ourselves for the second fifty.  I don't want to go, I am going though the motions, am I really going to do this?  In my head I am cussing and saying I don't want to go...and off we go.  Mary is pumped, we are committed to stay together through the night as it is difficult to see trail markings and difficult to run through the night.

We walk and run to stay warm, we have to stop a few times to see which way to go, especially in the nine mile side as it is not as well marked as the other sixteen mile side.  The rocks, we, yes both Mary and I are now cussing at the rocks.  The course is great except the rocks.  Our feet are sensitive, Mary had a huge blister and still went out for another fifty.  I taped it, first time taping someone else's foot..and it worked.  Then I stop dead in my tracks, Mary runs into me, I hear something, I raise my head and my light focuses in, burros on either side of the trail not more than twenty feet from me.  We have interrupted their crossing, with some on both sides of the trail.  I yell and clap my hands and the momma burro backs off. We run through and get the heck out of there.  Never a dull moment in the middle of the desert canyon at night.

Oh wait, other strange things happen.  A head lamp coming towards us, is this another runner?  Mary was always seeing headlamps coming toward us.. I would say this every time that those are cars on the highway...until there was a scary runner coming toward us at night, it must have been two am, and this runner comes up a trail towards us and I say hi, he says nothing, he is dressed as a runner, but no number, I ask if he is lost, nothing, I say hi again,he finally says something, that he is trashed and will just follow us.  We don't like that and start walking along, he realizes we are going slow, so he passes us, thank goodness, what the hell was he doing out there in the middle of the night, freaky.

Of course at night every Joshua trees looks like something, a person, an animal, or Cousin It.  You just avert you eyes to look forward on the trail and hope there really isn't anything out there.  Except there are jack rabbits everywhere even if people believe that it is too big to be a jack rabbit, it is not a burro, it really is a jack rabbit.

Last loop and we are excited to get this over with, we change socks and dry shoes, for me a half size bigger.  I have tried trail toes as a lubricant for the first time, yes on a hundred, changed my socks and re-lubed every 25 miles, worked great, only one little blister at the very end.  We promise to work hard on this last loop to get er done.  We don't want to waste time on sun screen, big mistake.  We get a lot of sun and burn as all good Seatlelites.  Steph's kitchen fixes us some yummy eggs and cheese quesadilla and we are off.  We take turkey sausage to go.

It is really getting hot now and the course is totally exposed.  If the weather was hot on day one, we both agree that we could not have finished.  We trudge along hating the rocks. I pour water over my head, I soak my hat, I put a wet bandanna on my neck, all trying to help me stay cool.  When the sun comes up on the second day it really perks you up to get going, but now we have to contend with mountain bikers.  Most were nice but many forced us to stop and go off trail which is a lot of work when you are 90plus miles into a hundred.  We survived but oh the rocks.  The f...in rocks.

I am about to cry as I realize we got this we are going to finish.  We are so hot and it seems so far...oh the agony.  Where is that damn highway, where we know we are close to the finish line.  Nope not this hill, nope not this hill, damn where is it?  Ah there it is. I welcome Mary to take the lead, no longer a 100 mile virgin, suck it up butter cup and let's finish this.  Near the end we are passed by a more competitive runner, who cares we are finishing this tough mother together.
Big tears, big finish, amazing what you can do with the support of others.
Thank you Mary and congrats!

Return to Race Reports

Go to HudsonBeeks Home Page