First of many posts and reflections on Vol State 2018. Full race reportto be written over next few weeks.
This is kind of a summary of the race/running part of it. There is a lot of human stuff to write about too, but I'm too emotionally drained to really be in touch with those reflections at this moment.
The first 2 days......I love love loved the whole thing..........being out there on the open road, just you, and the trees with nothing to do but run and eat.....what could be better? No work to attend do, no phone ringing..........oh except it was ringing, and I got offers on two of my listings..but that's a whole other story.
Legs and stomach cooperating, and the miles flew by as I stayed with the front of pack folks comfortably. Had a quick car nap at about 38 miles in and our car bed, car shower, and other camping gadgets were working famously. I felt clean, rested and ready to run all night in cooler temps.
I decided somewhere in Day 2 to change to a cute running skirt, rather than tried and tested comp shorts.....because it was a light color, not black, and shorter, so I'd be cooler of course. ....boy was this stupid, because the chafing was horrific.
Then, instead of putting on run goo and going back to the compression shorts, I stupidly switched to some very light shorts gym shorts that I usually use to just hang around after runs......why would I ever think these would be good to run in at Mile 150 of the longest run of my life........?
Day 3 brought on a whole new level of suffering. More horrible chafing on the legs and arms and rotten stomach made for a death march in hot sun to Columbia. I even borrowed a page from Dallas Smith and cut the liner out of said gym shorts, to no avail....the damage was done.
Maybe I just wasn't cut out for multi-day racing. Maybe I should stick to 50's and 100's..........heck, maybe I should hang it up and just go back to marathons................that's just crazy talk.
Shower, ice bath, foot care, dinner and sleep and I felt like a new person, even left the hotel early because I was so eager to get back on the road. running great. I felt so good that I scoffed when I took a tourist shot at the Bench of Despair. No despair here, just picture perfect endurance............ until about mile 207.....when stomach issues hit again, so another death march to Shelbyville stopping nearly every mile to go potty.
Again, a shower and slightly longer day of sleep helped and I ran well nearly 28 miles to Manchester.
Only 22 more to Monteagle where I'd probably feel so great that I would barely need to stop before I made the final 40 mile push.......ha.......little did I know then how completely ridiculous this statement was.
Legs felt great, and blisters under control.The stomach issues started earlier each day. I ran ok, but slower from Manchester to Pelham, but my stomach was slowing me down.
By the time I got up the huge climb to Monteagle, it was hot and sunny, and we were both making bad decisions. Should we go .7 off course for a clean hotel, nap and shower, or plod on? We went the wrong way for about .2, but that's a lot of extra walking in the heat.
After a road side shower, short nap, food, we plodded on, but I was reduced to a hobble due to my stomach. I was starting to develop blisters on tops of toes, but it did not affect my running/walking that much. Honestly, walking was worse than running to my feet, but I could not run because of my stomach.
I arrived at the top of the hill in Jasper, and I was pisssed.......dangit, I'm a runner, not a walker........these legs are made to run. I sprinted 9's the next 4 miles downhill and my stomach magically felt better. I was able to run/walk decently until Mile 300 Kimball!
Only 13.5 left! These miles surely would fly by and I'd be finished by midnight. It was time to feel horrible again.The longest half marathon of my life was about to happen.
The highway out of Kimball felt like a haunted house. From the cicadas, tree frogs, scary plants by the side of the road that looked alive, super loud and fast cars and trucks.
We made it to a place called New Hope and crossed over a bridge......this was where we were to notify the staff of our approach, so the last 10 miles were surely flat and easy..........not.
So many steep freaking hills, as I plodded on. Now both shins were throbbing, my stomach pains increased with every step, and I was certain I would die. What if my stomach pains were, instead of ultra tummy, in fact a terminal illness?
It was probably my liver..............yes, I am sure I have liver disease, or liver cancer or stomach cancer, caused by all those years of wine, and now these 4 days of way too much race food, Ibuprofen, Tums, chips, candy........
If I was gonna die, I'd rather hurry home and die in my bed, see my dog, and friends and family one last time. I begged Bill to just pull the plug and take me back to our hotel in Kimball.
But, Bill Page, my soulmate and true love knows me too well to let me quit....and have to listen to how me whine about it for the next year......and have to come back and crew me again so I can finish. He's way smarter than that!
And so we continued on, me staggering up the road and Bill following me urging me onward, offering food and fluids. 8 miles left! More up, up, up.......and then a right turn........
Now it's really going up, straight up........who puts a mountain at the end of a 314 mile race........I am sure there are flat ways to enter Georgia. This stupid......I'm done with these longer races.......going back to focus on 5ks now.......gonna finally get that sub 20, maybe even a marathon PR.....since I am obviously not cut out for multi days.
Oh yay........we are entering Alabama.....but still going uphill. I nearly lost my balance a few times, and I often felt dizzy.......because I probably was dying of some strange GI disease. I could see sky, so we were almost to the top. But dangit, where is Georgia? About 5 miles away!!!
I continued to bargain with Bill about quitting, but his response was merely.......we have 5 days to rest in the car, so you only have to cover 1 mile a day........which flavor of Tailwinds do you want next.
BUT WHAT IF I AM DYING? YOU'LL FEEL BAD FOR GIVING ME ONLY TAILWINDS AS MY LAST MEAL!
And this went on for a few more hours, as we navigated the last 5 miles of this brutal race just footsteps at a time, with lots of crying, whining and lying down in between.
Two guys moving along much better than me passed me like I was standing still. They had been 5 miles behind me just a few hours ago.......it was like the Spartathlon Mountain all over again.
They encouraged me, moving along in a spirited fashion.....and they had neither a crew, nor a mobile bedroom/bathroom like me. If I quit now I really am a wuss...........ok, let's do this!!!
Finally, the gates of the farm. It was surreal and foggy, and probably very beautiful if you are not dying. I staggered onwards through fields on a dirt road, past carefully lined up trees and plants.
I was going to finish!!!!! We entered the finishing area and I was guided to an uneven outcropping above a steep drop-off.I bent over and touched the rock as my finish was was proclaimed to have occurred.
I was a lot less enthusiastic about finishing than I am now, and I'm sure I sounded like a jerk as I complained about those last 8 miles. In such a depleted state, there is no way to control what we say or do, we are so raw and stripped down.
We stayed at the finish for just a few moments, because it was time to finally rest, and hopefully postpone my impending death by stomach disease for just a little while longer.
I have not fully absorbed this whole Vol State experience and how it has changed and will change me going forward. I am proud that I achieved my goal and finished what I feel is the hardest thing I have ever done in 4 days, 20 hours, 27 minutes and 24 seconds. Full report to come at some later time (no, this is not the full story, but i know it is long).
I am also so humbled by all of your texts, messages, and posts of encouragement over the last 5 days. I am so lucky to have a great community of people on my side who accept me for who I am, and believe in me more than I do sometimes.
I am also very grateful to be raising money for Marathon High on this journey. Thank you for all who have supported me and this fabulous free running program for teens.