Wow...where to begin....as I am 11 hours post race and sit on a flight to Alaska for work. 1 hour of very fitful sleep under my belt since before race start. I actually woke myself up with legs trying to run. Scared the bejeebers out of me! I nearly jumped straight out of bed in a dead bolt! For about 3 days I will dream about running the Leadville trail, it's just part of me processing the race in my sleep...so here was my race....
Spent a week at altitude to try and acclimate hoping to get past any altitude sickness and better prepare myself for the race ahead both physically and mentally. I came into this race better prepared than last year and maybe a little more nervous. Last year it was the fear of the unknown, this year it was the fear of the known! I was nervous but more excited than anything.
This year I would be shooting for sub 25 hours. Last year my time was 28:45. I knew based on how my body deals with altitude, last year's race, and my recent race at San Juan Solstice 50 miler (big time altitude race) that this would be a good, albeit lofty goal. This would be my "cool impossible" so to speak. Altitude affects everyone a little different...as long as I take it very slow and easy I do just fine, but this would not be a slow and easy race ;). So my strategy was to prepare for everything I COULD control. My thinking was, control for everything I can, prepare for the worst so that all I have to do is focus on running, fueling, hydration...everything else would be taken care of by my crew and pacer. I must say here that I had a dream team of a crew that came through for me every aid station, every time. They were better than any indy pit crew! I had the most awesomest crew chief who just happens to be my husband Todd, Shannon McFarland was the ultimate pacer and the reason I did not DNF at Winfield. Thank God for the last minute decision to put him there! John Nobles, the rockin' awesome runner who could not pace any due to a foot fracture, but came through at every aid station with game on. And my most cherished Cherokee crew member and inspiration, Marcella Morton. She is 62 but looks 42 and acts 32. She is one of the most beautiful, witty, friendliest running souls you'll ever meet. I was honored to have her there, and especially honored she ran right next to me from several blocks out right through the finish line.
So the course is a 50 mile out and back. I'll just take you on my journey, aid station to aid station.....
Start to May Queen (mile 13.5) 2:21 minutes- just a couple minutes shaved off last year's split:
I tried to hop out close to front so that I could hit the single track trail in good position and not get stuck in a walk/run conga line for 13 miles. Gun fired at 4am and we were off. The first 5 miles took us through town, down paved, then dirt, then rutted out jeep road, then more dirt road until we hit the single track trail around mile 6. The conga line shuffle began. We were moving good for the most part, and I felt comfortable and not like I needed to pass anyone for some time. There was a young girl in front of me with a prosthetic R leg. I was amazed at how she handled the very rocky/rooty narrow single track trail around Turquoise Lake. I cannot even imagine. The trail hugged the crystal clear snow melt lake for the next 7.5 miles. We rolled up and down gentle climbs and descents. I focused on getting 1 gel every half hour and 1 water bottle per hour down. My tummy seemed to be doing ok, not great, but not bad. As we got closer to the first aid station the conga line slowed a bit, not enough for me to pass, but I noticed we were going to be coming in about 10 minutes at least behind my time last year here. Hit May Queen aid and crew stripped me of my pack and refilled everything. Quick pee break at the porta potties and pack back on and off I went to work.
May Queen to Outward Bound at mile 27 (Split here was 2:15 minutes-10 minutes slower than last year coming in):
Jumped back on single track trail huggning the lake for another mile or two, this time climbing, working our way up to the dirt road pass that would lead us all the way up from around 9,800 feet to 11,500 fett and the top of the "powerline" section. I determined I would continue to conserve here, knowing that my time might be a little slower than last year here, but hoping it would pay off. I continued to focus on fueling well. I switched from stinger gels and water to my favorite sport drink, CR 333. My goal was to get close to 1 botte (333 calories) per hour down as I went and sips of water to quench thirst. I had a little nausea, very mild and took some tums going up. I also took an anti-nausea pill. I also wore sea bands (wrist bands that utilize pressure points) to avert nausea.... by golly I was going to do everything I could to keep from getting really sick! If someone had told me hopping on one leg while closing one nostril with the forefinger and winking every 10 seconds would help I likely would have tried that too! ;).
Worked my way to the top of "powerline" and cinched everything up for the next 2ish mile downhill slide/run. This section is a sandy, rocky, rutted out joy ride. You can hear the power lines buzzing above you. I actually really like this section. Downhill is where I do really well and there are breaks in it, you go steeeeep down then hit a slightly less steep or flat section for a minute then back to very steep. These breaks occur about every few minutes until you get close to the bottom. Then it is just steeper and steeper sandy sliding. It's fun to watch everyone pick lines going down. It was here that Shaheen Sattar from Texas passed me. I recognized her from last year and from local races. She is an incredible runner. Friendly and FAST! She finished second female this year!!! WAY TO GO!! I also have to brag that I beat her at a 54k event earlier this year...ahem...she must've been having a bad day, or ill, lol!!! I am soooo proud of how she finished!!! I know she had to be tickled to death to do so well. She was shooting for sub 25 and man did she beat that and then some! Again, thrilled to be in the ranks of such awesome regional runners.
Outward Bound (mile 24, 2 hours 24 minutes from MayQueen):
15 minutes behind last year's mark, but the aid station was a little farther as well so wasn't too worried. Still trying to be conservative. I had noticed coming off powerline and over the short road section some aches and pains were already starting to arise. These pains were ones that usually did not start until around mile 80 of my 100 milers or around mile 40 of my 50 milers. This made me a little nervous. The next 6 miles would be on paved road, fairly flat section. I managed this stretch well, just focusing on moving well, good form, relaxed running. Hit the jeep road around mile 30 and in to the Half pipe aid station at mile 31
Half Pipe Aid station (mile 31, 1 hour 28 minute split):
This would be the only aid station where I did not have any crew. About a mile out I started my systems checks. Did I drink as much as I was supposed to? Answer: maybe just a little under. Did I take in the goal amount of calories? Answer: maybe just a little under. Next question...can I get something down from the aid station. My tummy was still in pretty good shape, no big time nausea so I opted to try and get a full can of ensure down. It worked. A little heavy feeling, but tolerated nicely. Refilled bottles and pack and off I went trying to get in and out as quickly as possible. Aid station workers were awesome about helping with pack, getting drop bag and tending to any needs the runners had coming in. The next section would be climbing. It was a gradual climb out of the aid station. The sun was up and it was getting warm and I was sweating more. I increased my water consumption, drinking to quench thirst and trying to get 20oz of sport drink down every hour if I could. A few slow gradual ascents and descents on forrest roads and then on to the Colorado trail. This was a huge boost to me last year and felt good coming up on it again. Hitting the shaded single track soft dirt and pine needle trail is such a nice switch from the bright sun and hard packed dirt/rocky roads. Hit the mini aid station on Mt Elbert and topped off water and on I went. Once I hit the mini aid station the next 3-4 miles would be mostly descending. Great right??? Descending is where I can make up time and really put the work in. Descending is my strength. Those ache and pains that were present leaving outward bound aid station were stepping it up. In particular the R knee pain. Descending was more painful. The jarring of striking that R foot down would send sharp pain along the right side of my knee where the IT band inserts and the LCL ligament. I was starting to limp a little on my downhills. The last mile into Twin Lakes aid station is particularly jarring and wicked with very loose rocky jeep road terrain. I came in to Twin Lakes and Told todd to text coach and see if he had any suggestions. I failed to do my systems check a mile out from the aid station, I was focused on my new issue with my knee.
Twin Lakes Aid Station (mile 39.5, 2 hours 20 minutes...20 minutes behind my time last year)
I was really relieved to see my crew again. I scarfed another full ensure since it seemed to sit well previously, made sure I had what I needed to get my hind end to Winfield and got outta there. I told todd to text my coach and let him know what was going on with my knee and see if he had any ideas, although I knew there really wasn't much that would help at that point, I just hoped it would not get worse. I could not be an aggressive descender now, but I figured I could still be strong and make a good finish. At twin lakes I knew my sub 25 goal was likely going to be out of reach, I was surprised a bit by my lack of disappointment. I was frustrated. I felt fantastic....I had energy to spare, I was well hydrated, feeling very well fueled, muscles wanting to go go go, but the R knee dictated a more delicate R foot strike and any attempt to just push past it really pissed it off.
So across the lowest elevation of the course I went. Leaving the aid station you go about 2.5 miles across the flats and river crossing. The terrain is single track bush-whacked trail through brush. The river crossing was easy peasy...the water was maximum knee deep on me. The icy cold water felt great on the feet and legs, I was wishing it came up over that knee. Hit the base of hope and started climbing. Here is my weakness. I am not a bad climber for someone from Oklahoma, but not a great climber in general. Add to that my difficulty tolerating altitude and tendency to get very nauseated, the yucky headache, and problems with breathing, and.....well....I just know this is a tough section for me. One foot in front of the other...power hiking which actually looks more like shuffling up up up. 4 miles straight up. The one break I could catch was with my knee. My knee pain would disappear when I climbed. "Yay"! I thought. At least I had some reprieve and maybe giving that tendon a little break would make it settle down and tolerate things better. I fueled and hydrated well going up hoping to capitalize on the 3 miles of downhill trail on the other side of Hope. Here is where the lead males started passing us on their return from Winfield. AMAZING!!!! Great to see these guys fly! Got to see Scott Jurek which geeked me out a bit. All of the front males cheered us on just as much as we cheered them. Their pacers really cheering us on. That was soooo inspirational to be cheered on by famous racers and their pacers! I expected them to be so focused on their own races/racers that they would not even acknowledge me, but all of them...every last one did. SOOOOOOO cooooool!!! It made me work harder going up. Made it to 12,600 feet the "hopeless" aid station.
Hopeless Aid station (mi 44.5, 30 minutes behind my split last year...uh oh)
I think I came out of the aid station slower than last year and probably moved across the flats slower with the aches and pains, but felt like my ascending was at least as good as last year if not a little better. So, quick lesson on the Hopeless Pass Aid station. For them to have an aid station at the top of hope pass one would think no big deal. However, there is no way for a motorized vehicle to get up the trail. So how do you get enough aid for 900 runners to the top of hope pass? Horses? nope...a horse cannot take the stress. Answer? Llamas. They pack llamas down and hike them to the top of the mountain and viola! I must say it is a strange sight to suddenly see a bunch of llamas around the fire at 12,600 feet. You have to take a second and ask yourself if you are hallucinating. I touched one, ...nope...he's real! I grabbed a quick cup of broth and off I went down the other side.
At first no knee pain...for about 1/8 mi. Then it whined and within the first mile the pain was so sharp and so severe that I had to stop at the end of one of the switchbacks and try to compose myself for the next several switch backs. I started also getting sharp shooting pain behind my R hip and the pain was radiating and meeting down the side of my quad. Every once in a while I would strike a rock just right and it would crumple me. I could hear myself yelp....and so could those around me. Several would stop and ask if I was ok. I would raise my hand with a universal "ok" sign and wave them on. This was the first time I started looking at my watch. Bad idea. I was seeing my downhill pace go to pure crap. I was rocking a 25-30 min mile...downhill...in what felt like a run, but must have looked more like a gimpy limpy walk. I started to think....It is a bad idea to start "thinking" at mile 47....it is always better to "don't think, just do" You train so you don't need to think, all of the critical information is programmed in...So I started calculating based on my watch...calculating....if I go at a 25=30min downhill pace on all of the downhill sections my finish time will be.....Well over 30 hours. That won't work. I stop thinking and start running again. And over and over I would hit a rock just right and the knee would crumple me. After 3 miles of 30 minute downhill miles, I lost it. I hit the end of a switchback and stepped off the trail and sobbed. Several runners stopped to try and help. I let them know I was ok, just needed a minute or two to pull it together. I lied. I was falling apart. I had no desire to "pull it together". I was bewildered, pissed off and in a lot of pain. I looked at my watch again and fully believed it was over. Tom Lane, a friend and runner from Arkansas passed me coming up. We chatted for just a few. He was doing very well. I informed him I didn't think I was going to make it. I was soooo happy to see him looking so well at that point. I had complete confidence he was going to do great. I told him, "I'm not going to make it, take it in for me".
Once I got to the base of the backside of hope and the trail became more undulating, I was able to increase my pace and clip off some miles that would get me to Winfield before the time cut off. I must admit, I was in many ways wishing to miss the cutoff, but I couldn't convince myself to take it a step further and decrease my effort, to allow myself to miss it. So I gave it every ounce I had, conserving just enough to give the knee a breather but not not an ounce less. Trying to find that line was tough. Trying to push the pace enough and find a level of pain I could deal with for another 12-13 hours without blowing the knee up. It was also tempting to just hammer it and quit when the knee would no longer take it. In other words end my race by being stupid and arrogant. I really just wanted to end my race. So in to the 50 mile aid station at Winfield I went, with all those happy thoughts! I weighed in 2 pounds heavier than I started...uhh can you say retaining fluid? I had man-hands ;), my face was swollen. I must have looked horrible. There was John Nobles my broken footed friend and my pacer Shannon McFarland. It was a last minute decision to put my pacer at Winfield. I had decided it would be better to start him at mile 60. I wanted him fresh and ready because my plan was to conserve well on the first 50, hit 50 miles at around 11 to 11.5 hours and then really go to work the back half. I told Shannon I did not think my knee was going to handle the downhill toward twin lakes. He insisted we continue on and see how my knee did. I was pretty sure, based on my splits coming over hope that I would miss it. I really did NOT want to ascend and descend hope pass only to miss the cutoff at twin lakes. Shannon really didn't give me a choice and I didn't have the strength or guts to argue with him there. I also still believed just a little that it miiiiight be possible.
I left the 50 mile mark at Winfield at over 13 hours...just 45 minutes, I think, ahead of the time cut off. We moved fairly slow and hiked up the backside of hope. We passed many racers that would miss the cutoff at Winfield, one a good friend Aaron Ochoa. A really good runner from Oklahoma and a good friend. I trudged up and Shannon stopped to chat with Aaron for a few and then joined back up. I lead the climb. I gave every switchback up everything I had. The knee pain magically subsided. The hard part here was the nausea, splitting headache, and breathing. But I was also taking in calories and water aggressively knowing that I would need every ounce of energy...for the physical work ahead, but even more for the mental work ahead. If I got bonky on top of my pitiful knee? I would end up a blubbering mess that might just actually convince my crew I was too far gone to continue. The descent down hope going in-bound was not as bad. It is not as steep and I was able to speed up quite a bit, at this point I was really focusing on my foot strike and balance, again, trying to conserve and regain some ability in that knee. By 2/3 of the way down the pain became excruciating again. I was so glad to hit the bottom of hope, to end the descent. Across the flats we went in the dark...We did not pack headlamps at Winfield..we just never thought it would possibly be that late or dark coming back in to twin lakes. As we came close to town, spectators used their lamps and flash lights to light our way. They cheered me on, encouraging me and telling me how well I was doing. I was grateful.
"Perform" became my mantra. The word "perform" took on a whole new meaning at that point. My coach, throughout training would always tell me to perform. He would say, "I want to see you perform'. I always equated performance with the outcome.....time in particular. If I hit my splits, then I "performed". If I missed my splits, or my times weren't as good as I thought they should be, then I didn't "perform". At mile 50 I started to "perform". I focused even harder on doing everything I could to get the most out of my legs. I wanted to just drop my fueling and hydration, I mean really, what's the point? I'm going to eventually miss a time cutoff, right? We all know the farther you go into a 100 miler, the more you slow down. Now there are rare exceptions. But consider this. In the 30 years this race has been held, unless I am mistaken, there has only been one person to have a negatie split...meaning that he did not slow down the last 50 miles, he actually sped up. So I knew a negative split would be unrealistic and the odds were surely not in my favor to finish under 30 hours. It really just should not have been possible. Well, i'll be a monkey's uncle if I didn't widen that cutoff window just a bit coming back into Twin Lakes. I was now at one hour under cutoff. I must say there was a twinge of disappointment here too, the desire to quit was strong and there was a very small part of me that wished I would just miss the ?$%!ing cutoff so I could go to bed dammit!
Twin Lakes (mile 60, 1 hour 30 minutes...3 minutes faster than last year-wha? Huh?)
I looked at my crew, Todd, Marcella, John. I told Todd... "I have tons of energy, I am hydrated and fueled...I just can't get this knee to cooperate!!!" It was very frustrating. I knew I could do more, I just couldn't do more...ya know?!! I completely changed into dry clothes and added layers here and off we went. It's another pretty steep climb out of Twin Lakes going home. 3-4 miles of climbing with very short descents. Those descents were painful though. As we were getting close to half pipe aid station I was watching things fall apart again. My climbing was not great and on my descents I was rocking a 25-30 min mile pace...not good enough in my brain. I was convinced this would not get me to the finish in under 30 hours. I started thinking about how I had a flight to catch right after the race and if I just quit now, I could at least get a little more sleep before going to the airport. In my mind there was no sense in just prolonging the torture, I sure as hell wasn't doing my knee any favors, right? Why tear up my knee for another 10 miles to miss the next cutoff? I was also feeling bad for my pacer Shannon. Ugh, to have to trudge at a turtle pace mile after freaking mile in the 30-38 degree temps only to get cut off at an aid station? It was then that I thought....Shannon can run ahead...go find Tom Lane, who had no pacer, and help him finish. At least Tom had a shot at finishing was my thought. Why pace someone who is going to miss a cutoff when there is someone out there who can actually finish if they had a good pacer? I'd like to say these thoughts were a selfless attempt to help another runner. In reality they were thoughts geared toward ending my pain. With no pacer I could quit without getting scolded. So for about the next 15 minutes as Shannon is chattering, "you are doing great", "blah blah blah", "you can do this", "blah blah blah", "you beat the next cutoff and you'll be on the flat road and you'll be able to run well", "Blah blah blah'. I was getting irritated with his optimism.
I spent a fair amount of time formulating in my brain the words to present a compelling case for Shannon so he would leave me the ?$%^ alone and I could quit this race without an audience. I was so well fueled and hydrated that my ability to be manipulative and sneaky was quite good! I was impressed with my strategy. I thought I would outsmart Shannon.....So I present my case. It went something like, "Shannon, look....my knee is shot (and it was), I cant descend....my pace is....we both know I'm eventually going to miss the cutoff.....You have the potential to help Tom...The odds of him finishing his race solo is.....You can do him more good than you can do me....The whole time in my brain I was thinking, "Go away, PLEASE!, I don't want anyone to see me quit! There was also a significant amount of fear coming into this section because of last year. I nearly froze to death between half pipe aid station and outward bound at mile 76. Honestly. I got so cold last year. I was disoriented and weaving, vomiting, stumbling into outward bound aid station. I spent a loooong time in that aid station last year. I did not want a repeat of that adventure.
Well needless to say, I was not nearly as sly as I thought I was, and he refused to leave me. Tensions rose, he chewed me out. I told him in no uncertain terms, with curse words flying out of my mouth faster and with better flow than the raunchiest rapster, just where he could go and the roadmap to get there. In addition, I would kick his ass so hard he would not need a pacer or need to worry about missing time cutoffs getting there. So we hobbled on in the cold darkness. We arrived at half-pipe aid station, grabbed soup, topped off bottles and off we went again.
Half Pipe Aid Station: mile 70.9 (2 hours and 52 minutes) 30 minutes slower than last year.
This section did prove again to be tough for me as you read the above and the miles went by very slowlyl
I did seem to tolerate the flatter road section better and started clicking off faster miles. The jeep road/forrest road was painful, but not too bad. Hit the road and continued on. I was relieved to find my knee tolerating the road ok, still much slower than I wanted, but not as slow and excruciating as I had imagined. We seemed to get to outward bound relatively quick
Outward Bound: mile 76, 2 hours and 6 minute split, still about 10 minutes behind last years split here.
Moving very slow, but still moving I came in here. let the medical personnel get a hold of my feet and tape up some blisters. Changed shoes out here, chatted with the aid staff and drank more soup. Spent about 15 minutes here. Made sure I had enough layers, plenty of sport drink, gels, water and pacer!! It was at this point I was starting to think we may actually make it in under 30 hours. I was very focused at this point, despite and maybe even "in spite of" my desire to quit and the pain I wanted this race to be marked by my commitment to my plan. It was here in those 15 minutes I looked back over the race I had run. I gathered strength knowing and feeling that I had given every fiber of myself up to that point. At no point, did I ever slack off, back off, or give less than my best effort. I wanted to many times, I wanted badly to quit and there were many many times I didn't think I was going to make it, but despite those feelings I never backed off. If I could push harder at any point I did. I only backed off when the pain forced it and when it would relent I would push harder again. What I was seeing happen was I would push hard and get slammed with pain that would cripple me down to a crawl, then the pain would subside, I would pick back up and push harder until the pain would cripple me back down. I could see this strategy was not working well to get me in under cutoff. So I started conserving more this next section, see if I could move overall a little slower, but at the same time, in doing so, avoid the crippling pain and have an overall faster split. I started to test this out leaving Outward bound headed toward mayqueen.
MayQueen: mile 86.5, 3 hour 33 minute split....almost an hour and a half faster than last year!
Whelp, obviously this strategy worked. Also this was the point last year where I spent a great deal of time in warming bags suffering from hypothermia, so also have to take that into account. I was smart this year. I did NOT get cold. I WAS prepared for the cold. Many others weren't. Lots got very cold and were on cots in bags trying to warm up.
Leaving outward bound aid station toward mayqueen I started running a little slower than on previous attempts. I speedwalked the uphills and did not power down the downhills...I tried to keep a smooth even pace on the road section before hitting powerline. Powerline would be about a 2 and a half mile climb to 11,500 feet...starting at around mile 88 on the course. Steep sandy slide with deep ruts/ravines. We found a pace I could maintain without having to stop with hands on knees every few minutes like last year. I worked that uphill section as best I could. The knee eased up and we were moving! We passed many runners here. We caught up to another runner and his pacer. My pacer Shannon and his pacer struck up a conversation ahead of myself and the other runner. It was funny. They were about 15 feet ahead of us, chattering away like two little girls. The other runner and I were shoulder to shoulder with similar breathing and effort. We struck up a much less enthusiastic conversation. I leaned over and said, "I guess we're not all that entertaining eh?". He chuckled, and replied, breathing hard with the weak monotone voice we had both developed, "yep". After another minute or two, he said in that weak monotone voice, "We could throw rocks at them". After a few huffs and puffs, I replied in my weak monotone voice, "yep". I felt like we actually drew strength from eachother, we were side by side, totally understanding eachother, like on a tandem bicycle, pedaling at the same foot turnover, breathing at the same cadence, swinging our arms together, just simply understanding eachother...and getting a kick out of listening to our pacers chitter chatter. Poor things, they had been stuck for hours and hours with two Eeyores from Winnie The Pooh.
Powerline has numerous false summits. You crest a section and have a brief flat followed by another climb. Last year these frustrated me, I kept thinking I was at the top, only to find another climb ahead. This year I knew they were there and I took advantage of them. Shannon and I debated briefly whether or not to run these very short flat sections. We decided my pace was good enough that we ought to just conserve energy and stress on the knee and continue to hike through them not risking further knee injury that might slow me down or stop me. We had to keep in mind I still had 15 miles to go and blowing out my knee now would make for a really disappointing DNF. We decided that as long as we could get me in under 30 hours we would not chance our luck trying to push for a better time. This strategy saved my knee and I think is the only reason I made it through the finish under the cutoff. We were cutting along at 14-18 minute miles. Previously I would push and run an 11 minute mile at best and within a mile or less be crippled down to a 25 minute mile limpy creep and the average would be a slower overall pace. So basically I was moving faster walking than I was trying to run.
We hit the top of powerline and I think we did end up jogging down to the trail, but I can't remember. This section was dirt road and easier on my knee. I was very nervous about the trail going around turquoise lake. It is very technical and I knew my knee would probably not like it going up, down, sideways, backwards, fast, slow, whatever. I was afraid I wouldn't even be able to walk this trail without severe sharp pain. I was wrong. I think because we gave my knee such a nice long break going uphill on powerline and veery easy jog down the dirt road, the tendinitis in my knee settled just a bit. We power walked our way across those rocks and roots and my knee stayed at a low hum. We passed several runners. We came into Mayqueen having increased our gap to the cutoff to around an hour or maybe a little less. One precious hour under the cutoff.
MayQueen to Finish line 3 hour 26 minute split...30 minutes faster than last year:
The torch was passed from Shannon to Todd. Todd would now pace me in. We were all still very nervous about whether or not I would make the cutoff. We still had 8 miles of technical single track around the lake and then a steady 6 mile slow uphill to the finish. Neither making for easy/speedy miles. after 90 miles down. Marcella Morton and John Nobles, my crew were rocking. John loaded me down with chocolate chip cookies in my pockets and Marcella had my bottles and clothing readied. It was the quickest pit stop change of all. We had to get me outta there to have a shot. Todd lead the way. It took him a little while to figure out my pace and where to hang in front of me, but it wasn't long before we were in a groove. We passed many more runners and pacers, encouraging eachother and reminding eachother we were going to make it, that this one was almost in the books. I knew some of the people we passed early on were not going to make it, and that saddened me. To come so far and not make the 30 hour cutoff. This kept me motivated to move as fast as I could. After about 5 miles Todd started asking me if I could go faster. I was giving him everything I had. I couldn't move any faster. I didn't really understand....I was worried we were getting farther behind. He finally spoke up and said, "You know, it's gonna be close, but I think you can beat your time from last year". For the first time in hours and hours my voice actually had emotion... I let out a high pitched, "Really?!" I couldn't imagine that I had made up enough time to come close to last year's finish. I thought he had miscalculated, or was lying. Nope, he was convinced he was right. I still did not believe. We made it to Tabor boat ramp. 7.5 miles to the finish. We recalculated...Todd was figuring right, we might could get close to last year's time. My speedwalk came to life! I even jogged a little, but this was really becoming too painful and again if I jogged, I would end up limping slowly for a ways after resulting in a slower overall pace, so speedwalk it was. My arms were swinging my hips were swinging. I had never speedwalked before, but by God I was doing it now!
I had forgot about the 1 terrible descent left...at the end of the turquoise lake trail there is another baby "powerline" section. It follows a powerline down about 1/8 mile. Extremely wobbly loose grapefruit size rocks, almost a ravine down. Shit. It hurt like hell going down that on my knee. There was no easy way about it. The steep grade dictated a stutter run pace. You couldn't walk down it if you tried. It took me about 1/8 mile of severe limping to get back to a speed walk. Recovered we power walked and talked about how close we were getting. Todd more and more convinced I could beat last year's time. My crew was supposed to meet me at 1 mile out and we were all going to run in together. We hit the 1 mile mark and no crew. I was grinning ear to ear..."Todd...they aren't expecting me yet are they? They think I'm farther back".
This made me feel good. We worked hard and made up enough time that even my crew didn't anticipate me getting there that soon. At this point Todd told me, "If you can run down 6th street, you WILL beat your time from last year. Problemo. I had to pee. If I ran down 6th street I would pee all over myself and I was NOT going to have that happen even if it meant not beating my time. I spotted a porta potty. "Todd, if I can go pee, I can run down 6th street". He replied, "you've got 2 minutes". I said, "I only need one". Came out of the porta potty and started running. John, Marcella, and Shannon joined us at the top of 6th street, 4 blocks from the finish and we ran. Someone was playing the theme from Rocky. It was hilarious! I felt like Rocky! I still did not believe I was going to beat my time from last year. I still thought Todd was just trying to juice every ounce of effort out of me. We hit that finish line and I immediately turned to the clock. 28:40. My time last year? 28:45. I did it!!!!!!!! My goal was sub 25 hour....before the race that was my "cool impossible". The race itself became my Cool Impossible. And I accomplished my Cool Impossible!