When it all goes wrong… it’s still a beautiful thing

The Buffalo 100 Endurance Race was a struggle. Running 100 miles is challenging, but some really ask are you a sissy pants or can you roll with the big dogs? Salt Flat’s 100, dished up 16 hours of rain and 40 mile an hour wind with a side of stomach issues making me consider quitting once at 50 miles. Pony Express was near perfect conditions, never once did I think of quitting. Things got hard and I had to slow down, but I was going to finish. Buffalo Run took the liberty of reminding me I have a lot to learn.

I was so excited that the weather was going to be beautiful for the Buffalo Run. Beautiful things can often blind us to problems. I wanted that sub 24-hour finish time. I was so close at Pony Express (24 hours 15 minutes), Buffalo Run was going to be my race.

I put in all the training, tapered, and felt good on race day and then the dominos started to fall.

My hydration pack was leaking. The temperatures climbed into the low to mid-seventies. The heat was getting to me. At one point, I was dizzy and light headed and had to slow down. I made my goal time for the first 20 miles, but came into the aid station soaking wet from shoulders to knees and had blisters on my feet. We changed my shoes and shorts. I took my handheld water bottle and continued down the trail. I was the sixth woman at that point.

There is no shade on the course, none. The sun continued to scorch my skin. Because it is early in the season, I had done zero heat training. I run in the early morning hours when temperatures are between 30-40 degrees Fahrenheit. I came into the aid station at 27.5 miles overheating, sun burned, and fighting nausea. Gear Gnome told me everyone was feeling the heat. Some runners were laying in the shade tent after vomiting repeatedly. “Everyone is feeling the heat and slowing down. But you’ve moved up three places because of it and your only ten minutes behind where you thought you would be.”

I told them I would be slower on this next section, 12 miles, until the sun went down. Sure enough as soon as the sun went down and a slight breeze cooled my skin, I was able to get in some good miles. My quads were starting to ache, which was abnormal because I do hill training, have run races with a lot more climbing, and had never had that happen. I knew the second loop through the mountains would be challenging on the descents.

I met back up with my crew at 38 miles and was in and out pretty quick. It was five more miles to the next aid station, which went by fast as did the next six miles into the fifty-mile aid station. I picked up my pacer, Sponge Bunny. I drank some coffee. I couldn’t decide if I was warm or cold. I pulled on a long sleeve shirt. We pulled off my shoes and drained the sizable blisters on my feet and off I went into the dark. Within three minutes of leaving, I decided I would be cold walking up the mountains so I sent Sponge Bunny back for my pants.

From miles 50-70 crews cannot get to their runner unless they hike about five miles, but there is an aid station, which runners pass through three times. Sponge Bunny and I took it easy not wanting to burn out the energy I had and could use better on the flat sections of the race. After a short time, the coffee was not sitting well in my stomach and I had to force myself to vomit to be able to drink water to stay hydrated. I continued to overheat on climbs and had to take my long sleeve shirt off. I didn’t think this was a good sign since Sponge Bunny was wearing full tights, shorts, and two layers on top. Around sixty-seven miles I started falling asleep while we walked. Sponge Bunny continued to tell me stories and made sure I was on the inside of the trail. As we came down out of the mountains, it got very cold.

I was shivering when we reached my crew at 70 miles. They wrapped me in Gear Gnome’s coat for thirty minutes. The sun was starting to come up and the tiredness lifted. Sponge Bunny and I went back out. I continued to have stomach issues and was doing a mix of running and walking.

At mile 77, J$ took over pacing. I had been going for 21 hours. My legs ached like the day after my first marathon. I didn’t think I could do another day in the heat. Twenty-three miles seemed incredibly far. But I went out. We shuffled along. J$ talked and I grunted. The sun was up and the temperature was climbing again. When we reached the aid station at mile 79, Cousin Jon tracked down some sunscreen and covered me with it. I ate some real food and sat in the shade for twenty minutes. J$ rubbed my sore aching legs and another runner gave us Icy Hot. Then I went back out. My stomach started to feel better for a few miles but then got a lot worse.

At mile 88, I was ready to be done. I climbed into the back of the van almost in tears. I didn’t think I could make the cut off times. Every inch of my body hurt. I was exhausted. I was sick. But I went back out.

Six miles of more heat. Shuffling along at a turtle’s pace. We reached the mountain view aid station. I plopped down into a chair. J$ rubbed my legs again. I shoved some more potato chips into my mouth and off we went once again. We trudged up and over the last hill and then down into the final aid station.

I crossed the finish line after 30 hours and 22 minutes. Totally exhausted and utterly thrilled to be standing on a desert island in the middle of a salt filled lake.

 

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3 thoughts on “When it all goes wrong… it’s still a beautiful thing

  1. Pam Lowe March 26, 2015 at 3:32 pm Reply

    That’s my Girl! Congratulations. I love you.

  2. jaznajalil March 26, 2015 at 4:43 pm Reply

    Wow! That was some serious inspiration for a (still) half- marathoner like me!

  3. my1sttrirace March 26, 2015 at 5:49 pm Reply

    Congrats on your finish, way to stick it out. It sounds like the heat did you in and you couldn’t recover.

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