This is the second of two posts recapping my first 100 mile race. Catch up on part 1 here.
Last I left you, I was at mile 54 and a little over thirteen hours into the race. A lot can happen in 46 miles, especially when those miles come after 13 straight hours of running!
I came into the start/finish aid station after finishing Loop 2 around 6:40 pm. I was 54 miles in and still feeling pretty good. It was so awesome to come into the aid station and see my boyfriend, Patrick standing there with my pacer, Brandon. I had looked forward to seeing them all day.
But I wasn’t ready to start running with Brandon just yet. After changing my shorts, filling up my pack, brushing my teeth (it felt so good) and getting some food, I was on my way to start loop 3 alone. I had a goal to make it to the Fire Tower (mile 62ish) before dark, where Brandon would be there waiting to run with me the rest of the race.
I made it around the down trees and through the first four or so miles of the loop pretty easily. By the time I got to the aid station though, I was starting to feel a little sick. I hadn’t eaten much by way of real food all day. I stopped eating the peanut butter and jelly around noon and had substituted it for gels, watermelon with salt poured on it and banana halves. In the afternoon, the aid stations begin serving “lunch,” which consists of turkey and cheese sandwiches.
It would have been great if I weren’t a vegetarian. To be honest, I knew this going in and packed more than enough food in my drop bags and crew box. But for some reason, I didn’t take enough when I was at my bag, probably because in the back of my mind I knew I shouldn’t be spending that much time in the aid station unless I was really sick. And it never occurred to me to just ask for a cheese sandwich. I don’t know why.
When I reached the first aid station, I told one of the volunteers that I wasn’t feeling so well and got some ginger ale. He asked me a bunch of questions and said I seemed fine other than that and sent me on my way. All I had to do was make it to the Fire Tower next.
It didn’t take that long to get there, but about halfway in between, I had to take out my headlamp and put it on. Definitely not the goal, but I was still moving forward at a decent pace and that’s all that mattered.
I got to the Fire Tower and just as I arrived, I saw my friends Mike and Jen with their pacers about to leave. I had run long training runs with both of them, but I hadn’t been expecting to see them there, I had assumed they were much farther ahead of me. As they took off, Brandon was waiting for me. I got more watermelon, had another bathroom stop, said goodbye again to Patrick and it was time to do some real work.
Before the race I hadn’t thought about placing in the top five women at all until Brandon mentioned it at dinner one evening. With the cool morning and cooler-than-normal temperatures all day, I wasn’t even expecting a top 10 finish with how fast I was moving, I assumed everyone else would be too. When Brandon and I began the stretch from the Fire Tower to the Covered Bridge (shorter this loop! Finally!), he told me I was in 11th place and we had plenty of time to pass the other women and secure at least the third place spot, as long as I was feeling good.
I was. Up until that point, I had passed every runner I encountered so far on that loop and I wasn’t about to stop. We ran as much as I was able and it ended up being a lot. I kept focusing on looking down and avoiding the roots as we moved through the dark. Brandon would point out “another duck in the pond,” and I would pick up the pace to pass the runner. We passed runners I knew, runners I didn’t, but mostly passed men. As we passed the women, Brandon counted them off, but at that point, I was still pretty far back.
We passed Mike and Jen and their pacers at some point before I made it to Hickory Ridge. Mike’s pacer, Elizabeth, turned around and said, “is that Kali?” I don’t know if I thought it, or actually said it out loud, but I said, “yup,” and we went by. I wouldn’t see them again until the finish line.
I passed the fourth place woman shortly after leaving Hickory Ridge. There’s a long stretch of open bridle trail after the aid station. She was alone and I caught her, passed her and kept running as hard as I could at that moment. I looked down at my watch and saw I was running about an 8:3o pace,
“I think you made your point,” Brandon told me and I slowed to a fast walk. “You just totally demoralized her.”
Soon after, we made it to the campground and around the road to the start/finish point. It was nearing 2 a.m. and Hugh, a friend who was doing the timing for the race, was a few hundred feet from the aid station. He started running to the aid station with us and radioed to someone that I was the runner coming in and I could hear the surprise in his voice. As I slowed down at the aid station, it was pretty dark and I had shut my headlamp off so I wasn’t shining it in anyone’s face. I said hi to Bill and all I got back was a “who’s that?”
No one seemed to believe that about 21 hours in, in my first ever 100, that I was there and in 4th place.