Burning River 100 Race Report – Part 7 – Out of Covered Bridge

Karma:  Crashing at Covered Bridge

I lied.

That thing that rocked my faith to the core?  It wasn’t the infertility.  And it wasn’t inconsequential.  Actually, it almost kept me out of Burning River this year.

This face says it all.

I spent half of the month of May having flashbacks.  I started therapy to deal with my mother and find closure to our battle with infertility, and I ended up having flashbacks to my childhood.  More specifically, flashbacks to the abuse and my time in foster care, which included being locked in a dark basement.  My last bout of flashbacks was in college, and after some 15 years, I admit I thought they were behind me, buried away another lifetime ago.  I couldn’t eat.  I couldn’t breathe.  I couldn’t sleep for fear of dreams and spent my waking hours terrified of remembering.  I let my running go to crap and I really didn’t care.  Burning River?  Some distant 100 mile race in August when I could barely find the strength to brush my teeth?  Whatever.  The diagnostic manuals say I suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, which means I can be fine for 15 years, then lose my religion over a single trigger.

I spent an afternoon in a dirty hotel room in Ogden, UT sobbing uncontrollably and begging Darrin to tell me I would be okay.  Telling him that when I looked in the mirror, I didn’t even recognize myself.  There was no light at the end of the tunnel.  Hell, there was no light.  Period.

I was seeing my therapist twice a week and barely holding on.  One particular appointment consisted of little more than me curled in a ball on the couch sobbing.  She didn’t start it.  I just walked in, sat down, and started crying.

Through blubber and spittle and snot I kept trying to tell her that I couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep, couldn’t think, couldn’t breathe.  I was hyperventilating, heaving and shaking.

After an hour, she told me our time was up and she’d me Thursday.

I couldn’t believe she let me leave like that.

As I drove home (carefully), it was all I could think about.  I was so pissed off about it that I actually went for a run.  By the time I got home, I’d had my revelation.

I grabbed Darris by his shoulders when I got there.

“She wouldn’t let me leave if she didn’t believe I was okay.”

“Star, you’re going to be okay,” he said.  He’d been saying it for two weeks.

“I’m going to be okay.”

I didn’t say it with much conviction.  But I said it.

And since that day, I’ve been okay.  I’ve been better than okay.  I’ve been like, growing and stuff.

Sometimes, all we need is for someone else to believe we’ll be okay.

Those Supergirl capes are a lot heavier than they look.


Settle Down, It’ll All Be Clear:  Leaving Covered Bridge

I looked at my watch.  I told them I had hoped to be at the Covered Bridge by 8:30 and it was 8:25.  I told them I needed to sit for five minutes.  I was just going to sit until the time I had wanted to be there anyway, and then I would leave.

Jay was trying to get me up.  Right then.

I was whimpering and feeling sorry for myself.  I heard my own voice from far away.

“I just don’t think I have another one in me.”  Meaning a comeback.

“If you get some calories in,” Jay started.

I buried my throbbing, spinning head in my hands.

I looked up and everything was clear.

Jay was nodding at me.  Very quietly, and very slightly, but yes, nodding at me.

He was pissing me off.

“JAY!”  I thought.  “I am nauseous, I’m dizzy, my head aches, things are blurry and spinning.  I can’t DO this right now.”

Jay was nodding at me, and he was pissing me off.

Because he called me on it.

I made him do the same damn thing at Western States.

Three minutes into the five I bargained for, I stumbled away from the Covered Bridge, sick as a dog and completely terrified.

It wasn’t before I made one last attempt.

“Jay, I really don’t feel good.”  I whimpered it like a three-year old.

“I know,” he said.  It sounded like it was breaking his heart, but it was also clear that he didn’t give a damn about my little temper tantrum.

I was so angry leaving that aid station.

I was marching like a petulant child, swearing at all of them.  Sure, I guess I expected it from Jay.  But Robin?  Darris?  Darrin?   My doctor?  Couldn’t they see how sick I was?  Didn’t they care?  Why did I have to be the damn hero again?  Why couldn’t I quit when I was tired and sick and dizzy and nauseous?

I couldn’t believe they let me leave like that.

You have to understand.  When you’re in this state, it’s very real.  You feel as if your body is covered in flames, your heart has broken through your ribcage, your guts are in a bloody mess on your lap and the top of your head has blown off.  It’s the ugliest, bloodiest, most horrific zombie-movie horror you can fathom.

This was much earlier in the race but it really shows how Jay and DB take care of me. I wanted that soft, dry SPAM shirt so bad.

On the outside, you’ve got some salt caked on your face.  You might be a little red and you probably smell pretty bad.  I, of course, was convinced that I was about to collapse on the Perkins Trail and be eaten by bats and snakes, only to have the remnants of my corpse found buried in the mud a few months later.  Maybe at Bill’s Bad Ass 50K.

I took a sarcastic sip of the coffee and realized it tasted good.  Really good.

I realized I had been marching for almost five minutes and that even though I felt like death, I was no closer to it than I had been in the chair.

I realized I had to hike a good part of Perkins anyway because of the climbs, and that by the time I got off the worst of it the Tylenol might have kicked in.

Yeah, if this were a movie, this is the part where that cheesy song they’ve been using to promote the Olympic gymnastics team would start fading in while I hiked through the woods.  I don’t like indie music and I don’t like Phillip Phillips.  But yeah, that’s what happened.  It still kind of makes me cry.

Because sometimes, all we need is for someone else to believe we’ll be okay.

 Settle down, it’ll all be clear

Don’t pay no mind to the demons, they fill you with fear

The trouble it might drag you down

If you get lost, you can always be found

Just know you’re not alone

‘Cause I’m going to make this place your home


Trail and adventure enthusiast. Girl who swears like a sailor but not when she's teaching Sunday School. Survived infertility without a successful pregnancy. Self-employed, primarily working for Clif Bar and Company. Thirteen 100-mile race finishes with seven top 3 placements. An original Saltine.

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1 comment

  1. Star – I have been completely transfixed by your race reports today! Such an amazing and personal journey you are sharing. Thank you.

    Keep it coming you rock star.