A few weeks ago, I apparently ran 104.8 miles in 23 hours and 41 minutes. I say “apparently”, because I still can’t believe I did it. I mean, I know I started running in the dark, ran through the daylight, and then finished in the dark, but something in my brain refuses to accept that I put one foot in front of the other for nearly 24 goddamn hours. If you told me I had could do anything I wanted for 24 hours, as long as I stayed awake, I’d tell you I couldn’t do it. In college and even in the million years I spent in graduate school, I never pulled a true all-nighter – I always had to take a nap. So, just the thought of staying AWAKE, let alone being upright and mobile, for 24 hours is mind boggling.
Anyway, I digress. This race was a redemption of sorts. Last year, I made it 73 miles before calling it quits, my fear of the dark getting the best of me. This year, I knew I couldn’t drop or else I’d look like a fool. Also, I work in an MRI research lab and I really wanted to tell my boss I finished the Tesla Hertz run. So, I came back with a new and improved crew including Sam, experienced 100 miler Chris, and super crewer Surjeet.
Holy crap, am I glad they were there because I needed every bit of help I could get. While my body was mostly cooperating (save for rolling my ankle a few times), my mind was on another planet. I just couldn’t focus. Normally, I can zone out no problem during a long run – I’ll run right past people I know, miss turns, run EXTRA, and not even realize it because I’m spaced out. But not today. A big part of the problem was that I was running mostly solo starting around mile 5. Even though there were a few other races going on throughout the day (100k, 50M, 50k, 10M), the course seemed pretty empty. Nothing but me, the woods, the creepy hunting tent just off the trail, and another 100 frikking miles to go. Mentally, it was brutal. Things got really bad around miles 30-40, and I seriously considered dropping because, WHAT THE HELL, KELLY? What is wrong with you that you think that THIS is a fun way to spend your 3-day weekend?
All I wanted to do was go home and lay on the couch, go to Target, or do whatever it was normal people were doing on a Saturday. But, no. I just HAD to be doing this ridiculous thing, because, why? What kept me going was that I didn’t have a good answer to stop. “I’m just not feeling it” isn’t a good excuse to give up. Also, I knew that Chris and Jeet were in a car on their way from Boston, and I didn’t want them to have to turn around an hour into their trip because, how annoying would that be? So, I kept going. I focused on doing as many miles as possible before it got dark, because, as another runner noted, “this course fucking sucks in the dark.” Excellent. At least I had something to look forward to.
I kept going, and it got dark. FAST. I finished my 6th loop with my headlamp on, trying to take deep breaths to calm down (see above re: scared of the dark). Chris and Jeet had arrived, and were, like, really cheery (or maybe I was just really grumpy?). Chris was there to do the last 3 loops (~31 miles) with me, which meant I had more one solo loop. Except, it was dark. And I’m afraid of the dark. Thankfully, Chris had all sorts of flashlights and lent me the most powerful flashlight I’d ever seen in my life. As I left the start/finish line, someone yelled, “Woah! I wanna run behind her!” Hmm, maybe I’ll be okay and won’t lose the trail and get eaten by lions and bears?
The last three loops with Chris went by without incident. Oh, wait. No. I learned some things: running that many miles causes loss of bladder control and running while holding a flashlight gives me serious motion sickness. Also, I’m really fun to be with after running for 20+ hours. I gave Surjeet dagger eyes around mile 85 when she told me I shouldn’t sit down anymore because I wouldn’t want to get up. I almost assassinated Sam when he made a “joke” (note: it’s still not funny). I remember warning Surjeet, “I’m, like, really close to a meltdown”. Like I said, I’m really fun. (Thankfully for everyone, I mostly kept my shit together.) After making sure I had enough liquids and salt and sugar, Sam and Surjeet pushed me out of the last few aid stations. Chris kept me running/power walking, and made sure I met my goal of finishing in under 24 hours.
Umm, guys. We did it. I got my first belt buckle. In a race where 31 people started and only 9 finished, I came in 3rd overall and was the only female finisher. No poop accidents, no vomiting, no toenails lost, no injuries, no (major) chafing, and only 1 blister. (Full disclosure: the blister was the size of a quarter and it popped sometime after mile 40 making my toe look like a golden raisin.) I couldn’t have done it without words (ok, speeches) of encouragement and sandwiches from Sam, status and sanity checks from Surjeet, and invaluable pacing from Chris. Of course, huge thank yous to Vinny and Nichole and the volunteers for putting on such a beautiful race.
Somewhere around mile 95 I told Chris there was “no fucking way” I was doing this again. He wisely told me to “wait a week”. Spoiler: he was right.