This Race Report will start on Tuesday Night- because I wasn’t even sure I would make it to the start line of GDR. Max and I foster for the American Brittany Rescue. We had our foster kid, Corazon, for 5 months before he was “adopted” on Tuesday evening. Needless to say- I was attached to this dog- it’s so emotionally hard to give up a dog that you have loved with your entire heart- but usually there’s a happy ending- a win, win for everyone. The adopters lost him with in the first hour they had him. Losing a dog is such a hopeless feeling- there is LITERALLY nothing you can do- except look. It’s like a needle in a haystack. The woods were so densely populated and there were so many sections of woods between houses. I was so worried he was going to be hit by a car or injured in some other way.
My Tuesday- Thursday looked like this:
- I slept maybe 6 hours T-TH combined- most of which were interrupted by fits of crying spells. As a solid 9-10 hours A NIGHT person- this left me exhausted.
- I was on my feet walking/ running 15+ miles each day searching and yelling for Corazon. (all this in the rain)
- Every waking moment was spent searching for this dog- meaning I didn’t eat (my stomach was in knots anyways), shower, or spend any time in the personal hygiene area.
- I was constantly checking social media, I stopped every Fed EX, UPS, USPS, Police officer, VDOT, food delivery truck and runner/ walker I saw and gave them a business card with my number with instructions to call me if seen. I’m sure the entire Stafford area has my number.
- I had friends, my sister, and NUMEROUS members of the community looking for Corazon with me in ALL hours of the night.
- I bushwhacked through woods and people’s backyards with a squeaky toy fingers crossed that I wasn’t going to get the cops called on me or shot.
On Thursday morning, he was seen in the same back yard of a house close to where we were searching the previous night. The only problem was it lead to a thick patch of woods. After contacting a dog tracker- she suggested I put out dirty clothes and chicken out to draw a scent (no problem since there was lack of showering happening) – and let him come to you. This was the HARDEST thing to do- because I need to feel like I’m doing something and here I was just sitting there. As it got later and later in the morning, a lady with a beagle came by and said while he’s never done this before- he’s supposed to be a good tracking dog. Someone could have said they had a magic wand and I would have been willing to try it. She went into the woods and after an hour spotted him. I went with a squeaky toy and bushwhacked through the thorny woods calling his name- it took about 15 minutes before I spotted him about 100 feet away. I think he saw me because he just stared at me like a statue. He ran away from everyone else and I was terrified he was going to run away from me too. I butt slid down the hill and got about 30 feet away before I crouched down and he just started sprinting towards me. His face was priceless- his mom was finally there to rescue him from the cold and rainy outdoors. There was a creek between us, he fell in, I fell in and he jumped while squealing into my arms. It was so perfect. I hugged him and didn’t want to let go.
He didn’t go back to the adopters because they couldn’t be bothered to go look for him- meanwhile I took off 2 days from work, didn’t eat, sleep, shower, and sacrificed performance in an “A” race. But it was all worth it because he was now where he belonged- safe and sound. AND we have officially adopted lil baby Corazon. He chose me.
NOW To GDR:
Max and I drove the 10.5 hours down to Georgia, picked up my bib and got all my safety gear approved and nestled into our hotel. The alarm went off at 2:30AM- it was the best 4.5 hours of sleep I have EVER gotten before a race. I’ve decided that I like 24 hour races more for the SOLE reason that they start at a reasonable hour- that allows for a full 8-9 hours of sleep, none of this waking up before O’Dark 30 to run.
Start to 21.4 Skeenah Gap-
Soon after checking in and picking up my HEAVY railroad spike that we were required to carry for the duration of the race the gun went off. While I knew with my week, I was in no physical or emotional shape to gun for the Golden Ticket- but that didn’t stop me from trying to keep up with the front runners for the first few miles. I ran with Larisa for a few miles before I settled into my own race pace. The trail was rocky with unforgiving climbs and descents. Around mile 7, my ankle landed on a rock the wrong way, I heard 3 pops as it rolled inwardly (medial side), then I fell on it and somehow rolled it the other way. I walked for a few steps and it immediately started to throb. OMG- I DID NOT DRIVE 10 HOURS to DROP out of this race. I decided that it hurt just as much to run on it as it did to walk- so might as well run. I was changing my gait and the pain was still harrowing. I took an Advil at mile 10 (the earliest I have ever taken meds into a race). The first 20ish miles were full of 25%-30% climbs- it was SO HARD- but I was passing people on the ups and getting dusted on the downs. I’m already a timid downhill runner- but with my ankle- every little undulation created shooting pain as I tried to run. But you know what- I EMBRACED the hard. People around me were complaining- and all I had to do was think “Corazon” and my heart was instantly happy again. Finding that pup really fueled me through this race. When I had reached Max- I was 13th woman and was strongly considering dropping. I tried to explain to Max that my ankle HURT- but like a good husband he said “You’re doing GREAT- KEEP it UP”- and sent me on my way.
Mile 21-43.1 Winding Stair:
I just kept thinking- All I had to do was get to mile 30 and it would be more Fire road/ less trail- meaning my ankle could get a break from all the additional twisting and I could finally run! I made a HUGE mistake on this section. When I got into Point Bravo (mile 27) where the drop bags were- I didn’t see them and so I didn’t remember to pick up all of my Tailwind baggies of calories until I saw Max again at mile 43. During this section I channeled my ability to wake up and run 20 milers on nothing. I kept reminding myself that it’s not the end of the world that I didn’t have anything to eat- I had practiced this for apparently this specific reason- meanwhile I could feel myself fading. When I reached Long Creek (37.1) I asked if anyone had tailwind and I LUCKED out! A fellow racer donated 4 scoops to me and I could not be more thankful. I was able to get my pep back in my step for the long road section ahead of me.
Mile 43- Finish:
When I arrived at mile 43, I was either 6th or 7th female. I stopped to refuel and to drink a diet Pepsi. I also took a peak at my ankle for the first time. I could feel that it was swelling and taking all of the space in my shoe. However, when I looked at it- I swear the pain increased exponentially. Funny how that happens. However, my ankle thoughts were interrupted by a race volunteer who told me 2 females were in my grasp. The fire roads really allowed for me to run free. I caught up with Lee and something inside of me told me to work with her instead of work to pass her. This decision proved to be monumental in my ability to finish safely and I gained a new trail friend as we spent the next 20 or so miles together slowly picking off the women in front of us.
The long climb up Nimblewell was made entertaining by the Race Directors sick sense of humor and for the poor, gullible souls that believed that “there” was the actual top of the climb- I feel for you. When Lee and I saw the sigh 1.5 miles till you are “there” and then 1 mile, .5 mile- we knew there was not the aid station- in fact it was just a sign that just said “there”. I also was sucking my bladder dry and started suck on my jolly ranchers to help with my steadily dipping energy and sugar levels.
After we reached Nimblewell, it was all downhill- until the shit ton of stairs that we had to face. I really looked forward to the stair section. Waterfalls are some of the most powerful and beautiful things that God created and I was glad that we got to enjoy it as we climbed over 600 stairs to the top- ONLY to run back down to the finish line. Lee and I had discussed how we were going to duke it out the last two miles down to the finish- BUT my light BROKE- she waited for me to change to a fresh battery and still nothing- my BRAND NEW light bulb had malfunctioned and would not turn on. So Lee and Jason graciously stayed with me the last two miles on the single track trail so that I could finish in one piece. The fact that we had to run through knee deep ICE COLD water to get across to the finish line- when there was a bridge just 2 feet away was a blessing in disguise for my ankle.
I decided to not take my shoes off- in fear of my ankle swelling even more and just drive home with cold feet/wet feet. We were initially going to stop and get a hotel, but I told Max that I wouldn’t be able to drive if we waited till there was traffic on the road because I wasn’t able to move my ankle quick enough to avoid an accident if someone cut us off. So we drove through the night- I was powered by diet soda and cookies. It took about 12 hours with nap and food stops. But we made it.
However, that is not where this story ends. Apparently when you roll your ankle at mile 7 and stubbornly (maybe stupidly) run 65 more miles on it all while taking 10 Advil over 15 hours to dull the pain- it’s not smart. It been a month and I still can’t run and I’m sporting this extra appendage for at least another week. If anyone knows me- it’s KILLING ME not to be able to run. The bike and I at the gym have become very intimate. The only good thing? Because I’m not “training” I’m able to take on a lot more interpreting freelancing work. So lemons into lemonade? I had decided that I needed to take 2 weeks off after GDR to rest, reset and get ready for the next cycle. I think this was God’s way of making sure that I followed through- but seriously- I couldn’t have hurt my ankle the last mile instead of the beginning?
Huge Shout out and Thank you to my Sponsors:
AltraRunning: I wore my Timps and LOVED them!
Tstarrunning: Looking FABulous as Always in my skirt- no Chaffing, comfortable, and POCKETS
Drymax– Socks you can run for 24 hours in and not get a blister.