I had heard good things about the Nanny Goat 12hr/24hr/100mi race that is in Riverside May 28th-29th. I thought it sounded a bit crazy — a one mile loop, and how many times?? And a running race that spans multiple days? But I love the race atmosphere, so I figured I’d go out and cheer. Willem mentioned an interested, and I said we should go out and cheer together. Then at Wednesday run group a couple days before he tells me he signed up. And for the 100. Well, he’s done some before, but it sounded like a fun time. So during the run he (or maybe it was me) convinced me that maybe I should just sign up instead of cheer/support. I debated for a night what to do… and by that, I mean which race to sign up for… 12hr, 24hr, or 100. Haha 100 mile, I said to myself, yeah probably not a great idea given I want to do my first in Oct/Nov this year… But maybe I could do it. Thursday (2 days before the race) I signed up for the 12 hour option. It is a cool race where you can just keep going if you feel good, so by signing up for this I left off the stress/pressure. My goal was to run for 12 hours, and just see what a loop course like that was all about, and see what I could do in 12 hours. It would be new territory: I’d never ran that long before. So I was hoping for a new distance PR.
Willem and I headed out to the race site to register and get our area set up (in my head I call it a transition area, but that isn’t the right name for it… our aid area? Home base?). With the loop nature, we’d pass all our stuff ever mile. This would turn out to be good and bad: didn’t have to worry if we forgot something, we could grab it in a mile, and we knew that the positive support and warmth was also that close. But it also meant the temptation of a sleeping bag, a seat, and a break.
We headed home, and it was packing time. I had no idea not only what I was trying to do in terms of time or distance, but also what it would all be about or like. I got a clear plastic bin that would hold most of my stuff (with a limey green top), I got out my favorite lucky green flowered race cooler bag (thanks for the xmas gift Court & Kirk!), and I got out a real cooler. I went shopping and bought all the foods that might sound good: fig newtons, uncrustables, gummy candies – worms & watermelon slices, chocolate & stawberry milk, sour cream and onion lays, BBQ chips, nuun tablets, and other random snacks. Then it was on to the clothes packing, and I decided to pack one or two or sometimes three of everything: long sleeves, short sleeves, capris, running skirts, tank tops, cycling jackets, visors, beanies, gloves, sports bras, socks (toed and just thin), even a pair of baggy run shorts just in case those sounded good. Oh, and since Shana (Willem’s wife) would be our crew of a while, and Mike would show up at some point, as well as other random friends, I packed each type of item in a gallon ziplock bag, labeled. So I could say “hey, I’d love a run shirt next lap” and the next lap, voila! They could hand me my couple choices. Which was dorky, and awesome, all at once. And then there was the gear to add… Garmin (of course), 4 or 5 shoe options, gaiters, buff/bandana, hand water bottles, water bottle belt(s), I even made my own hand holder for a small water bottle from one of the belts that I thought would be the right size (in the car on the way over)! I probably packed enough for days (ok maybe not probably. I did)… but it was a race I could drive to, and my tub(s) of goodies meant I’d never have an “if only I had remembered” moment.
I posted on Facebook about what I was up to, and that I wondered what the day would hold. Lisa encouraged me to just go for the 100, given the options. And Sachi commented how she didn’t think I’d stop. Part of me was right with them, but part of me was scared of the pressure, so I held to my 12 hours, but kept their voices in my head. I tried to sleep, and soon it was time to be up and waiting for Willem so that we could head back over. Bright and early, I was up and into race clothes. But first some kinesio tape! Beautiful green and cow, just like I had for Croom Fools 50mi. Then toe socks, my favorite target capris, my lucky green Arroyo Trail Blazers shirt, and one of the best sports bras I’ve got. He arrived, and we were off. Got to the site nice and early, and we were set up and ready to go with time to chill and relax. We met some new friends, and ran into some old ones. Fred showed up for the race, too. Thinking of cheering/supporting, he ended up joining in! I even got to reconnect with Kista, who designed the ATB logo on my shirt and who I hadn’t seen since my first 50k back in 2008! And then there was our neighbor — I had heard many times from Mike about his crazy UPS guy, and now I got to meet him (he’s in yellow in the picture to the right). “Hey, I think you might be my husband’s UPS guy.” “Where does he work?” “Redlands Spine and Sport.” “219 E Olive! Dr. Donia!” “You *are* the crazy UPS guy!” “And you must be the crazy wife.” Good times.
And soon, we were off. Shoulder to shouder with Willem. We’d ran together before, but I think our longest run had been about 4 miles, and it was in a group, not just us. So this might end up wonderful, and I might end up wishing for an escape route… it remained to be seen.
The course, as I mentioned, was actually a one mile lap. Over and over and over and… Soon it would become an old friend (or at times, foe). It was on a horse farm, and started right at the north door of a barn, heading out. Some people had set up camp in the stalls, but Willem and I had opted for the less dusty air, although it meant needing our own light source at night. So out the barn, north for about a quarter mile, east for a short stretch on a grassy stretch between horse pasture and a road, and then up a path next to another road to about a half mile, at which point you did a short out and back on a road, back into the horse farm, and through the barn to start the next lap. It gave a whole new meaning to “smelling the barn” (both in odor, and in the draw that barn had each lap). In the bar was a buffet of any snack you might want, and just beyond it, some more tables of BBQ food and drinks.
Hearing about this, one of my concerns was how to keep track of the laps. Well, we had this cards (about credit card size, and about as thick and heavy as two cards held together), and we’d scan them at the end of each lap. Once scanned, the number of the lap you just completed was projected on the wall of the barn (along with about the last 9 other people to go through).
Don’t worry, I won’t have a play-by-play for each lap. Honestly, most of the laps are just a blur, and I only remember some particular pieces. Like…
- Mike and Pete showing up, mid-bike ride, to cheer and then keep on pedaling.
- Deciding to try Perpetuem (because why not try something new? The day was already an experiment) — It is a drink that is Willem’s energy source of choice, and the nice light strawberry flavor was actually better than I expected, and I did turn to it a number of times throughout the race (thanks for sharing Willem!).
- Some random guy who kept cheering for me as if he knew me.
- Being so ready for my Garmin battery to die, as I was ignoring it but it was on my wrist and just “present” but the data girl in me couldn’t just turn it off and let it go.
- Later realizing the random guy *does* know me, and saying hi to Taylor’s husband, Dustin, out there cheering first and foremost for both her and her father who did the 12 hour race.
- The wonder that is Fit ‘n Kewl, a spray that actually does make your legs feel, well, fit and cool. Even miles in, but with miles still to go (yup, still a good day to try new things).
- Mike showing up again briefly to see how it was going, before heading off to Hilary’s 5th birthday party (sorry I missed it Hilary!!).
- Meeting Jen and Andy because I saw her name, and then later he saw mine, on the projector list on the barn wall. Always nice to meet people you’ve chatted with face-to-face.
- Bjorn taking a bike ride out through Riverside just to say hi, and have to leave to make it back before it got dark.
- Allie stopping by with Dale just to see how I was doing, and not recognizing her in real clothes (as opposed to running gear).
- Some pacer laps — one with each dog: Gracie, then Annie, and then Ginger (Willem’s dog).
- Gracie being a whistlenose (aka whinning) pretty much non-stop. Not because of the loose dogs around, but because runners were going by, and they weren’t taking her.
And I remember this one section of trail, that was about a third of the way into the loop, where there was this awesome spongy ground. And changing my loop so that I’d hit it each time, and giggle most of the times I did find it (and later making everyone who joined me for a lap run over the exact spot to share the fun). Plus there was a beautiful section just past the squishy ground, where the orange trees formed a tunnel, and it was a bit cooler in there.
Then there was the burger lap. Ted (also an ATB friend) was on the grill, and boy did those burgers smell good! Willem and I were both tempted, and then went for it. We grabbed the first one off the grill (right as we passed, perfect timing!) and with some ketchup and a slice of tomato, we cut it in half, and ran the next lap with burger in hand. Alternating talking about how awesome it was, and taking bites. If you’ve seen the commercial about “pudding face” where the dad, or other family member, has a loopy grin that gives him away as the Jello pudding thief, you will understand how the term “burger face” came to be coined. And you might have some idea of how awesome that tasted.
There was a 10 year old kid who was doing his first marathon throughout the course of the 12 hour race. He was taking it easy, doing a lap or so, taking a break, and then getting back out there. For one of his breaks, he was heading to the swimming pool at the ranch for a dip! Oooh I was jealous. And commented how I wasn’t sure if I could do that, and then putting clothes back on and keep going (it sounded good to get in the water, but frustrating to have to get dressed when damp, and then back out there). To which some nearby racers let me know that it would be acceptable if I didn’t want to put clothes back on. Haha thanks! It made my lap 😉
Oh and the 50th lap! I remember that lap! That was the lap before a sit-down bit to eat, and a stretch! While we’d been running, Mike (along with my little girl dogs) had shown up. And he’d brought the massage table, and more kinesio tape in case it was needed. And I was looking forward to a great assisted stretch without having to sit down on the ground. That was a sub-9 mile, and then almost an hour for the next lap, as we let Mike stretch us, got some food ready, and then walked a lap while eating. Shana makes an awesome cheese sandwhich!
As it got dark, I grabbed a small handheld flashlight. I kept it off most of the time, as there was plenty of light for most of the course, and by that time I knew the lines I wanted to take.
And it was soon 12 hours. A moment of truth. To stop, or to scan my card and keep going? We were at about 55 miles, and I was feeling strong despite some more walking those last couple miles. So I scanned my card for a 56th mile and I was in the 24 hour race! It was that easy to get started into that race, and running by Willem made it that easy to keep going.
That running with Willem thing? It was pretty much awesome. The first 50 miles just flew by, as we chatted, and enjoyed the day and each other’s company. While I was feeling pretty good, Willem was starting to have some foot issues. So we had a couple longer breaks between laps as he tried to get them sorted, but soon it was getting to be just a bit too long for me to stop, and I was sad to have to part ways with him. It definitely changed the feeling of my race, and my main real meltdown was when it was just me, and no buddy at my side.
I was at 64 miles. That *is* far! That is an accomplishment, I could stop. But did I really need to, a little voice in my head was saying. I didn’t feel awful, except the bottoms of my feet felt bruised. But, said the little voice, they have felt about the same for miles and miles… since before 50k — it’s not getting worse, so it doesn’t have to stop you. A fresh sports bra on, I ended up climbing into the car for a nap. Feet up on the dash to get some of the blood out of them, and some puppies sleeping on the backseat to get kisses from. With strict orders to wake me in 30 minutes, Mike sat at my side, keeping an eye on the time. And waking me when it was time. I got up, I was freezing. I was wavering. I hadn’t really planned to go farther, so Mike just didn’t know what to say. Finally I knew. I heard the voices of friends as they guessed what I’d end up doing, and Dustin’s voice as he and Taylor headed home, “I”ll check on your 100 time in the morning.”
I turned to Mike. “I can do this. I have plenty of time. Your job is to make me get to 100.” I put on a jacket, and he told me to just get moving, and I’d warm up. So I did. And he joined me. Just talking, and being there for me. I won’t say I didn’t have other tough points, but I got better at convincing me to keep going. Mike joined me every now and then, and some laps he slept in a sleeping bag on the massage table, sometimes only hearing me pass and holding up an “I love you” sign so I’d see it as I went by. And sometimes appearing out, and I’d sneak by to let him get some sleep (only later to learn he could pretty identify the sound of my gait, and he’d often check my lap stats on his phone if he thought I’d pass, or to see how I was doing).
Slowly but surely, stopping every couple laps just to have my feet in the air, I got more and more miles behind me. I remember:
- Hitting mile 75. Less than a marathon to go! I can do that!
- Putting on a different pair of shoes, and how good they felt.
- The sun coming up, with a bit of rain shower. We had the heat the day before, why not try some wet, too? I mean, it was a day to try new things, and they would just be experiences for my future running arsenal.
- Seeing a rocky peak close to the course only when someone mentioned it in the morning. 80+ laps, and I’d never noticed it although we headed straight at it for a section.
And then seeing Eric! I had sent out an email to some running buddies, hearing that they’d be running in Riverside Sunday morning. But he didn’t see me — he had no idea I’d be there, as he’d missed the message! Coming by to see a friend who was helping with the race, he was in running gear and joined me for a couple laps.
And then it was a 10k to go! I can always run a 10k… I never stress about that. This one, though, might have been the toughest. Those 6 laps! They seemed to just keep going and going. As I write this, I realize that was really how I approached this race. Just looking at it as pieces I could handle, and not one big thing. Just sign up, do it. You can, stop thinking about it and run.
More running buddies showed up in the middle of their Sunday run. Eric and the other new faces were a breath of fresh air! Oh I had things to tell, and new people to share the course with. After a lap, they continued on their run, but it was some good new energy.
24 hours came, and many more runners disappeared from the course. But if you had 86 or more miles, you were allowed 4 more hours to hit 100. And I was at 97 miles when 8am rolled around. 5k to go!
I was looking forward to the final 5k. Those lapsÂ were going to be my celebration. Mile 98 would be with Gracie, my first runner dog and most reliable running partner ever. Nothing makes a run seem awesome the same way that Gracie’s grin does. Mile 99 was with Annie, my good little girl, who was not sure what to make of horses and ground squirrels during our walk breaks, but who knew she had to behave because Mommy needed her to not cause extra energy to be spent. And Mile 100 was with my family: Mike by my side, and Gracie and Annie’s leashes in my left hand.
And I did it. 100 miles: 24 hours, 42 minutes, 11 seconds. There is something about a run like that which creates a bond between the runners. I won’t forget the faces, and the miles we shared. I’m not sure when the next time will be, but there will be another. And the experience, if anything like my first one, will be just amazing.
I have to give another thank you to Willem. I was so disappointed his day wasn’t going as he had hoped. The toughest decision I made was to break from his side at mile 60. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have even started. So thanks Willem, and I can’t wait to help you reach your own success another time.
After is also a bit of a blur:
- Almost forgot to swipe my card for the end of that last lap!
- Got a buckle. Guess I need a belt.
- Fred had returned just in time for my finish after seeing I was still going when he got up in the morning, and how much that meant to me.
- Hugs and congrats.
- Annie (wife of the race director) telling me she knew I’d do it (we’d chatted the day before the race)
- Greg had this amazing looking sandwhich, and shared a bite, and then offered me my OWN SECTION as he was about to head out as well. And it was good.
- Packing up (or watching others do it).
- I had sunscreen on, but I still got tan-dots from the Garmin wristband.
We went home, and I learnedÂ that there is a step into the garage! And it is tall. I was chatting with Mike with my feet up on the couch as I was lying on the floor. And the next thing I knew, the house was quiet, he was gone, and there was a blanket on me. I’d slept for some 2 or 3 hours just where I’d happened to first stop. When I woke up, I just stayed there for a bit. I had a new understanding of the distance to “not on the floor” and had to work up to it.
Soon it was time to get food faced, and we headed to Red Lobster. And it was soooo gooooood. Of course, our car broke down on the way home (not at all expected). We were about 3 miles from home. I turned to Mike: “I’m sorry, but I’m not walking home.” But Bjorn to the rescue — he picked us up and let us use his car to get that one taken care of. And thanks Mike for dealing with the stress of a bad AAA experience after you’d also had a night of pretty much no sleep. And thanks for the special treat of puppies in bed since it was a special occasion!!
Breakfast the next morning was awesome! Leftover chicken divan (one of my main comfort foods), leftover sour cream and onion chips, and left over sour watermellon slices. MMM I was hungry!
Having felt pretty good physically, I tried to go for a run a couple days later. But suddenly I was just walking — it was “legs choice,” and I laughed. I guess it was hard, even if it never felt crazy-unbearably hard while in the moment, or in the recovery. So I walked, and enjoyed my memories.
[and yes, I didn’t really post this until 8/4/11 — I wrote part, and wanted pictures, and then got busy. But if you managed to read this far, it must have been worth the wait!]