Dam Yeti 50: not your typical race report

I want to start this post by saying I had an amazing race this past Saturday at the Dam Yeti 50 miler in Damascus, Virginia. This race is put on by the Yeti Trail Runners and is such an inclusive, fun and uplifting event!

Where: Damascus, VA along the Virginia Creeper Trail

When: June 2, 2018

Stats: 50 miles starting at the top of Mount Rogers National Recreation Area along the border of NC/VA …. follows the Virginia Creeper trail down to Damascus, into Abingdon and finishes back in Damascus. A mostly downhill race on beautiful, but non-technical trail.

Bottom Line: This race is a fun event that is perfect for your first 50 miler. There’s also a 50K as well!

Why did I say this is not your typical race report? Because I want to give you a story about the events that led up to this race for me. This is my first 50 miler and I’m just happy that I was able to finish. It was a long, hard road and I want to give you some insight into what this race meant for me. Because for me, the trail is therapy.

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It’s Tuesday before race day. I’m frantically chasing my special needs son down the road as he explodes into rage. Despite our best efforts to keep him safe, he is able to break through windows, maneuver through safety locks and alarms and burst out of the house in fits of rage looking for oncoming traffic to run into. It happens in the mere matter of seconds. Yes, this is the life of a child with significant needs. I won’t go into the specifics of his needs, but it is overwhelming to both him and us. My special needs son came to us at age 4 from a history of severe trauma, neglect and abuse. He suffers from the effects of fetal alcohol syndrome and many other disorders. As he becomes older, it is harder and harder to keep him safe. But this day ends happily, he is safe and changes are made to our safety plan. His team of professionals is made aware of the event and we are planning to meet with them first thing in the morning. For now we are staying out of the hospital.

But this night, I awake at 2 AM with the most horrible migraine I’ve ever had. I rise out of bed unable to breathe, my heart beating erratically, sweat dripping down my face while I shiver and try to figure out why my chest is in extreme agony. I pace the floor trying to breath… I am overcome with anxiety and panic… I crawl to the bathroom where I vomit and shake in the fetal position on the bathroom floor. This is my reality. Panic attacks that are triggered by the hard days of being a special-needs mom.

The next morning I awake and turn back on my “mom mode.” We meet with the doctors for my son, the day goes on and I prepare for my race.

Race weekend has arrived and we head off for Virginia. So far, things are fine and to my great relief, we are able to enjoy a nice family trip.

The months leading up to the race included a sprained ankle and two episodes of corneal abrasions. Despite my best effort to train, mom duties and injuries littered my journey. But I pressed on and made the best of it. I was just hoping to finish the race and that is all.

So on race day I channeled all the emotional and mental strength I had left and remembered that I had to run 50 freaking miles!! My family was there to cheer me on and seeing my special needs son happy gave me just the extra amount of energy I needed.

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Now for that race report!

We arrive for packet pick up and are greeted with a yeti party. The kids were excited to run around and splash in the creek. We then headed back to our hotel in Abingdon to get ready for the long day ahead.

Nervous at the start!

I brought along a friend for a little extra good luck…

This race is a fun one and the first 20 miles are all downhill! Heading down the Virginia creeper trail is gorgeous and you get to cross countless trestles. The trail is non-technical and easy to run, definitely different than what I am used to. Most of my races involve technical trail and lots of elevation gain. This was a great chance to just enjoy the run and the scenery. I also got to chat with new friends along the way.

I finally get to the turnaround spot around mile 35, and you gotta grab that horn or it doesn’t count 😉

I was so happy to get to that long awaited finish line in Damascus. By this time my legs were exhausted and screaming at me to stop. But I was all smiles as I get to hug Jason at the finish line and greet my family. After a rough few months of training, I was just in shock that I even finished. But most of all I was so damn proud of myself. I was proud of the strength I was able to gather up inside of me to push on and meet my goals. The stronger I become mentally on the trail, the stronger I am in every day life for my children.

So now we are back home, it is about 4 days post-race and I feel great. I hope to take a recovery run tonight. It’s been a stressful few days with one of my kiddos falling off the monkey bars and breaking his arm, and my special needs son having another episode. Working hard to get things straightened out and getting back on track for 100 mile training. Life is tough, but so are you. Here’s to more trail miles and finish lines in the days and months to come!

Coming down the mountain during the Dam Yeti 50 … rain, thunderstorms, sweat, a few tears and lots of smiles. Grateful that I get the chance to do this crazy ultrarunning thing. Someday my body will be done…. I want to make sure I have lots of stories to tell, not just things to show. Your body is capable of some amazing stuff. Don’t waste it.

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