Where: Montgomery Bell State Park, Burns, Tennessee
When: August 4-5 2018
Stats: 1-100 mile options (1M, 5K, half/full marathon, 50K, 50M, 100K, 100M) with a technical/hilly ~3 mile trail loop or 1 mile paved loop option.
Bottom Line: If you are chasing a goal and want a friendly, supportive and caring team of people taking care of your every need–and you don’t want to worry about missing cutoffs–this race weekend is for you!! Beginner friendly, no egos allowed, just a fun time pushing your limits with like-minded folks. Tons of support and by the end, everyone knows your name!
My first 100 mile attempt brought up all the expected feelings–the thrill of a new race, the butterflies in my stomach the night before and the ache of my feet by mile 50. But what I did not expect was for my journey to morph into something different all together. Something much better than I could ever have planned.
But let me back up a bit first.
These past few months have been exhausting for me both mentally and physically. If it had not been for my two running BFFs, I would have backed out of this race. I mean, my family life had put me through the ringer. The onslaught of hospital stays, new diagnoses and life changes were daunting to me. It derailed my training. It depleted me emotionally. There was just so much to deal with.
training run when 100 miles seemed so far away
But I was ready to take this journey with my friends. I knew I was capable despite my setbacks. I knew WE were capable.
And honestly, all of us were dealing with heavy stuff in some form or another.
So back to the story. The night before the race I was stressed. I laid in bed unable to sleep while trying to ignore my sore, swollen throat. I slept maybe an hour that night. Which totally sucked because I knew I would be up and running for the next 30-40 hours straight. Which stressed me out even more.
The morning of the race I felt great. I was eager, hopeful and ready. My throat hurt but I ignored it. The day went as expected.
But around mile 34 things began to go south. My throat was swelling and I could hardly swallow. My head felt heavy and I had some extreme chafing showing up in some…ahem….sensitive areas. I’m not new to ultrarunning but this chafing was unusual for me and I’m not sure what went wrong. By nightfall I was barely coherent and in pain. At one point I couldn’t even stand upright and almost face planted into the ground.
That’s when I knew it was not safe to keep running. My friends stayed on course while I went to sleep off my delirium. But I knew what it meant for me–that I might not make it to 100. After several hours I awoke feeling a little better. Since it’s a looped course, I decided to get up and run. I joined my friends and decided I would see how the day goes before settling on a certain ending mileage.
I ran. I walked. And I decided that if I got to 100K I would be happy.
But then I decided that this race wasn’t about my goal anymore. It was about my friends. It was about spending time with people who make my soul happy. And in the end, it would end up becoming a journey to see my friend Bud cross the 100 mile mark and earn his buckle.
No matter how terrible I felt, I vowed to myself that I would get my buddy to the end. That was my goal for this race now. My friend Jenn and I were comfortable with getting to the 100K mark (and beyond) due to unforeseen circumstances. But we knew we had to get our friend Bud to his goal. And we did.
You probably want to hear all the crazy, funny details from those last 20 miles or so. But those moments on the course with your BFFs are sacred. Memories that make life meaningful. Stories that won’t be written on a blog.
I ended up with 78 miles total–my furthest distance to date. But I also got to see my friends succeed–which means a whole hell of a lot more.
I did it all for the miles and smiles with these special people. Worth every painful step.
The best trail buddy and the best crew chief (my hubs!!)
Post race exhaustion
After the race I was sidelined with a horrible cold. I had been fighting it the entire race weekend and it finally wiped me out. But I still felt so good. I was hardly sore at all, a testament to my laissez faire style of training 😉 I have another hundo coming up this winter and I know I’ll be ready. This time I won’t settle for anything less than a buckle! But even if I do fall short of my goal, I now know from experience that it will be an adventure of a lifetime with my peeps.