We last left off as I was heading back into the night for my first dark lap with a Pacer Pete. It was after 11:00 pm and the temp was starting to drop for this Florida girl. Before heading out, I refueled with some warm veggie broth, coke and we were off. Having company, I felt revitalized, we headed on the trail towards the first aid station and all was good in the my Hallucination 100 world. We made it to “ Grace” and had a blast joking with the awesome aide volunteers who were jamming out and dancing as we grabbed some food and headed back out. During our trek to Richey’s Haven we passed or rather we were passed by my good friend, sister and fellow Marathon Maniac Stephanie. This was also to be her first 100 and she was cruising leading the women’s race and a good hour + ahead of us. We stopped briefly for a hug and a hello and off she went. We continued on and that’s when things started to get interesting…. The rain that was forecast decided to pay us an evening visit. This was one the thing I was dreading with this particular race. Last year the rain took many of the runners out and this had been in the back of mind in the days up to race time. Like or not, we had rain and cold rain at that. As we pressed on we discovered portions of the trail that became muddy, flooded and slippery. The only way to survive safely in these conditions was to walk carefully and slowly through these areas and watch our footing the best way we could. As we continued on this 3rd lap it seemed that we were the only ones on the trail, and instead of the rain letting up it continued to fall harder and much much colder. We slowed to what seemed like a snails place and the cold was beginning to get to me. As we made it Richey’s Haven, I tried to think of what I could do to get through the next 8 miles. Now ordinarily 8 miles is not that big of deal, but this particular 8 miles after 30 + in the cold rain, with no gear to keep warm felt like an eternity. I decided to improvise and asked the aid volunteers if they had any garbage bags? Heck we use them in marathons why not an ultra? They had a heavy duty bag, that Pacer Pete and I modified into a perfect rain cover and warm resource that would turn out to be life saving. My hands were still cold, but my core now was able to retain some heat.
As we continued on that next 8 miles the difficulty mentally and physically was enough to break any experienced ultra runner, let alone a newbie like myself. Pacer Pete’s hands became ” claw like” and he was having difficulty moving his hands as was I. We talked about everything and anything to keep our minds busy but as we proceeded even talking was a chore. The key to survival at this point was to to keep moving forward, and not think about the distance that was still involved in my journey I kept the mantra ” Constant Forward Motion” going in my head over and over till we could make it back to Grace aid station which was 4 miles to base camp and warm clothes. We finally made it back to Grace and the Dance party was not as appealing this go around. The volunteers were just as upbeat, but I was trying preserve all the warmth and energy I could and keep moving. Onward we went back in the cold down pour and the slower we became and the harder it was to stop my body from shivering. Four miles to warm clothes…..
As the rain came down even harder, we looked ahead and saw a light thinking we had caught up another runner or perhaps a hallucination, we noticed the light was heading towards us. To our surprise, It was Steve who hiked back on the trail bearing rain coats and warmth! He said he saw experienced and strong runners dropping out of the race like crazy, including my friend Stephanie who was suffering from hypothermia, and he became concerned and came back for us. To say he was a life safe savor was the understand of the year! Both Pete and I put on a warm jacket, and I covered up with my fashionable garbage bag and together the 3 of us made the mile and 1/2 journey back to base camp. Upon arrival , I couldn’t help but notice the large number of DNF’s that had been entered on board. Those three letters that I never want to see in this race next to my name were all around me. I went to my tent and changed into dry clothes, a long sleeve shirt and my garbage bag. The warmth and dry clothes felt amazing. I opted not to change my shoes, since I could feel my feet swelling and I knew that although the rain was letting up, the trails would still be wet.
As we entered into lap 4 , my mind was all over the place. We had made it though the toughest 16 miles I have ever done, and I was still in dis-belief at all the talented runners that called it quits. Lap 4 was physically not any tougher than the first 3, and now I had daylight to look forward too! The 50 mile race would be starting soon and my BFF and pacer Brandi would be embarking on her first 50 miler as she took me home to my journey of 100. Eight miles into lap 4 , and the light was upon us! I felt like a new runner and was sucking all the energy and Vitamin D the sunlight had to offer. It was a new day and I was still in the game to get through this 100 miles. I had to make it to the 100 km mark before noon to be in the clear and not be pulled. I was in the on track for accomplishing this mini- goal, but I knew that anything could happen so I wanted to make sure I didn’t slow down to too much more especially after loosing time due to the overnight adventure int he rain. I had heard rumors how the sun would make all the difference int he world during the long road to 100 miles, but as tired, cold and defeating as I felt the night before, I didn’t think anything could revitalize me. I was pleasantly surprised by how awake and energized I felt! It was as if I was starting a whole new race. The best part of the lap was finding Brandi and fellow maniac and 50 miler Mary at the Richey’s Haven check point. They both looked amazingly strong and were energetic and positive. It was an awesome homecoming and great to see more familiar faces. It was at that point the Brandi decided she was going to stick with me through the 100 miles. As much as I didn’t want her to sacrifice her race,I was so grateful to have her leading the way.
Together the three of us laughed and chatted for the next 8 miles back to base camp where Pete would get some much needed rest and hand the torch officially over to Brandi. I was energized and exhausted all at the same time.
As an tired Pete headed back to the tent to sleep… Brandi and I refueled, and off to lap 5 we would go. Just 2 more grueling laps to go!
Stay tuned for the Hallucination 100 Part 3: The Conclusion coming soon…..
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