On Friday, February 13th, 2015 I started running in a race that I thought would never end. I was tested to my core and feel like I passed the test. I had run the Rouge-Orleans a few years ago as part of a 3 person team. My plan was to run it solo last year, but the event didn’t take place so I ran Cajun Coyote as my first 100 miler. Looking back, I’m glad I did a different race for my first try at 100. The RO is just not a good race for a first time 100 mile or higher.
As I said, I was to begin on Friday the 13th. Interesting. My race bib was #13. More interesting. My phone was stolen 1 hour before my 8PM start. Not good. Especially considering it was going to be my sole piece of electronic equipment for this race. I had playlists and some audiobooks to keep my mind occupied. I was also going to use the phone to track my mileage, broadcast my location, post, keep up with my crew, etc. I had battery packs to keep it charged up and everything. But now it was gone. I left it in the bathroom when I changed into my race attire. When I realized where it was I SPRINTED to get it but it was gone. I sprinted back and opened “Find my iPhone” on my iPad. Whoever took it knew enough to turn it off so it couldn’t be tracked. I knew then that I wouldn’t see it again. Well, I was frustrated and aggravated. My game plan was messed up. I had to take a step back and regroup so that I wouldn’t be defeated before the start. My dad said, “Stay calm. you can use my phone to keep in touch with us.” That was good, but I still wouldn’t be able to use any tracking or have any music/audiobooks. At that point, I decided to just let it go. I had a race to run. I couldn’t let this derail my many weeks of training to prepare for this thing.
My mom and dad were crewing me. My brother planned on crewing me the whole time, but had some health issues a few weeks before and we weren’t sure if he should be there for the duration. My awesome parents volunteered to handle crewing duties for Friday night into Saturday and my brother would come and relieve them about noon on Saturday. My parents ended up staying the WHOLE time! My brother came to take their place, but they wanted to stay. I had an awesome crew!
Well, we started at 8PM sharp. It was myself and about 10 other runners starting this wave. Due to the phone issue, I had no way of knowing how fast I was going so I just kept it really easy and conservative. I spent the first few miles just talking to a few runners as we began to separate along the levee. One guy, Sal, took off and disappeared into the dark. He was flying! Others fell behind….I just did my thing. Starting an ultra at night was a first for me. That whole night was and is a blur to me. Things got really rough in the wee hours of the morning. I hallucinated for the first time ever during a race. I dodged a man putting large picture frames on the levee, A heavy set woman was handing me flowers, and I saw a sign in the middle of the road that wasn’t really there. Weird! I remember singing songs….loudly….to keep myself awake. I was making stuff up. Just singing away. I laugh when I think of the reaction of someone sitting on their port at night seeing me with my headlamp and blinky butt light singing stupid songs…LOUDLY. Things got so rough I actually took a 10 minute nap at one point. Another first. I got in the back seat of the truck and told my parents to wake me up in 10 if I didn’t get up myself. It was a much needed reset for me and I made up the time quickly. Anyway, the night was long, but I got through it. At this point, I was running with Sal who had run so far ahead at the start. I found out that he was a very experienced ultra runner. He had slowed down and we ended up talking and just running together. The company definitely helped with the monotony of the race. He didn’t have a crew, so we kind of adopted him.
As time progressed I was doing some power walking. I knew that in the evening, my friend, Edie would be there to pace me. I justified some of this walking by saying, “I want to save some energy to run when Edie gets here.” Whatever. lol Truth is, I was tired. The problem with walking was that I would start to fall asleep while moving forward. I was all over the top of the levee. I’m surprised I didn’t fall off. Both my ankles were hurting in the front above my foot. Especially, the right one. I had experienced this before for Cajun Coyote. I would just stop and stretch them as much as I could from time to time.
The day wore on and on and on. My nutrition plan was to use Trailwind nutrition in my bladder pack and Vespa cv-25 every 4 hours. I also had pretzels and some cliff bars that I would eat as I felt I needed. I would also drink Gatorade at my aid stops. I have to say, Tailwind nutrition is great. I didn’t have 1 cramp for this race! At one point late in the day I noticed my hands were swollen. I realized that with the Tailwind, Pretzels, and Gatorade, I was taking in too much salt. I began to just drink water and within a few hours, my sausage fingers were back to normal size.
At about mile 96 or so, Edie arrived to pace me. This was the boost I needed! We took off at a pretty fast pace. I felt strong. Crazy how much of this sport is mental. After a little while, my body reminded me that it had just run almost 100 miles and it was tired. So we slowed me down a bit. For the rest of the run I was able to latch on to Edie and just do what she said. We’d run 5 minutes and walk a minute. Then 4/1. Then 3/1. This really broke up the sections between the aid stations and helped me mentally. She was having me run more than the 5,4, or 3 minutes….and I knew it, but it was ok. I was ready to be done. It’s tough – I was getting bogged down with the last 26 miles. “ONLY a marathon to go” just sounds nuts when you’ve run 100 miles and your body and mind are spent. We’d talk a bit in between long stretches of silence. Eventually, we were at the last relay point before the finish. We had 4 miles to go! We ran a good portion of this leg and once we actually found the finish line – it looked so good! I ran to it with all I had(which was not very fast at that point).
I crossed the finish line to the cheers of my parents, my brother, and Edie. I was so happy to be DONE! 29:20:52 was my official finishing time. 1st in my wave. Once the other waves were done, I found out that it was good enough for 2nd place!
I can’t thank my parents, my brother, and Edie enough for the help during this race. It was definitely a team effort!