Hennipen100. My bib number was 81. I had registered for this insanity way back last December.
Most of my races this year were strategically planned as "training runs" working towards the BIG PICTURE, 100 miles.
I trained for 6 months. I ran Glass City Marathon as my ribbon cutting ceremonial race to kick off 50 and 60 mile run weeks, midnight runs, rain runs, trail runs and flat rails to trails runs.
My Ford F150 was packed with gear, shoes, food and excitement.
|Kris, Rachel and I at the Prerace Meeting|
MY TRIBE: Andy and I were driving together but we were not alone.
Just a couple hours behind us, Kris was bringing her crew in their 15 passenger van. Her husband, Chris, her son Brady and Rachel, her pacer.
Lacey would be on the course sometime on Saturday to pace me. Her hubby Scott and her were enjoying some time together in Chicago.
Matt and Paula were doing the same thing as Lacey and Scott. They too would be on the course sometime on Saturday. I didn't really know Matts plan for pacing. I knew he was coming out to help who ever needed it.
And then there was Ken, the culprit of all this insanity. He would be there with his wife Diane.
I was looking forward to seeing my tribe. We had quite the group of us coming in.
CREW: This is your support system. They follow you around, meeting you at aid stations prepared to service your needs. Andy crewed me. He is amazing at this. Andy has a always been able to navigate through a city to cheer me on as large as New York City or Boston and even Chicago. Navigating is just one area, he also assesses me, helps change my shoes, socks, makes sure I am eating, drinking and provides me with whatever tools I need to stay upright.
PACERS: These are your runners that will be running along side of you keeping you on pace, encouraged, and moving forward. Pacers help to keep you out of your head. They use their head, their strength and wisdom to help get you to the finish.
Hennipen does not allow you to pick up your pacers until after mile 50. Lacey was planning on running though the night with me. I would pick her up at the Candyland Aid station where she would run my last 50K with me. Surprisingly, Matt said he would be at the 50 mile to pace me for "however" long.
RACE MORNING, BEFORE THE STARTING LINE.
|Everything was organized in gallon ziplock bags and filed into a box making it easy for Andy to pull out what I needed.|
Weather: 67' and dry. The rain was on its way and would later partner up by winds at over 25mph.
But here I was. I wasn't nervous, scared or even concerned. I was eager. I was so excited to see where this adventure took me. I was ambitious to see what my body could do, what it could overcome, endure.
Andy and I arrived at 6:30am. I met another runner waiting for Kris and her crew. When I saw Kris and her crew I was jumping into their arms delighted to see them all.
It was show time.
* The Golden Goal: Finish SUB 24..And get that BIG BUCKLE BABY!
* A Sub 24 hour calculates to a 14:24m/m.
I would need to pace myself below 14MIN/M to bank time for aid stations.
I planned to maintain a 11:30-12 m/m the first 30 miles. I would do intervals at the top of every mile for 1 minute. This would allow me to keep my pace down. The flat course makes it very easy to want to run faster than you should.
I would assess my body from that point and slow down to a 12-12:30 pace, maintaining the same intervals.
I knew that I would have enough time banked that I wouldn't need to blow out of the aid stations. I could eat, change and get mentally settled down.
I also knew that running through the night would be a slower pace. I would be able to slow down yet again to a 13-14min/mi. I would be changing my intervals, I just didn't know to what, I will share that with you further on.
READY SET GO!
I crossed the starting mat full smiles with Kris next to me. It was one of the first races I have ever ran that seemed to move in slow motion. No ONE took out of there like SeaBisquit.
I asked Kris her plan, stating that it would be nice if we could run a few miles together.
We had different plans but agreed it would be fun to run together for a bit.
|You can see we ran along the canal. I counted over 25 bridges or tunnels that we ran through. I especially liked this one:RECKLESS|
I had SEVERAL people praying for me. I had asked if people would dedicate an aid station to pray for me. In return, I would share a photo at the aids station they dedicated to pray for me. I wanted to use every mile to Glorify God. I wanted God to see His people all together, honoring Him, glorifying Him and being a witness for Him. It was MORE than me, Soo much more than me.
Andy had the signs. He had to manage the signs as well as crew me.
The Aid stations were set up on an average of 5 miles apart. It took about an hour to get to the first Aid Station, but I was SOO excited to see Andy. I wasn't sure he would be there so early on.
Andy never missed an aid station. He was at all of them, even the ones they said had NO crew access.THE FIRST 50k (32MILES)
I had my hydration pack on with limited water. I wanted little weight, I could use the aid stations to hydrate, using my pack as a back up. The weather was warm, sticky and humid. So when the skies began to drizzle it was rather refreshing.
|Kris and I SMILE!|
I was paying close attention to my pace and my plan. My body felt great. I was still foot loose and fancy other than my planter fascia getting angry. I found myself running on the grass to prevent the hard flat pounding.
I also thought of my friend Kay. She reminded me it is just "10 -10 milers." I would text her each 10 miles I completed.
I came into every aid station screaming "MARCO"! I had to do it sometimes a couple times to teach everyone how it goes..."I say MARCO...YOU say POLO"!
Andy would be waiting for me like clockwork. He would smile at my silliness and then get me moving again. "Anita, SLOW DOWN." He coaxed me. I tried to explain to him I was on pace. I was running my plan. At Aid Station 6 The Minions I could hear people cheering us on. I looked closely, Matt and Paula were dangling signs at the top of the bridge in the rain. There was NO CREW access here and yet Andy and them were both here with smiles, hugs and encouragement. They made us signs with mantra and pictures on them. I was soo happy. Paula had this smile that filled my love tank and a hug to match. It was nasty weather and that didn't stop them.
|PAULA! I love this SMILE and my SIGN!!|
Getting to 50 miles.
"Kris, We are 1/3 DONE!" She was still next to me as we headed towards the next aid station. The drizzle had morphed to a steady rain mixed with gusting winds.
The path was so flat and straight it was easy to see the aid station. "Farmers Bridge".
Coming into aid station 7, Andy was getting more serious about assessing me. "How are your feet?"
"Do you have any hot spots?" "Blisters?" "Do you need to change your socks?"
I would hit this aid station again 67.3. I would pick up Lacey at that time.
Andy was getting good at changing out my hydration pack and putting water in it. At this point, I was getting lil tweaks. I was keeping them mostly to myself, trying to remain positive.
I knew Lacey should be arriving sometime soon. She had text me she would be in around 1pm. I really wanted to see Lacey.
|Judy J made this..I LOVED this collage.|
This Aid Station was what I needed to get the adrenaline going again!
And I really needed a pick. The wind and rain was beating me up both physically and mentally
It had EVERYTHING a girl could ask for! Loud MUSIC, a Disco Ball, coffee, soup, hot sandwiches, it was AMAZING. I was dancing, smiling and warming my cold wet body with chicken noodle soup. Andy had me sitting, Lacey was there, everyone was there. I was so hyped. I kept jumping up and Andy kept setting me back down. He had his hands full!
I jumped up, stimulated and ready to get moving. I passed out high fives and good vibes but this time I took off solo. It was time for Kris and I to separate.
Coming into Aid Station 9 also would be 12- Moms run this Town at mile 43.9 and also 55.5 I was ready for some music.
This ladies here were all dressed up and giving out hugs. I was having so much fun Andy had to remind me to keep moving. Besides my next aid station was only 3.2 miles away.
|Aid Station Goodies|
I was still on pace. Averaging 12min/mi. My feet were hurting and the weather had beaten me up. The wind had blasted me for hours with spitting rain that felt more like sleet. It was a full on head wind.
I continued to drink and eat at every aid station. Potatoes, soup, potato chips, peanut butter and jelly, and washed it down with Tailwind. I knew I had to keep my calories up, to get behind in calories is a date for disaster. I also knew I worked better on real food. Gu's, chomps and gels are great but I can only do a couple of them before they upset my belly.
*You burn an average of 400 calories an hour running. You cant really replace them as fast as you burn them but you can prevent yourself from bonking by drinking water, electrolyte replacements and eating.
THE HALF WAY MARK.
Aid Stations 10 & 11
Miles 47.4 & 52.3
It was a tease. You go through this aid station, see all your family and friends and leave empty handed. You have to run another 2.5 miles out and back to pick up your pacer.
This was a big aid station. It was a bit chaotic for me. Andy was there to help me change my socks and shoes. I was beginning to get fatigued and confused. My knee was now achy along with my lower back. I couldn't tell if my hips and back were hurting from my hydration pack or from my running skirt cutting into my lower back. Matt was ready to head out. He was more enthusiastic than I was. At the last minute, I decided to drop my hydration pack and run with a handheld water bottle. I knew that if this did not work I could switch it out again. But something had to change.
Before I headed out Andy remembered I needed my head lamp, it was getting dark and I wouldn't see him again before it got dark.
The night caught up with us fast. As the darkness fell, my eyes adjusted, the black night surprisingly surrounded me. It was really cool to see runners with their headlamps. As we approached the aid stations, the trail was covered in glow sticks. This was fun.
I wasn't much for conversation, I was trying to engage but I was getting tired. Matt gave me a chocolate expresso Gu. It went down smooth and even woke me up.
I was counting the miles down until we picked up Lacey.
CANDYLAND, NOT FEELING SO SWEET.
Aid Station 7&14
Miles 32.1 & 67.3
This is a large aid station. This station actually features Hennipens lift bridge that is decorated on our bibs. I needed to change my clothes. Andy walked me to the bathrooms. He helped me change my clothes. I had switched my shoes out at the 50 mile mark, my foot pain had dissolved.
|MY GIRL, Lacey.|
This aid station helped perk me up a little bit. Andy was able to get some soup into me. I was able to strike a pose under the disco ball. This made Andy happy. I could see the worry on his face.
I barely remember picking up Lacey. Everything was getting foggy. I was a running zombie. I was struggling to keep my pace. I had told Matt and Lacey my goal. They were doing the best they could to keep me moving.
Andy had swapped watches with me at the 60 mile mark giving me his Garmin. It was like divine intervention. He still had his watch set for 4:1 intervals. Running 12 minute miles was too long. I was struggling to maintain my pace, my body began inheriting new aches, I decided 4:1's were perfect.
Poor Lacey was barely running with me when I felt myself getting nauseous.
I felt so weak, vulnerable, even embarrassed as my body turned against me. "Lacey, Oh God, I'm gonna throw up." I stumbled to the side of the trail while my body heaved emptiness. "It HURTS, Oh it hurts so bad." Tears trickled down my face. My stomach continued to convulse. I couldn't control myself. Nothing was coming up. Lacey stood over me rubbing my back. "Ohhh, make it stop." Bile finally came up leaving a sour taste in my mouth. My belly continued to cramp. I had to just move on. I needed to go. Time was ticking to make my sub 24h goal.
I was running in my sleep, desperately trying to get to the next aid station.
I found myself almost sleeping standing up during the walk intervals. I whined how tired I was. It was barely audible. Matt and Lacey carried all my stuff. .
Matt and Lacey ran with me in the middle. They took turns pushing me back in the middle of them when I veered off the trail. I had never felt fatigue like this. All the food in my belly was making me toot and I was not even ashamed. My stomach was turning sour again. Matt had some Tums to help. They both had fun making fun of me. I was just glad that nothing more was coming out at that point. My body was slowly fading. When I had to pee, I would turn off my head lamp and squat and hope my legs would hold me up. I was shameless. I felt like dead man walking.
To get me to Aid Station 18, the 87 mile mark Lacey and Matt began to read the Facebook posts. I was moved to tears. "SEE Anita, You have to finish, all these people are cheering for you." "Yeah Anita, you don't want to disappoint them!"
Matt even turned on his phone and played contemporary Christian music to inspire me. Lacey and I sang the words of David Crowder together. Her voice was soft, it soothed me.
We could see the lights of the aid station..I was almost there.
THE BOTTOM OF THE BOTTOM
Aid Station 18
I shuffled to Andy. He sat me down. My eyes were closed. I could hear him talking to me. He was asking questions but I couldn't respond. I sat there whispering to just let me sleep. I could hear Lacey and Matt saying "She needs coffee, we need to get her coffee."
But Andy was trying to wake me. "Nita, are you ok?" "Nita, we can be done right now."
With all my energy "Please, please, just let me sleep..."
Lacey was in my ear, "Come on, drink this coffee."
Everything was awful. The fact that sleeping mats were just 30 feet from me was cruel. "Drink Nita, come on..."
|I wanted to curl up and DIE.|
|Even the fuzzy blanket couldn't bring me to life. I look like DEATH|
I could hear them telling Andy I would be fine. I could tell he wasn't convinced. Matt was doing the math to get me in before 24 hours. The coffee was working enough that I realized he had his math wrong. He thought I started running at 6am. I was going to have to really pick up the pace. But then I chimed in, "NO! I didn't start till 7am...doesn't that give me another hour to finish?"
It was like the Heavens opened up and the Angels sang "Halleluiah".
"Oh, yes, I thought you started at 6, you have almost 4 hours to finish."
The Beginning of the End.
Andy said he would see me at aid station 19, the 93 mile mark. By the time I arrived to him, I had already passed a couple runners. The coffee was kicking in. Lacey had ran farther than she had ever ran. I was finding my happy place.
I counted the miles down, frequently asking what mile we were at.
It was not long before we were at Aid Station 19.
I was ready to finish. It was a brief stay before I headed out. Andy would skip aid station 20,just 3.4 miles away and meet me at the finish.
I had 7 miles to finish.
I was gonna do this. My body was broken but my mind was convincing itself it was time to bear down and bring it in.
My knee was aching without pause. The pain would get so bad that every so often a sharp shooting pain would go through it causing it to go out on me. I would wince, I was angry that I was so vulnerable and couldn't control my body. And at the same time that anger made me fight more. I refused to let my knee dictate the outcome of this 100 miler this close to the end. The only thing that had control over me was God, I prayed quietly to myself.
In front of me I saw headlamps. It was instinctual to pick up my pace. Unlike my first 50 miles I kept telling myself "Pass NO ONE ANITA". Now I drew energy from each runner I passed like water from a well. I continued to reach in, thirsty for the competition. Lacey and Matt are highly competitive. They were instigating me, counting down the runners, telling me how far ahead they were and how far behind they were.
"No Nita, they are NOT catching back up to you..." There is nothing worse than passing a runner and they passing you at the end.
We basically ran through that last aid station.
A little more than 3 miles to go.
"What time is it?" I asked. "Can I make it in under 24 hours?"
They laughed. "Anita, You got this...."
The momentum was in place. 3 miles. I felt my body. I listened to my body. I took everything in. I tried to not cry. Everything was perfect. The night was still, dark, full of stars and a beautiful full moon. I could do 3 miles. I was going to do this. I could hear my heart beat, the passion, the gratitude, the love I felt sang inside my soul. My breath was heavy with the zeal to finish.
With 2 miles to finish we came off the Hennipen trail into the town. Houses and cars filled the streets. Lights lined the roads, awakening my senses that had not yet been aroused.
We came into a park setting with winding curves and small hills. My body was numb. I felt nothing but could taste the finish. I continued to pass more runners. Lacey and Matt giggled as they kept count. They were walking , most of them never saw me coming as we barreled pass them. I wondered what they must be thinking as they hobbled to the finish line as I passed them running strong. I couldn't believe I was running so strong.
"I think that is the Finish."
We were on a straightway. We were running on a bike path. On the right was a road lined with very large lights about a quarter mile between each other. On our left was a park, I believe.
"Let me run to that light post." I asked.
They didn't argue. I could hear them talking about how I had picked up the pace.
Then I saw the Finish. I saw lights, I heard people. My heart skipped a beat. My hands clenched. My legs left Lacey and Matt. I couldn't stop smiling. I looked for Andy. I smiled bigger. "RUN...RUN." The voices in my head cheered. Faster, stronger I crossed the Finish line with overwhelming JOY.
8th Female Overall
3rd in my age group
41 out of 127
|BEST Pacers EVER! I couldn't have done as well without them. So thankful for these two.|
Thank you to all those who encouraged me, loved on me, believed in me and prayed for me.
I know for some it was hard to understand WHY anyone would do this. I wish I could fully explain it. I would have to get into "Who I am" and "What my make-up is" and you probably still would shake your head. But I believe LIFE is meant to be challenged. To be LIVED without regrets. I don't wanna go through life on auto pause. I want to live it fully, a little crazy, a little reckless and IN FAITH. because...
STRENGTH IS NOTHING WITHOUT FAITH.ANITA~