We woke up to POURING rain. Not just rain, but sheets and sheets and sheets of rain. It was 4:00AM, two hours before go-time.
The day before, at the pre-race meeting, we watched the clouds roll in and heard the distant thunder. It rained briefly while we ate dinner at the local Chilis, but then it stopped. The skies cleared and we all exhaled. But our sighs of relief were premature.
The rain proved a major factor in the 2012 Rocky Raccoon 100-miler, the first attempt for Team 100 – me, Kevin and Kim. The mud was ankle deep and we calculated that it covered about 10% of the course, adding at least a good hour, probably more, to everyone’s time. It also caused a huge drop rate for the event. Only about 50% of the people who started ended up finishing. Blisters and raw feet simply became unbearable for many. The course was also rich with roots that tripped us constantly. All three of us have extremely black and blue toe nails as a results.
That said, I absolutely loved running my first 100. I finished in 27 hours and 8 minutes. The course was a 20 mile loop that we ran 5 times, which I found comforting and “easy” to mentally manage. Kim, Kevin and I ran as a team for 63 whooping miles, before we spread out and settled into our own race. Our pacers and crew (Robert, Jennifer, Rick, Allan, Charles and Craig) were there every step of the way, treating us like race cars at a pit stop every time we came back to the main aid station.
I feel forever linked to Kim and Kevin, not only because of the event itself, but because of the six months it took to get there. Together we did a zillion long runs, night runs, planning meetings, emails, research, coordination, etc. About six hours after we finished the event, we all watched the Super Bowl together with glazed over eyes, tons of junk food, and barely moving bodies. Kim’s husband proclaimed, “This is the lamest Super Bowl party ever.” Makes me laugh just writing it. We will never have another Super Bowl day like that.
And of course, Craig, my pacer. By the time I picked Craig up to run the last 20 miles, it was around 2:30 in the morning and time had literally lost all meaning. We finished at 9:00AM. Think about that. 20 miles. 2:30AM-9:00AM. In retrospect, I find that completely unfathomable. But in the moment, we didn’t think about time. It was 100% one foot in front of the other. Shuffle, shuffle,shuffle, walk, walk, walk, shuffle, shuffle, shuffle. I was reminded that my very first club run was with Craig, and it was, appropriately, 20 miles. On that run he provided me with great information about how to break a 4:00-hour marathon, my goal at the time. A couple months later, using all the advice he gave me, I crossed the finish line of the SV Marathon in 3:52. How fitting it was to have Craig as my partner when I crossed that 100-mile mark.
You hear stories of ultrarunners having hallucinations in the middle of the night. I can confirm it to be true. At around mile 96 I saw a doberman pinscher next to two camping tents, clear as day. Neither the dog nor the tents existed.