Saturday, October 10th began at 3:30 a.m. when my iPhone alarm woke me telling me it was “Race Day”. This was it!! The day I had been waiting for all year when I made this trail run my “A” goal of 2015″. I got out of bed, and quickly ate a peanut butter and banana sandwich along with drinking some Tailwind nutrition. I got dressed, chewed a piece of Plow On gum, and I was out the door to sign in and meet up with some of the other runners.
The race format was a 10 mile loop at the Farmdale Reservoir in Washington, IL. I had many opportunities to visit the grounds, yet with my anxiety disorder, I decided against it, lest my mental game be filled with doubt. Looking back, that was one of the best choices I made.
We started promptly at 5 a.m., headlamps blazing. Still as dark as the starry night could be, I donned a knit cap and gloves as it was a brisk 47 degrees at the start. I headed towards the back of the group and met up with a CITRA (Central Illinois Trail Runners Association) runner I had yet to meet. I introduced myself, “Hi Elaine!! My name is SarahJeanne Olson” and my typical blubbering continued. I had seen Ann’s name and posts from the groups facebook page. She informed me this was her second attempt at 100 miles, and that with this being in her backyard and her grandkids being here, she felt good about her chances. Being new to trail running, I simply was in awe of her experience, and gleaned every bit of knowledge from her in those first 5 miles we ran together. I use the term “ran” loosely, as that first lap was all about seeing in sort of a ‘tunnel vision’ with the headlamp constantly shifting on top of my knit cap. At the aide station, the group went on ahead as I changed batteries in hopes that I slow down the rate of falling I was doing. I ran solo the rest of that first loop, only falling 4 times and having 5 near misses or “toe picks”, as I lovingly term them. I vividly saw the race clock at 2:18:xx and went around to fill up my hydration vest with Tailwind and change socks and shoes.
On the second loop, I met up with more CITRA folks, Richard and JaeMon, who had me laughing and giggling as we toughed the Cougar hill together. My corn field training was a literal walk in the part compared to this vertical rock climb. At the aid station, I kept going, satisfied with my fueling and just wanting to keep going.
I grabbed a half of a banana, more Tailwind and continued on my way. The water crossing each loop was chilly, but in a sense felt refreshing on my feet. In total there were 4 creek crossings, but this one you had to walk through the stream. No way around it. I sort of caught up to someone who was walking as fast as I was running, so we struck up a conversation. He too was going for the hundred miles, so he was pacing hisself accordingly; which was fine with me, because I was feeling my way around, looking for the next pink flags or reflector to acknowledge I was still on the right path. My Garmin ran out of battery, my headphones quit and the top of my left foot started hurting.
Another banana half, refill of Tailwind and PLOW ON energy gum, a change of clothes and shoes and lap 4 was underway. 34 miles was the longest I had gone before and that was just 2 months prior, so I KNEW I would meet a distance PR soon. I was becoming worried about my foot, so I walked all of the incines and ran all the flats. At the aid station at 35.5 I announced my distance PR. But moreso, I had to pee. Why was there no porta potty in the middle of nowhere?, They had tp, wipes, napkins, et al, who needs a porta potty??? The full moon came out that loop as I ‘communed’ with nature
One lap to go. If I had to walk the entire way, I would, but I was going to make it. I checked and it was 3:41 p.m. The boys had hidden my headlamp somewhere, so I had to go without. And walk I did. Itook a banana and started walking. Nothing was going to stop me. Last time sliding down that slope. Last time I will bear crawl up the side of this mountain (okay, it really is a hill, but by the 5th loop it was a seemingly tall and steep mountain). Last time I have to hike my leg over this fallen tree that was too tall to step up onto, and too wide to straddle comfortably, and no sapplings around to hang onto. God had outdone Hisself with the beauty of it all. Now the home stretch.
The boys would meet me at the parking lot and run “walk” (I corrected them) me in. They weren’t having it. Isaac bolted ahead, Aaron who calls hisself my second Coach kept repeating “Finish Strong, Mom!! You got this!!!” I was happy to be that close but was just as happy to walk it in, plus “Isn’t it past your bedtime young man?”, I joked. “Mom, it’s 7:11!! Lucky numbers! Well, even though I know you don’t believe in luck. I knew you would do it all along Mom”