For those that want to get to the race report, just go straight down to the bold title, otherwise, here's my story.
It was 6:00 in the morning on Tuesday, and I couldn't sleep. In less than a week, I was going to run against some of the best runners out there. Heart pounding, body sweating, I eventually became too exhausted and went to sleep and woke up a little after 8:00 to start my day. Not only was I about to run against the monsters of the ultramarathon world, but I was running it without training as much as I ought to have, and that always was in the back of my mind... but looking back at it, I had important things I needed to do, and although this race was important to me, there are things in life that have greater importance to me than this race. I didn't have the mileage, but I still was able to get my speed. Got through the day, and went straight to bed, ready to wake up in the morning and drive down to Atlanta.
Wednesday, I woke up, finished packing, and drove straight down to Atlanta, meeting up with my friend Miriam who drove me to the airport. Although I was a bit worried about bringing just a carry on, I knew there's no point in fretting because if I don't have something I need, I'll just get it when I get there. One word to describe the trip from Atlanta to Houston. Boring. The person beside me had earphones, so I had to play sudoku and made a 10 race plans, as there were multiple scenarios due to my training up til then. I got off at Houston, went to the next plane, and behold~ the older lady beside me was nothing like the first person, and I learned a whole lot about her life. Several history lessons and life stories later, we arrived at Phoenix, AZ. Pushing the older lady in a wheelchair to the baggage claim area, the older lady's sister made fun of her, calling her a cougar, and I laughed and met up with Alicia, who was kind enough to offer her home as my base during my stay in Phoenix. After setting my things down, we chatted awhile and I went to sleep.
Thursday was a pretty chillaxing day, put together a 750 piece puzzle, bought the things I needed from Walmart, and then at night, I was hit by round two of anxiety. I couldn't shake the feeling that I was about to embark on a journey with some of the best runners around... and I knew that I shouldn't put that kind of pressure on me... but I still came back to it. I finally got to sleep at 4:00 and slept til about 8:00, and the rest of the day was filled with nothing but... absolute rest. In the evening, I went to the dinner the race had for the runners, and talked to some of the runners and little by little, my heart rate subsided, and the nervous feeling went down a bit. I began focusing on running my race, and went home a little more prepared. I then decided that I would do the majority of packing in the morning, and before I went to sleep, started another 750 piece puzzle, and when my anxiety was gone, and my focus was peaking, I went straight to bed and slept.
The next morning, I woke up, head clear, changed into my running clothes, and got ready. It's race time.
The Desert Solstice 100 mi and 24 Hour Race Report
Located at Central High School 400m Track, it's a simple course. You just run around in circles until the time is up. From the 300m mark to about 350, there were canopy tents set up so that runners could have their crew set there to make aide readily available during the race. 24 runners were going to compete in this adventure, and I was one of them.
My weapons of choice are as follows:
4 pairs of Asics Gel Lyte 33 3
1 pair of Hoka One One Stinson Tarmac, only used if my feet are too injured
1 pair of thin Injinji socks
1 pair of breathable socks
1 pair of underarmour briefs
1 pair of my lucky shorts
1 underarmour shirt
1 pair of Asics gloves
a nice breathable shirt
my black bandana
If it got cold, I had a sweater, jacket, warmup pants, and an extra pair of gloves ready to wear
The plan was simple. Run 5 laps and either after my 5th lap or as I'm finishing my 5th lap, I would walk the 100 meters. That would be a set. Every set was roughly 1.25 miles, meaning that I would base my food and water consumption based off of that. 1st lap water, 2nd lap water and coke, 3rd lap water, 4th lap water, pickle juice, and banana, 5th lap water, 6th lap water and coke, 7th lap water, 8th lap water, pedialyte, food, and a dash of chia seeds. I would repeat that until I reach 24 hours, or until I reach my 'limit' where I would have to choose between going further than my body would allow, hurting myself, or stop and run in the near future instead, not afraid to break my body down even more. Every 20 miles, I would switch my shoes, and continue on as far as my body could go.
First 6 Hours:
The start of the race was simple. We all started running and being boxed in at the beginning, I didn't exactly feel like staying here and wanted to be free, so I got ahead of the group and was free. I didn't exactly know too many people at this race, so I wasn't exactly talking to too many people. Right before the race started, I was getting to know a few, but only by name, and so I felt practically alone in this race. I was definitely going too fast, and instead of controlling my pace, I let my competitive spirit take control of my pace. Not a great idea to hit 7 minute miles for a few laps. The first stop was expected for me, but not for everyone else. Most everyone seemed to be going at a certain pace
for a longer period of time, but because I enjoy running faster, this was my style of running that I was comfortable with. My body wasn't exactly ready for this race, but I was. With the beginning of the race underway, my nervousness was gone, but in the back of my mind, I was wondering how much gas I had left in the tank. Kept on running as much as I could, I knew I got this, but after about 3 hours, I was feeling the pain in my hips. Running around the track one direction had my hips hurting and I it wasn't feeling good. I wanted to run a lot, but this predicament was a new thing. I didn't know what else to do but to continue. As I did, I noticed that I wasn't in my best condition, and the race had only just begun! I was like, 'Oh snap~' because it was way too early for this selfish prideful me to die... and then I did some reevaluation on things I need to do to get this race over with.
Problem 1: It's cold. I'm weak when it's cold, more sun is good, but I need more than that. Answer 1: Underarmour shirt. I felt so much better my pace picked up. Problem 2: I need something to take my mind off of the pain. Answer 2: I can pop ibuprofen and hey, lets have some fun, and started talking. As my mouth went wild, my pace got better. Whenever I passed people or people passed me, I just said something, either encouraging or random stuff. That kept me going for a good bit, but after a while, even that didn't cut it. I needed to get a little happier. So it hit me. I asked Alicia and John to get me my iPhone case, iPhone, and earphones, and boom. I put Happy by Pharrell Williams on repeat and started singing. I may have started going crazy, but when you want to be happy, you gotta go for it. By this time, my crazy rambunctious nature had heads turning and the awesome volunteers would cheer for me every time they saw me. Gotta say I enjoyed the celebrity status, at the cost of my dignity, but hey, anything to get through the race alive right? So I went through the first 6 hours of my run at about 40 miles, now having a lot of people cheering me up and allowing my mind to get through without me blowing up.
Second 6 Hours:
going. Also, I made a new mantra which I'm sure some of the runners heard me say as I started running with that renewed energy. It went like this. "I'm a monster, I'm a beast" and I would say that over and over in a beat so that I would be able to work on my wonderful cadence. Oh! Forgot, there was a point in this race where I was dehydrated because when I go to the bathroom, I can check my water content by the color of my urine, and it wasn't clear. At that point, I changed from 5 laps to 4 laps and that got my water balance back to where it needed to be, but also got my stomach filled with water. It was my time to get back to business. By this time, I had gotten to know the Canadian runners Dennene and Dave, as well as their whole crew. They were a fun group of people. Dave was going for the Canadian record and Dennene was aiming for 180km which could put her on the Canadian National 24 hr Team. They were a fun lot and very encouraging, every lap was a good lap, because as I continued to run, I made more friends, and running is so much fun when you're among friends. At the 12th hour, I finished around 79 miles, a personal record for 12 hours, and all that without training like I normally do... man I was excited... and a little nervous because my gas gauge said I was getting close to empty.
Third 6 Hours:
Final 6 Hours:
After changing into warmer clothes, I was still cold, but despite my weakened state and constant shivering, I ate warm soup and then went over to chat with my team and cheer everyone else on and then talk to Joe and some others as they came by to sit out the rest of the time after reaching 100 miles. From then on, I went over to the Canadian group's crew, and cheered on Dennene and was sad to see Dave hurt his leg and walk to 200km, and sit out the rest of the race. Focusing mainly on cheering Dennene but always cheering everyone else out there (Ed, John, Anders, Stacey, Katalin, Traci, Rich, and Hung), I did my best to encourage everyone to continue on and do their best. It was a great moment to see Hung make his PR in the 24 hour race, and Dennene not only getting to 180km, but going all the way to 189.303km, which was far beyond what she went for. John Cash went on to win the race at 154.519 miles despite having stomach issues. I also had the honor of watching Katalin Nagy finish at 151.443 miles, a new American track record. Ed finished yet another 100 miler, furthering his world record of most 100 miles done in a year and a couple more til 40... man, that's crazy. Eric Clifton also made a new 6 hour age group record, making him a beast... everyone out there was truly a monster, pushing through obstacles in order to achieve their goals, and succeeding.
Now to look back and learn from the race... Puzzles are great for me. I think from now on, the night before a race, I'm going to do a puzzle til I have to sleep. Definitely will take my mind off of the race and allow me to sleep. My pace at the beginning was too fast, but if I train harder, it would be perfect for what I want to run the race at. I had a roller coaster of mental strength and weaknesses, and I allowed my past to affect my present and future, giving it more power than it should have. It's very important that I remember that and believe with all my heart that no matter what disposition I may be in, I can do a lot, even the things I may perceive as impossible. Salt tablets are great and I will use them from the beginning of the race, definitely will use them for all my races too! I'm glad I made new friends. I enjoyed learning from this race and I enjoyed how well organized the race was. Thanks to Nick and his crew for a great race, and will definitely return to become one of the monsters running there in the next year or two. I was encouraged by so many amazing people and will fine tune my unorthodox running method and become a stronger and faster runner.
As Winston Churchill says, "Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts."
I'm going to continue, and through both my success and failures, I plan on reaching higher heights and creating new limits... as well as making new friends.
Guess that's the end of my story, for now.