It was 2:00 am and I was still awake on Saturday. For some odd reason, I was nervous about the race that would occur in 7 hours in Dahlonega, GA. I drove in to Cumming, Friday evening so that I could chill and hang out with my sister and friends, but I could not stop thinking about the race. My heart was racing, and I was feeling anxious. There was no reason for me to be anxious, but because of the race, I just couldn't focus. Though my heart felt like a beating drum, my mind was calm. As long as I slept at least 3 hours, I would be ready to run a 12 hour race, as I had enough sleep the night prior... and before I knew it, I was waking up to my alarm at 7:00 am. Everything was scheduled... including me being off schedule. The plan was to leave at 7:30, get there by 8:15, and dilly dally til the start at 9:00. I changed into my clothes, wrapped my right knee with KT tape, listened to some pump up music, and left for the course at 7:50, got a little lost once I reached Dahlonega, and arrived at the course at 8:40, giving me 20 minutes to sort everything out.
My sister Maika came with me and during the car drive, I told her that I didn't really have a plan, except to stop for a drink and 'something' every two laps, so once I started running, I'll make up a plan and would at that point tell her exactly what I want to do, and being a very kind and understanding sister, she sighed, shook her head, and didn't freak out. It's a Sho thing, and she's used to it. My other sister Mary would eventually come with her fiance Tim and they would help with the support so things on my sister's end would be just fine... or so I thought.
4 pairs of Asics Gel Lyte 33 3
Injinji socks so I wouldn't get blisters
Breathable socks that I put over my Injinji socks as an extra layer for extra blister prevention
KT tape to support my right knee and arches on both feet
Underarmour briefs to prevent chafing as much as possible
Lucky shorts because I needed a little luck here and there
Underarmour shirt to prevent chafing and to keep me warm
Red breathable t-shirt from my first ultra (TNF Endurance Challenge ATL)
Assassin's Creed jacket to keep me warm... and because I thought I looked pretty cool
Asics gloves, a thin pair to keep me warm~
Winter gloves that I put over my thin pair to make sure my hands were warm
Black bandana, because I always wear one, keeps sweat out of my eyes, keeps me my head warmish
Garmin Forerunner 310XT to keep my time... not my pace
Princeton Tec Headlamp... so that I could see in the dark.
iPhone with only a few songs downloaded, to make the torture... less so
Ben Gay and Aquaphor, my two important friends that keeps my body... not as pain-filled
It was a .65 mile looped course, and other than the start area, nice trail. Not technical at all! There were only a few roots and rocks that jutted out that would trip you, but they were all marked with a neon green paint, which made life so much easier!
Start - 3 Hrs (including detailed course description):
9 Hrs - Finish:
The margin for error when trying to do your best is so small... go too fast and you risk bonking out and failing, go too slow, and you finish the race without giving it your best. It was a scary balancing act. Sometimes, I would run out of energy, but with the last minute eating from the previous few laps, the energy would miraculously appear, and I was barely making it through, running my best, and achieving my new found goal. Time was coming to a close, and every moment count. I couldn't be tempted to stop, I needed to push on, to do my best. I promised myself that no matter what happened, I would continue and do the VERY best I can. There was no lap count I was going for, but just the promise that when I finished the race, I would have given it my all, leaving behind no regrets. Sometime during the last 3 hours, Miriam and Marisa came to cheer me on, and with them here, it gave me another reason to continue on. There are people here cheering and supporting me on this journey. There was no way I could let them down. 2 hours left and I was on my way to getting 88 if I had about 10 minutes per loop, which was easy. 1.5 hours left and I needed to be able to average a 9 minute loop if I wanted to get to 90, but I wanted to give it my best, I wanted more. I started averaging close to 7 minutes per loop and if I could continue to push onward, I might be able to get to 92 loops... it was possible, and that possibility pushed me onward... until the 88th loop. All of a sudden, the momentum I had built up suddenly collapsed. I had run out of energy. My muscles were fully capable of running, but they had no juice. I was done. 24 minutes left, barely any energy within me to walk... I was in trouble. At that moment, I saw a smore that was in my sister's hand... and said, "I want that smore." and took it, ate it. Finishing 2 laps was definitely doable. 4 laps, impossible. 3 laps... I just might be able to make it. A quick calculation in my head and even though 3 seemed too strenuous, all I asked myself to do was to focus on this one lap, the 89th lap, a crucial lap that could either give me hope, or throw it all away. I needed to finish this lap in under 9 minutes. That's all I need, and that's all I focused on. After getting cheered on as I broke the record, I walked a little more and then started my run. The course seemed longer, but I knew it was just my mind, and I kept on going. I finished the lap in a little more than 9 minutes, and with another smore, I left for my 90th lap with about 14 minutes left. This was it. Sacrificing one lap, I was able to recover enough strength to give me just enough energy to get me through my 'final' lap at a faster pace. I ran a little faster, kept going a little further, and was able to get in with about 7 minutes left on the clock, and then I shouted at my sisters and the aide station, "1 more lap" and without stopping, I picked up my pace. The 91st lap was the last lap, and I was going to finish it before the 12 hours were up. The hill was daunting, but it was just one more hill. I only had to get through it once and then I was done. It didn't matter how tired I felt... nothing else mattered to me except for my finish. I was going to finish this lap, no matter what happened. As I flew down the course, my sisters and friends spread out around the course and cheered, and I ran harder. I had to make it. I needed to make it. I wanted this lap. As I crested the final incline, I turned left towards the finish line, and sprinted. With my heart beating fast and my labored breathing, I heard the announcer saying there was 90 more seconds til the end... I had run my fastest lap at the end. I finished 91 laps, a total of 59.15 miles, a new course record.
The race was so well done. Leigh did a great job with volunteers and EVERYTHING. The people at the aide station were amazing and helpful, cheering all the runners on. The other runners were also amazing, some of them so kind to stop and just wave me through as I went through the last few hours as fast as I could. If the 12 hours was this tough... what would the 24 be like? Philip told me that nobody had broken 100 in this race, and told me that if I trained well enough, next year, I could come back and claim that title... interesting...
After the race, I had the most wonderful massage and also that compression leg thingy... whatever it was, it was amazing, but in the end, the best thing about this race was the amazing group of people that made this possible. Without a director, volunteers, runners, friends, families... none of this would be as fun as it was. This was definitely an amazing race.