There were 2 overall themes from this year that defined the run. The first was suffering. The second was leaning on your friends and letting them help you. In many ways, my run this year was much more difficult than last year. The 2 biggest obstacles were the weather and stomach issues. Without my friends and the support of others, including complete strangers, I would have never completed my part of the challenge this year.
There was a 25-35 mph wind from the south for most of the 24 hours. That alone is bad enough, but after working against the headwind each lap, I then ran with it, making me realize how warm it really was. Temps got up to 80 or a little more during the day and it continued to be warm and muggy during the overnight hours. On top of that, several lines of thunderstorms threatened us beginning at 10pm, with a direct hit at 2am or so. With my feet completely soaked at that point, I could not avoid blistering. The entire front of both feet blistered, making forward movement difficult at best.
The stomach issues began at mile 51, after several miles of heartburn and dizzyness. I threw up the first time with an audience of about 40 students and others with me to help me along after school. No one said a word...no one asked me if I was ok...everyone simply knew that I needed to get it over with. They understood before my run that there would be suffering and they were willing to let me deal with it as best as I could. During each of the subsequent laps I had bouts of an upset stomach, with the next big round of puking not happening until 12:30 am. This time the audience was much smaller, with a few adults and just 2 students present. The 2 young ladies still with me at the time eventually completed 12 miles, saying that they want to run 16 next year! They were amazing and looked strong the entire way!
I am not really sure why I had stomach issues. I have never had problems with eating and running. In the week or so after my run, I realized that I may have been ill, as my family all delt with fevers and vomiting for hours at a time. I realized within minutes of the start of the run that I was not feeling right. That's ok I kept telling myself...it will pass in a couple of hours. It didn't. 2 hours into the run, I was tired...really tired! That is not at all normal for me. So abnormal that I had to deal with it the only way I know how. I turn to myself and ignore everything around me, letting the time pass by. This worked for small chunks of time. But...I had promised to run by each of the schools in town and high-five the kids or run a few laps with them on their playgrounds. This really broke up my concentration and the time I felt that I needed alone with my thoughts. I really needed this time to myself to deal with the pain that I knew would come later in the evening.
So by 5pm I was spent and unable to take in any significant calories. By this time I was desperately waiting for my friend and former coach Mike Russell to show up. I knew that he would understand what I was going through. It was his plan to do all of the thinking and tell me what to do. He was going to get me to 100 miles. Sometime around 8pm, all of a sudden, he was just there at my side, asking how I was doing. Mike kept me moving much more quickly into the late evening hours than last year. Still, by midnight, I had enough. He still pushed. By 3am, I was ready to quit. He still pushed. He figured that we were going to be very close to getting in 100 miles. By 5am, I was unsure I could keep moving forward for another 4 mile loop, let alone 3 1/2 hours! He still pushed. At one point, we were behind pace by about 15 minutes. Still, he pushed...at this point literally. A couple of teachers from my middle school took turns hooking me by the arm, pulling me along. Without the help of others, I would not have made it.
I did feel better after having some toast a little before 6am, and the return of light helped a little. The unwillingness of others to let me quit is what kept me going. I know I looked horrible, but I knew I was physically ok. I just couldn't find the energy to deal with anyone or anything, from talking to climbing up or down from a curb.
I am not sure when I realized that I would finish...probably not until the last 1 1/2 miles, at which point Gold Cross medics stopped me. I had to refuse treatment to continue on! I had to get in 100 miles! I promised! After walking most of the last 1 1/2 miles with an Olmsted Co Sherriff's car as an escort, I ran the last few hundred yards to finish in front of my school, with the entire student body out to cheer me on. What a thrill! 100 miles!!! Still, I was too tired to enjoy it. I needed to get home to bed.
Incase you are wondering, it took me 2 days before I started thinking about next year.