The Save the Daylight (STD) race was on my calendar this year ONLY because I was registered for it last year and the awesome race director deferred me for a year. He graciously deferred my entry because at this time last year I was healing from some pretty extensive injuries I suffered in a skydiving accident (for details see other blog post). This time last year, I couldn't lift myself out of a bed, get dressed, or even do the most everyday tasks unless someone helped me. While in the hospital, I dreamed about entering a race again, I dreamed about the sound of the forest at night, the sound of rustling through leaves, the crickets, the birds, the sunset and sunrises while on the trails, the morning moisture, the beautiful stars at night, the moon, I dreamed about running one more 100 miler and I really wasn't sure I would be able to. I remember pleading with the Universe and asking that I be given the opportunity to run one more. I'm sure you've done that...made deal with a higher power when things aren't going your way? I can't say I made any deals, but I sure did ask a few times that I have the ability to do it again. But, NEVER in a million years would I have EVER imagined I would toe the line at a race only 10 months of walking without assistance and NEVER one year after my accident did I expect to make it 100 miles.
For me, this run wasn't about time or the energy expended, this was about testing my will. It was also about training to strengthen my mind during a long race. I have only been training for 10 weeks and let my coach know in the beginning that this race was on my schedule. So, the STD 48 hours race was on to measure my fitness. My goodness, I've gained at least 20 pounds during the year and the weight is still hanging on, but the heart rate training my coach has me doing has made me feel stronger. I really had no expectation for this. The plan was to run the first 24 hours within a certain hear rate and the remaining 24 hours we know the my heart rate would drift, but it would be okay. With age comes wisdom (sometimes) and have learned my limits. My body doesn't move like it did, nor will it, but I know I have 100% complete control over my mind and how I use it. I have a support team of what seems like a million beautiful people, including my family, a running coach and my ultra running family. Without them, I wouldn't have even thought about showing up to this, but I wanted to go as far and as long as I could. Was this run all rainbows and unicorns, absolutely not and I wouldn't change it for the world.
I love this course. I love it. This course is loops, I love running loops and I love all the races this RD puts on. This loop was 3.3 miles. so if you wanted to finished 100 then you had to run 30 loops with a 1 mile out. The location was at Ann Devers park in Englewood, Florida with real restrooms and you know what a beautiful thing that is for an ultra! The trails was packed gravel dirt and shells, very small areas of sand, beautiful wide double-track, pine straw that felt like running on shag carpet, and a few small bridges over brackish water where fish jumped and gators ate. It was beautiful to see the sunrise and sunset over these bridges, something I will never forget.
My initial plan was to run 25 miles every 12 hours, I mean it was a 48 hour race and would allow me to get off my feet for a while, enjoy the scenery and get back out there. I still have a few issues from my accident so I wasn't sure how my body would perform for such a long race. I was way ahead of schedule and once you get out on the loops, it so hard to stop. My lower back was really bothering me, the spasms were bad and I had a hard time keeping upright during some of the race. I dug deep and wanted this bad, so unless I was on a stretcher, I 100% was going to finish this race.
I was fortunate to finish my 100 miler with a beautiful friend running the last 2 miles with me. Forever grateful as they kept me motivated to the very, very end.
I finished, I finished 100 miles - 10 months after I started walking without any assistance and against all expectations. I finished and just sobbed into the arms of the race director (RD). I cried because I recalled the trauma surgeon telling me that it was doubtful I could do this again, I cried because this particular RD came to my house when I was recovering and told me that I would finish another 100 - his 100. If you build the dream, you can get it done if you want it bad enough.