Sunday, September 14, 2008

Lost Souls Ultra Cancelled

I am back from the Lost Souls; the race was cancelled about 10:30pm Friday the 12th due to bad weather. I was about 45 miles into the course when I crawled into the aid station drenched, shaking badly from being out in the rain for hours and full of mud. Even before I heard the news of the race being cancelled I knew I was done, there is no way I could have continued,I had on almost every piece of running gear I brought with me and had nothing dry to change into, I did however try to see if I could make a running suit out of garbage bags.

I have a lot of mixed feelings about the race being cancelled, I was not feeling well so it should have been great news for me when they called it off, yet, I was disappointed but deep down maybe it was a blessing in disguise. Both Brett and Nadia felt relief when they heard the news, they thought it was a crazy idea for me to try and run the race that sick, they knew how much I wanted so they never told me until later. I did learn a lot in such a short time, even though I didn't get to run my first 100 mile race, I am glad I went.

I woke up on race day and felt terrible, having to take anti nausea medication and Pepto- Bismol to deal with GI issues even before the race start is not exactly the best way to warm up for a 100 miler. At 8am the race started. Everybody notice I was sick and they offered words on encouragement, Wayne Gaudet from Edmonton even mention to a fellow runner that I had never meet " she is tough as nails, she will finish no doubt, my money is on her"
great I though, no pressure here, why don't we also call everybody that picked on me in high school and tell them how they made a mistake and I was not a quitter . disappointing myself, my family, my boyfriend, my sponsor and friends, isn't enough pressure, lets throw people that I barely know into the equation to make it more fun.

The course started right from the parking lot in the Lethbridge Lodge and into the coulees. Eric from Bolt Supply House was there to see me off. He and his wife Lisa where going to be at me beck and call. The race was well stocked with everything I needed so I told them I would call if needed and most likely will be tomorrow morning, maybe a nice venti Starbucks latte?. I was feeling better already but could not pick up the pace and fell way back, at the beginning I was OK with it but as the race progressed I started to doubt my ability to finish, negative thoughts race through my head. What if I time out? What if I just reach the point where I can't go anymore and will want to quit? I will usually talk myself out of these situations with positive self talk, this time however, I was armed with a cell phone and called Brett and Nadia every time I needed to reach out


I think I reached the darkest moment when I arrived to what I tough was the end of loop one, only to find out it was the aid station 11k before HQ. I had run 42K, a marathon in 7hrs! Nadia and I talked for a few minutes. " snap out of it" she said sounding a lot like me when I talk to my teen son."It doesn't mean anything, I was on the lead at Powderface and ended up in an ambulance before reaching the finish line, being in the lead means nothing unless you finish, is not over until the fat lady sings" and just like that I found my mantra. Is not over until the fat lady sings

When I reached HQ, the end of loop one, I could see how far people where ahead of me. There was a 6k loop that went south and you came back to HQ before heading north. When I got there most people where finishing the 6k loop and where heading north, some of the runners where surprise to find me there; they thought I was ahead of them. I am not that fast, I remember thinking.When they checked my weight I had hardly lost any, I was 50.8 Kilos in the start and my weight was 50.2Kilos, I was delighted and feeling better and better. Some of the late group runners that where with me decided that they had enough and surrender their numbers; I have never met anybody in the lead that tells me “I had enough" in the back, is all everybody was talking about. I quickly left the station heading south as it started to rain.

When I got back to HQ again, it was hailing and then the rain turned into a downpour. A lot of people where coming back to surrender their numbers. “It’s too slippery out there" some said "Is way too windy" where the typical responses. Now, that's a healthy self-steem, I thought, nothing to prove.When it was time to quit they did without punishing themselves. Just like that I changed into some dry clothes, put every layer I had with me on, grabbed Ziploc bags to cover my hands and took off into the night.It was at this moment when I realized...OMG they are right, there IS something wrong with me.

“Mock not the fallen, for slippery is the road ahead of you.” Russian Proverb

The coolies where slippery, going uphill was almost impossible unless you climbed like a snake on your belly. Going downhill was the most fun, even with poles there was no traction so I just sat down and tobogganed down using my poles to slow me down. About an hour and a half into it, I came across a group of 5 guys and was delighted to be in a group. “Having fun in the mud yet?" somebody asked, without replying I just turned around and asked them if they though the tights I was wearing made my butt look big...They all became quiet and unsure of what to reply they all looked at each other, then I told them I had been sliding on the mud for the last hour and my pants where now full of mud, I felt like I was running with a diaper on. They all laughed off and for the next few hours we all did the Spiderman and walked sideways hanging on the fence to avoid falling down the hills. They asked me if I wanted to go ahead because I had run so slow the first loop, my legs where fresh and I was lighter on my feet than they where, but I knew it was wise for me to stay with the group.

When we reached Penaquin aid station around 10:45pm, the aid station resembled a homeless drop in center full of people draped in garbage bags, emergency blankets hoovering a space heater. The rain had penetrated all of my layers so I was sure I was done, I had told the guys unless I found dry clothes, I couldn't continue, I couldn't risk hypothermia. In the tent I was however looking around to see if somebody was going home and I could them borrow their dry clothes if any. Then they informed us the race had been cancelled 15 minutes earlier. There where a lot of emotions rushing in the tent, we where almost halfway into the race, in my mind even if we waited until morning we still had time to finish in time.Plus I didn't see any fat lady singing yet. But there where already people in the hospital suffering from hypothermia and sprain ankles, that and the coolies are protected area and we were damaging them by trashing around. " See", one of the guys told me, "you didn't quit, you are being forced to quit".Then I realize, I might DNF because of injuries but the odds of quitting because I had enough was not likely to happen anytime soon.

Eric and Lisa where there waiting for me, I had called earlier to tell them that in spite the rain I was heading out, they spent 2 1/2 hrs watching movies out of their iPod waiting for me to come through to see if I needed anything. I was glad to see them and even happier when I saw they had Bolt Supply sweats and t-shirts for me to change into, the dry layers felt heavenly against my skin.

The next day at the lobby, everybody gather around talking about the race, some had stories of injuries they saw; everybody wanted to know how far you made it. I had mixed feeling, I wanted it badly but I was very sick and have other races coming up. I felt bad for all the runners who trained specifically for this race, Alan Lam volunteered to crew for almost all the races in the Ultra Series to gain insight for his first 100 miler, all the preparation that goes into one event and it's gone just like that.

The awards ceremony was still held Sunday morning, I didn't attend because I just wanted to come home to my kids and Brett, he was suppose to come Saturday but with the race being cancelled he stayed in Calgary to attend meetings he had previously cancelled.I am sorry I missed the awards, I placed top female and second overall behind Neil Runnions, a privilege since Neil is a twice finisher of Badwater Ultra and a legend in Calgary, to see the full results click here

I am looking around the net trying to find a 100 mile race that I can add to my schedule. Hopefuly I can find one that I can run before the end of 2008.
Its in the darkest moments when we find out what we are truly made of, and sometimes the best way to find out how much something means to us to take it away.

“The greatest barrier to success is the fear of failure.” Sven Goran Eriksson

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You are an inspiration to many - tough as nails understates the reality ... keep trucking .... many are cheering for you....

a not so secret admirer ...