I kept watching the weather in the week and a half leading up to the challenge. It started out with a chance of rain, but as the days passed, the temperature dropped, the winds picked up, and the chance of rain increased. Packing my stuff up for the trip home, I kept thinking to myself, there is no way I'm going to do this... I hate walking from my car to the apartment in the rain, let alone walking for 16-plus miles in the woods topped off with rain, mud, and 40-degree temperatures. I told my girlfriends and a few other folks that I didn't think I'd be participating because I was so bummed out about the temperatures.
I specifically remember a conversation with my boyfriend where I broke down crying about not wanting to do it because I was so angry that the weather was ruining something I had been so excited about. I literally talked about this challenge non-stop for weeks.
When I got home that weekend, I was convinced that I wasn't doing it. I had completely justified it to myself on my trip up Route 15 as I saw the crazy run-off from the rain the week before.
Friday night, I went to buy a rain jacket just in case I decided to go. At that point, I had myself convinced that I'd gear up, pack my bag, and see what happened when I got there. Kelly and I had agreed that she'd drive her car up, so that way in case she decided to not go, she could leave me there and drive home. We both had agreed that we'd see how it looked and then decide that morning. After buying my jacket, at dinner with some friends that night, I started to convince myself that maybe I actually COULD do it in the rain. I hadn't really trained for it, per se, so I wouldn't be wasting any hard work, but I had put a lot of time and money into getting ready for it. Plus, Kacie and Chelsea said they were going to do it whether it rained or not, so I knew I'd have a good support system with me.
That night, I had my backpack packed and clothes laid out. I was ready to go.
We headed over to the start line to get our numbers, not realizing how far it was from the cars to the start line. We ended up having to hustle back to our cars and back again to the start line, worried that we might end up running late. When we made our way back to the start line the 2nd time, I realized that I had left my stinking hiking poles in the backseat of Kelly's car. I was so pissed at myself. (Good thing I didn't have them because the pads were missing and I think I would have ended up annoyed with them anyway!) I was even more pissed when I realized that the start time was pushed back 30 minutes because of the weather the night before.
|Back up on the first leg... to your right, death.|
|Looking down Humble Hill at the first |
|THRILLED to be at the top!|
|Butt sliding into mile 5.|
We saw a woman decide to turn around and drop out. I felt so bad for her. I know way too well what it feels like to sign up for something and drop out and earlier I had tried to talk her into finishing it. I have felt like shit everytime I've signed up for the Mega and dropped out, thinking about the fact that someone else who was more dedicated could have had my spot. It was somewhere around here that Kelly and I lost track of Kacie and Chelsea. At the checkpoint, someone had mentioned the sweeper being 15 minutes away. That lit a fire under my ass and I wanted to get as far away from him as I could, so I started moving as fast as my legs and the mud would allow.
We wandered through the rest of Reickert Hollow, enjoying the break for our legs, but getting more and more annoyed with the stream crossings (which I did end up loving, by the way!), eventually getting tired of the game of stopping, figuring out where the best place to cross was, then getting soaked anyway, and instead just trudging through the water. We met a woman who said that the next checkpoint at the top of this 2nd hill would make us at over the halfway point, so we could not wait to hit the top of this "hill." This had to be the worst part of the entire hike. I was waiting, waiting, waiting for this "hill," but instead it was a nice climb up Johnson Run, over run-off and up rocks. It was an easy climb, but it literally felt like it was taking forever.
(Oh, I should probably mention that this is where I thought I gave myself a freaking concussion. I was walking with my head down, watching my feet. Not a good idea when you're wearing a baseball hat. Mid-sentence, I slammed the brim into a tree limb and snapped my head back. No more hats for this girl!)
|The "trail" (and I use the term lightly, lol) headed up |
to the S.O.B. (Or as we renamed it, the F.S.O.F.B.)
|View from the other side of the horsehoe. (Those |
little white specks? That's the last checkpoint.)
We met a couple volunteers on the road with 3 miles to go who kindly offered us beer in the back of the pick up, which we declined, lol. We headed down Huff Run, the last descent of the challenge. Kelly's hamstring was messed up and my hip and knees were starting to tweak a little bit, so we were slowing down a bit. When we hit the bottom of Huff Run and got back on the road, I have never been so happy to feel my feet hit pavement. We made our way across the bridge, wound around to the finish line, and had to make one last climb... so muddy and washed out that I literally had to dig my nails into the mud. I crossed the finish line at 9:03:31, coming in #805 out of 815 overall, and #61 out of 64 in my age group.
Yea, I was slow as hell, but you know what? Considering the fact that I had no intentions of even hiking this at all two days before it, then actually showing up, starting, and completing it... I'm pretty proud of myself.
To the woman who met us at the finish line (based on the results, I think your name is Diana Robinson), I wanted to thank you for your support as we crossed. Your kindness toward two strangers was amazing and so appreciated and your story was absolutely inspiring.
|Still smiles at the starting line.|