Sunday, June 24, 2012

Mason Dixon Longest Day 100k Challenge - Part1

I learned about the MDLD run on the VA Happy Trail Run Club events calendar and thought it sounded like a great idea. When I read about it sounded even better- it was not a race it was free crazy challenge, that didn't seem that impossible to me so without hesitation I emailed the Race Director (RD) to see if he could squeeze me in. Luckily some space had opened up and I was in. Oh NO!.. What had I gotten myself into???

So instead of researching the run, I put it on the calendar and ignored it. Until the Friday before, I finally read the race details, checked out the maps and decided I might be totally in over my head. Less than 10% of starters make the goal to finish the run starting at sunrise by sunset granting you roughly 15hrs and some extra few minutes depending. Less than 25% generally finish at all. The field is small, 20 starters. The Course... was HARD... had to be right? For the numbers to be like that? The race postings included horror tales of being lost for miles, poison ivy and endless issues with the challenge that made this CRaZY difficult. So as per my usual, I started to FREAK out.... I was going to fail... so I  came to terms with myself. If I did make- it would be wonderful, if I completed the challenge it would be Epic for me and if I failed.. well fine, at least I'd get a great long run out of the deal.

So I started talking and picked up some runners and support crew. And then I spent the Entire week Being more nervous about excepting help than I was about my running. Robert who came out to pace me is a STRONG runner, but I Know how he feels about trail, and when he agreed to complete the last 16 mi with me I was concerned. I debated telling him not to come out. His wife Cathy would Crew us and then Rob S. came out to after running Druid Hills 10k that morning for a few more hills than he anticipated. David D. was going to pace me from 13ish-25 but had difficulty with finding a way to coordinate the car/ bike/ run to make this possible alone. On the back burners I had David P; Cate for crew and a few others who kindly offered to give up their Saturdays for my crazy dreams and endeavors. And then there were other issues, getting back from Finish to start. Drop bags. Hydration. Poison Ivy. Calories in vs. Calories out. Foot care. Which Shoes? What pace? How to to not get lost? All of these thoughts consumed the prior week.

Everything was coming together, I just had to let go and let it be (I'm not very good at that). Thursday night before the run I had dinner with M and with a simple gift and some written words, my friend made it possible for me to relax into my own thoughts about the weekend ahead.

Friday I was ok, but internally jittery. I was So excited, some nervousness but mostly just so excited, I had no idea how to deal.  So I had lunch with Dave L. and got to talk out some of it with a good friend, so that helped. Finally I headed up to Havre de Grace to meet Mimi who when I finally got in touch with handed the phone to Henry who let me know they were 25 miles up the course. Now, I had never met either of these people, and only knew I had arranged and confirmed just the nught before that I would meet Mimi at the campsite. I was frustrated that I'd been left behind, but I just went with it  and began the 50+ mile drive north to Shanks Mare store - the finish line to Meet up with the two, and I would leave my car at the top so I could eventually get home. When I arrived no one was there. I was beginning to feel somewhat betrayed. I did my best to keep composure and not overreact after all I am actually quite practiced in forgiving ppl even when they don't deserve it. But then ... they showed.

Mimi apologized intently explaining how things got switched and changed around and without needing anything more she was totally forgiven. It took me a little longer to understand and clear up Henry's part in the whole thing, but in no time I could see his excitement for the event and I could more than understand getting swept into the plans. Forgiveness granted.   On the ride back down, we stopped for dinner, and missed the apparent "tornado-type" storm that had passed through Susquehanna State Park and the surrounding town. So we had to navigate around the downed trees and downed power lines to get back to camp where Mimi helped me throw my tent up in the rain. And in no time I was tucked into my sleeping bag.

3:15am: I couldn't take it any longer, I had to know the time, So I switched on my cell and then proceeded to switch it back off and tell myself to sleep for one more hour (trying to conserve . Within 20 min- it was failing so I got up. Figuring Mimi who was planning for the 3:36am start would be up by now, this way I could see her off.

The night prior Mimi and I ended up in conversation about some of her adventures. This woman from TN who came all the way up for this crazy run, was well beyond tough. She has swum numerous rivers around the world. With the support of her daughter and few kayakers and the people around the rivers. She went into some details about being in countries of war/ political issues where people would come together to help her and her daughter, offering food, shelter and care without even speaking the same language. How we are all first and foremost human and then whatever else they were labeled with. The stories were amazing, I felt blessed for having met Mimi and I told her so... and unfortunately at 9pm we knew the clock was ticking and much needed to be done before the morning came, it was not time for this.

So it was approaching 4am, Mimi was just leaving for her nautical start in honor of her son who is in the Navy. That morning while prepping I asked Mimi exactly how one swims 981 miles over 57 days in a river- I mean what about rapids and the rocks??  I was in Awe... she was almost confused by the question... "you just get in and extend your body.... just flow with the water, you stroke when you can and you listen, the rocks on the bottom make a tinkling sound as the water pulls and as the water speed picks up the tinkling speeds up... it's a magnificent sound... and in the rapids you once again just extend your body and you just let go, the water takes the path of least resistance and you just have to trust you will too."

Now for this was like every lesson I've taken form yoga personified in a human being. I couldn't even imagine, I am so bad at just "letting go" I believe I would be impaled by rocks.... perhaps this a deeper lesson.... So between Following my "Dream"s as my new charm on my necklace states (Thank you M) and letting go, I suddenly felt very whole and prepared for this day.

Henry was now up beginning his ridiculous caffeine spree with 1 can monster and 1 can starbucks/ ensure combo. We were as ready as we could be when.... 4 headlamps come bouncing up past Henry's car... its the Trail Dawgs- the one's that started at 3:36 and have run the trail least once... they were lost by atleast a mile basically setting them behind the 5:34 start group by the time they got back on track. Henry and I laughed as we had no idea really what we'd gotten into... but if ppl who the course were lost in the 1st mile... it was going to be one hell of a day. Off we headed to the start to mingle with the other 5:34am starters. Pictures and welcomes. A last minute entry, a friend I'd made a week prior Keith showed up ready to run. So there we were 5:33am.

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