Monday, November 25, 2013

My First Hundo: Rio Del Lago 100 (November 9-10, 2013)

My First Hundo
Rio Del Lago 100
November 9-10, 2013

Here is my recap of my first hundred mile (running) race.  The whole experience still feels surreal.  It really happened but it is an experience I will always remember.  What I remember most is all is the love I felt throughout the whole race from all my wonderful friends. . . 

Race Start: Beals Point

In the wee hours of the morning, I arrive to Beals Point with Craig.  I no longer feel so nervous or excited as I had before.  It's kind of a weird feeling where all I really feel is I just want the thing to start already.  It is a little weird to think I'll be running all day and night into tomorrow.  

We get to the start line and see some of my crew -- Barbara, Theresa, Kelly, Susan, and Veronica.  They are super excited, making me start to feel a little more excited now.  After some hugs, I head into the starting line with the other runners.  

In the darkness, I manage to find Clint and Edd, who are racing too.  Clint hugs me and thanks me for getting him to do this.  We are really going to do this.  All those months of training, prepping, etc. . . Today is the day!  

Beals to Granite Bay Horse Assembly (Mile 4.8)

At 5 a.m., the gun (or horn or whatever starting sound) goes off and off we go!

A lot of folks take off ahead of me, including Clint.  Edd and I run together.  I am very happy to be starting off with Edd.  We had trained a lot together and it is nice to share of our big day together.  We are going to start of slow and steady.  No need to hurry.  It's going to be a long way back to here. 

At the ends of the levees, there are various spectators out cheering.  I see my friend Jared standing on a rock and say hi to him as I run by.  A little later, I hear a spectator yell out "Foley!"  I look behind me to see if I can see my friend Dan Foley (another friend I trained a lot with) but it's too hard to recognize anyone in the dark.  

My garmin beeps after one mile.  Edd and I joke to each other about how there are only 99 miles to go.  Edd jokes that I am the one who got him into this.  I tell him, "you can't yell at me or blame me for getting you into this until you're at least 65 miles in.  After that, you're granted permission to say whatever you want to me including blaming me."  He chuckles and says okay.  

We continue running along.  The morning is not as cold as expected.  I am getting rather warm in all my layers.  I am glad I know these trails and know where the turns are as it's a wee bit difficult to see the orange flags in the dark.  At some point, Edd disappears behind me (potty break).   

I realize that my ipod shuffle is missing.  I had tripped earlier near the parking lot at Beals Point.  I had heard something drop but couldn't see what it was in the dark.  I now realize it was my ipod.   This is a bummer as I had put some new tunes on it last night.  Tunes to pep me up in low moments.  

I keep running along thinking about my ipod and in not too long, I arrive at the first aid station a little before 6 a.m.  

Granite Bay Horse Assembly to Horseshoe Bar (Mile 11)

The Granite Bay Aid Station is the Folsom Trail Runners (FTR) aid station so lots of my running friends are here.  

I see Barbara,Theresa, Charito, and Joanne are there and cheering.  I unload some of my extra layers and gloves.  I tell them about my ipod must have fallen at Beals and to see if they can tell someone to look at Beals for it.  

I walk up to the aid station tables and snack a little as I see Sunny and Diane in Hawaiian garb.  I notice the aid station has lots of festive decorations.  I can tell that this is going to be the party spot later.  As I am snacking, Rod comes running up to me and gives me a quick hug and wishes me luck.  He then disappears so quickly that I am not sure if I really did see him.  

As I head out of the aid station and right before I hit the trail again, a guy walks by me.  He says "Helen?"  It's hard to recognize anyone in the dark.  The guy runs up to me and gives me a big hug and I realize that it's Randy.  My hesitation of who this guy is turns to excitement in seeing Randy.  And just as I start back on the trail, Edd comes running up behind me.  

So, Edd and I run together again.  On our way to Horseshoe Bar.  

The sky starts to lighten.  We take off our headlamps and help each other stuff them into our packs.  We hike our way through the rocky stretches of the meat grinder.  

I tell Edd when we get to this one spot with the view of the lake, I want to take a picture of us.  And just as we make our way to that spot, Dan Foley comes around the corner behind us.  What perfect timing!  I couldn't be happier to be here right now with my RDL training buddies as the sun rises over the lake!  We are all smiling and still feeling the excitement of the adventure we have ahead!

After a quick pic, the three of us run/hike together through the meat grinder for a bit.  We chit chat as the miles go along.  But, at some point Edd and Dan disappear to go relieve themselves.  I continue on. 

As I come around one bend, I see Shane hiking up to the trail from the lake.  What a pleasant surprise to see my friend Shane.  Shane tells me he got a little lost.  We run together for a bit before he takes off.  I wish him luck as he disappears ahead.  And just as he disappears ahead of me, Dan appears behind me.  

As I make my way through the meat grinder, I think about my friend Mitch.  Earlier this year, him and I were doing a run through this section.  He told me about his Rio Del Lago experience last year.  It was his first hundred then and what an amazing experience it was.  I would have eventually gotten myself to do a 100 mile race but Mitch really is the big inspiration for me wanting to do a 100 mile race this year and specifically, this race.  I have thought about that conversation we had as I trained for this race.  And, I think about that conversation now and all the things Mitch said to me the last time him and I ran together through this section.  
Dan and I chit chat about various things.  He talks about what a great experience this whole process has been, training for the 100.  We talk about the amazing people in the running community we have met.  He says in running, you really don't meet any jerks.  It's hard to be a jerk out here.  I agree saying if you get to too cocky out here, not only are there is always someone who will be faster, stronger, crazier than you, but mother nature will always humble you.  The weather, the terrain, your stomach, your feet, etc. . . .

The miles pass away and we eventually reach Horseshoe Bar.  

Horseshoe Bar to Rattlesnake Bar (Mile 13)

At Horseshoe Bar, I take a quick potty break and then refuel.  I text message Barbara (my day crew communications coordinator) to let her know my status.  The next aid station is where my crew will be.  I tell her to have my electrolyte bottle ready.  She replies "We're on it!"  

As I near Rattlesnake Bar, I see my friend Dennis out spectating.  He runs along with me towards the aid station.  I tell him about my missing ipod and if he goes to Beals later to ask for it.  He tells me my crew is waiting for me and runs ahead to tell them I am about to come in.  
As I near Rattlesnake Bar, I see a few other spectators along the trails cheering including another friend John.  I can hear the aid station too and crowds cheering there.  This always boosts up my spirits and I pick up the pace as I run into a warm welcoming crowd.  

Rattlesnake Bar to Auburn Dam Overlook (ADO) (Mile 24)

As I come into Rattlesnake Bar, I see Theresa ready with a new bottle of my electrolyte drink for me.  We switch out my empty bottle for the new one.  

Barbara snaps a bunch of pictures of me and tells me I am doing great.  Janelle sprays me down with sun screen.  I unload my arm warmers and put on my visor.  I am very pleased my crew is working so efficiently, just as I had hoped.  I tell the girls what I want at the next crew aid station.  I look at them and feel so much love for them right now that I just have to give them each a hug before I head back on the trail.  

I continue on.  I run past Avery Pond and the Powerhouse and into an open meadow area near Newcastle.  Dan catches back up to me and we run together chit chatting away to the next aid station.  

After the Dowdin's Point aid station, I continue running along.  At some point, I see a girl who looks like she just threw up on the side of the trail.  As I get closer, I see that the girl is Tina Frizner.  Tina and I run together as she tells me how she just threw up the Ensure drink she had at the last aid station.  We talk a little bit about how somethings things work so well and other times, that same thing can work so horribly.   

The day is warming up.  When I pass a couple small streams, I soak my buff and wipe down my face and neck to try to cool down a little.  Other than being a little warm, everything seems to be holding up pretty well so far.  But, it's still early.

As I reach the bottom of Cardiac, I can hear Dan is not too far behind me.  He is talking to another runner behind me.  I begin hiking my way up Cardiac hill.  Up, up, up we go.  This hill seems a lot longer than it did in training.  It's also getting warmer, making it harder.  Me, hills, and heat are not a good combination.  I get breathing issues.  I realize I do not have my inhaler in my pack.  I try not to push myself too hard and watch my breathing.  This hill is tough.  I text Barbara to tell her where I am and to have my inhaler ready for me.  She tells me to "slow down and walk!"  

Dan agrees with me that this hill does seem longer than it did in training.  Another runner named Dave, Dan and I all suffer together as we climb up.  Dan tells Dave, who isn't from around here, about K2 (another brutal hill nearby).  Dave looks a bit concerned and I tell him that we will pass K2 later but we don't actually climb it in this race.  I tell Dave I believe this is the worst climb in the whole race.  Dan and I then describe a little bit about the next sections of the course to Dave.  

My left contact starts to irritate me and my vision is slightly blurred in my left eye.  I rub my eye a little but keep climbing.  The hill continues on and on and on.  I have gone up and down this hill before.  Why do I not remember it being this long??  

After what seems like forever, we reach the top of the hill.  I walk a little to get my breathing back under control, not wanting an asthma attack.  Dan and Dave take off ahead of me.  Once my breathing seems normal again, I run along the canals towards the Auburn Overlook.  I like running this section along the canals.  It's nice and shaded and I have fond memories of running with Craig and our dog here.  

Before hitting the road, I spot Dennis again.  He asks me how things are going.  It's getting hot and the hill was tough but I am doing okay.  He again runs ahead to the aid station to tell my crew I am coming in.  

When I hit the road, I catch back up to Dan.  We head into ADO together.  We see Dan's crew out and they whisk him away from me.  I then run into the aid station looking for my own crew.  

Auburn Dam Overlook to No Hands Bridge (Mile 28)

As I run into the aid station, I see Barbara, Misha, Theresa, and Dani.  Theresa is ready to switch out my electrolyte bottle again.  

After being steered over the timing mat, I head over to where my crew has set up my things.  Theresa feeds me a tortilla with hummus (one of my special food requests for this race).  My inhaler is laid out for me so I grab it, take a couple huffs and stuff it into my pack.  I ask for my contacts and they grab the pack for me and I switch out my left contact for a new one.  My vision is no longer blurry.  During this whole time, Barbara is reading to me the comments my friends have posted on facebook.  Hearing all the supportive messages really gives me a boost.  

As I am refueling, Dani holds up a sign that was made for me.  Dani also really emphasizes that "Pooping is Ok!"  Thanks Dani!  I laugh and then continue on my way to No Hands.  
Leaving No Hands Bridge, I run with Dave for a little bit.  I am also starting to recognize a few of the runners around me.  We have been leap frogging each other for awhile now.  I talk with a guy wearing a "Pine to Palm" shirt for a little bit.  He has run a number of 100s and is interesting to converse with.  

The trails here are very familiar.  I have been running on these a lot more since moving to Auburn.  It's really nice being on home turf.  I get into a nice groove here and continue running along.  

At some point, I see my friend Tate ahead of me.  I pick up my pace to catch up to him.  I am happy to see another friend that I've somewhat been training with.  We run/hike together for a bit.  At some point, Tate says he's going to slow down a bit and wishes me luck.  I continue on my way down to No Hands Bridge.  

No Hands Bridge to Cool Firehouse (Mile 31ish)

At No Hands Bridge, I am welcomed by my awesome crew and some other running friends.  No Hands Bridge is one of my favorite spots.  I am smiling and feeling happy as to how things are going so far.  


I drink a bit of coke and snack a little before heading up towards Cool.  

It's mostly all uphill to get to Cool so I do a lot more hiking.  I do better with uphills than downhills so I start catching up to a few other runners while climbing my way to Cool.  I pass Dave and chat with him a little bit before I continue on up.  I pass the Pine to Palm guy as well.  

I see a runner, not a racer, coming down the trail towards me.  He looks just like my friend Steve and I get excited that it is my friend.  As he gets closer, I realize that it isn't my friend, just his doppleganger.  A little disappointing but I think about my friend Steve and all the encouraging words he gave me before the race.  

I start getting a slight headache so I take off my visor and carry it in my hand as I continue hiking up.  The day is warming up even more.  A bit warmer than I prefer.  I am a little worried as to how warm it will get this afternoon.  It's only around noon now.  

As I get closer to Cool, I see the front runner run by me in the other direction.  Wow, I am only 30 miles in and he's already leaving Cool so at least 17 miles ahead me.  That's crazy!  As he runs by, I notice he has a pacer with him.  Why does he have a pacer?  I thought pacers could start in Cool for those runners that would be in Cool in the late afternoon or early evening.  For those back of the packers.  My first pacer would not be starting until I get back to Auburn.  And, it's barely noon.  Does he really need a pacer now? 

Cool - Olmstead Loop #1 (to Mile 39)

I arrive into Cool and it definitely is not cool in Cool.  I hit the aid station before Theresa steers me over to the rest of the crew who are all ready to help me change my shoes.  

Dani and Misha help me change into my Brooks Cascadias.  I remember the Olmstead Loop has some wet sections and not wanting to get my main running shoes, my NB Leadvilles, wet, I am switching to my old trail running shoes.  Dani does a great job in help wipe down my feet before putting them into new socks and the shoes.  Theresa feeds me more hummus tortillas while my feet are being tended to.  

After the new shoes are on, my feet love having the new socks.  Janelle sprays me down with sunscreen again.  I reload my pack with some gels and I make my way out of the aid station into the first Olmstead loop.  

The race will involve two loops around the Olmstead Loop. The second loop is in the opposite direction of the first loop so I will get a chance to see some of the other runners ahead of me during this loop.  

While running up the road, I see another front runner go by (this guy has no pacer).  I then see Ray Sanchez running in towards Cool in third place.  I cheer him as he runs by.  I see Ray at nearly all the races.  

I continue on up the road and eventually get back on the trails of the Olmstead Loop.  As I go down to the Knickerbocker Creek, I see that the water level isn't so high and there's a rock/dirt path next to it so my feet do not actually have to get wet.  I do stop to soak my buff with water and wipe my face and neck down before continuing on.  

The Olmstead Loop has some fun trails with just gentle rollers.  I run along feeling pretty good.  I see some more of the front runners, including some of the women front runners.  

I then see a few of my friends I know:  Dave Hope, Jared LaLonde, Clint Welch, and Jay Marsh.  With Clint, we both stop to hug each other and talk about how things are going.  Clint says he's having some blister issues but moving along.  I make him take a picture with me.  Seeing each of my friends really helps boosts my spirits up.  Not that my spirits were down but it's just nice to see friendly faces out on the trails.  And so far, my friends look to be doing well making me happy.  

As I head back towards the Cool Firehouse again, I notice that the course is not as marshy in this one section as I had expected.  So, my feet do not get wet at all.  I'm glad as I wasn't sure what sorts of feet problems I might get with wet feet.  

Olmstead Loop #2 (to Mile 47)

I arrive back at Cool.  I am starting to feel tired.  Theresa switches out my bottle again and I drink some soda.  I ask for an Ensure drink.  It briefly crosses my mind how Tina threw up today drinking Ensure but I disregard the thought and down the Ensure drink.  

Misha and Dani wipe me down with baby wipes.  Feels nice to clean off some of the sweat.  I then wander to the porta-potty for a quick pit stop before heading back on the second loop. 

I run for not too long before my stomach turns and I throw up some of the Ensure drink.  Ugh. I continue on and throw up a couple more times.  I drink more water hoping that will settle my stomach down.  Then, my right knee starts to bother me so I take a motrin.  My stomach feels very unsettled.  I am not feeling so well now but I keep moving along.  

At some point, Edd sees me and says "Helen!"  I am a little out of it and it takes me a moment to realize that it's Edd that I see.  I am happy to see him and we ask each other how things are going before continuing on in our own directions.  

I struggle a bit to keep going.  I throw up a little more.  Then, I am running along through some trees where I feel like this doesn't look very familiar.  I then start thinking that I haven't seen an orange ribbon in a little while.  I run some more and do not see an orange ribbon.  Did I go off course?!  No!  My stomach is becoming more unsettled.  I squat behind some trees for a bit.  

My phone has no reception here so I can't even try to figure out where I am so I keep going in the direction I think I should be going.  I feel sick and lost and frustrated.  Fortunately, in not too long, the trail reconnects with the course and I am so relieved to see the orange ribbons again.  

As I trudge along, Dan comes up behind me and passes me.  I tell him I am feeling a bit sick.  He asks if I need anything.  I say I am okay.   As I watch him run ahead of me, I don't want to be alone anymore so I pick up my pace so I can catch up to him.  We run and hike together for a bit.  We aren't as nearly as peppy as we were earlier in the race but I do start to feel a little better.  I take some comfort in having Dan's company versus being alone and miserable on the trail.  

We come to a fork and Dan and another runner start veering to the left.  I stop and say I think that's the wrong way.  We stop and notice the orange ribbon is on the trail to the right.  Dan, being such a thoughtful runner, takes the orange ribbon and moves it closer to the fork so others don't go the wrong way.  

The trail has some nice rollers, but mostly downhill trails making it easy for me to get a nice running groove going for a bit.  Dan gets into a really good running groove going and goes flying past me.  I even see him go flying up the hill ahead.

I continue on my way to Cool, so ready to be out of Cool.  I just want to get back to Auburn where Scott can start pacing me.  

I finally get cell service again so I text Barbara that I got sick and threw up a lot so would like to brush my teeth when I come in.  She tells me to "keep on truckin.  you are doing great!"  I also text Craig to let him know where I am and he tells he's at Cool waiting for me.  This really lifts my spirit.  It'll be nice to see Craig.  
I shuffle my way and eventually make it back to the Cool Fire Station.  I see Janelle standing and holding a sign for me.  This brings a smile to me.

I then see the rest of my crew and Craig.  Misha has my toothbrush ready.  My crew is so amazing. I brush my teeth grateful to have a clean vomit-free mouth.  Then, I grab some food and head back out after giving a quick kiss to Craig.

I am more than ready to leave Cool now. . . .

Cool Firehouse to No Hands Bridge (Mile 50)

I am feeling  better as I run down from Cool towards Auburn.  I carry a bag of cheerios and munch on it as I trot away.  The sky starts dimming a little.  I can't wait until I get back to Auburn.  I look forward to having Scott start pacing me.

In not too long, I reach No Hands Bridge.  I am surprised to see Ralph there cheering me on.

No Hands Bridge to ADO (Mile 54)

Ralph makes me stop to have a picture taken.  It's a good thing too is after the picture, Dan and his crew suddenly appear behind me.  So, I wait for Dan to cross the bridge to join me.

Dan and I then hike our way up to ADO together as the sun begins to set.  I think we are both grateful for each other's company as things get dark.  We chit chit and laugh about various things.  We urge each other to shuffle run a few runnable sections.  Dan has a couple stumbles (no falls) and we joke about how wonderfully coordinated we are.

This climb is nice and I am very grateful to have Dan with me.  I would have not enjoyed hiking up alone in the dark.  I think because of each other, we climb up to Auburn a bit faster than we would have had we been alone.  Being able to share moments of the race with this friend I made in training is nice.

And finally, we make it up to ADO and are greeted by our crews.  I give Dan a quick hug before our crews take us in different directions.  

Both my day crew and night crew as well as other friends are here at ADO.  It's a little overwhelming but wonderful at the same time to see all the love.  There's lots of cheers.  All my friends swarm me to do help me do this and that.  I change my shirt and pack.  Nicole wipes me down all over with baby wipes.  Others help get me some of my lights.  I change my shoes.  I eat.  Craig gives me a Jamba Juice smoothie that I had requested.

Then, we get a nice big group picture.  I do have the greatest friends and most amazing crew.  They are really making this experience wonderful.

Then, Scott and I head out. . . .

ADO to Rattlesnake Bar (Mile 65)

Scott and I run together along the canal.  I share with him about how things have been going throughout the day.  As we near the top of Cardiac, Joel and his pacer appear behind us.  Joel and Scott know each other.  I know of Joel since we both had signed up for many of the same races but this is my first time actually meeting him.  It is nice to finally meet him.

As we near Cardiac, Joel and I both talk about how we are not looking forward to going down Cardiac.  I guess both of us are pretty bad at descending hills (I like going up hills, not so much going down).  Joel jokes about he's as slow as a grandma going down the hill.  I tell him I think I climb up it faster than I descend.  I am glad I am not the only one who feels lame on downhills.

We reach Cardiac and the four of all descend. . .slowly.  As I descend, my feet start bothering me.  I wish I had different socks on.  I feel the pads of my feet getting irritated.

Once we reach the bottom, I stop to adjust my sock and see if I can get any relief.  I had kept an extra pair of socks in my old pack but when things got switched around, things didn't get transferred over so I don't have my extra pair of socks in my new pack.  Ugh.

Scott and I start running and hiking along the singe track trails.  We talk about football for awhile.  And, the miles seem to move along.

After a few miles, my stomach starts to bother me.  It feels tight and twisted and uneasy.  I have to stop a time or two to relieve myself.

We eventually make it to the next aid station.  At the aid station, another runner hears me mention an upset stomach and gives me some ginger chews.  I eat a couple.

The ginger chews seems to have settled my stomach down.  I am feeling mostly better and Scott and I continue on chit chatting about various things.  But, I feel pain at the bottom of my feet start growing.  I feel a slow burn growing on the bottom of my feet.

We reach Rattlesnake Bar where the trail crosses the road.  I thought the aid station would be here.  I thought it was here this morning.  I am really confused.  Where is the aid station?  Did I miss it?  I start to panic.  Scott runs around helping me search a little.  He sees a car and runs up to ask where the aid station is.  We are directed to keep going down the trail a bit farther.

We continue going along and eventually, to my great relief, find the aid station.

My crew swarms me and everyone is doing something different.  I am a little overwhelmed by them that I am not quite able to tell them what I want.  I tell them I want new socks and my feet retaped. Susan and Kelly work on my feet.  Veronica grabs my pack and starts restocking various things in there.

I ask for my other garmin.  I know my garmin will run out of power soon. Someone grabs it and turns it on.  NO!!  I didn't want it turned on now.  I just wanted to carry it.  I'm irritated.  I take the new garmin and turn off my old garmin and stuff it in my pack.  I might need it later.

Nicole gives me some immodium, makes me drink some soup, and wants me to roll my leg.  She doesn't want me to do anything on my own so I snap at her that I can do it myself.  I am cranky and frustrated right now and have been snippy at my crew.  I look up at Cathleen who just gives me a look of understanding.  She says I know it's hard.  And, this somehow comforts me.

I get up and head on out.

Rattlesnake to Granite Bay (Mile 73)....the REALLY long stretch

Scott and I continue on our journey.  We shuffle run along when I can but seem to be walking more and more.  My feet feel okay for a bit but as the miles continue on, I can feel the bottom of my feet and my toes hurting more and more.  The bottom has some bad blisters forming so it's hard to step down on my foot.  Every step hurts.

After passing Horseshoe Bar, we enter into the meat grinder.  This is hard.  Stepping up and down over rocky sections.  The stepping down is tough as my quads are a bit worn now.  I am starting to get tired as we get into the late hours of the night.   Our conversation has diminished significantly.

I am trudging along.  The miles seem to be longer and longer.  I am getting tired and I can feel myself starting to fade.  I start seeing some of the other runners going towards me (doing their final stretch).  There's so many more miles I have to go.  Ugh.  One foot in front of the other I remind myself.

At some point, I see a pair of runners coming towards me.  I move over to the side to let them pass.  As they pass, the second runner turns and says "Fong?"  I turn to look at him but it's hard to see who it is.  Scott says "Yes, it's Helen Fong."  He identifies himself as "Mark Curry."  And for some random reason, I hear myself say in a very loud peppy voice, "HI MARK!!!!"  Just as the words come out of my mouth, my brain clicks as to who it is.  It's a judge.  The judge of the most recent trial I just had a few days before the race.  I am horrified that I just yelled out, "HI MARK!" like we were BFF's.   I am also not accustomed to calling any judge by their first name, much less yell it out loud in the way I did.

The judge asks if I am running the race.  I said yes and he says he's pacing his friend.  He then continues along with his runner in the other direction.  I continuing trudging along.  I knew this judge is a runner and knew one day, I might encounter him on the trails.  But, I did not expect that moment to be the middle of the night at mile 70-something in the middle of the night.

For the next couple miles, my brain is racked with my whole interaction with the judge. A part of me finds it amusing but I am so embarrassed by it.  There is a small rational part of my brain that knows that the judge would understand that I am late into a race so not thinking clearly but another part of me keeps replaying me stupidly yelling "Hi Mark!!"  Good grief.

That fortunately occupies my mind for a bit.  But then I start feeling the pain on the bottom of my feet more and more and more.  It gets worse.  Every step hurts like hell.  I am getting cold too.  I start shivering.  I cross my arms around my chest and hike along as I shiver.  I know if I move faster, it'll help but I just can't.  Scott tries to urge me to run on the flat sections but I hurt too bad to run.  My right hip starts bothering me from all the hiking too.  My mood gets worse and worse.  I am angry and irritated.  I want to scream and yell.  Scott again urges me to run and I snap at him.  I tell him I cannot.  Every step hurts and this is as best as I can go.  Scott sees I am falling into the dark place and remains mostly quiet as I trudge along.

I just want to get to the aid station.  I need my feet tended too. I am so tired.  All I want is to get to the aid station.  I ask Scott how far is the aid station.  He says he thinks about a mile.

About a mile later, I see no aid station.  I ask again.  He thinks half a mile.  I want the aid station to get here.  The more I keep going and not seeing the aid station makes me grumpier and grumpier.  Another runner comes running towards us so I ask "How far is the aid station?"  He says "maybe a little longer than a mile."  I am furious!!  FUCKING SHIT!!  I flail my arms in the air and swear and basically throw a tantrum on the trail.  I am so bad.  Why is the aid station so fucking far away?!?!

I trudge along and continue on.  Angry.

And eventually, we make it to Granite Bay.  Granite Bay is the FTR Aid Station so it's supposedly the big party spot.  All I want is to have my feet taped so I ignore most of the surroundings.

I see Mary (Scott's wife) wearing a hula skirt and coconut bra and she's in a silly, chipper spirit (which I am not in the mood for).  She gives Scott a kiss and jokes that she can give me a kiss to.  I tell her "No."  I just want to know where my crew is.

As I wander into the aid station, Veronica comes up to me and says "You're looking great!"  I snap at her and say "Don't say that!  I am not feeling great."  She then helps guide me to where my crew is.  I sit down and tell them I need my feet bandaged up.  Susan and Kelly start working on my feet.  Nicole gives me some Advil.

I then see Craig, who I didn't expect to see here.  He looks at me with such love and care.  And, my anger just fades and I start crying.  All the emotions I had building up just broke down like a dam.  And, I start balling and letting it out.  Craig comforts me.  Nicole tends to me and as I look at here with tears in my eyes, she tells me that I am strong and that I can do this.  I nod at her as she wipes my face down and the tears away.

Paul is at this aid station too.  I am surprised to see him.  Paul is going to pace me from mile 78 to the finish.  I had been feeling bad that he's just waiting for me at Beal's point and it seems to be taking me forever to get there.  I tell him I am sorry, I am going a little slower than expected.  He says it's okay.

I am really cold.  After some discussion as to whether I should wear something more warm, Cathleen goes and gets me her long sleeved sweatshirt to let me wear.  As soon as I put it on, it feels so cozy and warm.  

Granite Bay to Beals Point (Mile 78)

Scott and I head out of Beals Point.  I am in better spirits.  My feet feeling a bit better having been bound.  They are super taped up.  I think about the old day so China when they used to bind women's feet.  But, I feel I can move better with my bound feet.

We move along and get to Cavitt in not too long.  As we pass the Water Tower hill, Scott jokes, "want to do some hill repeats?"  We continue along and I remember that it was on a Cavitt run when I first met Scott.  I tell Scott how this is where we first met.  I think he is a little surprised as how I am remembering the most random things right now.  We are back to chit chatting as we move along.

We can see the Beals Point aid station across the "lake" (the hole where Lake Folsom normally is).  Scott jokes that we can just do the shortcut and cut across the lake.  I laugh but we continue moving along and eventually reach the levees.

On the levees, it's really windy making it really hard to run across it, despite it being flat.   But, we get across them and get to Beals Point.

I see the finish line.  The tough part of this race is that we have to turn around and do another out and back.  I see some of the fast folks finishing.  But, I still have 22 miles to do.

I get weighed in and see a few of my crew members here.  Zena pops up out of no where and puts her arm around me as she says some things to me that I am not exactly processing.  She's a bit too close to my personal space and all I want is to be around my own crew.  I then see Adam who says I am looking a lot better than I was at Granite Bay.  I have no memory of seeing him at Granite Bay and think to myself "you were there?"  I don't say too much to him as I just want to be around my own crew.  My crew have been instructed to get me in and out of here as fast as possible.  They help restock my pack and they hurry to move me along.

Beals Point to Granite Bay (Mile 83)....Sleep Walking...

Paul and I head out of Beals Point back onto the levees.  The wind is blowing hard so Paul walks on the right side of me to help block some of the wind for me.

After crossing the levee, Paul and I run and hike along chit chatting about various things.  The conversation keeps me going and we move through Cavitt relatively quickly.  I do feel some chaffing on my thighs between the legs.

We pass the Water Tower hill and Paul jokes just as Scott did, "Want to do some hill repeats?"  I tell him Scott already suggested that and maybe we can just do them later.

We pass the state park entrance and move along towards the Granite Bay aid station.  Suddenly, the late hour (rather the wee hours of the morning) is starting to get to me.  I start falling asleep but I am still walking.  Though, I am getting slower and slower and slower as I get sleepier and sleepier and sleepier.

I know I am somewhat moving forward but I feel like I am asleep standing on my feet.  I am not really moving one foot in front of the other but shuffling and staggering a few inches at a time.  I try my best to keep my eyes open.  I close them for moments but feel myself nodding off.  A part of me is trying to wake up but it's so hard.  I want to sleep.  I tell Paul I am getting sleepy.  My words are a bit slurred.  I become a little more incoherent.

Paul sees me starting to fade badly and scrounges around my pack to find a gel with caffeine.  He hands it to me and tells me to eat it.  I can barely hold the gel to my mouth and eat the gel.  I can barely move.  I am basically sleep walking.

Edd and Charito come running by.  Edd pats me on the back and encourages me to move on.

We near the aid station at a very slow rate.  Paul continues talking to me to keep me moving forward.  The gel starts to work and I start waking up a little bit.

I finally make it back to Granite Bay.  My crew comes running out to me as they heard I am having a bad time.  I say I want to change my shorts and socks.  Kelly is concerned with time and says I don't have time to stop.  I tell her I still have time but I need to change and eat and drink coffee.  Craig looks really concerned and says I need to eat.

The girls form a tent around me so I can change into my running knickers.  Feels much better as the chaffing was beginning to burn between my legs.  Kelly gives me some chow mien to eat.  I eat that and drink some Starbucks and start to feel a little revived.

Granite Bay to Horseshoe Bar (Mile 89)

As I head out of Granite Bay (again!), I feel myself become more alert.  My speech starts sounding more normal.  I know I had been moving way too slow earlier so I want to make up some time.  But, my legs just aren't able to run again.  So, I start walking at a brisk pace and swing my arms on the side of me and mimic running movements.  I am still moving at walking pace but I am hoping if I act like I am running, just maybe my body will start to run.

I hike along looking a little silly as I swing my arms pretending to be running.  But, after a bit of this, my legs slowly get more movement back and I can pull off a few shuffling runs here and there.

The sky starts to lighten and I sense dawn is coming.  I start thinking about the time.  I worry as to what the cutoff time at Horseshoe Bar is.  Is it 7am?  What time is it?  Can I make it there in time?  I worry and tell Paul about my concerns as to the time.  He doesn't believe there is a cutoff time but says we are doing okay on time.  He said he's glad I am not longer sleep walking.

Because I am worried with time, I try to move a bit brisker than earlier.

I run into Charito and Edd.  We hike along together.  We joke that Charito and Paul need some cattle prods to move us along.  Charito is walking ahead of us with a mission.  She plays some tunes and orders me and Edd to keep moving along.

The sun rises up and it's morning again.  I am feeling more energized as we get more daylight.  I leave Charito and Edd and move as best as I can to Horseshoe Bar.

The aid station seems to not be coming up.  I get a little agitated.  Paul says the aid station is just a half mile away.  Half mile later, I see no aid station.  I ask a runner passing in the other direction how far is the aid station, she says about  a mile and a half.  And like before, I am so frustrated that I flail my arms, stamp my foot and curse.  Ugh.

I move along more.  I get more anxious about the time.  I am determined to get there by 7 am.  There isn't a 7 am cutoff but for some reason, I must get there at 7 am.  That will leave me three hours to get back to Beals Point.  So, I run and hike along as best as I can.  I am moving a lot better than I was in the middle of the night.  My feet still hurt but the pain doesn't matter anymore.  It's about getting to Horseshoe Bar.

I pass a few runners as I scurry along and eventually make it to the Horseshoe Bar Aid station.

Horseshoe Bar back to Granite Bay (Mile 96)

After a quick potty break, I fill up my water and head back towards Granite Bay.  I am running a little more than hiking now.  The running is slow but I am glad to be able to run again.

Paul realizes he accidentally left his phone at the aid station so he runs back to get it.  He reminds me to keep moving and he'll catch back up to me.  I scurry along as best as I can back over the meat grinder for the fourth time in this race.  It isn't so bad this time going through as it was in the middle of the night.

My garmin starts to run low so I switch out my garmins again.  Just keep moving I tell myself.  Move move move.

Paul eventually catches back up to me and praises how well I am moving.  He says he thinks I can break 29 hours.  I tell him I just want to finish before the 30 hour cutoff.  Just need to get there.

About a mile or so from the aid station, I realize I'm around mile 95.  I am going to do this.  I tell Paul, I am going to do this.  Before, it was just things you say but now I know I can do it.  The finish seemed so far away before but now I can smell the finish.  I am really going to do this.  I am really going to finish my first 100.  What a feeling!

Then, I see my friend Joanne on the trail.  She has come out to see how I am doing.  She hikes with me and Paul back into Granite Bay.  As we pass a runner, a guy says "Hi Helen" to Joanne.  Joanne says even now people get us mixed up.  We laugh about that.  Joanne, who looks fresh as a daisy and me, who's sweating and worn looking (and with a bib number on) has been mixed up with Joanne.

As I get closer to the aid station, my energy rises.  I start running a little bit more and go running into the aid station to my cheering friends.  I can tell they are so pleased to see that I have much more energy now than I did the last time I had gone through.

I run up and hug Craig and tell him "I'm really going to do this!"  He says he knows and it is an emotional moment between us.  He gets a little tears in his eyes.

I am full of energy seeing all my beloved friends.  There are even more friends here than were there last night.  David, Cathy, and Diane tell me how they were up all night thinking about me so decided to just come down here.  Everyone is excited.  This is really going to happen.  It was a LONG night but it's morning now and the finish is within sight!

I change my shirt into my Java Joggers shirt.  And, David and Paul head out towards the final stretch.

Granite Bay to Beals Point (THE FINISH!)

We hike and shuffle run along towards the finish.  David talks about how unbelievable this all is.  I am really happy David is here.  David has been there since the beginning of my running and I am happy to have him here with me as I finish my first 100 mile race.  It's been a long, but wonderful journey.

We talk and move along.  I run for a few brief stretches when I can.  As we pass the Water Tower Hill, David mentions the hill.  I told him how both Scott and Paul had joked about doing hill repeats there.  I think I'm okay on the hill repeats today.

As we move through Cavitt, we pass a couple girls I had seen during the night.  One girl had been suffering pretty badly of knee pain but seems to have pushed through it.  We kind of leap frog each other for a bit.  David asks if I have the competitive urge to beat them right now.  I said no.  If they finish first, that's fine.  I just want to finish.

About 10 minutes later, after passing them for the third or fourth time, I do think I do want them to not pass me again.  So, I power up the hill and trying to move as briskly as I can.  It's a mix of running and hiking.  But, the girls don't pass me again.  I chuckle to myself as to how David called it.

Paul confidently says that I am definitely going to break 29 hours now.  It is funny how your goals throughout the race change.  I think earlier in the race, I would be disappointed with the time now.  But, during the middle of the night, I would have been happy with 29:59:59.  But now, I am happy that I can see the finish line and my morning has been going as well as it can be for me.

As I move along the last few levees, I can see the finish.  And on the last levee, I can hear the crowds cheering.  But then I hear that they are cheering for me.  For my finish.

I get a surge of energy and start running to the finish line.  And, I run down from the levees into Beals Point into the finish line with the feeling of utmost joy as I do.  

28 hours, 42 minutes, 44 seconds.

There are tears in my eyes as I hug many friends, who I feel SO much love for.  I did it.  And, I could not have done it without all the love and support of my friends.

And, all my friends I started the race with finished too. :)

All my acknowledgements are in this blog post:

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