The morning of the race, temps were in the 40s. I had slept in my car, so it was a short walk to the start. It was great to see lots Rockhoppers there: Elizabeth, Fumi, Jean, Michelle, Tanya, Jason, Cara, Joe T, Liza, and Lorenzo. I also enjoyed seeing some of the Alamo Running Buddies -- Doug, Jazzy, Emmett -- who were running the Lodge aid station.
The first highlight of the race came during the conga line up to Sky Island. Runners were starting to thin out a bit, but there were still several of us running in the same pack on the singletrack. A guy behind me asked, "So you must be Julie?" I said yes, although I have no idea how he knew who I was -- I had no identification on my back. He said, "So you got 3rd place at Cactus Rose?" I laughed, and thought to myself, "Enjoy this moment, because the 5 seconds this conversation lasts, will be your only moment of running fame." :) That was fun. The next highlight was getting to Nachos aid station and seeing all the welcoming Rockhoppers -- especially Tom in his Nacho Libre ensemble.
Once the sun came up, it warmed up into the 70s. With the sun on us, it felt quite hot. As I lumbered up a fairly steep hill, Michelle caught up to me and asked, "Julie, are you doing all right?" I hadn't realized it until she said that, but I must have been struggling and not looking great. Michelle is so wonderful -- so kind and generous. It was great to finish that Sisters loop in conversation with her.
Other than that brief low-energy point, I really feel like I nailed my nutrition at this race. I've never been able to say that before. I didn't eat any real food during the race -- just 2 gels per hour and 2 sips of EFS slurry per hour -- plus a cup or so of Coke at aid stations. It's not that the gels tasted any more palatable this time around, or that I never felt queasy, but I just told myself I was going to take the gels, and that's that, no excuses. I used my SJ Ultimate Direction pack (I saw a bunch of those packs at the race!) with one bottle of plain water and one bottle of EFS slurry. I originally started with a bladder, as well, but I took it out and asked Claudette to throw it away at the first aid station -- I wasn't getting any suction from it, and it annoyed me.
At the Lodge, after the first loop, the thought crossed my mind that I still had 31 miles left to go. I thought to myself, that is insane; so many miles! Right after leaving the Lodge, as I started the second loop, I caught myself worrying about how many miles were left, and how many aid stations, and how many hours left of running . . . and then for some reason I thought of the final scene in Fargo, when the murderer is in the back seat of the squad car, and Margie the cop tells him she doesn't understand why he did such terrible things . . . "And it's a beautiful day." The scene is darkly humorous, because the landscape is a bleak Northern Minnesota whiteout. But thinking about that scene, I realized that I could have a negative attitude, like I was doing, or a positive one, like Margie. And it was a beautiful day, truly -- sunshine, hills, cactus, warmth. So I chose to be positive.
The sunset was absolutely gorgeous, outlining the hills with yellows, oranges and reds. Once the sun was gone, the temps dropped pretty precipitously, probably down to 40s again. I felt cold until my sweat dried. Thankfully I had armwarmers in my drop bag at Crossroads, and I was able to pick them up just before the sun set. Around this time, my throat became sore and my lungs started hurting whenever I took a deep breath. I thought I was getting sick from the cold/hot/cold changes during the race, but maybe it's a Mountain Cedar allergy, as Elizabeth thinks.
In the darkness, heading towards Boyle's aid station, a coyote pack began howling to beat the band. I don't worry about running into a coyote or two, but from the sounds I was hearing, I pictured a band of two dozen bloodthirsty coyotes anxious to prey on any lonely runner who crossed their path. :) Okay, I wasn't that worried, just a little bit.
After I made the choice to have a positive attitude, early on in that second loop, I acknowledged that the outcome of the race was in God's hands, and I should leave it there and not worry about it. I felt confident that He would take care of me every moment of the race, if I just gave Him my best effort at each moment. And I really tried to do that, and be mindful of that for the rest of the race. Every so often, I would catch myself thinking about the miles and hours ahead, but then He would reel me back to the present and I would just ask, "Am I doing my very best right now?" And I was amazed at how strong I was able to run. I really think, at least on that 2nd and final loop, that I gave it my best effort at every moment.
I was happy to see the really fast people already in the tent at the finish line -- Jason C, Liza, Brian, Tanya (who kicked butt!), as well as Claudette, Stefan, and Emmett, who had been volunteering. And I was very happy that -- unlike after the Capt'n Karl's races or Cactus Rose -- I got to go home and sleep in my own bed that night.
I hope that not just in my future runs, but also in everyday life, I can remember what I learned during this race and live in the present moment, not worrying about the future or the past, just giving my best effort right now.
Congratulations to all runners, and thank you to all the volunteers!
Fargo clip -- the quote is around 1:10