Arkansas Traveller 100
OUCH...Arkansas Traveller: My First 100 by Sarah Brown
yes I am back, yes I made it, yes it hurt like hell, yes I am glad I did it, no I will not be doing another one in a very VERY long time. there is too much other stuff to do that doesn't beat you up so badly. and no that isn't the blisters talking. don't get me wrong, it was great [most of it ;)] and I am so happy/proud etc.
I never got really nervous, altho felt very emotional leaving my husband and children to travel to the race. I felt strong and ready, nervous of what it would be like, but keen to get on with it all.
I planned to start really steady, not get sucked into the sillys, well Imanaged that and was dfl by the first mile, but that was cool, and it was a clear nite so I was looking at the stars and constellations more than theroad ! we were soon onto the trail and cruising along, I fell in with a group from Hawaii and Monica Schultz. they were having so much fun, laughing and joking and telling stories [I shared the best legs stories] we hung together for a while, passed 5 miles in 1hour, but they were goofing around and I went on, people weren't that far apart this early on, so I had company if I felt like it and chatted with several other runners.
we were soon into the ouachita trail which was sweet twisty slightly rooted technical single track, I was in my element and ran freely, passing a bunch of people, caught up with Vinny and we had lots of fun, this was beautiful, running at its best. I knew it wasn't the smartest at this stage, but I also knew that after the first crewed aid [a the end of the single track, 18 miles. 4 hours, there is a loooong steady climb, time to eat, rest, eat, recover, eat and then eat] Vinny and I were soon Joined by Dave, who is more of road runner and was slower on the tight single track. we ran together as a 3 for over 60+ miles ! soon into Lake Winona [35-40ish], the next crewed Aid Stn and it was great to see all my friends there, if a little mad as they all descended on me, I shook the rocks out of my shoes that had got in despite my gaiters, changed into my running skirt, loaded up with food and soon caught the guys, peace !
Smith mountain was rough and rocky as expected, but not too overgrown fortunately. infact most of the trail looked good on the way out, not nearly as rough as I had been led to expect [that would change on the way back] I was having a few "issues" I taped a heel at one point which cured that, my hip was sore and I had some difficult to tape hotspots on my forefoot. it was hot, over 80 in the afternoon.
when we got into powerline I got one forefoot taped and picked up my camelback, lites, warm shirt, tied my tights around my waist for if it got cold and headed out to turn around [58 miles] this took forever, but the guys were still in good spirits so we trotted along chatting happily. it was a long slog between aid stations, but mostly down hill. we got to see lots of friends that had already made the turn which helped which encouraged everyone.
at turnaround the guys got a bit crazy and raced off down the road, I needed to walk and settle my stomach so I sadly let them go on. 6miles later [walked most of the way] I caught them which really shocked them and gave us a good laugh. we set out together again looking forward to picking up Dave and my pacers.
Ginger is keen and ready, it is about midnight I think [it all got rather foggy mentally, Dave's pacer went with another girl who didn't have a pacer and was mostly alone, so ginger took the 3 of us out down the trail. I was feeling a bit low, the thought of 35 more miles on now pretty sore feet, my hips hurt going up hill and a tendon or something on my knee didn't like hills/running much so having some fresh blood made a huge amount of difference.
at one of the aid stns the guys went on ahead as they were feeling good [well relatively] and I was walking most of the time. I tried to tape my forefeet and the bit between my toes that was so sore [the bit were the flipflop thong would go] but it didn't help :( ginger and I had fun and were happy to reach the 85 mile mark at am [24hrs] it had been raining for a few hours by now, but never that cold, and we were ready for daylite.
daylite kind of came along but it was very foggy and damp. progress was slow, my feet were really painful and I had definitely slipped into the 'miseries' poor Ginger, she listened to me huffing and puffing and groaning. I tried to run the downs that weren't too rough. someone had dumped truckloads of large rocks on the trail overnight. running didn't hurt any more than walking, just differently, more on the front of my foot than the heels, well it was a change I guess ! my knees and hips were pretty miserable too, but running got us a bit closer to the end as we raced along at maybe 15 minute miles !!
those last miles were funny in an ironic way, we would get to a gentle down slope and ginger would be waiting for me to 'run', I really 'wanted' to. I kind of leaned forward and made the movements with my arms, sometimes the feet would follow, sometimes not ! she would politely jog along beside me, but I knew she could walk just as fast !
in the mist things were looking a bit funky at times and at one point I said to Ginger "look someone has parked there truck in the middle of the trail", I saw a beige Silverado parked at 2 large concrete curb stones. she was quiet and next time I looked up there were just a few white rocks partly embedded into the ground !
a really sad point came at about 91-92 miles. Ginger said there's Tim and Rick, now I thought she was hallucinating ! but Tim was moving really really slowly, and even at our rather pathetic hobble we soon caught them. one look at Tim and we saw he was not going to make it, his eyes were sunken he had that grey look and was shivering despite all his clothes [and Rick's'] he was hypothermic and had shut down. Rick had gone on ahead to get the next aid stn alerted. we wanted to stay with them, but couldn't do anything so carried on, Ginger ran on and found a truck coming down to pick Tim up.
Eventually we got onto what I recognised as the last stretch of trail, a steady smooth downgrade. I sucked it up and ran from pink tape to pink tape. we saw someone coming towards us. It was my friend Thorbjorn from Houston, who had dnf'd at turn around. I bawled my eyes out ! as we came towards the gate and last 1/2 mile Kelly and Antje were coming out, so I had a little group to bring me in. it was so cool. I was so happy to be done.
I got the nearest chair and collapsed. everyone was hovering around. Scott asked if I wanted to eat anything, I managed to grunt, Ginger laughed, she had heard that b4 ! someone told him to get me food and I just ate what I was given, fruit and pancakes I think ?! taking my shoes of was painful but a relief. mike got me a bowl of cold water, it was a relief to soak them altho ugly to see them ! [Scott's' dog Archie was later seen drinking the water then barfing it] I was changed, fed, wrapped up and generally looked after. Tim was in and looking better which was a relief, Letha had broken 24 hours, Mark finished a bit ahead of me, Thorbjorn was recovering.
we had to move about 30m for the award ceremony. it was ugly. I got my buckle, a lot of other people were just as slow walking those 10m to Chrissy ! everyone was running around gathering my drop bags and sorting my stuff out, it was pretty overwhelming. I was so greatful, cos I knew I sure couldn't manage to do it !
This trip was really special, largely because so many friends were there to share and support it. The course was fun in places, tough in places and really fantastically well Aided. I am really glad I did it, but think my next few runs will be a little less extreme and damaging. there are so many great trails out there to explore and when I heal I cant wait to get back on them.