|Bourbon at an aid station. I was not so brave, but I love the idea!|
|Packet pickup on Friday|
|Watching Wave One start. I was going to just watch, but at the last second I joined in.|
In the race, I started feeling fatigued earlier than usual, around mile 10. Whenever this happens, I think back to my first 100 mile finish, where I was dead-tired by mile 25 yet still managed to finish. If I could do it then, I could do it again, I thought. I was determined to finish.
I've grown as a runner since 2016, particularly when it comes to heat. This time I came in with a good heat management strategy. I wore arm sleeves, a bandana around my neck, and a microfiber towel over my head, all of which I stuffed with ice at every aid station. I drank as much water as I could, which was aided by the wonderful pack I got this year from Orange Mud (holds 2 liters!). As a result of all this, I never actually felt hot, and I never ran out of water. It was great. The only downside was how heavy all this was—but I couldn't do without it.
|My desert running getup|
Exceeding my expectations, I was on track to finish in under 24 hours for most of the race. I hit 50 miles in around 11 hours, and I felt as good as I did at mile 10—and things seemed like they'd stay well enough at that pace.
Then around mile 75, something bad happened. I managed to get a sizable blister on the ball of my foot, edging toward my toes. It popped of course, as it bore my whole body weight with every step, but that only made it hurt more. I changed socks, but I think that actually made the pain worse. I'm not sure what caused this, but it may have been the combination of compression socks and sandals that I was wearing. I'm starting to wonder if sandals may not be the best idea for a 100-mile run—at least the whole thing. I'm pretty heavy as far as far as runners go (usually around 190 pounds, plus my gear), and having that weight pounding down, especially when it's rocky, with no padding can add up after a while.
In any case, after mile 80 every step was excruciating. It reminded me of the end of the Pistol Ultra a few years back, where my feet were extremely swollen and I felt like I had a stress fracture in my metatarsals. Each step was the kind of pain that makes you feel like you might pass out. It made me scowl and tear up a bit. I tried to enter into the pain, and it wasn't really all that bad after all. I could deal with it. Again, I was determined to finish.
Alas, with the blister issue and my increasingly tightening muscles, I could run very little of the last loop—maybe only one mile of it in total. As a consequence my time slipped, and I ended up finishing in 25 hours, 38 minutes. Still not so bad!
|Such amazing views, which smartphone cameras can't really capture|
All in all, I loved this race. The desert was surprisingly beautiful. My friend Sonya said it was because they'd been having a lot of rain recently (and unseasonably), which made everything green again. There were even some flowers. The sunrises and sunset were gorgeous—the deepest marbling of unexpected colors. I heard songs from crickets, birds and coyotes at various points throughout the race, and I loved watching the constellations trek across the sky (in Philadelphia you can see about three stars on a clear night). I also loved Jackie O, who was dancing at the turnaround point all day and all night, giving ice-water sponge hugs and encouragement throughout the race. Yay!
|Jackie O at the turnaround. Photo by Aravaipa Running.|