Wrong Turn at Lake Martin

Here it is…..
   Unfortunately I have what every runner hates having, especially for a big race they have been preparing for all winter. I did not come home with a buckle, instead I have a nice new shiny DNF. I never in a million years thought my journey to 100 miles would end like this. Here’s what happened.

 The course is made of 2 loops of 25mi. I must do each loop 4x. I did the first loop 25 mi in a little over 6 hrs. Which I thought was good b/c the course was extremely technical and had steep inclines. Neither of which were going to stop me. So I went out for my next 25 miles. Feeling pretty good, I was hydrating well and trying to get bits of food in me when I could. I go out, I run up to the aid station, Heaven hill, which I pass through 2 times. One time coming up from the north, the front side, and one time coming up from the south, the back side. After you hit Heaven hill aid station 2 times you are on your way back to the main aid station, The Cabin. Which you hit twice also. Once from the front, and once from the back. Once you hit the cabin you go 8 miles out on the back loop, it brings you back to the cabin aid station. And there’s 50mi. Then. You start your 3rd loop. So on until you are finished. 

HERE IS WHERE THE ISSUE FOR ME IS. I went out on my second loop, I hit heaven hill from the north (front). I ran. I hit it from the south. There was a parking pad for crew members not even a mile from the south side of heaven hill. I met Derek there. I asked him what mile I was on. He said 38, 12 more until 50. I’ll meet you in another 4 miles, I was going to get a long sleeved shirt, some ibuprofen, and my headlamp. Good. All set. See you in 4 miles. And then after I did the 8 mile loop I would have completed my 50 and pacers can start at 50. I was over the moon I couldn’t believe it, I was 12 short miles away from company!

 I leave Derek and start running. Hmmmmmm. I’m running. And running. And running. It’s getting dark. I haven’t hit an aid station in 4 miles. What. The. Eff. Is going on? By now it’s pitch black. No headlamp just some scrawny hand held. I’m Cold. And now it’s raining. Ohhh oh. What do I see? A light! Ok follow that guy. He says to me ” you don’t have a headlamp?” I said I do my pacer has it. I’m meeting him at mile 50. He says “uh ok” like that doesn’t sound right. He was kind enough to stay close until the next aid station (which for me is the Cabin) He says, No problem I think we are getting close to Heaven hill. EMERGENCY EMERGENCY UH WHAT?????! So I’m thinking, I’m just delirious. “uh what lap are you on?” He says 3. FUUUUUU…………. Breath Michelle. Maybe you are suppose to go to heaven hill. Derek will be there with my stuff. It’s ok. Everything is ok. 

NO! Everything is NOT ok! I somehow managed to run the north loop again instead of hitting the cabin aid station, I frantically tell the aid volunteers ” I ran this twice”. Luckily for me the RD was at this aid station. He was so helpful in trying to figure out what happened and where I went wrong. But let me interject. There are a couple of VERY IMPORTANT FACTORS HERE. 1. I just ran useless mileage on already torn up legs. 2. TIME. Precious time. giving my mileage is not what I want. I call Derek immediately. He has hopped on the trail b/c when he did not see me in the 20 mins when I was suppose to meet him he was worried. BTW. Derek is the best. He says I’m on my way to Heaven hill. On top of that, I have the RD saying. Ok wait here while I figure out what we are going to do. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. Stiffening. Stiffening. Stiffening. THIS IS NOT GOOD. NONE OF IT. And now. I’m feeling defeated. 

 Derek makes it to heaven hill. The RD calls me and tells us where we can hop on the trail to make up for mileage I already did. We make it to the cabin. I check in and tell them what happened. I have to change and Derek has to change. More time loss. Derek and I head out to the 8 mile loop. My legs and hips have stopped working. I push uphill, I push going downhill. It’s slick I’m falling in the mud. I can’t control my legs. A thousand things are running through my head. I’m a mess. And I’m sad. And mad. And disappointed. I want that time back so bad. So very bad. But I can’t. I won’t get it back. It’s all I’m thinking about. Derek and I finish the 8. My time for officially finishing the first 50 is 18 something hours. No this isn’t right. I was headed for a first half of 13 hrs. Oh no. Oh man…… 

Here it comes. The overwhelming feeling of sadness, the sickness in your stomach, disappointment, patheticness. I’m hating myself and wishing I could be anybody at that race, just not me. Tears streaming down my face. Decision time. I MAKE THE DECISION. I OWN THIS DECISION. I am now left with 12 hrs to complete 50 miles on hard trails, pitch blackness, slushy trails, with no working legs. I call it. I’m done. At this point it’s not doable for me. I not only lost 5 hrs. I lost my motivation. My desire. The buckle seemed less important. Does it feel less important today? No. I want it. I want it more. But I can’t rewind time. I wasn’t going to get 5 hrs back. I will live with this decision I made. I have to it’s the only thing I came home with. I will grow from it, eventually. Not today b/c today I’m sad. 

Time heals bruised legs and egos. This will fade, but never forgotten. It will be at the forefront of my mind when I’m at the start of my next 100 miler. Thank you all for the overwhelming support. It made my day and kept me going! David Murphy is so amazing. His support and his understanding of what I’m going through has really put me on the path to understanding that through this I have grown as a runner. Coach THANK YOU. And to my crew Derek, April, and Houston you All are the best! I’m waiting for the opportunity to pay it forward and I hope we meet up again soon. IRC is best dumb little running club!

4 Replies to "Wrong Turn at Lake Martin"

  • comment-avatar
    March 22, 2015 (12:00 pm)

    Amazing. Thanks for your openness. What a terrible situation. I’d love to hear more about your training and will be cheering for you on the next one.

  • comment-avatar
    March 22, 2015 (12:00 pm)

    First class athlete for considering, committing and training for such an event. You are a winner even with a DNF simply because you already said the words “my next 100 miler”. You are going to learn and grow and succeed because you are an Idiot and a BADASS! Hugs my dear, big bear hugs!

  • comment-avatar
    Brian Burk
    March 23, 2015 (12:00 pm)

    Chin up , get it next time.


  • comment-avatar
    Sarah B
    March 24, 2015 (12:00 pm)

    you are an inspiration to me. youre an incredible woman and this journey was wonderful to see. keep going, there are great things in store for you. you helped motivate me to get my run in today. i wish u all the best.