SC24 - 24 hour Track Race at Wilson High School, Florence, SC - 3.15.14 @ 10:00 am - 3.16.14 @ 10:00 am (400 meter track)
At the turn of Mile 87, a pain shot up my foot and through my leg, the duct tape had come off my toe, the huge blister had burst, there was only one thing to do...
With enough time to get in another mile, the bleachers are 10 feet away, I sit down and proceed to remove my socks and shoes. Upon looking at my toe, there's no way I'd be able to get my shoes or socks back on, the next thing that happened was magical. I handed my shoes and socks to Troy, and I took off running, barefoot.
The track was cold under my feet, the rain and the "road like" surface really reminded me of being a kid and I just ran. "Eye of the Tiger" in my ear, a smile on my face, and The satisfaction of knowing within five weeks of the first 24 hour race at Delirium, I had another personal record, 83.07 at Delirium and 88 at the SC24.
By 10:30, I was back in the road, driving myself after I had asked Ray if he had any chips in his van. I was hungry, so chips and a Pepsi throwback it was for the ride home, Chris kept me talking on the phone until I got home.
That 24 hour period in March on the track in Florence had proved to be another one of the best days of my life.
The morning started, it was nice out, tank top weather for running, with such a late start, I got to sleep in my own bed and just drive to Florence the morning of the event. The Soul had been packed the night before, so all I had to do was prepare myself for what would be an emotional ride that would carry me until the sun came up on Sunday and then until 10:10.
Setting up, I'm by myself for a while. I showed up crewless, at least for the first portion, no pacer is allowed, so these 352 laps were done solo.
Group pictures were taken, I'm among elites. The thought itself is humbling, and here is what I thought, it follows:
I walked into the bathroom, peed, there was a mirror at the sink, I looked at myself, stared. This girl. From Elgin, where's that? Who started focussing on distance in September 2013. Was about to step on the track for the first time, ever in her life. With a group of the best runners, world record holders. Me. Pam. Me. Tears started to stream down my cheeks. Proud, overwhelmed, and thankful for the run. The only representative from South Carolina. Me.
I was oddly excited about running on a track, mindless running that is lit, for 24 hours, well yea! Who wouldn't love that! (Yes, I'm delusional.)
So round and round, "what comes around, goes around" (Ratt) but yes what comes around does go around especially on a track...Zach Bitter said he was going into horse mode, and he shut his eyes and ran.
Google him, he is the caliber of athlete I was on the track with that day. He was passing me one time (of about a thousand) and I stepped off to let him by, he told me to never step off the track, never defer, that I deserved to be on the track as much as anybody else there. His statement made me smile.
Willy Wonka: "Round the world and home again, that's the sailor's way. Is this interesting?"
Seems to be the way of the Ultrarunner as well...
Being crewless was different for me, I had had three members at my last 24hr event at my disposal. I showed up, set up and got ready to run.
David Nance helped me out for the time he was there, filling my water bottle, updating twitter and Facebook for me.
The temperature had gotten hotter than I thought that day, being exposed to the sun for that amount of hours, drinking constantly, I wasn't peeing. I stopped on a turn and asked Ray what to do. Five hours into this 24hr, I hadn't peed and wasn't sweating. Walk a lap and drink plain water was his advice. It worked, broke the dam and peed. Small victory, huge victory!
The heat was crippling. So I walked and I walked, around and around, and I ran some but mostly walked just propelling forward. Anxiously awaiting sunset this day as with Delirium, "I just wish the sun would come up." Ask my friend Troy, he heard both sides...and we laughed about it throughout the night on both occasions.
Troy had messaged me on Friday and asked if I needed to be crewed for the 24hr on the Track. I had told him I was going crewless, he said he would come up in the afternoon on Saturday and help me.
I remember saying to Troy when I came around the track when he first appeared, all my stuff is the polka dots. He set up camp, canopy, cot, sleeping bag, two chairs and lots of extras that I didn't bring. I was sunburned by this point, had been served slushies trackside by someone who was nothing short of angelic, grabbed one for my friend, Christian (the tattooed kids unite) and ran while drinking slushies. Yea, this is Ultra.
Joe Fejes offers to dip my shirt in ice water, oh my god. That was a bit of heaven in a pot...the water was in a soup pot...twice that cooled me off and soothed my sunburn. He asked if I needed something. My answer, I don't know. Then he proceeded to tell me that I had already suffered the worst, the heat of the day and that so many hours were behind me, that I could do this. I nodded. And went on.
David Hale came around at some point not sure when, the day melts together.
The sun goes down...track lighting, no headlamp needed. (Woohoo!!)
14 hours in, I'm struggling. I have friends on speed dial who I can call, anytime. To get encouragement, usually. I called one friend, who pissed me off, and that's putting it nicely. And then I dialed another number, the voice on the other end said, you are incredible, what you're doing is amazing, you're going to be fine, I believe in you. Next thing I said was get some sleep but keep your phone close, I might need you again, I'm certain I will. I was about to cry. I was about on the verge of a second wind, teetering in. I was cooled off, refueled and I was mad.
14 hours in. I looked at my watch. I made the turn, Ray is standing infield. A big grin spreads across his face, because I'm running, running. He said, "Who lit your ass on fire? You are girl on fire." Yes, yes I was.
By this point, head phones are in. And I have caught my second wind as Troy had promised.
Troy yells where'd that come from?
"Eye of the Tiger" that's where, replay, replay. "Roar" on repeat as well..."Happy" and "Best Day of My Life..."
"I got the eye of the tiger, a fighter, dancing through the fire
‘Cause I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me roar
Louder, louder than a lion
‘Cause I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me roar..." Katy Perry
I round the corner 12:08 am Sunday morning....52 miles in. I just couldn't quit but what happened next made my entire year.
I rounded the corner and low and behold, the person I had been on the phone with not ten minutes prior was standing there, smiling. My face told the tale. Chris was standing there, made my whole year.
He stayed a few hours, time is untraceable during the night, it all becomes a ball of emotion, thrown into hours.
I took off, I ran more, fast, singing as I went. My heart was happy, full to overflowing and I was doing this, this thing I love, running...
When I ended up pr'ing there with 88 miles at the end of the day, nonetheless barefoot, I had a sense of accomplishment. Though I didn't reach 100 miles that day, I ran for another 24 hours only five weeks after my first 24 hour race.
I realized I found my gift. I found my driving force and I found a humbleness inside me with the realization of the caliber of people I was running with, me this girl from Elgin, me, pink sox.
A day and night, I shall never forget. Life is about the people who show up, the people who cross our paths and at the time we don't know why but there is a Master plan.
"I howled at the moon with friends
And then the sun came crashing in
But all the possibilities
No limits just epiphanies
I'm never gonna look back...."