Amy was running this event as a fundraiser for the Cake Family that live in her hometown in Michigan.
Friday morning my family and I headed up to Rocky Mount VA with the camper packed full. It was much like other running events where we camp and the whole family comes out there for support, volunteer and run a few laps as well. This was a little bit different though because my mom and sister, who live in Michigan, were going to meet us there and be my crew and support for the event. It was also different as I was running this event to raise money for a very special family. I had many people pledging so much per mile and I had 24 hours to run as many miles as I could for the Cake family and the baby ‘cupcakes’.
We reached Waid Park about 2:00 in the afternoon. We chatted with several of the people there including Ricky Scott who was one of the race directors. With some guidance we found a great spot to set up camp right along part of the course loop. We set the camper up so that it would be ready in the morning when we arrived. (no camping allowed Friday night). We drove to Roanoke where we met my mom and sister and stayed the night at a hotel. Had a big dinner, well, breakfast rather… we dined at IHOP and I feasted on an omelet and pancakes - needed some running fuel, and this hit the spot! (woman vs. food, woman won!)
Saturday morning dawned clear and cool. Great morning for the run. Seems that last hour before a race flies by when you need to get so much done… All too soon it was time to start. Saw James Plant early on but he was keeping a faster pace that I was not comfortable keeping so I dropped back. Many of the early miles I was running alone. I was good with that. Several laps I would run with my sister, or walk with Andy or my mom. I was feeling good, eating well, and keeping a good rhythm. I stopped often to get the grit out of my shoes and powder my feet. I found it annoying that even with the gaiters on, I still managed to get stones in my shoes.
I was keeping an eye on the clock and on my mileage. 26.2 done, 50K done, I was well on my way to towards the 50 mile mark. Had my iPod in, playing tunes and was singing as I was running. Many of the other runners laughed when I passed by singing away. I fell into a zone. It felt great. Had a really great run/walk going with the straight-aways and hills. I knew in order to reach 100 miles by morning I needed to be at or under 11 hours at 50 miles. At 48 miles my Garmin went out. AGHH!!!! I am sure everyone in Rocky Mount heard my scream as I ascended the ‘one big hill’ without my Garmin data. I knew it was not going to last 24 hours, but I was still sad to see it go. I stayed focused and reached the goal of 50 miles in 11 hours and in that process made it onto the leader board. Oooo waaah!!! (7:00pm)
Darkness had fallen and it was starting to get cold. It was a clear night and I feared it would fall well below freezing before morning. I kept putting on the layers to stay warm. By 9:30 I had worked my way to 100K and 2nd on the leader board. I was still feeling awesome. Uncharted waters - haven’t ever run further than 63 miles before. Another milestone at 10:30pm First place overall for the women. Unbelievable! PR for distance AND slowly worked my way to the top.
The rest of the wee hours of the morning is kinda a blur. I kept eating and drinking but did not have the same energy I had earlier. I made it to 75 miles and had a meltdown. I was so cold. I had been walking many of the last few laps and not generating as much heat. I kept drinking soup but could not warm up. I was so frustrated that I could not find that rhythm I once had. In hindsight, my symptoms were hypothermia. I didn’t realize it, neither did my mom or sister. 3:00am I decide to get in the truck and try to warm up and take a nap. It was 85 degrees in there and the seat warmers were on. That did the trick. I woke up at 4:00 grabbed the blanket and headed over to the aid station. All the cups of juice and soda were frozen. It was 21 degrees out. I sat by the fire and got a little something to eat then decided to go back out. Before walking out into the night, Wes, one of the volunteers of the race, joined me. He had heard about the fundraiser and during the next loop I told him about the Cake family. This is what I heard - many people were moved by the Cakes story, by the fundraiser, and the desire I had to keep going for them. I had lost the lead, but not my determination to keep going.
“the race is not always to the swift, but those who keep on going”
Many of the next laps I spent with Dan Kuzma who at the time was the second place male. He was telling me about some ultras he ran in sub zero temps - not something I want to do, but it sounded like an amazing experience! He kept me smiling.
I took another break at about 6am. The volunteers had made hot pancakes and my belly could not say no to that. Paul and I were at the fire enjoying our breakfasts and when we were done, we looked at each other and decided to go back out again. We covered several laps together as the glorious sun finally came up! The 8:00 finish was closing in. The “stick lap” was not far away. I looked up at the clock as I came in on my last lap with Paul and saw there was about 5 minutes left and thought - “this is it, finish strong“. I took off my blanket, threw it on the fence, and started running. Together, James Plant and I “sprinted” the last lap of the run. We got to the big hill. The same one I had walked 87 times prior and I told Jim “I am running this thing this time” so we did! We sprinted down the hill, past the parking lot, down by the river (which btw was always 5 degrees colder over there the entire race), and nearly made it to the bridge when the horn sounded. Jim and I dropped our sticks and congratulated each other with a big hug. First 24 hour - 83.2 miles.
Believe it or not, my race was not done after that. I had to then pack up the camper and drive 3 hours back to Raleigh. That was tough after running that far on 45 min sleep! I got home, took a much needed bath, took a nap, then another nap, then slept sound from 10-6. I was sore Monday, but by Wednesday I had no fear of the stairs anymore.
What an amazing experience. It was a very well organized event. Aid stations had everything you could need. Volunteers were first rate. It was a great course. Many thanks go out to folks including Ricky Scott, and Pam Rickard (who I finally got to meet). My husband Andy, my mom Marcia and sister Karen for being there through it all. I would also like to thank Brooks Running for their sponsorship of me for 2011. It is great to be able to represent such an awesome company!
A big thank you goes out to all who supported me with their prayers and to those who donated for the fundraiser for the Cake family. It was a huge success - thanks so much!
I gained a lot of knowledge through this race. I plan to take with me to U100. It is not anything that anyone could have ever taught me, I had to learn it on my own through this life experience. I had some of my highest highs, followed by such disappointment, when I knew I was not going to reach 100. 83.2 is a fantastic distance. 20 miles farther than my furthest. A great stepping stone to 100. I am happy with the result. I hope it is a blessing to the Cake family.
You can still make donations here