I kept weighing my options over and over in my head. I wanted to drop like nothing else. The previous day my friend Jesse had to tell the race officials he was dropping and said the worst part was admitting it. I jokingly said, "Yeah, it's kind of like breaking up. Nobody wants to actually say the words out loud."
Did I really want to say those words out loud? I wasn't injured, so I felt like I couldn't. Did I feel nauseous enough to drop? Oh, the internal struggle!
As I was battling my own thoughts, I saw two familiar figures: my husband Jason and my friend Jeremiah. I was so excited to see them. I told Jason I wasn't feeling well and heard crickets. Damn! He wasn't going to make this easy for me. I made a few other comments about not feeling well and going off-course. Again, more crickets.
I made a deal with myself. I would go to the start/finish, change my shoes, eat something, and see how I felt. If I felt good, I would continue on.
When I made it to the start/finish it was a huge boost to my well being. I heard several people shout my name and cheer me on. I changed my socks even though I knew they would get wet again. I ate salted potatoes, M&Ms, and a GU packet. I was starting to feel better.
I headed out on the second loop before I changed my mind. My mental strategy was to get through this loop by myself and run the last loop with Jason. I knew running with him, I could get through it.
Mentally, I started feeling really good and I was running well. The mud and water were even more fun the second time around and I got to the first aid station all smiles. I was really happy with my decision to continue on. I had my second wind and was going to finish.
In the next section, I fell apart again. I was feeling rough. Going through that section reminded me of the additional miles and messed with my psyche. It wasn't pretty, but I powered through this section and back to the start/finish line.
Here, Jason told me about the cutoff times. I knew I had 16 hours to finish the race, but I didn't think I would need that much time. With the additional miles I had added, I had to be aware of the cutoff.
The first half of the last loop went well. I kept a decent pace and was on track to finish within the cutoff. I told Jason to talk to me as a distraction. At the second aid station, I was feeling rough. My body ached and my feet hurt. I had roughly 8 miles to go and I was going to need every ounce of mental strength I had.
Jason told me I was doing well mentally. So what if I was fine mentally? I still hurt a lot! I was not very good company. Jason was smart and either kept quiet or said the occasional "I know," and kept going. I was far inside my own head, trying to will myself to move.
We made it to the final aid station and were still concerned with cutoff times. Jason's plan was to have one friend walk in front and another friend to walk behind to hopefully get me to walk faster. At this point, there was no running happening.
These were the longest 4 miles of my life, hobbling through those woods. But I knew I was close and soon I could stop. When we got to the top of the hill, I knew it was only a few hundred yards to the finish. Somehow I managed to pick up my feet and run. I ran into the finish!
I could finally stop! I ran in with only 8 seconds to spare. I was dead last and it felt awesome. I don't need to justify being last or even worry about it. I am very proud of myself for finishing and being able to get past that initial blow of going off-course. I did it.