The time has arrived, the reality was here. No shit, Sherlock! Once again I found myself at Cuyamaca attempting to complete my second 100k. By the way, I finished the first one. The excitement fills the room, each one of us has on mind to conquer this mother of funk! Small talk, about distances, runs, places, pooping, food and a bunch of non-sense, soon it became a distant sound to my ears. I wanted it to start and get it over with! Seeing good friends and other familiar faces always makes me feel good.
After a quick briefing by the race director, we were off to discover and conquer the Cuyamaca 100k! This race is run in three loops. The first loop by far it’s the most challenging; it will make you or break you…no doubt! The first 8.4 miles are easy, but they're only the setup for 14.8 miles of uphill. Not for the weak! The day was hot, and many runners didn’t carry enough water. Even when the trail was easy to travel, the elevation was hard to handle. I kept thinking in my mind “you got this”! Yet, I was being careful with my water reserve. I had carried 1.5 liters, plus 16oz more water. I knew altitude, heat and speed would not be my friends on this stretch. So, I galloped along, singing little songs inside my head and focusing on God knows what! I made it to Cuyamaca peak at 5100 feet of elevation gain. Ran out of water, but the reward was waiting there for me, a grape flavored popsicle; it was a taste of heaven!
Twenty three point two five miles down, and forty to go! The game is was on! I found out that running downhill on the next part of the trail, was more challenging than going up. Each step I took in the next five miles, it was a reminder that my feet were carrying my whole body and, I was feeling it! This section it’s extremely technical, too many rocks. I just had to take it easy here. I made it to mile 31.85! Only 31.45 more to go! The first loop was done and now onto the second loop. Yay! until somebody said: oh, this loop it’s just as bad as the first one. Really? Nooooo! But I took on the challenge anyway. There was more climbing, and long stretches of grassy areas, the day was still pretty hot. Not good, if you want to finish at a decent time. During this stretch making small conversations with other runners made it so much easier to keep going. The scenery in this area was magnificent and much more enjoyable towards the end. Somehow I managed to pull another 12.8 miles with an elevation gain of 1450 feet. I was back at camp Cuyamaca.
The hubby and other friends were there, making it much easier for me to get ready for the third loop” the dark hours” as I call it. Last year during this stretch my headlamp died. It was gnarly to be out there all by myself in the dark. No moon, no headlamp, dead cell phone and thinking…oh shit, oh shit, oh shit!!! I am going to have to sleep here in the dark. An awesome runner saved me from the dark and we finished running together. This year I carried three headlamps with me! Ha! There ya go bitchin darkness, take that!
Time to take the third loop, 18.2 miles and I would be done! I start seeing friends slow down, I was slowing down too. Soon, the darkness took over and I found myself all alone for most of this stretch. For the next six miles I was running with a big stick, close to the back of my head and a big sharp rock on the other hand. Where are you mountain lions? I am ready for you!
On this stretch I was determined to quit, it was too dark, I was too alone, and fear and vulnerability took over me. My body parts were broken, I was broken. When I reached the next aid station, I was looking forward seeing my husband there. I was looking forward to saying proudly and with no regrets: I will not finish, I gave my best shot. Let’s go to the hotel, get clean, eat and sleep. I am done, done, done!
Somehow, I think the Gods must have aligned with him. He was nowhere to be found. I looked in shock, holly shit! He’s not here. Well, I better keep going. I ate some hot soup, potatoes and off I went. The next aid station was only 4.7 miles away. I can do it! To my surprised and pleasure, I saw a friend pacing another runner. This was my golden opportunity to not run alone, so I decided to run behind them. He-he! they kept saying: are you sure that you don’t want to run by us? Oh no, thanks. I am just fine behind you!
We were now on top of the Pacific Crest trail. An orange-yellow, almost full moon soon began to emerge to the East; almost immediately my mind was captivated by the beauty of the night. On this trail I saw, Jerusalem crickets, these are some ugly bugs! Tarantulas, California bats with big shinny eyes, and many other cool critters. An orchestra of million crickets surrounded the silence of the night. Plus, zillion of blinking stars filled the sky. All was good now. Mountain lions, bleh! I will ignore you now, ok, not really!
I made it to the last aid station, and 6.8 miles to go. Now, there was my hubby! Calmly he said: I went to the wrong aid station earlier. I said: thanks honey… you planned it all. You didn’t want me to quit. Soooo, I must finish now! I was home bound! I managed to keep myself close to other runners. I still managed to pass a few. The darkness wasn’t as bad anymore.
When I saw the lights to the last mile, my heart filled with joy, my body was in pain and my head proud! I made it, sixteen hours and twenty seven minutes, plus some seconds. I was finally there! This old lady (at least for the youngsters) still has what it takes to get it done!
Looking at the all the people who patiently have been waiting for all of the runners, and cheering for me as I crossed the finish line, it was a reminder that perseverance and determination can take you places and help you override your fears.
Oh, you little shinny medal, come to mamma. You’re MINE!!!
When is the next race? Ha-ha! It’s almost like giving birth to a child, plenty of pain is endured while at it, but soon, it all is forgotten upon seeing the beauty of the journey!