I don’t think I have ever been as ready for a race as I was for the Orion Ultra 100 mile race on October 14, 2017. This was the inaugural event put on by race directors, Rob and Rachel Goyen of Trail Racing Over Texas. There was a distance for everyone; a 10K, half marathon, full marathon, 50 miles, and 100 miles.
After being hit hard by hurricane Harvey, my run training was pretty much interrupted and took a back seat while we worked at recovering from the hurricane and trying to get back to our every day normal life as we knew it. I continued with my crossfit and powerlifting training as my stress release post Harvey.
I registered for the Orion Ultra on a whim just two weeks prior to race day and figured I’d use it as a training run leading up to my 100 miler at Brazos Bend come December 9th, which I’ve been registered for since last December when I had DNF after 66.68 miles.
For the first time, I registered for a race (a big race at that) and didn’t announce it to anyone that I was doing it. I hadn’t been training and the ONLY miles I had put in prior to Orion was a whopping 47.98 miles with my longest training run being 19.4 miles just three days before the race.
I didn’t want nor did I need any negativity from anyone about my doing this race on so little run training but it’s not like I haven’t been active. I mean, I wasn’t just sitting at home on the sofa eating bon bons deciding to run 100 miles. The only person who knew I was doing Orion was my husband of course and his parents found out a few days prior.
The race took place in Surfside Beach, Texas, on the beach. Surfside has a special place in my heart because it’s the exact spot where I run my first marathon for Autism and placed 1st in my age group, so doing my first 100 mile finish for Autism in the same spot had a lot of emotions tied into it.
The 100 mile course consisted of five 20 mile loops or a 10 mile out and back straight along the beach, however you want to look at it; it was 100 miles. There were aid stations at the start/finish, five miles, and at the turn. So every 5 miles there was an aid station.
Every 5 miles I would also be changing my run buddy. I had 18 individuals who would be running with me, some are friends’ kids, some are kids of my followers on Instagram that I have connected with over the years and have been running for and one is my very own.
The entire course would be flat with the sand along the water’s edge being packed. I’ve run 26.2 miles of this course before so how hard could running another 73.8 miles be?!? 😂 I made my goal to just finish. Rather then trying to make a plan to stay on a set pace the entire 100 miles, I broke each loop into time intervals. So this would be my plan for my 100 miles:
•Loop 1 1-20 (5 hrs)
•Loop 2 21-40 (6 hrs)
•Loop 3 41-60 (6 hrs)
•Loop 4 61-80 (6hrs)
•Loop 5 81-100 (6 hrs)
Breaking the loops into time would give me an hour for bathroom stops and anything I needed to do at the aid stations.
Originally I had planned on just going alone and camping in my car on my air mattress but two days prior my husband decided he and the boys would make the trip down with me so we rented a beach house for the week. An actual bed to sleep on the night before sounded way better before running 100 miles.
We were about 3.5 miles from the start/finish at our beach house which was nice. We got everyone settled, had dinner and I fell asleep for a bit on the deck to the sounds of the waves crashing into the seawall. Pure bliss! I finally dragged my anxious body to bed around 11:30pm.
I woke at 3:45 in the morning, dressed, and ready to go. My hubs drove me over to the start just a little after 5. I picked up my bib and shirt, sprayed myself down with bug spray and sunscreen then sent him on his way back to the beach house.
There were only ten runners for the 100 mile distance which was bit scary at first. I kept thinking to myself, “why aren’t there more people wanting to do this race?!” The ten of us lined up at the start just seconds before go time for a quick photo op then we were on our way down the beach.
I started out a slow pace along side the only other female runner other then myself, Lydia. We chatted a little at the start line and a bit more the first quarter mile. She too is an Au-mom, a single mother of four boys; her twin boys have autism. I didn’t show my emotions while talking to her but I was pretty choked up on the inside that there was another parent running that I could relate to.
We spent a little over an hour running in the dark with headlamps and flashlights shining our way down the beach until the sun rose. The sunrise was straight to the right of us and just like any sunrise over the water, it was gorgeous! There’s just something about running on the beach at sunrise that is breath-taking but then the sun kept rising. As the hours passed it got a little warmer and there are NO shade trees on the beach, just clear blue skies for miles and miles.
With a little less then 4 miles to go in my first loop, I received a message from a friend. A friend that I’m pacing at Pleasure Island for her first half marathon. Upset that she hadn’t been able to run for about a week so; in hopes to help motivate her, I told her where I was, what I was doing and sent her a selfie along with a picture of my Garmin.
Loop 1: 1-20 miles
I got to run along side the legend, Wayne for a bit. He was doing a run/walk, run half a mile then walk for 15 seconds. He told me that he went from 12 seconds to 15 for recovery reasons hoping it’d help later on in the race. He just run Blazin’ 7s 100 miler two weeks prior. 😮 Super nice guy and I had the honor of running with him.
I also got to see my family on my way back to the start turn around while they were enjoying some beach time.
I finished my first 20 mile loop in about 4 hours and 45 minutes which was faster then I had planned but the first loop is always the fastest. I felt good and had no aches or pains, which was a good sign because last December when I attempted my first 100 at Brazos Bend I had a horrible abdominal pain that hit me at mile 4 and lasted til my last mile at 66.68.
Loop 2: 21-40 miles
Around mile 25, my dear hubs found me and greeted me with the biggest root beer ever. Man was I ever so happy to guzzle half of it down. I finished the next 20 miles in about 5.5 hours which was still faster then I had anticipated but I was still feeling great. I asked where I was placement wise at the start turn around and was told I was currently and had been all day 1st place female and 6th overall for the 100 mile. I wanted to keep it that way so I didn’t waste time at the aid stations. I did what I needed then got back out there to hold my place.
Loop 3: 41-60 miles
The sun was still out but would soon be setting. I did a run/walk til the sun set then it was all run after that. I was stopped by a woman around mile 43, who wanted to know what we were running for and the distance. I shared why I was running and what for and she got instant goosebumps and a little emotional. She had shared with me that she too had an autistic child. I did everything I could not to burst into tears at that moment. It just made me realize that deciding to run this particular 100 miles was the right decision. She wished me good luck and said thank you for what I was doing. About a mile up the beach my hubs was waiting with the other half of my root beer and to tell me good luck. He and the boys were heading back to the beach house for the evening.
I stopped at aid station at mile 55 to have my foot wrapped til I got back to the start turn around. I could feel a bit of a hot spot on the ball of my right foot just under my toes that I was sure would be a blister by the end of the next five miles. When I arrived at the end of my third loop in about 6 hours; give or take, I had them pop my what was now a blister, tape my foot, refill my water bottles and I was on my way.
Loop 4: 61-80 miles (20 miles of hell)
I’ve been fine up to this point, in great spirits and still 1st overall female and had moved up to 4th overall. How could I possibly let anything get to me?! I made my way down the starry lit beach to the aid station, stopped long enough for a potty break then on my way to the next 15 miles through to finish my 4th loop. I had a cry fest for those 65-80 miles. I was now in unfamiliar territory and a part of me started doubting myself and the night brought the mosquitoes out in full force along with the high tide. I did my absolute best to stay close to the water because there was a bit more wind which meant fewer mosquitoes. The tide rose higher by the minute, so it seemed and I had to keep moving closer to the mosquito infested dunes. No amount of bug spray kept these aggressive blood suckers away. I cried and begged for mercy out loud and I didn’t care who heard me. I was miserable because of them. I did a lot of praying and a lot of begging for those pesky things to be gone. At mile 75, I lost my 1st overall standing as Lydia came up on me. She stopped to walk a little which is what I was doing at the moment because my right achilles was hurting a little. She was doing great and took off running. This was my longest loop due to the blood suckers and high tide adding an extra unplanned hour onto my loop; finishing in about 7 hours. I would lose some precious time due to needing my foot to be drained and rewrapped for the next 20 mile loop. The mosquitoeswere eating us alive while the med guy popped blisters and rewrapped my feet. The RD put a piece of foam around me as a barrier while I was being attended to.
Loop 5: 81-100 (final loop) My feet were hurting, annoyed by the mosquitoes and worried that I wouldn’t make the last loop in time but I did make the 5th loop cutoff time. I had to be finsihed with my 4th loop before 6am to start the 5th which I had done. I had about 6 hours to make the noon cutoff. I did my best not to get in my head and just kept moving. Every step hurt my blistered feet and surprisingly they were the only things hurting. My achilles had a little twitching pain during my 4th loop but nothing horrible. Surely I could make it the next 20 miles in 6 hours. The sun rose and it got hot fast, much hotter then at this time the day before. The heat took a toll on my feet and I did my best to stay close to the water’s edge because the packed wet sand was much cooler. I made it to the 90 mile turn around and by this time I had picked up two long sticks to help keep me upright because I kept trying to stay off the balls of my feet and tweak my run stride a bit to compensate. The sticks helped a little but I had no way of telling what my pace was at this point and just had my phone to tell me the time with very little battery left. All three of my Garmins were completely dead. I had a little less then 3 hours to make it back to the finish. I saw Rob, the race director at mile 90 and told him then that I wasn’t sure I’d make the cutoff then I was on my way.
Mile 95, I didn’t really have time to stop for a potty break but I had to go. I was drinking a lot of water so not to get dehydrated with the sun pounding down on me. Quick pit stop and I was on my way again so I thought. I leave no details out when I do a race recap so this is no different and I’ve always said, “oh that could never happen to me during a race.” Never say “never”! I had my menstrual cycle two weeks before race day and thought surely I was in the clear for race day but 95 miles in and on a time crunch my body decides to go full cycle again. WTF! I made a quick call to my hubs and said “I don’t care where on the beach you are but I need you to get to me like NOW!”
I couldn’t just waste time sitting waiting in the john for him to get to me so I gathered myself as best I could and made my way towards the finish hoping to see my hubs somewhere close. They were picking up the port-a-johns as I passed them so turning back to take care of business was not an option. As soon as I saw my hubs ahead of me, I had him pull the car close to the water where I could open both doors out of sight. I had no choice but to take care of my problem right then and there. It was that or run the next 4.5 miles soaked in blood from the waist down. I lost precious time again but your body does some crazy things when you’re pushing it.
I sent him on his way once I was taken care of and made my way to the finish. A little over 2.5 miles left, someone drove out to check on me. I was moving but at a slow pace. They stayed behind me for a bit then went back to the finish. I made it to the 2 mile marker, only 2 miles to go and I look at my phone…less then 20 minutes before the cutoff. I knew there was no way I could run two sub 9 minute miles and I started beating myself up but I kept moving. My feet hurt, they were wet, my socks were full of sand, I was cramping, super hot and started feeling sick to my stomach. Another runner, Chris came out to pace me the final two miles to the finish. He tried his best to push me and he did a great job helping me get there but a 13 minute mile killed me and had me sick to my stomach more then before. We’d run some then we’d walk. It’s all I could do. I whined and complained a lot during those last two miles and was doing what I could to keep the tears of disappointment held back. I wasn’t going to make it by noon but I was going to finish.
100 Miles: Finish line
I crossed the finish line dead last and 18 minutes past the cutoff.
I hugged the RD, cried a little, said thanks for a great race and for the amazing support then sat down in a chair holding my head down in shame and tears beating myself up for missing the cutoff.
Unforseen things happened in those last 5 miles and I make no excuses for not making the cutoff but had I pushed a bit harder those last two miles maybe I would have.
After a cry, the RD and med guy, Hemi made me laugh a bit with their fascination with my feet and the blisters I had. #footfetish
I learned ALOT in those 100 miles. I should have probably changed my shoes at some point mid way. Made sure that I packed my Wright socks and extras. Made sure to take feminine hygiene in my pack, just in case and should probably invest in a different Garmin that last 30 hours or run faster but I finished 100 miles basically on crossfit and powerlifting training alone.
I have nothing but good things to say about this race even with the things that didn’t go right. I mean, it could have been way worse. Although I officially got a DNF for my first 100 mile finish due to missing the cutoff, I’m grateful that I have my health to be able to run 100 and I did finish what I started; I run 100 Miles for Autism.
I want to do this race AGAIN and I look forward to adding it to my race calendar for 2018!
#OrionUltra #100MilesforAutism #TROT #TrailRacingOverTexas
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