We decided to give Nick a break and let Traci start out pacing me at the start of this section. Plus she was revving to go after sitting in the car all day. The goal here was to try and run until I reached the 1000 ft point, but I couldn’t. My hip was still throbbing really bad despite the ice bath and massage. I walked for a little while to try and get it to loosen up, but it didn’t so I decided to hop back into the van to throw a bag of ice on it. Of course the minute I hoped in the van, Mark passed by me again and yelled at me for wasting time. I felt like a giant baby for taking another break after just having spent 30 minutes at Stovepipe, but I just knew I had to get my hip better or else risk the consequence of it taking me out later in the race. After icing a few more minutes, I saw coach Lisa and told her the situation. She just told me to forget trying to run and just hike the whole way to Towns Pass (a 17 mile long hill) and it should start to loosen up. So that was exactly what I did and eventually it did loosen a bit. Or maybe I just forgot about the pain. Traci and I literally talked nonstop for miles, which was just the distraction that I needed.

Once we were a few miles up the hill the wind started to pick up. A lot. Jana took over pacing duties for a while and even though I was having a great time walking with her, my pace started to slow from the heavy wind and I started to hit a major rough patch. Walking straight uphill into the wind was draining me and the sun was starting to set, which was starting to make me a tad drowsy. I also knew that I still had a long ways to go up the hill. After a couple more miles, my mom took Jana’s place and read me some letters from friends and family that had written to me to help keep me going when I started to hit rough patches, such as this one. In addition to being tired, I also was really emotional. Tears would stream down my eyes as she read me the letters, but they reminded me of why I was doing the race and that people were rooting for me and that I had to keep on persevering.

After a few letters were read, Nick jumped in to pace. He was worried that my pace was slowing down too much and didn’t understand why. Once he actually got out of the car though and started walking with me he fully realized how heavy the wind was and quickly apologized for accusing me of slacking off. When we were almost to the top of the hill we were told that the winds were reaching up to 50mph. Clearly no joke of a headwind. We did pick up the pace a bit though and after what seemed like forever, I was greeted by my crew blasting “Call me Maybe” out of the van. Their silly way of signifying that I had finally reached the top of Town’s Pass. Thank goodness. I had had enough of that!

I decided I needed a tiny break before descending back down. My hip and IT band were hurting again and I was getting really sleepy so I took about a 15 minute break to ice, rest my eyes, and mentally prepare myself to start running again. At this point, another interesting turn of events happened. A runner who was pacing another athlete had sent their second crew vehicle back to check and see what point I was at during the race. The van pulled up right behind us, checked to make sure we were the right van and then peeled out. Apparently someone was scared I was going to beat her time, which just meant all the more motivation to do so. šŸ™‚

After my break and finding out that I was being “watched,” I was amped to get going again. I had a 9 mile section of downhill to get through and Nick stayed with me for this section as well. But instead of chatting like we were doing before, we both put our ipods on and jammed down the hill. He was listening to “angry dub-step” and I think I was jamming out to Girl Talk again. I started off alternating running and walking for the first few minutes just to get my legs used to running again since I had been hiking for about the past 5 hours. Once they loosened up, I ran almost the entire way down, barely even stopping for aid. Running this downhill section at night was quite a site to see. The stars were so big and bright in the sky and for miles and miles we could see the red blinky lights on the runners that were heading to the next time station at Panamint.

Once we hit the bottom of the hill, Derek took over as pacer. We only had about 5 miles until Panamint, which they told me would be flat, but they lied. The first mile was maybe flat and then I could definitely tell I was going slightly uphill. Things also started to get a little weird. We went back to a run/walk interval, but instead of doing 8/2 we did 7 and 3. I turned my headphones down and it was nice to have a new person to chat with. About half way into the stretch though, I started to freak out a tiny bit. I shined my flashlight on to what turned out to be a scorpion. That itself didn’t freak me out too much, but after that I thought I kept seeing more of them. I also started imagining that I was seeing huge snakes in the ground as well. I was starting to lose it a little bit and at the same time my hip and IT band started to really hurt again. Nick had not been too happy that I had been stopping and taking breaks in the van, but I told Derek that at Panamint I needed a break to shower and lay down to rest for 20 minutes and I was going to do it whether Nick liked it or not. Derek could see I was losing it a little and so he didn’t argue with me.

I reached Panamint, mile 72, at 2:25 in the morning, 18 hours and 25 minutes into the race. I had not made reservations at the hotel, but there was a cottage available that the runners were allowed to use to shower and rest. Luckily, both the shower and bedroom were open and not being taken up by other runners when I got there. It felt so refreshing to strip down out of my clothes that I had been running in all day and to rinse the dirt and sweat off my body. I wish I could have stood in that shower longer, but I knew that I couldn’t waste too much time (and plus Nick would probably kill me if I did so!) I then dried off, changed my clothes and laid in a bed that was available for 20 minutes. I wanted so hard to be able to fall asleep, even if it was just for a few moments. I don’t think I did, but my mom told me I fell asleep, but I’m pretty sure was probably playing tricks on me. The 20 minutes went by too fast and then it was go time again.