When Traci and I finally made it to Lone Pine, I made a stop at our hotel, which was right on the side of the course, for a quick shower and change of clothes. There was only 13 miles in the race left to go, but it was going to be no joke of a half marathon… in fact it was going to be up the steepest hill on the course, up to Mt. Whitney portal. Even though I was so close, I still had several hours left in front of me.
After I finished showering and changing, one of Mark’s crew members, Milko, stopped by our room to check in on me and see how things were. I had some blisters that had formed and so he spent a few minutes taking care of those. Milko is superb at dealing with blisters.
Then Traci and I were back out to get this thing done! It was still warm outside, so we decided to just run in our sports bras, which caused a little bit of a stir as we ran through Lone Pine the rest of the way till we hit the portal road. Our run didn’t last too long though and basically as soon as we turned left onto Whitney portal road, I was forced to a walk. Even though the road starts out on just a slight incline, my legs were so trashed that they just couldn’t run anymore. Even if I tried to run, it would be about the same pace as walking. Everything just ached so bad, but I guess thats to be expected after having already ran 123 miles.
A couple miles into our hill climb, we caught up to another runner, one of the 6 A.M.ers. What was unique about this runner was he was one of the amputee runners. His name was Chris Moon and we later found out that he had lost his right arm and leg while collecting land mines in Africa while in the military. I was so in awe that he was out here and about to complete the Badwater Ultramarathon (and it wouldn’t even be his first time completing the race!). I feel that so many people try and come up with excuses on why they can’t achieve their goals and here is a guy who COULD come up with a legit excuse, but he doesn’t. I really admire that. Chris was a pleasure to talk to as well and he was a great inspiration for me to keep pushing hard the last few miles of the race.
About a mile or so later, Nick took over Traci’s pacing duties to try and get me to move a little faster up the hill. If I could handle a 15 minute mile the rest of the way up to the portal, I might be able to go under 38 hours. Nick tried everything he could to get me below 15 minute pace, but I just couldn’t go any faster than my 20-21 min pace death march. I tried swinging my arms, taking bigger steps, but I just couldn’t give it anything more than what I was doing.
As I continued going up the road, other runners who had already finished drove past us on their way back down. I was so jealous. I just wanted to be done so badly. I really tried so hard to move quickly, but the higher up we got, the steeper the road got as well and it would slow me down even more.
With about 6 miles to go, I asked if my Mom could come out and pace again. In my death march, all I wanted was my mommy. Of course the second I asked for her, she rushed out to my side. At the same time, the sun was going down the mountain. I was now into my second night of the race. I have ran through two mornings, but never two nights. The darkness started to drain my energy even more, but at the same time, it was probably a good thing that I was unable to see exactly how steep the road was and how much more laid ahead of me.
During those last miles, my mom talked the entire time to try and get my mind of the race. I honestly can’t even remember what about, I just remember it was non stop. As we got closer to the top, we climbed switch-back after switch-back. We kept thinking that we had to be at the top, but then another switchback would pop up. It was never ending! But after what seemed like a million switch backs later, the rest of my crew greeted me to tell me I had only 300m to go. I finally saw the light from around the corner of where the finish line was and I ran as hard as I could, which was actually more of a hobble. After 38 hours and 53 minutes I crossed the finish line for 56th place and 10th female. I had done it. Actually WE had done it.
The finish area was small. There were no crowds, except for my crew, but it was perfect. We took some finish line photos with the race director, Chris Kostman and I received the coveted Badwater belt buckle and became part of a very elite group of long distance runners.
My journey is only half way over. When I had applied for Badwater, I had wanted to be the youngest woman to ever do the race, however that achievement will go to Claire Heid, who went on to finish 2 hours later. I set a new goal for myself though, which is to be the youngest woman to complete the Death Vally Cup. In order to do the cup, one must complete the Badwater Ultramarathon and the Furnace Creek 508 cycling race in the same year. I have actually never even competed in any sort of cycling event and so having a running background, I am guessing Badwater will be the “easier” of the two events. But nothing worthwhile comes ever comes easy does it?