“If one could run without getting tired I don’t think one would often want to do anything else.” – C.S. Lewis
Lap 3: Miles 31-45
At the start line, I frantically foraged through the shoes I brought and suddenly hated everything.
Altra Lone Peaks? … Those still had a lot of tread.
Vibrams? … Too tight on me. They cut into my foot at Surf City.
Kigo Drives? … My feet flop around in them too much. It’s not a perfect fit.
Lunas? … Probably not a good choice for this terrain. Although Lunas have no tread…
I worried that my feet would have to work too hard in the Lunas and that the gravel would get in between the sandal and my foot. I also worried the knot would rub and cause a blister since I hadn’t broken them in much. But I did love that they had no tread. The VIVO treads were killing me.
I decided to wear my Lunas on top of my injinjis. Shacky had run in his Lunas for the first 30 miles, but was now taking them off because his feet were hurting. Would the Lunas make my feet hurt even more? I was willing to take the chance and find out.
For the next few miles, my feet were in heaven. They had room to move and stretch and there was just enough of a barrier to protect my feet against the gravel. The Injinjis prevented any rubbing and the odd pebble that got stuck under my sandal felt more like an occasional massage. I was feeling good.
At the first aid station, I glared at the cookies. I didn’t think I could force any more down, so I grabbed some chips instead. The volunteers at the first aid station were very attentive. They watched for runners as they came, and yelled ahead to ask them what they needed. They were friendly, cheerful, and motivating at all hours of the day and night.
I wish I could say the same for the second aid station, where I had dropped off a couple of layers of clothing. When I needed to pick my clothes back up, they would be in different spots. I once spent close to five minutes looking for my sweater, only to find it trampled in the dirt, far from where I had left it. The volunteers just stood around watching me search for it.
Many of the volunteers seemed to be made up of kids more interested in socializing and flirting with each other than paying attention to the runners. I didn’t mind that so much, except they’d often crowd the snack table eating chips or drinking pop, so it was hard for me to get through to refill my bottle.
As the night wore on and I grew more exhausted, I’d do silly things like forget to take the lid off my bottle before I tried to fill it. I’d have to make slow and calculating moves to get what I needed, with no help from the able-bodied kids ignoring everyone. The more I passed this aid station, the more frustrated I became.
There were chairs here, but they seemed to be for volunteers only. Exhausted runners sat on the curbs or stretched on the fence while the volunteers sat in chairs and chatted among themselves. Once I held my bottle out to a volunteer only to have her stare blankly at me until I said, “Can you please help me fill this?”
I’m not even sure if all these people were volunteers. It looked like kids were driving by just to hang out with their friends who were volunteering, and I’m not even sure they were all kids. All I know is that whenever I passed, a ton of people would stand around staring at me as I tried to self-serve.
A couple of times, I noticed the aid station had been shifted to a different location, which starts to play with your mind after a while. Chances are not everything at this aid station was terrible. But in my sleep-deprived state, I would come to think it of it as the aid station from hell. It was definitely by far the worst aid station experience at any of my ultra races yet.
At the turnaround point, there was a final aid station. This one had chairs out for the runners while the volunteers stood behind the tables and eagerly helped you fill up on what you needed. They’d recite what they had to offer, quickly fill up your bottle, and dispense motivational messages.
One volunteer was reading notes from an elementary school class who had written to the runners. Each child had made a note for a runner who was completing the 100.
As soon as a runner came into the aid station, the volunteer would grab one of the notes, explain who it was from, unfold it, and read it to them. They were unpredictable and pretty funny.
The demotivator: “My teacher told me you are running 100 miles. You’re crazy.”
A pacer’s worst nightmare: “You can do it! Run fast and don’t give up! Run really fast!”
The class clown: “You are running 100 miles, let me tell you a joke…”
The joke turned out to be a riddle, and riddles are surprisingly hard to solve when you’re running a 100-miler. Plus the kid’s writing was so bad that we thought the joke was about three taters when it was really about three fathers.
My stomach was growling at this point, and I was extremely concerned about getting some real food into me. I was starting to weaken from hunger.
In the meantime, Shacky was so hungry that he was struggling with nausea. I had seen Shacky not too far ahead, and he now told me they were making burgers at the start line. Could it be true??
I confirmed this at this aid station when someone said, “If you hurry up, you might get some!” OMG! Was there a limited supply??
There was another runner coming behind me, and she was also complaining of hunger. I excitedly told her about the burgers and then stopped dead – wait, if there was a limited supply I shouldn’t be spreading the word. I had to get to the start line before her. I NEEDED to eat.
For the next 7.5 miles, I picked it up and ran back as fast as I could. I didn’t stop at the other aid stations, all I could think about was the burger. Every time I felt my pace slowing down, I had a horrible vision of some volunteer giving away the last burger just as I was running in: “Sorry, we just ran out…”
I ran all the hills and finally made it to the start line, famished. Shacky was already there eating and chatting. I ran straight to the food table and was relieved to see turkey chili, veggie chili, burgers, and sandwiches. Greg (running the 50) was hanging out at the food table eyeing an avocado. The food guy offered it to him, and Greg said he’d eat half. I immediately asked for the other half.
I was ready to eat it straight off the pit, but the food guy offered to make me a grilled cheese sandwich with avocado. I eagerly agreed. I chatted for a bit while he made my sandwich, and my spirits were instantly lifted. The food guy said he’d be here all night, and I wanted to cry with joy.
That sandwich made all the difference in the world and I felt a mix of gratitude for the food, and anger that it had taken so long to get it here.
Paul ran this race so fast that he didn’t get real food for his entire 50 miles. As a vegan, there was close to nothing at the aid stations that he could eat. They didn’t even have the traditional oranges and fruit spread. Just a few bananas.
Paul grew so hungry to the point that he had to stop and throw up before his race was over, and Shacky came close to throwing up from hunger as well.
As I ate my grilled cheese, Shacky decided to wait for me so we could set out on the next loop together. Paul would probably be showered and sleeping before we crossed here again.