“Seek and you will find.” Well I found what I was looking for, the fact that I knew I was going to be running day and night thrilled me. That’s all I wanted. When you truly love something not even fear can get in the way. Here I am thinking you can do this, you can win this. That’s when my heart knew that it was “Born to Run.”
We arrive at East Creek Ranch on Wednesday night with my cousin Patty who was going to be crew me through the whole event. My plan was to sleep outside under the stars in my sleeping bag but it got too cold so I decided to sleep in the passenger seat. I set my alarm to go off in four hours so that I had plenty of time to dress up, apply my make-up and eat. Due to the low temperatures I toss and turned all night plus laying on a car seat does not help either, I didn’t sleep much but was satisfied that my feet got to rest before setting out to do a 200 mile run.
The race was taking place in a cattle ranch, it was going to my first time running on the course, which by the way consist of a figure eight 20 mile loop all 100% dirt road and trail and every ten miles we will be passing the main event location, where we will have access to our crew/aid station. Yes loops! 14 of us signed up to run in multiple loops until we cover 200 miles. Doesn’t that sound thrilling? I guess when someone is wild about running it doesn’t matter where, when or how far you run, you just go out there and do the damn thing.
6:05 a.m. -The gunshots go off!
At the moment I felt very relax with a goal to just enjoy the run. I didn’t want to run with the pressure of time. I wanted to run free. I forgot about my goal time per ten mile loop and was just going to run by feel. The morning weather felt great, it was cool and chilly but within one mile I was beginning to sweat, that was a good sign. At the start of the race I met Arnoldo Arrieta from New Mexico, we both asked each other if we had run 200 miles before, of course it was our first time, I think it was everyone’s first time well except one runner, I was told that someone in the pack already experience the distance at the Tahoe 200. I thought to myself, “Ooh, maybe I should hang out with him.” But I felt really great running and chatting with Arnoldo, it was exciting to know that I wasn’t the only one attempting the distance after having only done one 100 mile race before ,his being the Born to Run 100 in 2013 and mine being the San Diego 100 Mile Endurance Run in June of 2014. Minutes later I started wondering how come no one was passing us, I took a quick look at my watch and notice we were averaging a 9:30 minute/mile pace at a 200 hundred mile race, we laughed and continued on, loving the mood and the pace. I was pretty excited about checking out the course so I suggested we get the first loop out of the way fast. We clocked in our first ten miles at 7:41 a.m. That was awesome!
As we are running on the course the most fascinating thing happened we notice a pack of cows blocking the trail, I got a little freaked out not knowing what they would do so I stayed behind Arnoldo, they stared at us very serious, they open the path for us to pass, next thing I see the cows are running besides us a few feet away but they are running with us. It was such a beautiful feeling it was as if they were welcoming us to their home. Then the childhood memories started floating through my mind, remembering running with my brothers through the fields, eating fruit straight from the trees, taking care of our little animal farm with chickens, roosters, goats and cows, and the family walks we used to take after dinner. I grew up in a small town called Exeter in Central California and East Creek Ranch reminded me so much of it, I felt at home.
The night came and it began to drizzle on some sections of the course it was raining hard. A moment of gratitude came to me again, my body was feeling pretty warm I am sure it was from not stopping to rest since 6:00 a.m. but the rain kept my body temperature cool. I also felt like Mother Nature was rewarding us for something, she knew exactly when to gives us the bit of rain. I was wearing my new Skechers long sleeve top which I loved with my Skechers Run Ultra shoes, my body never felt this comfortable during a race. I can tell you that not every loop was the same, I’ve heard and I might of said it myself that loops are “boring” but not in this event. Passing by the main camp every ten miles it was like injecting yourself with a boost of confidence over and over again. Who wouldn’t want that? I had my rocking’ women crew there making sure my nutrition was on point, cooking up a hot meal and tracking my pit stop time but besides that I knew they were there for one big reason, they believe in me. All the cheers and clapping I will received from the whole community there humbled me, they were sending love to someone they never knew but I took it all in.
Arnoldo and I ran together the rest of the night keeping each other company and moving at a decent pace, he calculated in his head that we could complete the first half of the race in less than 24 hours, just what I wanted.
4:20 a.m. -We hit the 100 mile mark in 22 hours and 14 minutes, not only had I already done half of the race but I also hit a personal record. That right there was already a huge accomplishment.
Now it was time for a nap, my body deserved it. Patty and Chrissie (who arrived Thursday night to help crew) stretch me out and gave me a rub down so my legs wouldn’t get stiff and set the timer for a 35 minute nap. I slept in the back seat of Chrissie’s car, which had more room to extend my legs. The night was still very cold. As soon as the time was up the girls woke me up, handed me my clothes and a cup of coffee. As I was changing my whole clothes were cold it felt like if they were wet, I apply Run Goo on both of my feet just in case, I wouldn’t want to get any blisters and put on my favorite socks the Injinji trail socks. I put on my Skechers Ultra shoes, grabbed my mp3, ate a hot dog, downed a pineapple juice and took off dancing back to the course. Arnoldo and I had run together the first half of the race and now we both were on our own; he was actually 15 minutes of ahead of me. I kept an easy pace I wanted to enjoy my morning run. I was feeling so happy, I couldn’t believe I was still running and feeling super strong after 100 miles, it was like if I hadn’t ran that long. My muscles felt strong with no signs of tightness or fatigue, my feet were responding so well with no blisters and my energy was out of control. It was my friends and family who were sending me this good energy, I could feel it.
1:10 p.m.- I finally reached 130 miles which was a huge milestone, I always wanted to know what it felt like to run 135 miles and here I am on my way to that and more. I immediately thought of my friend Ben who finished Badwater 135 two years ago and how it inspired me to chase after my dreams. That was another moment of gratitude.
I looked at my watch and was at mile 136 when I suddenly felt my left knee swelled up. I almost thought it was going to pop from the compression tights I was wearing. I try to run but extending the leg or bending it felt worst. I walked for about a mile, trying to make sense of what was happening to my knee. My feet were fine my legs still strong there were no other aches or pains just my knee giving up. I started feeling discourage, “I can’t believe this is happening, I was doing so good, why am I being held back?” I was at a very low point. I had to think of something to bring me back up, I thought of my little nephew Timmy who is battling Leukemia who is one of the biggest reasons why I was here doing this race, of all the positive messages my family and friends send me, of those people who can’t even do what I’m doing due to an illness or disability. It didn’t take long for me to snap out of it. I bounced back on my feet and headed downhill.
I ran when I could and walk if I had to, I was here for a reason and with a purpose, I was not going to let anything stop me from doing what I was here to do.
7:00 p.m. -My pacers begin to arrive, I couldn’t wait to show them where I been running for almost two days, I was excited to for them to see the cows, the horses, the wild turkeys, and the brutal single track up on the ridge. I took off with Liz for 15 miles; I was able to run 2 miles without feeling any discomfort on my knee, once we got back to the camp I decided to rest. I felt a lump on the back of the knee and had my friend/pacer Mari Lemus rubbed it out but it was very painful. I had two choices, continue and cry about it or continue and suck it up. I was done with crying.
I woke up from my nap and took off running with Daniel, I guess the nap and rest helped reduce inflammation on the knee, next thing you know we are running up the first hill of the loop, my energy was good and my legs were still pretty strong. Quickly I pick up Mari at mile 170, I was not wasting any more time at the aid station, I was moving as fast as I could to hit the next milestone. At mile 180 I pick up Liz and another hot dog, I wanted to eat up the miles as fast as I ate my hot dogs; I was ready to finish my journey. I took off with Mari for the last ten miles, I knew this girl was not going have any mercy on me, and I like that. We ran up the hills, down the hills, on the flats, on the ridge. We continued moving fast, I couldn’t believe I was running strong, I remembered when I was sitting there crying praying for more strength, courage, energy and power and I was receiving it, maybe I didn’t get it then when I asked for it but I was receiving it in the best important moment of my race. I went head on with the distance and I won.