Fast forward to race day. Most people thought I was crazy trying to run a 100 as my first ultra. Most people work their way up from a marathon to a 50 mile to a 100k, so I'm told. I guess I'm just not like most people. I like to do things my own way. So I was on the starting line, ready to run 100 miles, a GU in one hand and my phone in the other (to start texting my crew and pacers to let them know where I was on the course). My audio book was playing in one ear and I was listening to people share their life stories with the other. It was a unique experience; I would be sharing the next 20-30 hours with these people as we went 'round and 'round the course.
Of course I went out too fast in the beginning. I knew better and yet I made the rookie mistake again. The first 50 miles felt like a breeze and I was over an hour faster than I had planned on (9:52 at the 50 mile mark). I would soon get that hour back plus some though. Turns out I couldn't sustain a sub-12:00 mile for another 50 miles. Shocker. It was my stomach that gave out first. Everything I took in just seemed to stay put and then it would slosh around in my belly, which sounded like a half-full water bottle. It seems that my stomach was not on board with this whole eating while running thing and I could tell that I wasn't digesting anything I took in.
As I came back around to Aid Station #1 at the end of loop 7 I desperately needed to start digesting my food. A friend at aid station suggested that I stop taking in Gatorade (the sugar has a significant osmotic effect) and just work on drinking water. Then I still needed to get in some calories and electrolytes from something else. And what would that be? 7 miles later I learned it would be Saltines. Go figure. That was not something I had ever thought about training with. But I had tried chicken noodle soup, potato soup, salted baked potato, GU, Cliff blocks, PP&J. Pretty much you name it, I'd tried it. But then I saw the Saltines sitting out on a plate at the aid station looking quite bland. Perfect, that's exactly what I was looking for. The food that pregnant women turn to when they're battling morning sickness. It was marvelous.
So by the end of loop 7 I had solved the problem of digestion. Now to the bigger problem. I had split the fabric covering of my silicone liner and I was bottoming out in my leg with every step. The harder I pounded on it, the more it hurt. It didn't help that it had rained for 60% of the day including a torrential downpour with lightening and thunder that started around mile 76. My liner and socks were soaked which increased the piston effect even more. I made a game time to decision to take off my running leg and switch to my walking leg for the final loop, the final 12.5 miles. It was a big decision since I'd never walked that far before in my walking leg. Then again I don't think I've ever walked that far in any leg. But if loop 8 was anything like loop 7, I wasn't going to be running much so I may as well be more comfortable during the walk.
And walk I did. For what seemed like forever. Every mile I felt so close, yet still sooo far from the finish line. I knew every hill, rock, stump, turn and tree on the course. I could predict when we'd come upon the next mile marker. My pacer and I climbed up the hill to the water station just before mile marker 9. My pacer was munching on a cinnamon bun and washing it down with water as the sky started to lighten, reminding me that I had missed my goal of 24 hours. I started doing the math, again. I did the math at every mile marker, hoping that maybe I had made a mistake and I didn't have as far to go as I thought I did. But apparently I'm not that bad at math. (12.5 X 7) + 9 = 50 + 25 + 12.5 + 9 = 75 + 21.5 = 96.5. Yes, that was my mental math. It took about a 1/4 mile for me to work it out at that point, which was a 1/4 mile closer to the finish line. I was desperate for a distraction and some more energy. I wanted so badly to just run it in, but my legs would no cooperate. So I walked it in instead, leaning on 2 friends for the last mile as my residual limb swelled up and left ankle gave out. I left every ounce of energy on the trail that day (+1 day)