This is going to be long…so grab a drink, a snack and settle in.
Linday, Sara, Chris and I met in Orlando, where Joe lives. Team Truckin’ on was back together. Sara and I flew spirit airlines–which for all of their flaws has one strong suit…cup of noodles!
We left Friday at 4. I was trying to avoid missing too much work–but it also meant we got in fairly late and still had to drive an hour and half to Jacksonville. I kind of regretted my choice when I realized I had to be up before 5 AM, and then run all night.
(On our way to find Lindsay! Look at how excited we are.)
Anyway, we got to Jacksonville and got settled in the hotel. Luckily Joe had all of the supplies we needed (and he didn’t forget too much). So I changed in to my race clothes–yes I sleep in my race outfit the night before–and settled in to bed quickly because we had to be at the start by 5:30. I needed to stop at the store for breakfast since I forgot.
We got to the start line around 5:15, handled one last minute potty stop and some pictures (of course).
Right before the start, which was fairly cool in the 40s, Joe reaches in to his pockets for his gloves…to find his injinji toe socks which are decidedly not gloves. Joe and I planned to run 5:1 intervals with a goal of breaking 24 hours. The gun goes off at 6:00AM and we head for a short tour of Jacksonville before heading south on A1A (for awhile).
The crew can meet us at set points along the first 31 miles–starting at miles 3-5 and then again at 13. We decide to skip the first meeting spot and meet with them at mile 13. At that point we’re both feeling good. We ran by some houses that I can only imagine buying…actually I can’t even imagine buying them! Lindsay, Chris and Sara were waiting for us at 13. I grabbed ½ a turkey wrap (and it felt really strange eating “lunch” at 8 something in the morning but I knew I was already hungry and I needed to continue to eat small amounts of food.)
The next time we’d see our crew was mile 16 and the first Aid Station, which was a quick check in and refill. At mile 22.1 (the first major check point) was also our turn on the beach. Originally we were supposed to head to the beach after Mickler’s landing (mile 13) but since the hurricane, we had to run along the A1A shoulder to mile 22. Definitely disappointing because I LOVED running on the beach. It really was like running on a track and the views couldn’t be beat!
After the beach section, we headed up to meet the crew, just shy of mile 30. I changed in to shorts because it finally warmed up. Joe was starting to struggle mentally at this point–the basic question we all ask ourselves. Why am I here? Why am I doing this?
(You can see my head in the backseat trying to change in a car…) Then I had to drag Joe out of the parking lot. We needed to go. Even if we walked, forward progress is progress. So we finally headed out. At this point, we moved to 3:1 intervals. Our average pace was still hovering just above 13:00 pace, which was still within our goal pace. Another mile or so down the road, Joe tells me to go, he’s dropping. I ask him (or annoyingly prod him) a few questions but ultimately do head off alone. I reach the mile 33 aid station and the crew. I tell them what’s up and tell the aid station volunteers not to let him drop. The crew can now meet us anywhere and we decide that we’d meet every 5 miles. So I will see them again at 38. At that point I grab a handful of grapes. I’ve eaten two half wraps and some fruit at this point, with a few chips at the aid station at mile 33.
At this point, I was feeling good. I got my headphones and finished the audiobook I was listening to and tried to find my zone.
To be honest, the mile from 40-52 are a bit of a blur. I talked to some people I met on the course, listened to my book for a bit. One guy asked me how i looked so good and he thought I was running the 50, so I guess that’s a compliment since he said he wanted to try and stick with me. I found a potty for a quick pit stop though so I lost that guy. Shortly after that I met the crew for an energy drink around 4:00. This was my first low point of the race so I walked while I drank the Rockstar. I was about 10 hours in to the race with 53ish miles left to go (as recreated by my text messages and phone calls).
The energy drink helped. I knew i just had to will myself to get to mile 52. Because then I got a pacer; that turned out perfectly because it got dark pretty quickly after that. I am trying to eat something light every 5 miles. For the first part of the race it is a turkey and hummus wrap and later I switch to some hot food. Chris and Sara switched off running with me from mile 52-78 (where i got to briefly run with Lindsay who was tasked with holding everyone together…no small feat!) I hit mile 60 at 7:40pm. Another hour later and I am starting to feel it. Getting to 100k felt good but it’s still a little hard realizing you have 38 miles left to go still. I drank some more energy drank and took something for pain. To be honest, this was probably the darkest moment of the race. Just an hour later though and I felt great again. I was back to running strong with 4:1 intervals. Granted I never quit the intervals when I was struggling but I was silently cursing every time I had to run.
At mile 70 (Aid Station 7), I have a hot ham and cheese wrap. YUM! And the crew comes through in a clutch with some pizza!
After the dark spot at mile 60ish, it really was uphill from there (emotionally). I think I started to realize that I could do this. I was still about 45 seconds/mile ahead of my goal. I checked in on Andie a few times.
At midnight I was at mile 79 and I had almost 6 hours to run the remaining 21 miles. The run with Lindsay flew by–honestly, every time my watch beeped to walk I was like no way that was already 4 miles.
The course itself ran through some towns–which beach towns at 2am are interesting. The drunk people walking home did not know what to make of us.
It’s funny how much shorter my recap gets of the miles as we go along–it really is just a blur. I remember bits and pieces of the race but the timeline isn’t precises in my head. At mile 88.5 we were supposed to get on the beach again. Every other mile marker, my watch had been spot on. For some reason this one was over a mile off. The brain starts to play tricks on you–I know I had to run something like 20+ miles straight down the highway, but I started to have this irrational fear that somehow we got off course and more than one curse word was uttered. We didn’t get off course and we found the crew and we back on the beach. This time Chris joined me to pace. We won’t talk about that time. But suffice to say that Chris took the brunt of my frustration.
After a few miles on the beach, we went back to the road for a loop around the lighthouse and back to the beach for the finish.
I LOVED seeing that light house. The last 5 miles were tough. EVERYTHING hurt. I was tired. I was exhausted. But I was also SO close. Sara dragged me along. She made to swish water in my mouth a few times because I couldn’t stand the thought of drinking anything else. We got on the beach for the final two miles. It was dark and hard to see but somehow Sara spotted a giant green dildo (or she has better hallucinations than I do…) We saw the time clock from a while out and I just focused on that. My final two miles (and really most of the last 5-7 miles) were around a 15 minute pace. I took walk breaks at my 4:1 ration still but tried to push through. The last two miles we ran straight through without walking but running through the sand wasn’t too much faster than my walk.
I crossed the finish line at 23:28:57! I did it. Sub-24. It was still dark when I finished at 5:30am. So I promptly passed out in a chair while waiting on Joe to finish.
Joe finished at 27:17–despite saying he was going to quit. He didn’t and he got a fantastic PR in the process and I am so proud to call him my friend and team truckin’ on teammate.
So thanks to our crew, the volunteers and the race director for making this a fantastic experience. I couldn’t imagine a better experience.
So if you’ve read this far you’re probably wondering what the heck is going on with my title? Well…I remembered to day that I asked someone “do you have your strap on” but in that moment I couldn’t remember who I had asked or why I had asked that question. After asking Lindsay, Sara and Chris, I remembered it was Joe. He had mentioned his Heart Rate and I asked him “do you have your strap on” and then promptly giggled like anyone would in that situation. Trust me–things are way funnier when you’re miles in and exhausted.