If I had to find just one sentence to describe the process of running for nearly 24 hours, it would be this: the sum of all things. It was all of my emotions, fears, and failures. It was all of my progress, triumphs, and the whole of my life. There was that ugly voice in the back of my mind so sure I would fail and should just quit and be done with it. That voice told me over and over, that there was no way I would ever be able to do this because it’s just too fast for way too long. There was a quieter but more powerful voice too. A voice that was so sure I could do this, that I could do absolutely anything if I really wanted it badly enough. That voice reminded me over and over that I’m a fighter, not a quitter because I’ve already done more in my life than I ever felt capable of.
Round and round the 200M track I went. That’s 8 laps to a mile. Which means 800 laps total to hit 100 miles. Every 1 minute and 30 seconds, I passed my temporary home: my husband, my lawn chair, and my storage tote of running gear. And it got harder and harder to pass up all the comforts of home just waiting for me each and every time. There were a few times, I cried as I passed my lawn chair it was so devastating.
What saved me was “my people.” One person I can always count on no matter what, is my husband Tony. Propped up in a corner, tallying up my laps one after another, running with me here and there, and waiting on me hand and foot: he is the ultimate crew person. But even so, there were a few hours when I was really floundering alone. I slowed down, I struggled, I got discouraged, and I started to sink on my own in the middle of the night. But then God sent help, in the form of my friends and family. A group of friends showed up Friday night when I was already starting to hit a rough patch. A group of non-running friends that is. And they proceeded to not only run but run FAST with me. A few hours after they left, someone else showed up. They came at 1am to get me through the long, dark hours of the night. A group came at 5am decked out in feather boas, princess crowns, and sunglasses carrying inspirational signs. A couple of awesome coach friends showed up and gave me a massage, and helped me fix my terrible running form that I had descended into. A complete and utter Godsend came sometime early Saturday morning. She made it her personal mission to see me to the finish. Made me eat when I felt too sick to eat, filled up my water bottle probably 50 times, fixed my shoes over and over, stood outside the bathroom stall waiting for me like a loving mother would with her child, just in case, watched me like a hawk commanding “eyes open” every time they threatened to close, and kept an eye on our pace, always pushing me to make sure I really was going to make it. When Saturday morning rolled around, my cheering section tripled. The same friends that had shown up late the night before, the same ones that must be exhausted and tired and sore, there they were again.
The final hour took every last bit of will power I had. All I knew is I was “close” to 100 miles but I didn’t know how close. Shortly after hitting 50 miles, I decided I didn’t want to know anymore. It was tormenting me to know how much farther I had to go, so everyone started keeping it a secret. I was really struggling near the end when I saw some women on the track walking towards me. I couldn’t understand why until they got closer, and I saw 4 of my friends in matching Team Kathy shirts. The back proudly proclaimed it was a division of Team Emmett. Hysterical sobbing ensued as they hugged me until I was making that loud, embarrassing noise from trying to breathe. There were so many times I had felt alone in my life before. So many times where it seemed like I had no one. And this was just the opposite of that, times 100. I couldn’t remember the last time I felt more loved. I was sure my heart was going to burst. It was simply amazing. It was complete when my mother and father in law showed up with our boys and all I could manage was to smile at them through my heavy tears.
Finally, after being told how close I was and getting angry, whiny, desperate, hysterical, crying, and stopping in defeat for a few seconds, my husband Tony told me I was on my last lap. A friend was singing “our song.” I was surrounded on all sides by even more friends that escorted me one last time around that track. They were cheering, yelling, and clapping. Emmett ran just ahead of me as I rounded the very last corner and threw my head back in instant relief at being able to stop running. And I did it. 100 miles in 23 hours and 50 minutes. Under 24 hours, with only a few minutes to spare.
When I think back to the Hallucination 100 I did last year and how much I cried, I think I may have cried almost as much this time. But this time most of those tears were of gratitude, appreciation, amazement, and pure love. There were some desperate tears in there too, but they were few and far in between comparatively. All of these wonderful people that showed up to support me– they are the ones that pushed me to run faster. They are the ones that kept me going even when I was feeling miserable and wanted to stop. Their mere presence made me both laugh and cry and renewed my fragile spirit. I owe the bulk of my miles to them, and them alone.
I just LOVE this message (and everything else out there) from Fellow Flowers. It’s something I have been privileged enough to live out.