A Day in the Life when Every Mile Matters
By Sheila Dawe
March 26th, 2015
5:00 pm. Arrived in Boise, Idaho. I got picked up at the airport by my good friend Natalie. We are both entered in a new race for the both of us – Pickled Feet Time Runs (48, 24, 12, 6 hour and 100 mile): Natalie in the 100 mile event and me in the 24 hour event.
10:00 pm. Did I take a sleeping pill or not, I remember opening the bottle but I don’t remember taking a pill. To err on the side of caution, I decided I must have taken the pill.
March 27th, 2015
12:30 am. Or not.
6:00 am. It is time to get ready despite having plenty of time. Natalie starts at 10:00 am and is already anxious to get going. I don’t start until 6 pm…it is going to be a long day despite my very late start.
9:00 am. We arrive at the Eagle Island State Park and find the main pavilion. Natalie picks up her race package and I stare at the 48 hour participants that are presently in their 15th hour. I am a bit shocked by the fact that they already look very tired. What I did not know was that they had suffered a cold foggy night.
10:00 am. All the 100 mile contestants are to start. They have 32 hours to complete 40 laps of the 2.5 mile loop. Go Natalie go – but not too fast, it is predicted to be a warm day. Now I have to focus on staying off my feet, drinking fluids, eating and resting…this will be the strangest race for me.
3:00 pm. Oh the carnage has begun. It is very hot on the course and all the runners are starting to look like they are overheating. I begin to make myself useful by trying to help fill water bottles with ice and water and aid as much as I can. The hours are slowly ticking by, I can’t believe I have been here all day.
6:00 pm. Finally we get to line up for our start. I am wearing my “Streak Runner’s International” jersey and got the usual comment, “Do you run naked?” I smile and say “No but this will be day 389 and 390”. And we are off…yay!!
8:30 pm. After a spectacular sunset and with dusk settling in I finally turn on the head lamp. My goal is to try to continue my run/walk throughout the night. In the past, with most Ultras, I have always defaulted to walking once it has become dark. This time being so fresh, it is a great opportunity to practice my night running.
March 28th, 2015
2:00 am. Sheila is up and boom Sheila is down. Yikes I am falling. Knee hits ground, then left breast, left shoulder and right hand. I see from my head lamp my bottle rolling along the path. I sat and semi hyperventilated due to the shock of hitting the ground. I took inventory: my chest hurt a little and my hand hurt a whole lot. From here on in I would not be able to use my right hand and would carry my water bottle only in the left.
2:20 am. Upon arriving back at the aid station, I sat down and nearly started to cry, as I felt sorry for myself. The race director came up to me and asked if I was okay. I told her of the fall but said I thought I was fine and asked for a coffee. The black elixir was very comforting and just the boost I needed to get my butt off of the chair and back out into the dark.
3:30 am. A volunteer asked me if I would like company. I told her I was only walking but trying to walk fast, she said that would be fine. She entertained me with stories of how she is doing seven 100 mile events this year with the Grand Circle Trail Series. We talked of so many different things during this lap, I felt like a made a true friend (although I still can’t remember her name) and it was just the boost I needed to power me on for the rest of this journey.
7:00 am. As I came into the aid station, the wind suddenly picked up to hurricane force gusts, tents, tables and signs were flying. I went into the main tent to get extra layers as I was feeling chilled. The ground looked very inviting but as the wind whipped around my ankles, I knew the best plan of action was to keep on moving.
9:00 am. Natalie and I had constantly seen each other throughout this race. I knew she would be walking at this stage and ironically we both had the same idea to wait for each other and join forces. As we walked her final three laps together, and the morning began to heat up, it was so nice to change my focus from “me” to “her” and getting her to the finish.
12:46 pm. Natalie finishes her 100 mile in 2nd place female, 5th overall in 26:46 – I was very proud of her and glad I could share a small part of it. I am at mile 60, my primary goal is to get three more laps done to complete the distance I was supposed to do for my ultra-training.
2:00 pm. I tried to run again for a short stretch but for fear of burning myself out, I opted to keep to a fast walk, especially since I was passing some of the 48 hour runners. As I walked, I caught up to some other competitors and I mused out loud, “I wish I knew what place I was in”. A fellow competitor checked his I-phone and told me I am tied for 3rd female with two competitors close behind. “Thanks, and see ya”. I said as I picked up my pace – talk about your boost of energy.
3:30 pm. Natalie has returned, it was so good to see a friendly face. I told her the scenario. She checked the standings and told me…you need 2 more laps to secure your place.
4:30 pm. I lie down in the main tent. There is excruciating pain in my ribs when I lie down, so I get up and do that one more insurance lap.
5:15 pm. There is a short course (.28 mile) for the final hour. Natalie convinces me to give it a go for a lap. It was so enjoyable, I did 3 more laps before the magic hour of 6 pm finally arrived.
Post-script. Upon arrival back home, I went to see the doctor. Nothing was broken in the hand although it remained swollen and painful for over 3 weeks. I had a hairline fracture in one rib, but I did not affect my running only my resting. Must keep on keeping on.
Biography: Sheila is 50 years old, living in Nanaimo, B.C. Being single without any kids leads to an active life filled with lots of running and travelling. She is currently training for two big events in 2015: Squamish 50/50 (50 miles on Aug. 22nd and 50 km on Aug. 23rd) and Lost Souls Ultra 100 mile (Sept. 11th and 12th). Both these event she attempted and DNFed in 2014. This year she has a different training program and is determined to do her best, have fun and hopefully complete these events.