|Dresden. Our 500k followed a 5k race route.|
I've put this off and put this off, thinking I could come up with a good story or something insightful to say. I've read other runner's race reports and marveled at how introspective and profound they were. I was really hoping something would hit me. It hasn't. I will try to tell the basic story in pictures with a little commentary. I will also put together a different post with funny pictures because that's my favorite part of telling a story. Here goes the boring part. I've bolded each section so you can skip what doesn't interest you. Scroll down for pictures.
Introduction: The Last Annual Vol State Road race is a 500K or 314 mile race from Dorena Landing, Missouri (although this year we started in Hickman, Kentucky because there wasn't enough water in the Mississippi for the ferry to run) to Sand Mountain, Georgia. It is self paced with a 10 day cutoff. You can do it with a crew (crewed) or self supported (uncrewed). Uncrewed, you carry all of your own stuff but can sleep in a hotel if you want and eat out. You carry your own water, snacks, toiletries (if you use them), extra socks, etc. Crewed, a car carries everything for you and the person inside the car makes sure your water bottle is filled and that you are fed, etc.
23 amazing people started this race and 15 or 16 finished. Each and every person has an amazing story to tell and reason for doing the race. I was touched and in awe of each person for trying to do the race and even more so for completing it. One thing I love about ultrarunning is that although we might not know each other, we runners are family. We are not in fierce competition but in support of one another. By virtue of having such a bizarre and obscure goal of completing Vol State, we have a tremendous amount in common mentally and physically. We work through the same issues at home with training and races and family. We have similar drive and OCD tendencies. We have a high pain tolerance. We take pictures of our disgusting feet and share them.
Thanks! There are so many of you to thank. I will forget some names but, trust me, when I remember your kindness, I smile and thank you. Paul, Rich L, Lora, Bogie, Elise, Molly, Kim, Heather and Dave, Wanda, Bonnie (who is an inspiration!) all of my Addison's Support people, EVERYONE on FaceBook! All of my Barkley 2012 cheerleaders, all of the kind and generous people of Tennessee, everyone who commented on my blog posts and Naresh, how can I forget Naresh?! Thanks to Laz and Carl too. SHAMELESS PLUG: THANKS TO DRYMAX FOR YOUR AWESOME SOCKS AND THANKS TO RUNNINGSKIRTS.COM FOR MAKING A SKIRT WITH POCKETS AND A COMFORTABLE WAISTBAND. My feet looked great when I was done and my girl bits were totally intact with no chafing or binding!
Summary: I'm so glad I did Vol State. I got to meet some amazing people and see some acts of perseverance that will inspire me through the rest of my life. I got to see Tennessee in a way that few people do. I got to experience encouragement, generosity and kindness from total strangers who had nothing to gain by buying me lunch and giving me a cold bottled water. This run, for me, was an act of complete selfishness. Everything was about ME for 9 days. It was a long meditation, it was about testing my pain threshold and it was great! It also tested me mentally. I had a few breakdowns that my husband handled well. As I was wailing (loud enough for people to come out of their house across the street), I know it was ridiculous, I had 1.5 miles to go. Very funny in retrospect.
A shout out to my fellow runners and RDs:
- Marv S, you are incredible and I'm happy to have made the acquaintance of someone as inspirational as you! Marv is 74 (?) and completed this race in 11 days with the assistance of his wonderful crew, Stu G. When you think you can't, remember Marv completed 314 miles despite his age and some blisters that were crazy big, crazy.
|Marv's foot. I believe things got worse after this. Photo Credit: Stu Gleman|
- Mike M, although you didn't complete the race this year, you looked more the part of a runner than any of the rest of us. Next year my friend!!
- Paul, always cheerful and encouraging. I didn't talk to you much but I wish I had.
- Psyche, Psyche, Psyche. We shared some very special time before and during the race. I will never forget it. NEVER. Your tantrum is burned into my memory. I really didn't think you would go on after Wartrace and I'm amazed that you did. Well done Charles as well for coming in to crew Psyche and keeping a smile on your face despite some difficult circumstances.
- Shannon, you were so much fun to text with! Thank you so much for becoming my friend. It was awesome to see you finish and accomplish your goal!
- Sherry, you are an incredibly determined woman. I don't think there is anything you can't accomplish if you put your mind to it. Your stories are entertaining. I look forward to seeing you at AO if Mike lets me in!
- Sulaiman, I only met you briefly and I look forward to seeing you again at another TN race.
- Abi, thanks for sticking around and cheering me in to the finish. It was nice to see a clean, perky gal in the last few miles.
- Charlie, thanks for sharing the foot bath with me and for your cheerfulness at Linden!
- Jan, I enjoyed our meals together and I'm stunned that you would consider VS since you had never done an ultra before. You are an inspiration too. You are a reminder that we all need to set our sights high.
- Diane, so proud to be the sweep! The thought of you cheerfully enjoying your miles of the race and the 100 your put in the days before the race makes me smile. Your attitude is to be admired! If you really did get your hair and nails done during VS last year, we definitely need to hang out. That's the kind of thing I fantasized about but wasn't brave enough to do.
- Juli, the ladies winner, took the time to send me encouraging texts!
- Jay, I loved the idea of having everyone sign your TN map before the race started. Nice seeing you at the TN state line!
- Erika, you and Adam were so kind to me when I was swearing like a sailor about being lost. Thanks for your smile at a time when I didn't have any to return.
- John Price, second only to my husband, you were subjected to too much of my crying. Sorry! Thanks for cheering me in to the finish and making me get my picture taken at the Alabama state line.
- Carl, thanks for your pleasant, even temper when I called to check in! Thanks also for singing me happy birthday :)
- Laz, I'm glad you've come up with these crazy adventures. I love them. You have made for a memorable 2012 between Barkley and VS. Thank you for keeping me out of trouble buy creating a situation where I've had to train my ass off. Thanks also for bringing big to Sand Mountain. He's a very, very sweet boy.
|My last smoke before the race started. Erika on the left in pink, me with the cigarette, Laz is one of the RDs and Psyche on the far right|
|Missouri River. Hickman, Kentucky|
|This is how ultra events start. Some grumbling, some joking and a lot of wondering , "Why am I doing this?!"|
|Famous Fred and I. We chatted for a while. I wanted to meet him because he has a reputation for running while asleep. He reenacted his run sleeping for me. Fantastic!|
|Right after sunrise.|
|This is what napping in a cemetery looks like from the nappers perspective.|
|John Price entertains the entire town of Dessen.|
|John Price being all sexy and also proving he can lift his leg really high after 107 miles.|
|A good place to rest, the LDS church. Thinking of you Kim and Milissa!|
|An impromptu "Aid station". There was an incredible amount of generosity along the road. I was absolutely amazed at how many people, at their own expense, gave us food and water and great conversation.|
|A close up of the sign above.|
|Bridge across the Tennessee River. 10k to go. The longest damned 10k ever. Maybe it was 15k, I don't know, it felt really far.|
|Laz checking on me.|
|Someone called the cops on John. John was being so nice to me and making sure I didn't miss the turn.|
|After 313 miles on the road, the beautiful corn field was so peaceful!|
|The edge of the cliff (see the white rock, 300 foot drop if you go beyond) and tops of some really tall trees. The edge of the cliff is the finish line!|