And now on to my fierce friends…
So Chelsea and Colleen and I started as expected at ARFTA this weekend. Colleen moving faster (because she is faster) and Chelsea and I sticking to 3 minutes walk/3 minutes run intervals. We had our crew (Chelsea’s husband and Nikki) refilling our water bottles and getting us anything we asked for. Chelsea and I were both dealing with blisters (big surprise) so we were tending to those periodically. Part of that involved watching Chelsea’s husband SEW THREAD THROUGH HER BLISTERS.
Let that sink in for a minute. I’m sure you thinking, I must have misunderstood what Zoot said…. You did NOT. He took a needle and thread and sewed it THREW her blisters so the thread would allow the blisters to continue draining instead of filling back up. It was amazing. We decided to get a few hours of sleep in the tent Saturday night and then we woke with vigor Saturday morning ready to knock out the day.
At some point late Saturday I gave up on my 100-mile goal and continued to hobble and watch Chelsea and Colleen kick ass.
I watched Colleen hit rock bottom Saturday night, depressed and upset and just feeling terrible. She napped for awhile too and that was the only time I ever her doubt herself. I don’t even know if I ever saw her take a solid walk mile for the last 50 miles. She seemed to constantly have run left in her. She was amazing and beast-like and hit 100 miles at about 10:30 Sunday night. On only a few hours sleep and running across the finish line! She looked strong and fierce and I wish I could have actually seen her cross the finish line. It was amazing.
Chelsea had a few recurring problems that she just kept overcoming. It was this inspiring cycle of pain and tears and then determination and focus. Every time she cycled through to the determination side, she’d plug in her headphones and her music and she would soldier on. She found out what worked for her was to push through for a few hours and then nap for an hour. She did that through 2 cycles Saturday night and then PROJECTILE VOMITED after one of the naps. Then, of course, she tied her shoes and went back out again. By the time I got back to the park around 5am Monday morning she had her headphones in and she was RUNNING. 40 hours with just 3-4 hours sleep and she was RUNNING. It was amazing. Her coach was helping her and had already done 120 miles herself and when she saw Chelsea running she said, “Oh, God. She’s running. She’s going to make me go FAST.”
By mile 96 or so her feet were fried and she had PLENTY of time left to finish so she took a foot break, but on some sturdy sandals, and then finally slowed down enough that I could join her for a few miles. I was so happy she slowed down so I could just bask in her awesomeness as she finished her journey. She just powered through with one final rest at mile 98 and crossed the finish line and into her husband’s arms while her Mom photographed it and I Facebook Lived it and it was just AMAZING.
I’m so glad to have seen Colleen and Chelsea accomplish this amazing thing. There are mental images I’ll have in my head from this weekend for the rest of my life and they will power me when I need inspiration. Chelsea’s husband SEWING her blisters. Colleen RUNNING miles 70-100. Both of them battling nausea and pain and heat and just soldiering on. I will harness those memories during the dark moments of any future race.
But most importantly? I’m glad Nikki was there. I told her that I know she’s only 11 and her memories of this time in her life will be foggy at best, but that I really hope she holds this weekend dear in her heart. I hope she remembers the women she sat with under a tent for 48 hours in Tennessee. She witnessed their blood and tears, and their strength and perseverance, and with those memories she’ll know she can do anything if she puts her mind to it.
I’m honored to call them my friends, but I’m privileged and blessed that my daughter can call them role models. Those hundred mile buckles they earned will have ripple effects now through an entire second generation. Just yesterday Nikki was worried about riding the bus alone and I said, “What did you see my friends do this weekend?” And she said, “I saw them be amazing.”