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C & O Canal 100 Mile Ultra - April 25, 2015 - Knoxille, MD

The C&O Canal 100 miler is mostly on a flat course in Maryland. I had trained well for it. The race was on a cold and wet day. As always before any race, I was excitedly anxious and didn't sleep well the night before in the motel. But I layered up and was excited to run my 12th ultra and my 3rd 100 miler. And I was happy the race started with a group prayer.

It's was a cold and damp day at the start with rain in the forecast. I was fighting off a cold, a sore throat, and a little wheezing I now had for three days. I'm pretty sure I picked up whatever I was dealing with at a conference where I presented on the philosophy of running. But my legs and my heart were strong so I was feeling good! And we all headed toward the towpath along the Potomac River in Knoxville, MD.

We were fed well at the aid stations. The volunteers were amazing and so supportive. We ingested a lot of calories, perogies, chicken quesadillas, scrambled eggs, grilled cheese, pancakes, and so much more! At the Brunswick aid station at mile 28.8, I chugged Pepsi and held on to a hiking stick thatI found after mile 10. It came in handy for climbing up and down an awful steep and muddy trail, and running through the flooded rocky creek in freezing water approaching mile 60 uphill and back again downhill toward mile 69.2. Yes, my running shoes were soaked and my feet were frozen!

It began to rain around mile 44. I completed the first 50 miles in 12:15. It was cold but I was happy. I had a little less than 17 hours to complete 50 more miles! But it poured for 4 more hours and we were hit by some hale. I made it to the mile 60 cutoff after surviving the climb up the slippery and muddy trail and dragging my feet across the flooded rocky creek. My voice was hoarse. I was coughing. But now Jon could pace me. We made it to mile 66. My hands were frozen. Before I reached mile 69.2, I stopped at the mile 66 aid station. I was cold. I was shivering. I was hoarse. The wheezing in my chest got louder. The nice race volunteer gave me hot chicken soup. I sat on a chair as the foot heater tried to warm my wet, frozen feet. My running gloves were soaked. The nice volunteer gave me another set of gloves and then I forced my body up and out into the cold, dark night and flooded, muddy and slippery towpath, slowly putting one foot in front of the other with Jon as my pacer. I was wheezing more. I was exhausted. At about 3:10 am at mile 69.2 I dropped out. The volunteers were so sweet encouraging me not to drop. But in my hoarse voice and through the wheezing, I told them I was nauseated. I was done. I got back to the motel, took a hot shower, and puked! Three days later, I went to see my doctor. I had bronchitis, first time ever. She was shocked that I was able to run even one mile. But there was some good news. I didn't get any blisters and my pink polished toenails were intact. I hope to go back and finish the distance someday and make it my 5th 100 miler!

I am also the author of Come What May, I Want to Run: A Memoir of the Saving Grace of Ultrarunning in Overwhelming Times. Read excerpts, praise, and reviews, and order the book here from the publisher, Amazon, Bookshop, or Barnes & Noble. C & O Canal 100 is one of many ultramarathon experiences that weaves through my memoir. 

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