Ahhhh — the motivation to write a race report is back!
Mojo can mean lots of things. I don’t mean sex appeal as in Austin Powers. I mean motivation and enthusiasm, MOJO — Motivation Overcoming Jinxing Obstacles.
Life is full of jinxing obstacles. We hear about them every day on this list. Injuries, blood clots, addictions, surgery, family and personal issues, disputes, job losses, “challenging” children, relatives or friends, and much more… As long as it doesn’t kill us, it makes us stronger. This is what we have to believe
“Believe you can, and you’re halfway there.” Theodore Roosevelt “Keep believing, and you will conquer the other half.” Girl who lost her Mojo.
It all sounds good, but after being out of running since the sprain/fracture in October, then foot surgery in November, I was afraid I couldn’t. I signed up for the Frozen Gnome Trail 50K in January, a local race. I got to 18 miles before limping and hurting. I knocked on Val’s car window where he was keeping warm, allowing me to push my limits after I said I would only run 10 miles. He was secretly happy — we could go home and get warm now. I DNFed Rocky Raccoon 100M
February 4th. Got to Dam Road, changed my shoes, and limped another mile before returning to Dam Road with my tail between my legs. I did have some great company at the aid station, a 4 wheel vehicle ride in the chilly wind, a boat ride and more great company in the medical tent. I shook like a leaf from the cold, said I was fine but secretly liked the attention — who doesn’t???
LOST 118 should have been a relay with Jan Silverman. We were going to Florida together. We discussed it ad nauseum — relay, solo, relay, solo. We are both pig-headed, so we decided to each try for the 118 miles around Lake Okeechobee on the Herbert Hoover Dike, detours for construction. Jan had been injured so her longest run was 18 miles. My longest was the DNF at Rocky and a recent 50 mile week. Why not? Whose afraid of a DNF? Pre-race was great, socializing, seeing Tim, Sue Anger, Robin, Andrei, Kathleen, Hilary, Bob, Randy Dietz and many others, hearing Stu’s voice on the phone when Robin called him.
Slept soundly and in Clewiston by 6AM for the pre-race meeting. We meet Rhonda at the start line — her first 100. Her friend Lisa is riding nearby on a bike. We take off at 7AM, no fanfare, just running with great company. We discuss our strategy — we think we can both finish, but who knows? We get lucky — road lucky. After the first 10 miles, we end up being paced by Jim Sullivan and Juan Santos, the best company you could ask for. They are relaying for training miles — our angels with encouragement, help at the aid stations, a meal from
McDonald’s at mile 55. We wolf it down like starving children, laying on the asphalt path, wondering how we will get up again. We did and made it almost to 60 miles when Jan decided she’d had enough. We had fixed some blisters, but new ones were forming. Her hips were hurting. “Are you sure?” is all I could say, then I left it up to her. It had hit around 90 degrees during the day. We Midwesterners were wiped. I ran ahead and caught up with Matt and Sergio, to ask if their crew could take Jan to Port Mayaca.
The fog really rolled in after Jan dropped and it was harder to see, and spooky. Everything was damp, drops falling from my headlamp like tears. The aid stations were run by a cast of stars, Kathleen Wheeler, Sue Anger, Scott Maxwell, Bob and Suzanne Becker, Terry Hayes, Robin Siegel — all accomplished runners and some RDs, caring and efficient volunteers. Then there were the boy scouts at Port Mayaca, mile 75.
One young man, about 16, comes to greet me and encourage me in. He mentions the cold, I say I have a warmer jacket in my drop bag. He quips, “You are really smart!” Boy, I needed that because I wasn’t feeling very smart for thinking I could finish this race. I could feel blisters, but I wasn’t touching them — yet. The lows were moving in, like the fog. A heavy blanket of despair. Then the 4 mile section on the road to veer around the levee construction. Spooky with blurry lights showing on the left side of the road, houses, maybe pit bulls.
But I’m not afraid of them anymore — yes, I am. Hardly any cars passing at high speed on this deserted road in the wee hours.
Then I see a truck. “Are you Juli?” Yes, yes, not a killer in the fog, race staff. His name is Ron. He directs me back on the levee. Have to climb again. Alone until about mile 85 and happy to see the little white rental Fiat with Jan asleep. I knock on the window. She apologizes for not finding me sooner — she was helping with the race, gave someone a ride. “You couldn’t have found me anyway. I am just so glad to see you!”
Get to 94 and find Bob Becker, Kathleen, Suzanne. Sun is strong again. Kathleen mentions sunscreen, but I just don’t care about preventing sunburn anymore. I want to get this done. “You’ve come this far — you have to finish!” says Suzanne. I see a hiker and he wishes me luck. I am looking forward to mile 104 when I will see Terry Hayes again. I stop in a porta john and then I see Matt. I think we are the only ones out here now. He is hurting and talking to wife, Michelle, on the phone. “Way to hang in there!” I say as I pass, leaving him to his
Jan was the best crew, focused, dedicated, getting me a popsicle and ice. Michelle was out with their two children, Aiden and Vikena. I told her there was an accomplished ultrarunner named Vikena. They rode along with me for a ways on their scooters, Aiden on his bike. A dedicated family helping their Dad. It was baking hot again and I was too lazy to put on the suncreen so I got burnt on the back of my legs and neck — ouch! Matt and a friend pacing come up alongside me with about a mile to go. “I’m not passing anyone in the last mile,” said
Matt. We decide to finish together though he is stronger. He drags me along, though I tell him it’s O.K. to go ahead. His friend gives me ice water in exchange for my warm bottles – heaven. We cross the finish line with a tie for 7th place, and last place. A shared DFL… Bob and Hilary Keating are still at the finish line, as is Robin and a few others. What great people ultrarunners are!
Mike waits at the finish, glad we didn’t stay out until 3PM, the cutoff. He is a pro at this and has everything packed up shortly after we finish. I take a shower and Jan drives to my Mom’s across the state. Mom is used to this. She hasn’t met Jan before and they get along great. Everyone loves Mom, especially me . She gets us pizza, has goodies in the fridge, gets us towels, has a room ready. She says Jan can have the bed and I can have the couch. Jan said she would share the bed — “we already slept together Friday night!” My Mom appreciates her sense of humor. She takes us to breakfast the next day, we all fight to pay the bill and Mom demands to have it from me. She is 5 feet tall, less than 100 pounds, 87 years old, and a force to be reckoned with. I concede, feeling like a misbehaved kid.
What a fantastic race with superstar volunteers and a superstar RD!
Thanks everyone for treating us like royalty! My 3rd finish at LOST 118, and the most meaningful. I have my MOJO back — jinxing obstacles overcome!
Thanks to Joe Fejes for the Hoka/Lynco suggestion — it worked like a charm. I don’t know if I could have done the full distance without this combination. It is Wednesday and my leg muscles hardly suffered any soreness since the race. I am a believer!