Race Recap: The JFK 50 Ultramarathon - Part 3: The Road

Continued from Part 2

Once Peter and I exited the C&O Canal Trail, we were greeted with a steep uphill on Dam #4 Road. I will say that I welcomed the new variety. Although I am one of the few who say that I absolutely love running on the C&O Canal,after 26 miles of flat trail and covering 42 miles total, I needed something different. Even if it was pounding on asphalt in trail shoes.

Once we crested the hill, the reality that I had another 8 miles quickly discouraged me. Sure, I may have been on the last leg of the course, but when you are already hurting, 8 miles seems like 80. We ran in spurts. At times, I would encourage myself to run up to the next telephone pole or for the next 5 road pylons, then walk again. Miles seemed to grow longer even though Peter advised that we were pulling 12 minute/mile paces, but it sure didn’t feel that way. My brain told me that those 12 minutes were hours.

At aid station 44, I stopped to fill up my hand held (Gatorade was becoming a delicacy during these last few miles) and I actually encountered my high school track coach. Though it had been about 13 years since I was on the team, he recognized me and said “You’re a Britner, aren’t you!? Weren’t you the one that didn’t like to run!” He was absolutely right. During track and field, we were to run a half mile for a warm up and I about walked most of it. Now look…I am running 100 times that.

At the mile 46 aid station, I grabbed a handful of chips since I hadn’t taken in any food for the last 5 miles. I thought it would give me a hint of energy, but I was beyond help. Peter was also feeling the burn. He was coming up on mile 20 of his excursion, 2 miles beyond his longest distance. At this point, we both had to encourage each other to push through the pain. So we talked about the pizza we would eat, the Irish Trashcan I would drink, and how much we appreciated each other’s support through this whole thing.

Despite feeling crappy, we continued to encourage other runners as they passed us and as we passed them. We were all in the final stretch together and just minutes away from accomplishing something amazing: Crossing that finish line.

When we hit the final mile and turned onto the final street, I started to get emotional. All that stood between me and the view of the finish line was a hill next to a road called “Britner Ave.” For those that don't get it, Britner is my maiden name.

Peter and I walked the hill, but as soon as we crested the top, I broke into my final run. This was Peter’s queue to veer off the course as he could not cross the finish line with me.

A fire lit within my heart and my legs began to cycle faster. I managed to dig deep within my soul and find the energy I lost after mile 25. This moment was what I had been training for over the past 24 weeks. This moment was the reason that I pushed through weeks of foot and knee pain obtained from training. This moment was proof that I could do anything I put my mind to. This moment…I was unstoppable.

As I closed in on the finish line, I caught sight of my aunt Sharon.

I hadn’t seen her in 10 years or more! I knew that if she was there, my family was nearby watching this. I was elated. There is nothing better than to have your family and support team watching you reach your goals.

Not my finish time since I started at 5 am

Upon crossing the finish line, the energy that pushed me to the finish line dissipated. I immediately felt as though I was sedated and entering a dream. The last 6 months of physically preparing myself for this event had now come to this: Finishing a 50 Mile Ultramarathon. I was overwhelmed with emotion. Not only was my ultimate bucket list item accomplished, but I overcame so many obstacles to get to this point. Many times over the past several months, I contemplated dropping out due to injury and exhaustion. It forced me to reach out to a higher power to get me through the pain and doubt that I felt.

I was given my medal and as I exited the finisher’s area, I caught site of Peter again, followed by my family. I immediately hugged my sister and the tears began to flow.

Though you can’t really hear what I am saying, I know that I said something along the lines of “I am so glad it’s over! It hurt so bad! It was so hard!”

But don’t let my words of pain lead you to believe that this wasn’t a great experience. Sure, there was pain physically, but the strength I discovered in my mind and spirit was powerful. It was a treasure that I could only find by pushing my body well beyond its physical limits. Just because something hurts and it drives you to a point where you want to give up, always look within yourself to find that push to make it through. It’s there. You just have to dig deeper.

I’ve already been asked if I am going to do the JFK 50 Ultra next year. As much as it pains me to say it, I am not. Peter and I will be training for the 2017 Dopey Challenge in Disney (yes, we have already planned for this) and this is a new challenge that I want to partake in. However, I do plan on being a support runner that day because there’s nothing better than to see a familiar face when you are at a low point.

So to wrap it all up, I can honestly say this is the one race I will NEVER forget. I am certain I will be back in the future to relive this day and possibly get the time I originally wanted prior to injury, which was 10:00:00 (my time was 11:34:51). Even if I don't achieve that goal, finishing is still an accomplishment in itself. The power and strength I found from this experience was truly worth the pain and suffering.

Thank you, JFK 50...you've made me realize that I am my own super hero!

No comments

Post a Comment

Professional Blog Designs by pipdig