Saturday, May 25, 2013

Part 3 DirtyGirlZ100 Epic Adventure - Race Day

That's our girl, right in front.

Because every good story is a long ass story...
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I think we were all plagued by dreams that we would be late in getting Maggie to the start line of her first 100. I'm not sure I could only allow myself 45 minutes to an hour to get ready on any race day let alone a hundred miler race day. Bad things tend to happen when I'm stressed and doing things last minute. But not Maggie. She prefers to sleep in as much as possible come race days or run days. I get that. Especially if you've been up late cramming for your hundo exam - jotting down notes about elevation charts, figuring out pace/time estimates and arrivals at aid stations, making sure everything is organized in the right bag for the crew. Really. Maggie was extra deliberate about making sure that the crew wasn't flailing about trying to find her shit when she needed it. In fact, she wanted to make sure we were comfortable, happy, and taken care of. Yup. Moms never cease to be moms no matter who they're around. She even insisted that we just drop her off at the start line and then go back to sleep or hang out by the pool. But who could do that when there was a hundred miler going on in some of the most beautiful terrain in the country and our DirtyGirl was running it?

So we packed up the Highlander with ALL of our stuff (we would be dropping off our luggage at our post race hotel.) OK. Now you're probably wondering why the hell we didn't just stay at the pre-race hotel for post race recovery.Welllllll...the priority for post race was to make sure the hotel was within post hundo stumbling distance of the after race party which was to be held at a local brew pub. Seriously. We had every intention of milking every single last second of celebration out of this race if Maggie finished (or even if she didn't). We were already proud of her for having the guts to sign up and go for it and we were all gonna celebrate that shit!

We left the hotel with literally 20 minutes to spare to get to race start. I must have been driving at least 85mph. We pulled up with screeching wheels and kicked her ass out of the car to go find the start line.

After the "weigh in"- which turned out to be for nothing more than your own curiosity - Mags hunted down the race director for a photo-op. Apparently he's a busy man the morning of a race. Go figure. It doesn't stop Mags from trying to photo bomb him at every opportunity.


Matt Gunn is actually the guy in the yellow. That happy man behind Maggie who talks with his hands must be having a hard time communicating with those handhelds interrupting his every word.

Finally, Maggie gets a chance to stand next to the man himself. Apparently she's trying to impress him with her banana. Matt likes chicks who can "guy it out" for his races so the banana move is a brilliant one.
One last adjustment of her headlamp.... WAIT!! Where's the banana??

Oh phew. There it is. Because its not official race start unless there's at least one chick holding a banana in her hand.

Then the clock started counting down and everything went ultra silent like everybody was getting their game on. I was thinking this shit is WAY too serious. OK. Yeah. These people are going to be running a hundred miles, but they've got a while until they're in full zombie mode. They need to chillax. I was just so excited for Maggie I couldn't contain myself so I whooped it up and screamed loudly "Go MAGGIE!!! LLLICK IT!!" A few laughs and snickers followed and the tension cracked wide open.

Then they were off.

Bye Mags! See you at... um... what was the first aid station again?
Zion 100 Race start

Well...anyhoo... we knew we didn't need to be wherever we needed to be until Maggie had ran about 50k so we figured we had time to check our things into the the next night's hotel. So we drove back into town, got ourselves breakfast, unloaded our things at the next hotel and were shocked to find that our hotel room wasn't confirmed and they had no name down for us.

What???

We failed to tell them we meant for the following night and that we were living/sleeping out of our car for the next 24 hours. We were relieved to find out that we were indeed confirmed and they could hold our things overnight until the following day.

After a short trip to the grocery store we head back over to the course to do some last minute aid station scouting and meet Maggie at the Grafton Aid Station at her estimated time of 11:45. Or was that the estimated time for the Goosebump Aid Station? Either way... we were meeting Mags soon.

Aid Station scouting before sunrise.
Stopping for pictures.
There's just no way to capture the beauty of a sunrise.


I can't even count how many times we stopped the car to get out and see elk running or wild horses feeding or just to feel the peace of the sun rising. We couldn't help ourselves.

But it was getting time to eventually head over to Grafton Aid (otherwise known as The G Spot Aid Station). Hmmmmm. Seemed like a perfectly fine aid station to spend a little quality time at. In fact I might not mind spending a little extra time here, which we did. We happened to miscalculate Maggie's ETA just a tad after deciding to skip meeting her at the harder to reach Goosebump Aid.


MacGyver Kristina
But it was all good. I killed time by talking to a fellow member of the Barefoot Runners Society, Rick Whitelaw, who happened to be working that aid station and also happened to know who I was. He even proceeded to call me a "celebrity" of sorts (hopefully of the barefoot running sorts and not of the I-found-some-pivate-home-video-of-you-on-the-internet sorts.) He asked me to sign his BRS shirt so I'm pretty sure I'm of the barefoot running celebrity sorts. Well... maybe. I didn't ask if he read my blog which isn't too far off of the I-found-some-pivate-home-video-of-you-on-the-internet sorts.

While I'm busying myself signing shirts, our own Kristina is busying herself with her serious MacGyver skilz by rebuilding her running shoes from scratch with just a roll of duct tape. Yeah. Those were some kick-ass ultra shoes once she got her hands on some duct tape.


The ultimate ultra shoes
Now I know Kristina's secret to being so fast. Girl's got the best ultra shoes on the planet!

After a couple hours we finally see our girl coming. Charito and Kristina were waiting for her down the road.

"We like our runs long and hard"

She's here!

Checking to see how she's doing.
Maggie had originally thought she might want to do the first 100k solo and made it clear to all her crew/pacers that we weren't to get our panties in a bunch over this fact. This might mean that some of us wouldn't get to run at all, but Maggie called all the shots on which pacers she wanted to run with and where. She had a relatively good idea where each of us fit into her strategy to complete this race.

The DirtyGirlZ100 Crew
In my opinion, this transparency is one of the best things Mags could do as a runner for her crew. She wasn't catering to anyone else's needs or desires to run or otherwise. If she needed you, you needed to be there, and if she wanted you to back off, you needed to be OK with that too. Luckily, our crew is pretty hardy and doesn't get their panties in a bunch easily, which is what, I think, made this trip such a success. Unlike other possible situations where a bunch of girls who don't know each other very well spend 5 days together in close quarters, this adventure was drama-free! Those girls were awesome!


As it turned out, Maggie was ready for a pacer by the time she got to Grafton Aid and Charito was ready to run so they didn't stay long and headed down the hill to Smithsonian Butte for another hot out and back along the mesa. 

The rest of us hopped into the car, blasted some Styx SUPER LOUD with windows wide open (the ipod was stuck on "Come Sail Away with Me") and cheered every runner on that we passed as we drove down the steep, rutted out, one-way-only road towards Smithsonian Butte. Our DirtyGirlz reputation being formed by our liveliness and (maybe somewhat annoying) willingness to be everyone's cheerleader. We were a very happy crew to say the least.

Charito pacing Maggie

At the bottom of the hill Maggie came back in with Charito and it was time for the climb back up and out of the canyon. I would be pacing Maggie for that part. Maggie came into the Smithsonian Butte water station a little perturbed that we hadn't paid closer attention to her ETAs. We had arrived at Grafton Aid WAY too early. She didn't like the fact that we had to wait around for her. She really wanted this trip to be enjoyable in every way for everyone and it seemed that waiting around for her made her slightly uncomfortable

She came into the water station with one thing on her mind: THE PAPER.

Me and Mags heading out for our climb 
to the top of Goosebump.
Yup. The paper that had all her ETAs on it. She was certain she got the times a lot closer than what we had arrived at. She did. I could tell she was a little out of sorts about that. I tried to reassure Maggie that we were all good now that we saw her and we had a better idea of where she was going to be. So while our discussion ensued Kristina attempted to offer a brilliant and diplomatic peace offering - peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I don't think we ate any, but apparently her subtle mediation worked. The "Paper" discussion was dropped as quickly as it began.

By around mile 45 or so it was my turn to pace. Running the sun down with Maggie was my favorite part of the entire adventure. My pacing section was not only beautiful and enjoyable, but Maggie was in good spirits (when is that girl not??) and happily moving forward. Well... happily moving forward until...

...we got lost.

Taking a break at Grafton Aid.
And apparently we weren't the only ones. But, eventually we found our way back onto trail and arrived back at the G-Spot and then it was onwards back up towards Goosebump Aid.

Maggie wasn't feeling much like eating so I suggested she have some soup at the next aid station and made her take it with her. She did amazing balancing a cup of soup in one hand while cautiously ascending the side of the steep, scree-ridden mesa. I was seriously impressed.






Apparently I missed out on the dance party that happened spontaneously while I was pacing. Yeah. We do that. You didn't know Zion 100 is just one big dance party?
 
Gettin down with their bad selves. Dance!
DirtyGirlZ Dance party
The official DirtyGrilZ100 vehicle
Maggie and I pulled into the last aid station just a moment after the sun had set. My running term was officially over. I handed Mags off to Jen who would be pacing her out and around Guacamole mesa - a place, according to Jen, something akin to the surface of the moon. I told them I hoped they had chips and salsa waiting for them at the next aid station.

Jen's turn to pace...

Maggie was still in great spirits when I left her around mile 62 and from what I could tell she pretty much stayed that way for the remainder of the race. When I asked her how she managed to stay positive for the duration she casually replied that it doesn't help to be negative. She was doing what she had to do which meant she had to stay positive even when things got hard.

Which they did.

Maggie's period hit her hard during the hardest part of this race. (Just so you know, she talked about this challenge during her podcast intereview with Eric Schranz from Ultra Runner Podcast.) As someone who's had debilitating cramping during her period, I have serious respect for every woman ultra runner and their ability to "guy it out"(a phrase accidentally used by race director Matt Gunn himself in an email to Maggie about her "cycle issues" during the race.) He meant to say "gut it out," but we all agreed that "guy it out" was funny and backwardly appropriate because we all know that women who have to endure this kind of menstrual shit during a 100 miler are WAY tougher than any guy. Its a fucking fact, folks. Really. No man will EVER know the aching, sometimes piercing pain a woman endures once a month just for the privilege of enduring ten times that much during the birthing process. And many of us train and run through that shit because we have to. Sometimes its impossible to avoid. We suck it up and choke back the cramps (or just take loads of meds) just so we can function. Ok. Rant over. Now, the back story on that email correspondence is that Maggie, possibly interested in running The Bryce 100 now, requested that Matt please not schedule any of his races during her period again. That's our Mags. I think she needs a sticker for that one too.

So while Jen was running with Mags we drove back to the start line where we could borrow a picnic table to set up our stove. Then Kristina and Charito worked on taping up Kristina's shoes for her final pacing section while I passed out, face crammed into the back seat of the Highlander and got some shut eye. I was out cold only to wake up briefly for some soup.

Next thing I remember Charito and Kristina are back in the car and Charito's driving over to to where the smell of whiskey and a nice warm camp fire lured me outside the car to hang with the dudes at the Whiskey Town Aid Station.
Whiskey Town Aid Station

To say this aid station is eccentric would be a serious understatement. You have to be there to believe it. Every level of "hydration" imaginable could be found there - though, I questioned the runner who, after 85-90 miles, would partake in jello shots especially after hearing from the guys around the campfire (seasoned mountain bikers who maintain the trail up there) describe the upcoming Flying Monkey trail that the runners would be experiencing on the next section. Apparently the Flying Monkey was a short exposed section of trail requiring a bit of a jump to a rope line to pull yourself up to the trail above. Or at least that was the gist of what I got from the guys.

So when we saw Maggie coming in we let her fuel up and get herself sorted (it was already pretty cold and windy) and then I told her to take her time on the next section because from what I heard its a pretty gnarly section. She'd done her homework though and she was prepared for it.

Our last aid station before the finish line was a drive in the dark up to Smith Mesa which I was half awake for. Jen, Charito and I checked into the aid station and told the guys that if Mags arrived to tell her we were there. Then we all passed out.

I literally woke up three minutes before I saw Kristina tapping on the window. Mags was here!! By this time she was probably at her lowest. She was literally falling asleep while running, she was freezing cold and looked pretty spent. But she had just a relatively short (um... maybe not for someone who's just run 93 miles) distance to go. We all agreed that after her out-and-back around Smith Mesa with Kristina she should warm up and take a nap.

Maggie fueling up before the final 5 miles.
This pic was shot right before Mag's little
"finishing the race dance"

She climbed into the car after the short two miles and was sawing logs almost the moment her head hit the headrest. We set the alarm for 20 minutes, but Mags woke herself up in about 15 and you would have thought she had slept all night.

Holy crap!!! After seeing Mags transformation, we were all sold on the power of the power nap! Girl snapped out of the passenger seat, ate some soup, then started dancing to Stevie Wonder blaring from the car. Yeah. Talk about inspiring. It was mile 95-something (but probably more according to the heated Zion facebook thread that Maggie started before the race.)

Maggie only had about 5 miles left and it was all downhill (which as it turns out was brutalizing, according to Maggie).







That video was shot right after Maggie pounced awake ready to roll...

We all hopped back into the car re-energized by Maggie's upcoming finish. Charito dropped Jen and I off at the end of the road where Maggie would be finishing her last two miles and then dropped the car off at the finish line to run back up to meet us so we could all pace Maggie for the last two miles.

Waiting for Maggie. She was coming
from the top of the Mesa.

Maggie's coming!

Kristina and Maggie arrive!
"WTF?? I had to run down that shit? Thank God its mostly flat here on out."
Another album cover shot. DirtyGirlZ in back in black. In the desert of Zion.
So we took our time finishing out the last couple miles. We were so proud of our girl...

Stopping to pose for a timed group shot near the finish.
But little did we know the race wasn't done.

About a half mile from the finish line one of the girls looks behind her and shouts...

"WHERE DID THOSE GIRLS COME FROM??!!"

Sure enough there were two girls about 50 yards behind Maggie eyeing the finish line. Anyone who knows Maggie knows she's downright competitive. She ran a smartly, conservative race for her first 100 but there was no way in hell she was going to let those girl's pass her before the finish line.

Since I was in charge of getting shots of her coming into the finish, I knew she would be kicking it into high gear with whatever she had left so I wanted to get far enough in front of her to get pics.

So we all start running like we stole something. Including Mags. She's hauling ass!! Even on the uphills!

Hauling ass at the end.


Maggie at the finish line!

Maggie finishing her first 100!

Maggie finished her first hundo in about 27 hours and 26 minutes. But there was just one more thing she needed to do to make this race official.

Run that extra .3 miles at the end.

Which she did.
The extra .3 miles for an official 100 miler.
Picking her buckle.
DirtyGirlZ at the finish line.
I couldn't help but still crew Mags even after she crossed the finish line so I made sure to grab an extra beer for her to enjoy after we got back to the hotel.

We all recovered in the hotel for a few hours with food and sleep... and then headed over to the post race party...
 ...which as you can tell was rockin! Um... yeah... I think maybe twelve people showed up. Go figure after a hundred mile race. But the DirtyGirlZ were ready to party. All we needed was a shitload of food, some beer, some whiskey, and our game was back on!
We got free CDs from the band Erik the Red.

Maggie woke up early the next day ready to go for a mountain bike ride so Kristina and I joined her. Later on that day we all went exploring in Zion National Park hiking up through the river and having a blast.



Before we left for another ultra driving adventure back to California, Mags and I bought friendship bracelets for all the DirtyGirlZ to remember our trip by.
Wonder Twin powers, ACTIVATE!!!
So the trip was a success!! We had a great time and Mags not only completed her first hundred miler but she did it with flying colors. I heard several people ask at the finish line if "THAT girl, Kelly Maggie ever finished the race..." Apparently there were a few doubters.

But if they knew her, they would have known better.

Maggie is my inspiration. There's no doubt about that. Since I've met her I've been amazed by her strength and abilities. I'm looking forward to her pacing me, in turn, at my hundred miler, Pine To Palm, come September. I could use some of her wisdom. She's nothing short of "fiyah!"
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Listen to Maggie's interview on Ultra Runner Podcast


2 comments:

  1. I just don't even know where to start commenting on this final segment - Holy shit! Bananas, G-spots, booze, periods, dancing and ass-kicking running. You girls are so lucky to have each other! I drove thru Rocklin last weekend and thought, Hey! I know crazy runner women here. Thanks for the laughs and inspiration from a fellow NorCal runner!

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    1. Angel - We're happy to entertain with our shenanigans... ha! We love to laugh and have a good time that's for sure. Funny you were in our neck of the woods recently - and that's so awesome you're also a fellow NorCal runner! Who knows? We may end up "running" into each other one of these days. Heehee.

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