Sunday, October 8, 2017

Yeti 100 Part 1 of 3

“I can’t believe I’m actually doing this.” 

This lone thought kept entering my mind, as I anxiously awaited the start of the Yeti 100, a.k.a. the most difficult thing I have ever done. I tried to listen to Jason Green, the race director, but my mind was elsewhere.  A roar of cheers from the runners around me triggered a similar response from myself. And then, unceremoniously, the pack of people ahead of me started to move forward. I clicked my watch, and my journey began.

The power of technology made this picture a lot brighter than what it really was at 0700.
Twelve hours prior to, I was in a state of disbelief. There I was, in line for packet pick-up and a pre-race meeting. Already the Yeti 100 was leaving its unusual impact. Entering the historic rock school in Damascus while hiding a craft cider for Jason, a bluegrass band played some tunes on stage. The huddled masses extended to the door. Was I in line? I asked the lady next to me, who was also perplexed. We prodded the other runners around us until a brave sole bounced to the front of the line and told us there were actually multiple lines. We went into our factions based on our last names, listened to some slowed-down Johnny Cash, and waited our turns.
Good shot of the band and both sides of the album sleeve

The wait itself wasn’t that long. The volunteer staff did an amazing job of getting everyone registered and ready. I gathered my things and looked at my race-packet. The race-packet alone was worth the registration. It included: an album sleeve with a play on the Sex Pistols “Nevermind the Bullocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols” on one side and The Smiths “Meat is Murder” on the other with a random record inside the sleeve; a sweet (albeit too large for me) trucker hat; my new favorite t-shirt; wristband; the majestically designed pacer bib; and my own competitor’s bib.

The rest of the sweet swag. Oh, hey, random girl!
Surprisingly, I was still calm. I met up with another competitor from my home town, Jamey, and exchanged a few words. Then, it was time to listen to man of the night, our race director Jason. He gave a few details about the race, where to park for shuttle pick-up, drop bag information, and more importantly, how much the race meant to him, his family, and the locals. A few explicit words later, Jason was off the stage after declaring how he can’t wait to give us all a hug at the finish line.

We were given a tip to eat at a local restaurant. Not many cars, so we should get in and out fast, right? Well, it was probably close to an hour after our arrival that we got our drinks (with the exception of Sara’s water) and another hour after that to get our food. To make things even more stressful, they messed up my order. The thought of even ingesting the smallest amount of cheese made my stomach start to feel messed up. After another five to ten minutes, I got my grilled chicken and pasta.

We finished our meals and headed “home” --- a very quaint house in the middle of the woods. I tried to shake some nerves by playing a friendly round of ping-pong with Jeremy, you know, instead of double checking everything to make sure I was ready. I finally made it to bed around 11:00 p.m., early enough to get about four and half hours of sleep. Ugh…

One of the worst "games" of ping-pong ever played
To my surprise, I actually slept the majority of the night. A creaky house made me wake only once when someone went to the bathroom, and then an hour later at 4:15 my alarm was going off.

I precariously headed into the dining room/kitchen. I ate a bagel with peanut butter, drank some water, and slowly ingested mini chocolate donuts. Thirty minutes later, the rest of the house began to stir. After my second usage of the bathroom, I put on my race gear with some sweats overtop and headed out towards the rest of the house. “Good morning,” said Becky. Whoa! Becky made it! This wonderfully, crazy lady drove throughout the night and slept in her vehicle to be with us. Damn motivational people, now I feel even more obligated to finish. The rest of the morning was uneventful, as we loaded everything up and headed to Whitetop Station for the start of the race.

I am usually jittery before races, which leads to me talking peoples’ ears off. Not today. My nerves were through the roof. My anxiety level was the highest since chemo. I tried to stay calm, I tried to Zen out. It was working for a bit, until I really had to pee. Again.

As soon as we parked, I strategically stood behind my door. Kudos to Vern to pointing out what I was doing. We made our way to the starting area. Time to pee again.
Man, these faces speak a thousand words... especially "apprehension"
We snapped a few more photos, made a few stupid jokes, listened to Jason speak, and then we were off.

Holy crap. I’m actually running in a 100-mile race! Jeremy and I slogged around for a few minutes, about thirty runners deep. And then we brazenly made our way up to the top ten. “Is this real life?” I remember thinking, channeling my inner memes. We glided down the first few miles, and then we both had to pee. And then again. And maybe once more by the time we hit the half marathon mark.

It was around this same point in time that we had our first photographic opportunity. A beautifully curved, long trestle going over a creek with trees in the background. As we approached the cameraman, I questioned my hand positioning. Thumbs up, or hang loose? I still had time to think though, because there was a guy ahead of us. And then, the dude stopped. Posing as Usain Bolt, we were able to highjack his photo since he stopped. I’m genuinely considering purchasing the photo just for the memory…
Not the "Usain Bolt" bridge, but still a cool shot.
 Speaking of the scenery, the course itself was absolutely gorgeous. A few more weeks, and the foliage would have stepped it up to a whole other level; however, the moderate amount of leaves that had already fallen was nice and didn’t cover up the trail that much.

After a few bridge crossings and a couple jokes later (surprisingly not that many about poop!), we were getting into our rhythm. I felt like I could go all day. We were clipping off miles right around a 9-minute pace, with our walking miles even being under 15 minutes per mile.
More bridges and beauty, ain't that right, Mario ;)
Doing some math, I was a little concerned. We would finish the first 33 miles around 6 hours! And then it happened. In the history of sports, there are only a few plays that people will remember forever. The shot heard around the world, down goes Frasier, Bill Buckner, and this, Jeremy Sanders’ most EPIC forward roll!

As we chugged along, Jeremy had a momentary lapse in his stride and caught his toe on a rock. From this, most would Superman and get some serious scrapes and bruises. Not Jeremy. As he stumbled forward he was able to tuck his head for a sweet roll. During this same moment, he was able to somehow precariously stand his bottle up as he was going around. As he bounced back up, he did an about-face, grabbed the bottle and continued forward. My mind was blown, our spirits were high, and more importantly we were still moving forward.

Shortly after that, a solid 33 miles were in the books and it only took us about six hours. Now it was time to turn around and climb 3,000-ish feet just to get back to the start to do it all over again.
Abingdon Aid Station at Mile 33. Next time through it's the FINISH LINE!
Check back tomorrow for part 2. The whole thing is a rather long read (7ish pages), so I figured I would chunk it up for you. However, if that's not your thing. Check back Wednesday, and I should have everything up by then!
Click here for part 2!

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