May 17th-18th: Oscar talked me into The Keys 100. He’s not one to let me give up on my dream of completing a 100, so I agreed even though I would have preferred the 50, but here we were getting ready to run from Key Largo to Key West.
The temps were unusually low and people that had come out to train for Badwater were irritated that it was actually chilly. I couldn’t have been happier. We kept up our 7 min run and 3 min walk for a good 25 miles. Then the heat started getting to Oscar. We walked some, but nausea and dizziness began to set in. I don’t remember how many bridges we had crossed before we made it to a manned aid station. Thankfully the unmanned aid stations had ice and water, so that helped out a great deal. The heat continued to go on the rise and we were both feeling it. We had ice in our hats and around our necks and with little shade we knew we were in for a long haul until the sun began to set. We walked in the shade and ran to the next piece of shade we could find.
We made it to mile 50 with no significant problems. I changed socks and hoped that would be good enough to carry me through the night. Up next was the 7 mile bridge. The biggest challenge of the night. It was 9pm and if you’ve ever been on the 7-mile bridge you’ll know that their is no shoulder. We only had those orange barrels protecting us from the vehicles that zoomed past us, who were clearly not following the speed limit. We ran for a bit, but slowed it down to a walk somewhere in the middle. We noticed others whose walking pace was close to a jog and wondered how they could be cruising along so quickly. It was nuts! The bridge seemed to go on forever and running across a bridge at night made it even worse. Where was the end of this thing? I could feel a blister forming on the bottom of my left foot. I knew it was going to be ugly by the time we reached the next aid station. It took us 2 hours to get off that bridge. I wondered if I had it in me to continue. My feet were killing me and we were at mile 62 or so. Christian, one of the volunteers popped the blisters on both our feet slathered some Aquaphor on them and we set off into the dead of the night. I really don’t remember most of the night. I was dream walking and Oscar was pulling me along…literally pulling me along. We sat in front of gas station for a good 10 minutes. I just wanted to sleep for a little bit. I thought it would help, but we found out from Christian, that if we didn’t make cut-off time we wouldn’t be able to continue on in the race, so we proceeded. With a few shots of Espresso and Christian encouraging us along the way, I woke up enough to increase my pace. It was nearing cut-off time and as the sun began to rise, we ran over another bridge before we saw the aid station at the bottom. We crossed the mat to read our chip timers. We barely made it, but we made it… by mere seconds. A small triumph. It was 6:30am.
We persisted towards Key West in the never ending heat. My feet could barely carry me. The blisters felt like a waterbed and I was scrunching my feet to avoid feeling more pain. It felt like pins and needles with every step. We ran across the overpass and to the last aid station, but felt deflated when we learned we wouldn’t make the 32 hr. cut-off time. No buckle! This is the part I deeply regret. A mile after the aid station with only 4 more miles left. I dropped out. Oscar followed suit. My mind once again shut down and so did my body. Susan, the volunteer who had urged us on and helped us along through the night, morning and afternoon greeting us with ice packs to put around our necks and keeping us fueled, drove us to the finish. Only 4 more miles to go and I DNF’D, not only that I should have encouraged Oscar to continue on. I admire him greatly for quitting when he could have gone on. It wasn’t just my dream to finish. I knew it was just as crushing for him. 4 stinking miles! It would have taken another hour or so to finish, but it could have been done. Total miles completed- 96 miles.
What did I learn from this experience? Pop the blisters and soldier on cupcake!
Well, the sting of this defeat has only urged the two of us to sign up for another in November to get the job done. Wild Sebastian is officially on the calendar.