I weighed 240 lbs...but damn it I was a runner now! So how do you go from barely finishing a "hilly" 13.1 to entering a 100 mile run through some of the most rugged mountains in Southern California? Heck, I didn't even know there were runs over 26.2 when this all started! Curiosity I guess??? After recovering from that half, and signing up for my first Marathon, through the magical powers of Google I came across the story of David Goggins. A Navy Seal that asked an online search engine what the 10 toughest athletic events in the world were, and decided to take on #1 the Badwater Ultramarathon. 135 miles from the bottom of Death Valley to the portal of Mt Whitney in JULY! The more I read, the more the mystery surrounding these unimaginable distances grew. They were just impossible feats that must be accomplished by some sort of superhuman runners. How do they do it...13.1 had almost crippled me!
Well I survived my first Marathon, and second, third, and fourth (barefoot) and then as fate would have it, I was all set to run my 5th but, IT SOLD OUT! I searched for another race and found a small event in Big Bear, Ca called the Holcomb Valley 33 mile. 26.2 is almost 33 right??? True to form I didn't really train, I ran a couple trails thought I was good, and got my ass handed to me by the mountain! I finished, but I had never in my life been in more pain. I still weighed 240 and although I had done what some would consider amazing things...I was still just relying on sheer determination and decent (but untrained) athletic ability to carry me to the finish line.
I followed this up with a rematch with the Holcomb Valley and took almost an hour and a half off of my time from the previous year, but the 100 mile mystery still burned in my brain. I had dreams of running Leadville, Western States and even Badwater, but my legs were still untested at that distance! I don't remember how I found the small, obscure race called The Chimera 100, but I did and I signed up early. Knowing that I had already paid $230 dollars to run the race motivated me to do something I never had before...TRAIN. I ran nearly every day on the toughest hills I could find and really started racking up the miles.
A Facebook site was started for participants as well as a training page so I joined in on a few training runs on the course. The first of which was a 22 miler for which about 20 runners showed up. This was the most down to earth badass group of runners I had ever met, and it wasn't until the pre-run photo was tagged in FB that I realized exactly how badass they were. Not just 100 mile finishers, but true elites of the sport as well! They ran side by side with me chatting it up on the trail. I ran several miles with Theresa Apodaca (cross country coach and Twin Peaks 50 Course record holder), Jesse Haynes (multiple event wins including a 50k win the day before this training run), Michelle Barton (too much to list! Just Google her name), Keira Henniger, Lambert Timmermans, and many more. Most of all I met other runners just like me, John Hockett, Deborah Acosta, Paul Hassett, Rebeccah Ocain, Christine Bilange and Keith Swiatkowski. I was in love with trail running and the people I met along the way. I always brought my MP3 player...but very rarely used it. Being "out there"was entertainment enough just cruising along with a Forest Gump mentality.
I spent a week in bed terribly ill after Twin Peaks. I ran a fever of 103 for four days straight and had a awful sore throat. When I finally got up and running again. I only got about 4 or 5 miles in and was hobbled by knee pain. I have never had knee problems while running, so I just took a few more days off, and attempted another long training run. I did better, but once again I finished with a terrible burning pain in my left knee. I saw the doc, and was diagnosed with IT band friction syndrome...ughhh! Less than a month from my 100 and now this! I stretched, rolled, iced and threw Naproxen at it for another week without running Then decided to attempt one more training run with 2 weeks till Chimera. Susy Gutierrez and John Hansen met me at Bluejay to run "the Candy Store loop" Which is the first segment of Chimera. I felt good on the way out, but on the way back the pain started up again. I started to have thoughts of bailing on Chimera and rolling my entry $$$ to another event. There was already enough mystery and doubt in my head without having to worry about an injury. I finished this 17 mile training run feeling defeated and worried...but still determined! I was going to at least start Chimera...finishing was still part of the mystery....to be continued.