Antelope Canyon 50 miler: A Sandy Beast

Beware: beautiful, beautiful pain ahead.

I need to write this blog now. In just about 24 hours I will forget all about the brutal, agonizing, painful, emotional, and grueling parts — only to be replaced by the wonderful, exhilarating, amazing, breath-taking, powerful, all-encompassing beauty of the experience.

I am going to be real here: That Race Broke Me.

But, here’s the awesome part about running. Any race. Any distance. If you keep on, if you push through, you will finish. And it’s not really about the time, it’s about the experience. It’s just the sheer fact that YOU DID IT. No matter what, you did NOT GIVE UP. And that’s what the post is going to be about.

Here’ some nice photos to get you feeling warm and fuzzy. These are the sights that kept me going.

About 5 miles into the race. Awesomeness!
En route to Antelope Canyon — perfect weather, brilliant skies.
An awesome runner at the entrance of Antelope
This sums up how I feel about everything. Right now. And all at once.
The incomparable Antelope Canyon (oh man, how I wish I had a real camera!!)

Running through Antelope was magnificent. Everyone had so much energy. It was just pure exhilaration. I was feeling great. Awesome. On fire!

The views after Antelope were spectacular. Ultra Adventures knows how to put on a show.

Runners above, runners below.
Surreal. Just that.

I whizzed through Horseshoe bend checkpoint way ahead of schedule. That should have been my queue to slow the heck down. But true to Jill style, I wanted to go fast. I wanted to finish fast! I should have listened to my inner voice of reason saying “you will pay for this later, trust me.”

Meanwhile… the views at Horseshoe Bend:

I can’t even write a proper description.

After this beautiful view things went quickly downhill.

I just. got. tired.

Really tired. Really fast.

Thankfully I had a nice stash of Honey Stinger gels and waffles. I knew I wasn’t doing very well. My heart started beating out of my chest, anxiety set in, and I felt very sick. This usually means I need to refuel. And fast.

I also didn’t pee yet — which was bad. Really bad. I drank as much as I could stomach, ate a waffle and kept on. I wanted to cry but really I just had to mentally get through.

I made it to the next aid station. I cannot say enough about the volunteers who sacrifice their weekends to accommodate our crazy running aspirations. THANK YOU! The folks there got me right back on track.. some salty chips and chia fresca (I dont know.. it was awesome tho!) and I was feeling A OK again! I navigated the trippy waterholes slot canyon (see photo below)….

There are tears behind that smile.

 Once I climbed out of water holes, game was ON. I hooked up with such an amazing runner, Zanna, who kepts me moving. Actually, we were flying! I felt awesome (that’s the beauty of the ultra – one minute you are down for the count — and a few potato chips and a honey stinger later you are LIGHTNING!)

At mile 34ish I saw my FAMILY! This meant everything to me! I could do it! I could push through. Those cute little blondies yelling “GO MOM”.. Steve, the most amazing husband ever who puts up with this craziness… I knew I had to shove on.

mile 37 I saw these smiling faces — xoxoxo my Kanab friends, who took a day to volunteer and be AWESOME, per usual:

OK, 13 miles to go. I got this. Right! Right???

Well, my mind was saying yes. My stomach was saying “yeh right, lady — no way.” And here’s tip #1 from ultrarunner Jill. Never.. NEVER.. forget immodium on a long run. It’s really the difference between life and death. Or, smiling and crying. I felt SO sick. So so so sick.

Here’s the deal though. In ultrarunning you meet these amazing souls. People who would sacrifice their own time for YOU. Little ol’ you. Those people, for me, were Sean and Sue. Sean — amazing, never give up, always positive, keep moving… and Sue — “you got this, you are a warrior, you are NOT quitting” These two people literally kept me moving. I cannot say enough about the ultrarunning community. Everyone is just so awesome and willing to help you achieve your goals.

At mile 49.8 I saw them. I saw the smiling faces of the three people I love the most in this world: Steve, Harry and JJ. Harry kicked it up and ran with me the final .2 miles, through the finish line.

11 hours and 39 min. I’ll take it! (4 HOURS off of last year’s time. OK — YES! Heck yes! I’ll take it!)

My motivator, Sue. This lady rocks!
My hand crafted finisher bracelet. Love it! I earned it!!

A couple shout outs — first to Ultra Adventures — The coolest people, the most bad ass races. I love these guys.

Also to Honey Stinger who fueled my run and gave me the pure, natural energy to keep going. And to Athleta, the ONLY running tights I swear by — just cool looking, SUPER comfortable, supportive and ready to perform.

Oh wow, look at that! I’ve already forgotten about those rough patches 🙂 Monument Valley in a month? Bring.It.On 🙂

Thanks for reading xoxo

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