20130923

Georgia Jewel Weekend

My last-minute decision to run the Georgia Jewel 35-miler last weekend turns out to be a good one. A group of friends had made plans and arrangements to go, running all distances: 35, 50, and 100! Everything was in place, I couldn't pass up the fun to run with old friends and meet new ones, and see Sully running a difficult 100!

A storm was passing through on Saturday and it was torrential downpour from the start at 5 a.m.! The first 10 miles through the "rock garden" was difficult for me. It was hard to see through the heavy rain and fog in the dark with my glasses and crappy headlamp (Lesson learned: I'm investing in a better headlamp - it's worth it). Sky lightened up after the first 10 miles and we also got to run on smoother single-tracks. I was able to pick up my pace a bit and caught up with a few that passed me during the Rock Garden. Unlike the point-to-point 50-miler, the 35-miler was an out-and-back. During the return trip, some sections of the trail had now become gushing streams... I took extra cautions since the ankle deep water was hiding the rocks. Later, I was told that one river crossing for the 50 & 100-miler swept away two runners and a truck was floating trying to cross it! Crazy! I finished the race in 7 hours flat.
Race Start (I'm in a red jacket behind the five guys up front).
Aside from learning the importance of a headlamp, something said in the race briefing carried me through the run. Our group had joked about how the brief was ...a little less than informative. But one thing Jeremy, one of the race directors had said in the meeting stuck with me, unknowingly, till I was on the course wondering how I was going to get through this "misery": Become a better person. Overcoming hardship and difficulties builds character. Jeremy reminds us that when we have enough perseverance and courage to run through certain distances and difficulties, we, inevitably, will become better people. That was what carried me through the race. When I felt inadequate at the Rock Garden, when I was discouraged by being passed by so many, when the rain got heavier and heavier, and when I just wanted to stop, the phrase turned these difficulties to an opportunity of growth. Running the race is not just about being fast, or faster than the next person, but learning and growing as a person through difficulties, struggles, discouragement, and disappointments. I want to finish the race well and return home as my better (yet still-in-the-works) self. I hope I have done just that. Thank you, Jeremy!

While Joe and I had both finished the 35-miler, Angie, Katie, and Rachael were still running their 50-miler. We headed to the 50-mile turn-around to hang out with Jason's crew: Nick, Bryan, and Annie. They were incredible at taking care of Jason, from cooking, tending to his needs, to encouraging him to keep going. Here, I learned the importance of a supportive crew: Don't attempt a 100-miler without one! In the next 24 hours, when I showered, ate, slept, and ate again, Jason and his pacer Annie were still out on the course. A couple minutes passed 11 a.m. on Sunday, we saw two figures emerged from the trees, both carrying a huge smile. Right before the finish line, Jason threw his two hand-helds into the sky, let out a beastly cry, and concluded an epic journey.
Sully with his 5th buckle.


3 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing this and congratulations on your race. It was a very special weekend with great friends.

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    1. I'm so grateful to be able to take part and witness your epic journey. You are such an inspiration! Many more to come. :)

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  2. Congrats on your race, Phyllis! It must have been awesome to see Jason come out of the woods and finish his race. I would love to have seen that!

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