Gratitude……. VT100 recap

“May the gratitude in my heart kiss all the universe.”

~Hafiz

Gratitude…..this is my mantra of the year.  I’m so grateful for my family and friends and all the amazing adventures we share together, so grateful to pursue my dreams, and so grateful to help others pursue theirs.  July 21st was a day to remember.

The week of the race proved to be a little stressful for me. I’m a new member of the VT100 race committee (which I love volunteering for) and my duties for the VT100 included vendor coordination (ie, porta potties, food, tents, trash, sound equipment and organizing & marking the 5k & kids race) I had all my ducks in a row and felt confident that everything was coming together, except the porta pottie company had other plans.  Wednesday, hubs and I drove to all the aid stations that needed the almighty, trusty toilets, to put out signs for placement of them, making sure it was nice and easy for the company to know where they should go…. man does this course cover some ground!  Thursday late morning rolls around and no signs of the potties at base camp.  I get on the phone ASAP (this was a recurring nightmare of mine over the past weeks that no toilets would be out on course or camp) trying to locate the branch manager who could help me find where our missing toilets were….I’ll be honest, there were tears of frustration because I had spent countless hours making google maps, leaving signs and then sheer panic set in, there are hundreds and hundreds of people about to descend on Silver Hill in less than a day.  Shit!!! It took around six hours to finally get someone who would call me back.  Back up to Silver Hill we went, the sight of the first truck was around 6pm (only 10 hours late :/) Hubs helped the guys unload them in flip-flops (please don’t crush your toes!!) and I quickly helped add TP to all of them and sent the drivers off, asking them over and over, do they know where they all go..aid stations are sprinkled out over 5 towns or so….fingers crossed!!! Thanks so much to my amazing hubby who kept me cool, calm, and collected…..I have so much gratitude for you …..thankfully everything turned out ok.

Friday morning we headed up to Silver Hill to drop the boys off for their volunteering duties.  Hubs and I were one of the first ones to check in, it was quiet and peaceful walking though the vendors tents, sampling on caramel and catching up with friends. I was so grateful to have Emily, my good buddy doing my medical check.

 

The Ultra Lite 5k race and Kids race went really well…it was so awesome seeing so many partake in our hilly, tough all-trail course.  Hubs and I loved cheering them all on out there on course.  After the 5k, I started to freak a little about how much we still had to get done.  We hadn’t packed anything yet, animals needed to be fed and friends were arriving soon.  We decided to skip out on dinner, I was sad not to see friends (some of who were Instagram friends I’d never met..boo), but it calmed my nerves to head back home and organize my stuff, take a breather, and to finally get out of the sun….

 

Saturday the alarm went off bright and early.  Hubs enjoyed making his breakfast sandwiches for everyone, it soothes him.  I quietly meditated, allowing my mind to calm before breakfast, this has been a wonderful morning ritual for me.  Hugh, hubs and I chatted with Jules (my BFF and Hugh’s wifey) and gathered our belongings that would be with us for the day.

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Hubs, me and Hugh…..almost time to head to the start! Let’s do this! It’s all about friends…

Walking to the start, we bumped into Nat, we had run some miles with him the year before, such a great guy.  Quickly saw my parents for a hug (found them at the coffee spot..who knew..hehehehe)  and then we walked to the start, we made sure we didn’t get there too early to keep the nerves at bay.  3, 2, 1……and we’re off! It was a totally different feeling this year, I wasn’t a knotted mess like last year.  I thought of all the people who donated to our sponsor board for Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports and looked at hubs, “we can do this…together this year, I know we can”. The first few miles were effortless, cruising in the twilight, the glow sticks lighting our way, the footfalls of runners next to us, the beauty all around.  The excitement of runners all around me…..breathe in breathe out.  We knew this course inside and out and simply wanted to enjoy the day (and then some) together. Date day and night as we liked to call it…….

The miles steadily ticked by, chatting with fellow runners as they passed…I knew the horses would be coming by around mile 10 or so.  Last year, this brought on a lot of anxiety due to my accident….but this year, I was calmer and couldn’t wait to see my horse friends zoom by me…it was like a revolving cheering squad. The horses have such grace and power as they passed, brought back so many wonderful memories I had on the course with my horses…..  I couldn’t wait to see my dear friend, Laura Farrell, aboard her Arabian, Sven….She passed us with the most beautiful smile, my heart was so happy! (she went on to complete the 100 and joined the ranks of women who have ridden and run this event..oh and she’s the amazing founder of both the VT100 run and Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sport…..such a humble, kind woman……couldn’t be more proud of her.) Also fellow horse girl, Michelle Rice went on to finish her first 100 in style and joined the few of us women who have run and ridden both.. pretty stellar weekend.

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Laura on Sven (left) This made my morning!! Blurry as I was running trying to take a pic….hehehe

Our first Handler station would be Pretty House at 21.3 and the first time we’d see our incredible crew….our boys, Justin and Jase (I melted every time I saw them), Elaine (Guy’s sis and fabulous pacer) and Christine (Elaine’s partner and our sis in law…she is also our fearless leader and Badass Crew Chief).  It was wonderful to see everyone, we did a quick shirt change as it was getting warmer and added our ice sleeves and ice bandanas just in case we needed them.  We knew we’d be climbing up and over the Sound of Music (the most beautiful open meadow with the sweetest view for miles) nice cool gear might be helpful.  We dumped our trash and grabbed more tailwind packets and spring energy and kissed everyone goodbye and off we went.  We knew we’d see our crew again in about nine miles.

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Pretty House Aid Station……our sponsor board joined us at every handler station…so grateful for all of you who donated to Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sport on our behalf…..

 

I was looking forward to experiencing the “Sound of Music” in a much better state of mind and body, last year I was very nauseous through most of the first 70 miles (mostly from my anxiety), are you sensing a theme from last year?  I worked hard this year to focus on what I wanted…that being, I wanted less fear, no more boogie man lurking in my mind…less fear of my anxiety, let the worries pass. Breathe in..Breathe out.

 

Onto Stage Road (mile 30.3) and another chance to see our trusty crew…this time adding two dear friends, Tanya (my sensational pacer) and Emily. Thanks ladies for all you did for us!!!

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Hard at work….you want how many Spring Energy gels??

 

It was getting warmer, so we stayed only briefly to swap out our trash for more Tailwind Nutrition and Spring Energy gels.  We were consuming 125 calories per hour of Tailwind and 100 calories from Spring every 45 minutes and food at aid stations where we could.  I’m still not the best eater, so this combo was working really well for me.  I still get a twinge of jealousy seeing someone wolf down a burger at aid stations, so wish I had that talent.  Leaving Stage, you climb up and over Suicide Six (ski area) and cross the AT trail at the top…..we felt strong leaving here and continued pushing on…We had 3 aid stations between Stage and Camp Ten Bear (mile 47 and the next time we’d see our family) Crossing the Lincoln Covered Bridge we felt fantastic…..we ran into the aid station and got a yummy cold popsicle…..nothing ever tasted so good.  We also met Danielle from FL who was back for her redemption run at VT.  We chatted and passed the time on the relentless climb to Lillian’s…I kept promising her that the climb was almost over, but I don’t think she quite believed me 😉 We said goodbye and said “I’m sure we’ll see ya again” and kept power walking the hill.  Down, down, down, we passed our friend, Tina’s (where we got our precious goats) house and almost to Lillian’s.  Another popsicle and more ice to jam into the ice sleeves, and we marched on up Route 106 (one of the few paved sections of the 100 which is a hot section) towards Camp Ten Bear.  We had yet to do a sock & shoe change, so our plan was to do that there.

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So much Tailwind consumed!!

Camp Ten Bear……we’re nearly half way and we are both feeling great!  Do we do a sock change??  Nah, no hot spots, so we collect more TW and Spring and decide to keep going, only spending a few minutes here…last year, I think I spent at least half an hour to eat soup and reset.  A difference a year can make.  Leaving this aid station is demoralizing, as you know you have about a 20 mile loop ahead of you before you come back and meet your pacers, a 20 mile HARD loop in Reading, VT, lots and lots of climbing.  Agony, being one of the hills….self explanatory on that one.

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The rock on Agony that I sat down and cried at last year…This year I said “not this time!”

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selfie time!

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Loved seeing this sign

 

This next section is rolling hills with your sights set on Margaritaville (mile 58.5) There is a 2 mile climb into this aid station that can take the wind out of your sails.  Hubs and I power walked this feeling pretty damn good.  We knew we wanted to take a bit more time at this aid station to get headlamps, etc and I wanted to SIT!  Even if it were for only a few minutes, we hadn’t sat down yet and I was craving it.  We walked past the aid station over to where our crew was and I sat right down on the grass with a shit eating grin on my face….pure Heaven. Our two close friends, Jim and Amanda came to this crew  spot…and brought us Ben & Jerry’s….wow, that never tasted so good!!!  So good to see them… We gobbled some broth down, yum and made our way back to the course.  Only a few short miles (11ish) till we’d see our PACERS……..Yahoo!! We’d been counting down the miles all day, 40 miles till Elaine and Tanya, 25 miles, 15….you get the idea…..You are elated when you can finally have your pacer…

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sitting never felt so good…..

 

The sun was going down, a relief, and we were on Browns School house trail (thankfully done with Brown School House Road..should be named “the never-ending road with slight elevation” My phone rings.. It’s Justin…”Mom, Jase wants to sleep and not come to Ten Bear” Me…”That’s fine bud, if he’s tired, he can stay home” Justin… “I think he should have to come” Me…”I don’t have energy to break up fights right now, I’m at mile 66.5, you guys handle this one peacefully please”  I had to laugh, not at them, just for the fact that being a mom, you are always on the job…and I love it to pieces…

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Puckerbush Aid Station…they even had the Porta Potty decorated….cowboy themed… (mile 61.6)

We popped out of the trail, a few miles from our second trip through Camp Ten Bear.  We get to see our Crew and Pacers!!! Hallelujah!!! A little bit before the aid station, we heard two familiar voices, Chris and Jim walking towards us (one of our bestest friends, who has also finished this beast of a race twice!)  We’re so close, they brought instant smiles to our faces, couldn’t wait to see the rest of the crew….We made it to Ten Bear….30 miles till home, with just a few big climbs sprinkled in.  Can you believe we still didn’t change our socks/shoes….if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it mentality.  I have to say, my ProCompression socks were kicking ass, no hot spots and my legs felt good for carrying my butt 70 miles.

Off we went, the four of us…..headlamps bobbing in the night.  Nibbling on homemade Chocolate Chip cookies from Amanda…still wishing I could wolf it down, I think Guy gobbled down two…  We tackled Heartbreak together, Loop trail, on our way to ’76.  Our main crew would not be meeting us there, they were ready for some much-needed down time (they do it all, animal care, human care, well pretty much everything in those 30 hours..thank you!!)but, Amanda came with fresh Blueberry muffins…Guy wolfed down two…..I nibbled, but asked if we could have one for Sunday….dreaming of eating normal food.  Who brings you fresh baked goodies at 1am….of course…Amanda, we love you!!  We kept praying to the rain Gods, that it would hold off, the weather was calling for a dousing of rain overnight and we all were hoping the rain would not show up……

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The glorious moon…..somewhere out there on course..

Tanya and Elaine kept the mood light and cheery…Guy and I would politely listen mostly, sometimes partaking in the conversation.  Tanya would offer me hard candies, which were to die for.  I was finally getting sick of Spring energy, to this point I consumed, no joke, 24 of them.  I needed a change and the candy was that!  Mile 87 was hard, really hard.  It’s the mile we pass our house.  Last year I cried, this year I was just pissed.  The comforts of home are literally right there, I could feel it.  I knew my boys were sound asleep in dreamland, my comfy bed beckoning me…..but we had to march on to Bill’s, we were getting this done, because we could.

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one of my fav pics of the day….pure exhaustion meets adoration………..I love the way hubs is looking at me…love that boy…

 

We stayed at Bill’s WAY too long, but it was good to get more broth into us and rest our bodies for a bit.  12 miles, 12 freaking miles to go!!  Leaving here, we got more determined.  Our only time goal, was to be under 30 hours, our main objective…to finish.  So, that’s what we set out to do those last 12 miles.  This was our home turf now, a section we run almost weekly.  We started to perk up as the sun was rising (I think it’s pretty special that we get to see two sun rises….) and the energy was building.  We ran into Nat again and his awesome pacer, Chloe….it was great to see his smiling face again.  Tanya and Elaine led this brigade forward with pep, happiness, and zest.

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The sun is rising…

Next stop is Polly’s (mile 94.9) We quickly say hi to Emily and Chris and they hand us a refreshing Gingerale, nice and cold and push us on our way.  It’s now getting so real.  I kept telling myself how lucky we are to be here, in this moment, with friends and family.  We get to do this.  Even if each step is painful, even if at times you feel like stopping, we get to do this, so much gratitude filled my heart.

 

We kept seeing more and more runners, each one of them with the same determination on their faces.  Why did they run this race, what motivated them to push their bodies to do this, it’s on the trails we get to learn so much about ourselves. It’s the trails that speak to us.  I’m forever grateful for my time spent in nature.  As we approached the mile to go sign, we knew we’d finish, I wanted to take it in for the second time with a new set of eyes.  It’s different the second time.  I felt this go round, I enjoyed it so much more when I let go of the fear.  Isn’t that something we can do in our normal lives too, I’m working on that.

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YES!!!!! 1 to go!!!!

Snaking through the trail near the finish, we spot our dear friend Fred (another finisher of this crazy race…it’s amazing how many people from our small town have finished this race) sitting on a rock, cheering his heart out for us.  Our friend Nat had passed us, when we let a pack of people by us, we wanted to have a nice moment across the finish line together….Nat then gently pulled over to the side and said “I’m not going ahead of you two, you helped me along these past few miles and I want you to go ahead”  This. This is our sport.  This is the friendships that form out on the trails.  The comaraderie of fellow runners is astounding.  You’ll see us high-fiving Nat in the beginning of the video below that Fred captured.  Thanks Fred for cheering us on, can’t wait to share the trails with you next year! 2019 is it!!!

 

The Finish

Finishing the VT100 with my best friend and love of my life was pretty darn special….I’ll never forget my second VT100 on foot…Guy made it so magical for me.  Sharing the day with him, chatting about life and our boys made the miles fly by.  I literally had to pinch myself the first 70….we get to do this!  The last 30 I was more tired, but my heart was still so full of gratitude………thanks to everyone who cheered for us, sent us messages, gave us hugs and took care of us during the day and night…..we will be forever thankful for you.  You guys rock!! Congrats to everyone who toed the line and to all finishers…..you are all winners……….Thanks also to the amazing volunteers who make this race what it is today, Amy R, VT100’s fearless Race director, and to everyone who supported Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports. The VT100 raised over $150,000.00!!!!!!!! Now that is something to be grateful for………

 

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out on course….the things you see..

Thanks for following my VT100  journey. I hope you’ll want to run it next year, come see what VT has to offer. Whether you’re an elite, a first timer, or just wanting to get around the course feeling good, I think you’ll love what VT has to offer.  Or maybe you want to pace or volunteer…..we’re always looking for awesome people to help out!  This race is so special to me and my family and is the reason why we live where we do today.

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Hubs and I sharing a special moment at the finish…this was finish #6 for him and finish #2 for me on foot. 10 total VT100 finishes, including my 8 finishes on horseback.  Pretty dang proud.

See you on the trails….wishing you a happy rest of your summer….maybe I’ll see some of you at the Jay Peak Trail Festival and the VT50!!!  Until then, keep inspiring each other and fill your heart with gratitude…..happy trails…

Krista 🙂 xoxoxoxoxo

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