Monday, April 20, 2009

Diablo Marathon Story

If you would rather just see photos, fast forward through this post and then move directly on to the post below this one. If not, sit back with your cup of coffee or your glass of wine and enjoy! This course was AWESOME! Not a lot of repeats which was great. Full of surprises. Some good, some not so much.

I woke up at 4:15, had a couple cups of coffee, did some stretching and was on the road at 5:15 for my hour drive. I hit the pee pee room at the parking lot then went to check in with the beautiful Victoria, and get my number. I said hello to a few familiar faces, introduced myself to Theresa (a fellow PCTR regular) and stood in the back of the group at the starting time of 7:00 a.m. I was so far back, I was having trouble hearing what Wendell had to say. As soon as the crowd starting moving forward, I did too. In typical PCTR fashion, the run started off with a climb. A HUGE CLIMB. Eight miles up, almost 4,000 feet!!! This shows where we started, way over by the rock quarry.

I was happy to see single track, in the shade. For 7:00 a.m. start, you could already feel the heat coming over the mountain. I kept hearing people say, "it's going to be a hot one." We knew this, didn't we? The shaded single track, after a couple more hours, was still 90 degrees.
Theresa and her friend Toni caught me and I hung with them for a little while. I got to the first aid station (Juniper) and Victoria was there with a big hug for me and she refilled my hydration pack. For the life of me, I couldn't tell you what I ate. I know it doesn't matter to you but it's driving me crazy that I can't remember. She told me it was 1.75 miles to the summit and the next aid station. I took off and headed on up to the summit. Theresa said she felt like she had a blister on her heel (new shoes). I had some "second skin" packs with me so I gave her one to put on. It was very steep on this section. You know the kind of steep when you step in front of yourself and your foot slips backwards? It was THAT steep for quite a bit of it. You could reach out and touch the ground IN FRONT OF YOU, not underneath you. These first eight torturous miles took me three hours. Here I am at the top:

The next four miles, we can actually call blissful. Yup, blissful. It was downhill. Runnable downhill. This I could do. But, wait. After a mile or so, I notice runners coming toward me. Hmmmm. Okay, so I have to come back up this. I just kept gleefully running down. And down. And down. And runners kept coming toward me, moving slowly I might add. I was smiling at everyone I saw. I was happy. I was running downhill. I knew I would eventually have to go back up but it didn't really sink in, how much UP it was. I hit the Rock City aid station where I filled up on ice and water and had a PB&J sandwich. I went down the trail to the marathon turn-around point and went back to Rock City aid station. I sat down in a chair for just a minute, took a salt capsule, one Advil and grabbed a huge handful of Ruffles. As I was leaving, some little kid in the campground (yes, we were running through campsites where people were sitting in the shade, grilling yummy smelling food) says "ooooh, chips?" I said, "yup, you come out here and run 26 or 50 miles, your choice, and you too can eat all the Ruffles you want to." I left for my journey back up the hill. All but this little part seemed to be uncovered and in the direct heat of the middle of the day.

I climbed on up. And up. And up. I really wanted to climb into this rock. It looked cool and comfy. But, I didn't. I kept climbing. And climbing. Getting more and more frustrated with the heat. I felt like I was getting nowhere. Nowhere at all. Every time I glanced at my Garmin, it had only changed by .10 mile.
But then I saw Rick. He was literally hopping down the trail. We took a picture of each other taking a picture of each other. I remembered that just a little while before, I was the one hopping down this trail. It gave me strength. I moved forward. I just kept putting one foot in front of the other. I made sure each step was moving me forward, not backward in any way. I stopped if I needed to and ran when I could. I was seriously considering stopping at the next aid station (mile 16) and calling it a day. I wanted to keep going. My heart was in this. If it wasn't for the heat, nothing bothered me. I felt very strong, physically. Nothing was hurting at all. I was drinking tons of ice water, taking salt, a few Advil for preventative purposes. I couldn't make the sun go away though.

Right when I was approaching the Juniper aid station, again running through a campsite, I spotted a water faucet. "Glory, Hallelujah!" I ran over to it, took my hat and sunglasses off and put my head directly under the running water. It was extremely cold and I expressed my satisfaction in a clear, loud roar! I had been given life once more. I skipped into the aid station, stocked up on ice and water, chatted it up a little with the volunteer, got my running instructions and took off once again for the summit. Yes, once again, I had to climb up to the top of the mountain. However, with this new life in me, it was not as difficult as the first time. But, as this picture shows, it was just as steep and rocky as the first time.

And as hot!

But, when I got to the top, I was in a great mood. Because I knew it was all downhill from here, right? Right? That's what I was told. All downhill. Technical, even. I can do downhill like a lot of people can't. Bring on the downhill. So, 18 miles down, I happily began my descent. My happiness comes to a complete halt at mile 19! What sick F&#K puts a monster size hill at mile 19 of a marathon like this one? Tell me who! OMG! I'm so over these f&#*ing climbs. You hear me? I'M OVER CLIMBING ALREADY! F&#K! That was exactly what was going through my mind. But, up I went. I don't know how long the hill was or how long it took me but it seemed to take forever. At last, at the top. Sweet downhill single track. I'm singing again. Britney Spears' "Toxic" comes on and I am running once again.

It's amazing how many times my mood changed during this run. Just like the course - up, down, up, down. Hence this big smile at mile 20. This darn pine cone is almost as big as my head!

Then mile 22 came. Oh, mile 22. On paper you look so nice but in person you SUCKED. You sucked everything out of me. It was now my feet that were requiring attention. Nope, they weren't sore. No blisters, no toenail pain. They were on FIRE. FIRE, I tell you. I pulled off the trail and sat down. I was actually contemplating taking my shoes off so my feet could breathe. I figured running barefoot would have to be a better choice. Seriously! That's what I was thinking. HA! Can you imagine? OMG. People, not runners, just regular (normal) people were hiking up the trail so once in a while I would ask them how much further it was to the parking lot. My Garmin couldn't be 100% accurate, could it? I was running low on water. The summit was the last aid station I would see before heading the eight miles to the finish. My shoulders and arms were getting sunburned and the sun was feeling intense on them. I had a solution. I would put water in my mouth, swish it around, swallow just a little then dribble the rest on my shoulder. That way I could drink and wet my skin. Suddenly a couple approaches me and tells me there is a cool creek just up the trail a bit. WHAT? FOR REAL? I am so there!!! I go as fast as I can for a few minutes. I stop. I listen. I hear running water. Can I hear another "Glory, Hallelujah?!" I go fast again. Then this:

I STAND in the creek (after pushing an older couple out of the way - sorry) for probably five minutes just soaking myself. I was using my hat as a bucket. Every bit of me was absorbing the ice cold creek water. The couple asked what i was doing so I filled them in a little bit. They were impressed, especially with the fact there was a 50-mile run going on in this heat. He was nice enough to take the picture of me. After this great ice bath, I had 2.4 miles to go and I had not a care in the world. I knew without a doubt I would make it and I would be fine. I was hopping over rocks on the trail like they were nothing. I took a wrong turn and didn't even care. I took a picture of myself when I had 1.75 miles to go. Now you know why I looked so fresh and not sweating in that picture. I was happily running along the rolling trail. When I saw the finish line in the distance, I was surprised it was over so soon. I ran through the cones with my hands held above my head as I heard Victoria calling my name. It was so damn great! She kept telling me how fresh I looked. Well, I was. That creek. I owe a lot to that creek.

And I owe a lot to my friends and family that sent me encouraging texts all day long. Penny at
Planet Ynnep Running started her text messages at 4:30 in the morning and didn't stop until I was done. She was sending pictures and making me laugh all through the day. Thanks Penny! Christy sent me a couple of very nice encouraging messages. Thanks girl! HSE Lori called me when I was heading into Rock City and said she was praying for me. That prayer paid off, I'd say. My husband and daughter were helping me out too. I love you guys! Thanks for being so supportive of my crazy addiction. Physically, I may have been alone out there. But I sure didn't feel alone at all.
Would I do it again? In a heartbeat!


MJ said...

Crazy course! Sounds very tough indeed. Way to go - that's a lot of work in a day, and a lot of climbing, and heat!

Congrats again!

Anonymous said...

Amazingly beautiful photos of the scenery!

I am so impressed by how well you did and so excited for you :)

My favorite pic is the one with the pine cone as big as your head!

Rick Gaston said...

You are such a riot. I'm surprised you didn't just sit in the creek to cool off. It was great to see you out there on the trails again. See you in Miwok.

Missy said...

Yay, yay, yay! Wow, what a time you had all the terrain and emotions to boot. Congratulations. Still looks like a hike...with boots, to me:)

Woot, woot, JoLynn!

RunningLaur said...

You're a monster. Oh my holy crap, I'm so impressed!! What a fantastic run!

aron said...


really what else is there to say? The heat destroys me and I cannot even fathom running a race like that in that heat. you are seriously amazing and should be sooo proud of yourself!!! What an awesome accomplishment!!

LOVE your race report too... trail running is so fun :) always an adventure out there!

theresa said...

Hi-It's Theresa! I really enjoyed reading your report! Yeah, that hill at mile 19 was just...NOT funny. Toni took a picture of it and I look at it now and just laugh. I'm right there with ya about the faucet. I've got a funny picture of me getting wet by a faucet and I think it'll make you laugh! I put my email in a comment on one of your earlier posts. Send me a note and I'll send you the pics! Great job and thanks for blogging!!! And for the second skin as well!

Anonymous said...

Your report makes me want to run your race now. Tough, but your attitude was just right on.

run to eat said...

Woman, you are amazing!! I don't think I could do anything for 9 hours straight (well, except sleep!) You are such an inspiration and an example of mental toughness. How many calories (donuts) did your Garmin say you burned?? :)

Southbay Girl said...

What an awesome race report!! It so details every emotion and horrible hill you were on!! I knew it was steep-but the pictures made it a reality! And you ran those hills!! I'm telling you, you are my hero and superwoman!!! The heat alone would have taken me down!!! You conquered DIABLO!! You kicked DIABLO'S ASS!! You rock!!

Maybe when I become a "big girl trail runner" I'll attempt a race like that and follow in the footsteps of my trail running hero, Jo Lynn!!!!

René said...

Right on! You're lucky you had the creek!

Victoria said...

That was the funniest report I've ever read from you! Nice! You ran like a champion-- you make me want to go run a bunch of miles in the heat and do a lot of up and down. Seriously, I am so glad I got to see you start/come through aid stations/finish-- I was pretty excited about your run, too!

(So does this mean you'd consider a 50 miler? ;-)

Lily on the Road said...

WOW!! How great is that! You are amazing! That was one honking pine cone!!

Thanks for the pictures...absolutely stunning!

Marcy said...

CONGRATS! Dang girl you are way hardcore! Britney, eh? I would have NEVER pegged you for a Brit listener. I *heart* that song as well (ssshhh don't tell anyone LOL)

RBR said...

FREAKING AWESOME!!! Great race report,great pictures, and great race!

I would have loved to be out there suffering with you but I was doing a little suffering of my own that day in NV.

Come on you know you want to do back to back marathons, come do Big Sur with me!!

willgotthardt said...

Well done on both race & report (funny)...congrats, good stuff.

Will G.

Judi said...

it is gorgeous out there! sounds like a fantastic marathon! i'd love to do a trail marathon too someday. thanks for sharing!

Catra said...

Awesome job girlie you rock!!! Next year I see the 50 miler in your future...I'll never forget you pacing me there. I was a wreck and you kept me moving.
See you at Mi-wok...Love ya,
P.S Rocky misses Boomer

Donald said...

Great report! Congrats on making it through a really tough one. You somehow managed to look great in all your pictures.

I spent some quality time in that creek as well. I only wish they had more of them, spread out at regular intervals over the course.