Bear with me as I attempt to recall this amazing experience! I had been battling a cold or the flu for almost 2 weeks leading up to the run and was really starting to worry. There was NO WAY I would miss this run. As soon as I started feeling bad I began taking Zicam and it seemed to help for the first week until the day I was driving to the race....I am glad I decided to drive over on Thursday this way I didnt have the stress of driving 6.5 plus hours the day before the run and have to get to packet pick up and check in the hotel all that day...instead now I could get there check in and just relax. I had some errands at home to take care of Thursday and had to take the dogs to the kennel and my folks watch my little one and got out of town around 10:30. My throat now was raw, my ears felt hollow and my arms and such were really weak feeling so I stopped and got Vit C, Airbourne, Dayquil and NiQuil capsules and I began more medicine. I checked into the hotel and went to an Italian restaurant that evening and tried to get some rest. I had planned to go to the pre race dinner on Friday but was already debating my day. When I got up Friday I now felt even worse, I even felt a little warm but I went about my day and tried to have an early lunch because now I knew I wasnt going to the dinner, instead I would eat early get my packet and come back to the hotel to just rest. I had only eaten about half my pasta from Olive Garden and had to excuse myself because it was not gonna stay in my belly....needless to say my friday's pre race meals didnt go over well. Once I got to the packet pickup at 3pm I got my packet and decided I was getting a JFK50 jacket, stickers and all the goodies...this was the race and this was the 50th running of the race I will do this no matter what and by purchasing the jacket there would be no stopping me cause I was going to wear that damn thing!! Being at the small expo and around others actually boosted me and I felt almost immediately better. I met Shaunte another friend from the JFK Facebook page and we had a nice visit. I got back to the room took some more airbourne, vit c and the niquil capsules and just relaxed while watching TV and touching base with my ride for the morning. I was catching a ride with some folks I had met on the JFK facebook page and we were leaving around 3:45am to get to the pre race meeting. I slept fairly well considering the pre race sleep always sucks and I still wasnt feeling well, I didnt make any promises with the devil or offer and trades like I will do this if you keep me well, instead I simply prayed that I would be well enough to finish the run and then if I am to be sick so be it...come and get me. I got up around 3am, had a bagel with some peanut butter and headed to Paul and Joes rooms. I grabbed a banana and took it with me sice the start was at 5am and I would probably want to try to put something else in my body before then. I didnt feel so bad when I got up and the spirits from Paul and Joe and all their stories that they began to so humbly tell me about what they have done in their lifetime had my in awe. I've never been one to worry about how long it takes me to finish a run or a tri or anything like that as long as I finish and do the best the I can do I am happy. I wont go and say I would have done better if I was feeling 100% and make excuses because my goal was and always will be simple....FINISH WHAT I SET OUT TO DO. We got to the gym and here I ran into Shaunte and also Rose who is from Florida...she wasnt too sure if some family issues was going to allow her to come but the evening before she found out it was a go. We sat in the gym and listened to the pre race meeting, the talks about the Appalachian Trail and if we did feel like we could finish in less then 12 hours we shouldnt take the 5am start due to running alot of the trail in the dark and it would essentially slow you down. I still didnt want to take any chances I wanted that 2 hour time cushion. The month before I had stopped thru town on my way to run Delaware and NJ and drove the road that leads to the trail and remembered it being one major hill....I wasnt looking forward to that! The gun sounded and up the road we went....there was only a couple gradual hills and I jogged a few and then started to walk a few to save my energy for the rest of the day...I thought...wow this hill really seemed alot worse when I drove it that day and we had already gone almost 2 miles I think and then WHAM....there was the hill I remembered. For the next 3.5 miles we climb and climb and climb I believe it is over 1,000 feet. At the 5am start everyone walked this...and chatted and told stories from previous years running. I was so surprised by the number of repeat entrants...through out the day I think I only met 2 other people that were doing their first JFK50 miler like myself...others anywhere from their 3rd to their 25th! I met some awesome people out there. Once we got onto the trail it was rocky to say the least... am really surprised the trail rating is only a 2 for technical and I had been running several courses that were ranked as 3 and 4? It was very hard to run on most of the AT....you had to jog very slowly and actually take it to a walk through numerous places. I dont know what mile I was on but it was here I ran into Steve Bozeman....Steve is a 66 year old man from VA who in October of this year just finished his 16th DOUBLE IRONMAN-the back of his number also read going for JFK50 number 25..this was great for starting up conversation and instantly we started chatting and I lead the pace...I dont know how many ultras and such he had ran but his stories were amazing! ....he stumbled and I pulled him up and he had cut the side of his face, their was blood but it wasnt too deep, I asked if he wanted me to clean it up and he said nope I gotta show my buddy up ahead...we laughed and then spoke of how cool and badass he looked. He then talked about a run that he has done on many occasions that gives a prize at the end to the person with the most blood at the end. He also talked of his friend who had just gotten ahead of him and also had done a ton of ultra events and I believe was going on finishing his 19th JFK 50 this year, his name Irving King Jordan, King Jordan was the President of Gallaudet University for years which is a deaf University and was deaf himself. My cousin Jill actually attended this University and I figured she would know him, in fact I found out he wasnt President yet when she attended but she did have him as a professor for a class. (small world!) Once we got to King, Steve waited till he was beside him and gently reached to let him know he was beside him and showed off his wounds. We were approaching another crazy rocky area of the trail and had picked up another gal that kept pace with us, I dont remember her name but this was her 6th time doing the run and she was 41 years old. King fell but was uninjured on that fall and we picked him up and the gal laughed and said Im getting in front of you cause everytime Im behind you fall...everyone giggled. We didnt get much further and down he went again...I could hear his head hit this rock and it wasnt good. He rolled and said oh my head and we all bent over for him as he grasped his toboggan and began to remove it...blood gushed. Myself and another guy went ahead to let them know to call for some help...in the meantime Paul came up from behind and later I found he had a small medical kit in his bag so he got him cleaned up, wrapped up and able to walk the remaining mile or so of the trail but this was the worse part of the trail coming up! It was a 1,000 foot drop in elevation over a mile with crazy ass switchbacks! The top contenders who started 2 hours after us were starting to fly by and you just look at them with your jaw to the ground wondering how in the hell they can run on those rocks, I honestly dont think their feet even touch the ground. King didnt get to finish the run instead they got him to the hospital and had to have 10 stitches, but he's already to go again next year. Another man had fallen and broke his arm but allowed them to tape him up and didnt go to the hospital till he was finished. So now I was realizing why I had read "If you get off the Appalachian Trail uninjured you are in great shape" When I got off the trail I was ready to run, my right hip though was giving me some fits.
I was also told that the C&O Canal Towpath in which we had to run a marathon on would really get to me...I refused to let that get to my head and told those that Ive done plenty of boring marathons it wont bother me...OH MY!!! I dont think I was half way thru it and it was a major suck fest. I met lots of other people here and talked to them and Joe and I would play leap frog and have some encouraging words exchanged. Here he let me know at what time each cut off was coming and not to let the trail suck me in...he said the trail has a tendency to have you walk and before you know it you will be walking too much and miss the next cutoff, you cant think about the finish line cutoff because there are mile marker cut offs out there as well. The JFK50 has a strict policy that NO LISTENING DEVICES ARE ALLOWED,,,if you are caught with one you will be pulled off the course and never allowed to run it again. We were allowed our phone for emergencies and I took a couple photos out there. I was about half way thru and called my mom and talked for a bit, my phone was eating up my battery cause of course I had to post my photos and such on FB! I was at mile 16 of the marathon and starting singing to the tune of I dont give a damn about the whole state of Michigan but my words were I dont give a damn about the old C&O Canal and then would end it with but I have 10 more miles to go..then would start up again and sing again with a different amount of miles to go...it isnt as fast pace song as 99 bottles of beer on the wall as the miles are not knocked off as fast.
I met Santa at the mile 34 aid station...at this point I was concentrating on just getting to the next station...I had forgot my garmin but it didnt bother me cause I hate wearing it on Ultras and looking at it think shit I have this much longer to go. I had half a peanut butter and jelly uncrustable here and it was the best damn pb&j sandwich I think I've ever had. I knew the next station was mile 38 and they call it the 38 Special...for weeks I had read about the homemade red velvet cake at this station and was hoping there would be some left, but while running I had completely forgotten that this next station was where I should find the cake!! The crowd at this station was hugh...they were lined up on each side with signs and noise makers just cheering you on. I grabbed some animal crackers, jelly beans and a couple starburst and then I hear "Would you like a piece of Red Velvet Cake" I was like Hell yeah!! I've heard about this for weeks..but you have to take my photo eating it. As I ran thru this aid station I then knew that I had less then a half marathon to go and the very next station would be the last on this freaking canal!! You had to be at that station by 5:00 and if you were there before 3:00 you didnt have to take a safety vest to wear for nightfall. I arrived at 3:30 I had my pink jacket that I could wear with the lights that flashed and the Grim Reaper as they call Wayne said it was ok for me to wear that instead of a vest. Finally we are back on a road and a different view. Immediately we climbed a hill but it actually felt good to use a different muscle....at the top it became rolling and I tried to jog but my right hip couldnt take it....I had been popping some motrin for awhile every couple hours and had already taken 4 so didnt want to take anymore. Each time I tried to jog that extra weight from the pounding was horrible, I realized I had plenty of time to finish and decided to just try to fast walk pace as much as I could. Soon I met up with a guy from Dayton Ohio and we hung together for probably 4 miles...he was there with a big group of friends also running and thought for sure they would catch him while he walking then assumed they probably resorted to walking as well. He spoke of the crew they brought with them and thought he would atleast be seeing someone on the road side but it wasnt until about 1 mile to go and a female came to him...he introduced me and I said it was nice to meet her and he's been telling me about his friends out here waiting on you. She gave me the impression that 3 was a crowd even though she wasnt running the race she was there for support for him and whoever else was with them. I could have imagined her attitude but im not sure haha so I just sucked it up and decided to leave the two of them and started to shuffle...I had one mile I got this I can shuffle for a mile. I came upon a few small climbs and walked up them until I could see the light of the finish and I heard the announcer say we are coming upon an hour and 17 minutes until the end....in 17 minutes we will start the countdown to just an hour to finish. I mustered enough energy and made it to the finish in 12:47. I entered the gym and ran into Joe..he thought Paul had already finished and I went to grab my bag and sign up for a massage. Joe grabbed me some pizza, I went after burritos for the 2 of us. Shortly after I got a text from Paul that he was just finishing. I had forgot a towel for a shower so skipped it, had a massage and waited till Paul showered and had a massage and then we headed to the cars to get back to the hotel. I showered and then went to their rooms for some drinks and stories. It was just a super weekend!