Monday, July 16, 2012

BOMF Lone Ranger 2012

I am wobbly and swollen today but also blithe and jaunty. If you saw me, you might think, "Wow, she doesn't look too great." But it's like that oft repeated adage: 

Never judge a girl by the swollenness of her legs. 
She might be blithe and jaunty. 

Results: 1st Place, 135.3 miles
Race Status: The worst one of my life.
Weather: Rain. When it eventually cleared up, I was already demoralized and soggy.
The glass is half full: I might have gotten all sweaty, but there'd be no way of knowing since I was drenched.

Ultramarathoning has allowed me to experience a lot of the world. It has brought me to many exotic places--like Huntsville and Philadelphia. The Lone Ranger was in Philadelphia.

I love the Lone Ranger 24-Hour, so when I was asked to return for the third year, it wasn't even a question. The race is easy-going, and the people are wonderful. The director, Anne Mahlum, is affable and attentive to her runners. Plus, she has a HUGE heart, and her races are fundraisers for Back On My Feet. You can read about the organization here.

Still, it was only two months after nationals, and these longer races demand longer recovery times. With other big races on the horizon, I hoped to approach the event more like a fitness test. If it felt reasonable on race day, I would aim to break my own course record because when I set it last year, I did poorly with time management...

(Last year, I got the giggles 126 miles into the race and worked on my modeling portfolio.)

David, Tala, and I drove up the day before so I could register and get my vitals taken. We crashed in a hotel that seemed more like a geriatric care facility than anything else. We were the only people under 80. The race is a late start, so after a leisurely Saturday morning, we reported to the course. It was raining when the gun went off. After a few laps, my dad and Barrett joined. Later arrived my brother, Teddy, and his girlfriend, Amanda---quite literally the funniest pair I have ever encountered.

Here is an exchange from earlier this year:

Me: What did you get Amanda for Valentine's Day?
Teddy: Nothing yet. I've been busy. I am going to send her a ham.
Me: (silence)
Teddy: The girl likes to eat.

Therefore, Amanda received a ham for Valentine's Day, four days late. She was just as thrilled as he anticipated. 

Teddy joined in and ran a lap with me. It was just like old times. With the same sensitivity in which he gifted Amanda on February 18th, he affirmed me in my athleticism. 

Teddy: The first thing I thought when I saw you run by was…

            …I am proud of you.
            …I love you.
            …I’ve missed you.
            …You've got giant arm muscles.

As the day proceeded, five other runners cycled in and out to pace me on the course. It was wonderful to meet them and so kind of them to do that. I enjoyed hearing their stories and learning about their interest in ultrarunning. It took my mind off of my stomach. 

I had a weak stomach. This is not a twist in the story. If I wanted to, I could make every race report about my stomach because it is always a mess. 

I wanted needed chicken.

People confuse ‘wants’ and ‘needs,’ but I really needed dry, skinless chicken. It became my commanding affection. David and Tala gave it to me in a Ziploc® bag with a twisty tie, and my heart melted into a thousand puddles. I have never felt so loved and cared for. 
Dad, me, David, Tala, and Barrett

My hands were secured within two hand bottle straps, so I had to open the bag of chicken with my face. I was still soaking wet from the five hours of rain earlier in the day, so I looked really pretty like a drowned rat with my face in a bag of chicken. I ran through a pack of tourists on a Segway tour and lifted my face from the chicken long enough to say, “Welcome to Philadelphia!”

Every 8.45 miles, along the front stretch of the course, we passed the staircase that Sylvester Stallone runs up triumphantly in the Rocky movies. It is apparently a popular place for brides and grooms to bring their wedding parties to have photos taken.

I still had my face in the chicken bag while I passed by one newly married couple, prepping for photographs. You're welcome, everybody.

If I’d had some extra time, I would have given them a toast: Sometimes love means the timely provision of poultry. May you one day experience the kind of love I have experienced today with my crew giving me this chicken.

I still felt awful. People kept passing by and asking how I felt, but I was trying to silence my inner life. In these situations, tell people how they feel. Create their reality. "You're doing awesome. You look great." Otherwise, you are suggesting they reflect upon the hard things. 

Without taking in enough food, my quads were weak. With about 5 hours to go, I decided to just hold my position---to not cede any of that ground and to finish conservatively---rather than blowing up or risking injury. It happened somehow. My crew was wonderful. The volunteers were great. David ran the final lap with me. It was the best lap. 

Thanks for all of the support! I hope to come back.

Lone Ranger through the years:

1st place, course record.

1st place, course record.

1st place, growth in self-knowledge.


  1. I miss you! And I support your cravings. And your compression socks. It's a good man that'll hand you a bag of chicken.

  2. Woohoo! I love you Bean! Way to go!

  3. Fantastic running, as always. One day I want to be as good as you (well, I can always dream)

  4. "Growth in self-knowledge." love love LOVE this, Sabrina! Fantastic running. Fantastic writing. Fantastic you. :-)

  5. I am giggling picturing you opening and eating the bag of chicken with your face.
    Sorry your stomach was a jerk.
    I am proud of you!

  6. Congrats on your race ma'am. Your blog is absolutely hilarious and it has convinced me to try to run a small ultra...50 the near future. You should most definately write a book of some sort offering nuggets of wisdom such as how to keep one's leg bones from cracking after running non-stop for twenty hours on concrete.

  7. I was one of the volunteers who ran with you, from 2:30 to 6 am. thanks for the experience and congrats on another win. Good luck in september with your 2 HUGE events!

  8. 1. I think it must be noted that your happiness and vogue poses in picture #2 were made possible by SOMEONE who changed your shoes AND socks after you ran 126 miles.
    2. It must also be noted that you are just as beautiful in these photos as you are in those smashing photos of the engagement variety.
    3. It must also be noted that I'm real proud of a girl who learns how to listen to her body and not push it too far...thus, only pushes it 135.3 miles.
    4. It must also be noted that I love you and think you are the best.

  9. Great job at the race! I had to check out your blog after your awesome interview on URP !! You are a great inspiration and witness to others :-)

  10. Thank you for a great, inspiring blog.

    Would you mind writing something about:

    (1) what you eat before, during and after races, and
    (2) the spiritual challenges and rewards of running?

    Again, thank you.


  11. Thank you for an interesting Blog! I am wondering, if you know, what are the statistics on how many Americans run marathons versus ultramarathons (I mean, 50 miles+) each year? It just seems to me that while I have heard of people running marathons, I have rarely ever heard of people running ultra-marathons. In fact, I have never met anyone I know in person!