Thank You and The Pre-Race Story

On August 6, 2008, in Uncategorized, by Meghan

Thank You

I am incredibly lucky to have had such wonderful people working to support my dream of running 100 miles. Family, friends, and even a stranger or two dropped whatever was going on in their own lives just for me. I’m so thankful to all of you, and I hope that I may someday return the many favors.

My Mom
My mother is a born worrier. As such, she didn’t like the fact that I was going to run 100 miles, all day, all night, up and down random trails in the woods. To be honest, she probably didn’t care too much for the kind of running I did way back in high school when all we did was rocket ourselves around spongy ovals. In any case, she stepped up to be an awesome crew chief. My aid station stops were fun, fast, and well-organized because of her.

Uncle Ray and Jane
If I can’t have my father at my races anymore, my Uncle Ray is the next best substitute. Not only does he look just like my Dad, but he acts like him, too. This alone was a powerful addition to my running experience that buoyed me throughout the day. When everyone else was worked up, Jane was the calm one who could solve whatever issue was at hand. I’m thankful to Jane for her ability to lower everyones’ blood pressures with her rational influence.

Aunt Pat and Uncle Dale
Food preparers, picture takers, humor producers, errand runners, and more, my Aunt Pat and Uncle Dale never stopped moving all weekend long. These two have more energy than 10 ultrarunners combined. My Uncle Dale was often standing lookout along the trail just before an aid station. When I heard him shouting my arrival, I knew I was only moments away from my crew.

One day before arriving to Cleveland, Michelle was off-loading the contents of a moving truck into her new Missouri home. Despite the chaos that is her transitioning life, Chelle was a smiling, gentle, Zen-like pacer, guiding me throughout the night. Chelle is used to running fast, so I think that pacing me was the slowest running she has ever done. Michelle saw me feeling my best and feeling my worst, and supported me through it all. Thanks, Chelle, and I hope I didn’t frighten you away from trailrunning!

Laura is the gorgeous pregnant lady who can still run faster than me. Seriously, this woman is amazing. Among the many things she did, she ran me into the Boston Store Aid Station on my second visit there, and she beat me! Thank you for all the beta on Cleveland, for the fun Friday night dinner, for cheering me on throughout the day, and for everything else you did!

Elizabeth volunteered to pace me for the last part of the race without knowing a thing about me. I’ll bet she never dreamed that this would entail a 3 mile-per-hour walk through Ohio in the middle of the night with someone who had shot quads and a bonk-y belly! I am so glad that I met and was able to walk with her, as she’s an amazing woman. Elizabeth, thank you for making me giggle and laugh through the doldrums of a 100 miles of running, and I hope I can do something for you in return down the road!

Everyone Else
There were so many people who contributed to my experience, even though they weren’t able to be at the race. I have a new significant person in my life who was supportive on so many levels from his remote location. Many friends and family left me voice mails, text messages, emails, and checked on my progress through my family during the weekend. My neighbor cooked for me upon my arrival home, anticipating that I would be exhausted and in need of wholesome food. I know I’ve forgotten someone, but thank you to all of you!

The Pre-Race Story

(Jane took this photo at the starting line. However, it can be argued that my adventure had begun 2 days before the race.)

My story of running the Burning River 100 really began on Thursday morning, and it includes the two days before the race. I got off my usual night shift of work at 6 am on Thursday, and beelined it to the airport. I arrived to the airport in time to nap for about 1 hour before my flight (1 hour sleep total). I had two uneventful and sleep-filled flights between my home and Minneapolis, and Minneapolis and Detroit (2 hours of sleep on these flights, 3 hours of sleep total).

The evening plane ride between Detroit and Cleveland should have been brief, and I was beginning to look forward to climbing in bed at my Uncle’s house after a long day of travel and little sleep. However, as soon as the plane lifted into the air, it was clear that the night was about to get very interesting. Strange noises from the bottom of the plane, a shaking airplane, and the off-duty pilot sitting nearby who said this was very bad all clued me in that something was not very right in the skies above Detroit. The cockpit crew shortly informed us that the landing gear on the nose of the airplane was broken, and we began to circle the airport for what seemed like forever. With a frightened group of a passengers aboard, the plane made a very careful and safe landing back in Detroit and we were promptly notified that the flight was canceled and we would be spending the night here.

I stood in line for 90 minutes to get re-booked on a morning flight to Cleveland, was told that Northwest Airlines could not put me up in a hotel for the night because all of their partner hotels were full, was told all the hotels near the airport were full because of a convention, was told that I could pay my own cab fare and my own hotel bill to go into Detroit for the night, was told that my checked bag was waiting for me in the baggage claim area and that I should claim it or a hold would be put on it and who knows when I would see it again, and was given $10 in meal vouchers to feed myself for the next 10 hours. Thanks Northwest Airlines, for almost nothing!

(Here is a photo of 1 of the pizzas we had delivered to the baggage claim area, using a man for scale. The pizza was about 3 feet in diameter, absolutely enormous! We fed dozens of people with 2 of these pizzas.)

A group of about 10 stranded passengers banded together into a baggage claim area posse for the night. The airport was totally closed, including the food vendors, the security checkpoints, and the ticketing counters. We were totally stuck in the baggage claim! Incredible ingenuity by some of these folks yielded us two absolutely huge pizzas and some soda ordered from an outside source, and we sat around chatting with each other for much of the night. I found it impossible to sleep in the baggage claim area because it’s open to the public and there were a lot of strange people milling around who I wouldn’t trust with my unconscious self.

The ticketing counters and security checkpoints opened around 4:30 am, and I got in line right away to check in. One of the Northwest Airlines employees yelled at me in what had to be her early morning fatigue because the automated check-in computer told me that my reservation had to be handled by an agent and I had asked for her help. I stood there unspeaking because I really didn’t know what to say to a woman whose company had screwed me over and who was being unnecessarily rude. That woman walked away without helping me and so I just stood there not knowing what to do. Finally, another ticketing agent rescued me and finished checking me in. You could see sympathy and a knowing look in her eyes as she looked at my reservation on the computer. While she never said a word, the expression on her face made me feel better.

I proceeded through security and headed straight to my gate, which was quiet and empty at this early hour. I climbed into a row of chairs underneath a fake palm tree in the corner, and fell asleep for about 2 hours until it was time to board my flight (5 hours of sleep total).

My new flight and Chelle’s flight arrived within about 45 minutes of each other in Cleveland. Upon our arrivals, we went straight to our hotel, begged them for an early check-in, and I promptly went to sleep (I think Chelle first went out shopping, then she came back for a nap.). (3 1/2 hour nap, 8 1/2 hours of sleep total).

(My mom took this photo of the 4 of us girls eating Italian on Friday night. Left to right: Chelle, Laura, Elizabeth, and I.)

In the evening, my Mom, Chelle, Laura, Elizabeth, and I all met for dinner at a fun, local Italian restaurant. Laura’s husband Mike also made a brief visit to the restaurant, so we got to meet him as well. We all laughed and talked like we had known each other for forever, and we schemed a little bit about plans for tomorrow’s race. We ate heavily and talked happily, and it was a perfect pre-race meal.

Back at the hotel, we made last-minute crewing plans and got organized before going to bed. I thought I would fall asleep quickly and sleep soundly, but for some reason I was only able to sleep for about 5 sporadic hours. This made a grand total of 13 1/2 hours of sleep for the 3 nights prior to the Burning River 100. Anyone who knows me understands that sleep is one of my favorite and necessary pastimes, so this little sleep over this long a time is not typical for me.

I had decided the previous evening that I was going to take everything that happened in stride. There was absolutely nothing I could do about anything, except to ride the wave with a smile on my face. In this light, I woke up on race morning feeling miraculously rested, happy, and ready to run 100 miles.


9 Responses to “Thank You and The Pre-Race Story”

  1. Danni says:

    OMG I’m tired just thinking about how little sleep you got. I HATE airlines. Ugh. Don’t even get me started x-( Can’t wait for the next installment.

  2. JeffO says:

    Ditto what danni said – you gotta know how I hate airlines…

    Thanks for the detail. This is great reading 10 days out from the LT100.

  3. rick says:

    You did great and all that craziness that you went through just to get to the start makes the story even better. Rolled with the punches well and took it all in stride, good rehearsal for Saturday:) Good thing you opted to come down the day before packet pickup.

    It was my pleasure to support in any way I could. Anyone who has raced a marathon to an ultra knows what an exciting and daunting task it is. I wish I could have been there to help crew but I wouldn’t have had a job anyway considering how well your family took care of everything. Congrats again.

  4. Holly says:

    Meghan, the gong show you went through prior to you races only further impresses me with your accomplishment. I am amazed.

    Sucks about your airline nightmare…I am always interested to hear how airlines handle negative situations (as I work in the industry) so this post was an intriguing read for me.

    Now you just have to get ready to relax at Transrockies!

  5. Audrey says:

    hi meghan!! man, your adventure sounds so cool and i am in awe of the number of people in your support crew. that’s one reason blogging is TOTALLY worthwhile 🙂 and your fam completely rocks!!

    what an amazing trip!!!

  6. Thomas says:

    Holy smoke! I would have been knackered on the start line after that series of mishaps. Well done for not letting it get to you.

  7. A says:

    oh, wow. I have to go take a nap after just reading this. If you can run 100 miles on virtually no sleep, seriously, there is nothing you can’t do! Further evidence that, indeed, you are Superwoman… 🙂

  8. Meghan says:

    Danni, JeffO, Rick, Holly, Audrey, Thomas, and Anne,

    Thanks for reading this whole drawn-out story and for your empathy. Watch out for Northwest Airlines. 🙂


  9. olga says:

    your mishaps sound like my mishaps, and now since I seem to have them way too often I am put on pressure by the fact that I perform better under it:) How is that? Anyhow, you rocked, girl. Now lets try and figure out how not to crawl last section. And, oh, your SO is an awesome dude, and I couldn’t be happier for the two of you – couldn’t have happened to better people:)

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