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Beth McCurdy Accepting Finisher’s Belt Buckle at KEYS100 Mile Ultra Marathon Race in Florida

Beth McCurdy’s Intense Keys100 Mile Ultra Race Report

KEYS100 Race Report: May 15th-16th 2010
by Beth McCurdy

As I sit here writing this report only 4 days later, I’m thinking about how fortunate I am that I do not have to work this week. Taking care of Grant, preparing dinner, and all the usual stuff, takes a lot of effort right now. Running 100 miles in the extreme heat affected me more than I had anticipated, both physically and mentally. But it was completely worth it in ways that I had never imagined.

Beth McCurdy

Making the decision to run a 100 mile race wasn’t all that difficult. My decision involved making a verbal commitment to my friends in Tampa, Florida on a Half Marathon race weekend in addition to posting it on facebook. I knew deep down that until I officially sign up, I could always back out. A few months went by and when I felt fairly secure about this decision, I decided to sign up. Never in my life have I ever felt so much nervous energy-even more than right before the gun went off in the Boston Marathon. I felt exhilirated, anxious, and down right scared. After all, the most I have ever run is 50 miles in cooler climate. Running a 100 mile race in the Keys in the month of May would not be easy and I wasn’t even sure that I could finish. But isn’t that I why I signed up?

I stayed focused on my training leading up to the event by completing 70 miles in a 12 hour event, plus some other ultra and marathon distances. I felt confident that my training, my crew, Stacey, Whitney, and Dave, and the mental preparation necessary for this distance, would carry me through to the finish. Of course, the heat and humidity was always the unknown factor that weighed heavily on my mind-and for good reason.

The week before the event I was less nervous than I thought I’d be. In fact, I was in an incredibly positive mood and happy. I was about to embark on the most exciting adventure of my life. I had so much support and encouragement from friends and family-they seemed just as excited about the event as I was.

After a fairly decent night of sleep, my crew and I headed to the start line at the 101 mile marker in Key Largo. The gun went off at 6 a.m. For the first several miles, I talked to Christian and Cyndi. The company helped keep me relaxed and it was nice knowing that I was not the only one on the planet who was about to run 100 miles. Those early miles were an adjustment. I was running at an incredibly slow pace for me and sweating profusely. On a cool day, this pace would feel completely different. So this was my first wake up call of what I had in store for the rest of the day.

At the first few crew stops, I just wasn’t sure what I needed. In fact, I made the mistake of telling my crew that I didn’t need them for 7 more miles. Wow, what was I thinking? I ended up getting water from another crew during that stretch and realized that I need to accept help from my crew as often as possible. So, I surrendered to them and thank goodness I did. Every 2-3 miles, my crew was there with everything that I could possibly need and came out to me so that I could keep walking. Whitney had the cup of strawberries and oranges, peanut butter sandwich, and bag of washcloths. She would squeeze the ice cold water on my head, drape washcloths over my shoulders, and encourage me to eat. Stacey had the refilled handheld water bottle, salt tabs, pain relievers, and the new bandana filled with ice to wear around my neck. Stacey would go over with me what was ahead and where they would be at the next stop. This information was extremely helpful-especially knowing when a bridge was ahead which I ended up looking forward to rather than dreading.

The first longer bridge came at about 15 miles. As I crested the hill on the bridge, all I could see was beautiful clear greenish-blue water everywhere. Even though the cars were speeding by me at 50+miles per hour, I was able to block them out and had this sensation that I was running on water. I was grinning ear to ear and thanked God that I was given this experience to run the KEYS100.

When I approached the 50 mile check-in, I realized that I ran the second 25 miles faster than the first. This was a confidence booster for sure, however, my blistered feet were beginning to concern me. I told my crew that my feet were a mess but that I will not be taking my shoes off to treat the blisters or change socks because I was fearful that it may make me sick if I see the damage. They listened to my wishes and I hoped that my feet would be able to withstand the duration of the race.

The 7 mile bridge approached soon after the 50 mile check-in and I stopped at the SUV in order to take in a significant amount of water and gatorade. I held two handheld water bottles and headed on the bridge with Stacey. Even though there was a nice breeze on the bridge, I had already gone 54 miles at this point and it was approximately 4 p.m. so the sun was strong. Having Stacey lead so that I didn’t have to focus on vehicles flying by was extremely helpful.

After the 7 mile bridge, I returned to the SUV to regroup and suddenly found myself very dizzy. I lay down on the ground and my crew covered me with ice cold washcloths. I believe that running the 7 miles without my crew cooling me down affected me more than I thought but luckily after about 10 minutes, I was back running again and felt fine.

One of the best parts of the day was when the sun started to go down and it wasn’t nearly as brutally hot. I started to finally feel some heat relief and despite my hurting feet, I was able to keep running. I started thinking that if I continue to feel this way, I may actually finish this thing by 2 a.m. But without any notice, I started to go downhill (not literally).

After the 75 mile check-in (time was a little over 15 hrs), I realized how much pain my feet were in and at that time, it seemed to be more difficult to walk than to run. I also realized that running in the dark was going to be more of a challenge than I originally thought. Being in pain, tired, not being able to see ocean, trees, or people, and having to dodge vehicles, was almost too tough to take and Stacey at that point agreed to stay with me for the remainder of the race. I thank God for Stacey.

Unfortunately, I had another “issue” to deal with soon after the 75 mile mark which was nausea and vomiting. I had to accept the fact that I would not be able to eat or drink gatorade anymore. I knew this would be tough but I was still able to process water. My kidneys were still functioning properly and I was able to keep moving forward so with Stacey’s guidance, this is what I did. She encouraged me to run if I could, but the majority of the time, I could only last 5 minutes or less without needing to walk.

With 6 miles left to go, I could no longer run. I had no energy left and my feet were in too much pain. At one point, I had a strong desire to close my eyes. I felt extremely tired and thought that it might feel good to close my eyes. So, Stacey and I walked arm in arm while I took a little “walking nap”. I did this again with Whitney even closer to the finish.

I pictured in my mind that the finish would be the finish of a lifetime. Even if I’d been walking leading up to the finish, I’d make myself run with my crew by my side and be overwhelmed with emotion. Well, I did finish with my crew by my side but I was in such a fog that I really didn’t feel anything. I wasn’t able to run through the finish because my feet were beyond painful and my thoughts revolved around sitting down and taking my shoes off. My finish time was 22:52. 9th overall, 3rd female, 30 finishers total out of 70 starters.

Things that I did not expect

1)The support and love from my family and friends was unbelievable. I know that people love me but I guess running 100 miles reminded me of this.

2)That my feet would get so damaged with swelling and blisters. I thought I might have a few lost toe nails but nothing close to this.

3)That my crew would be 100% perfect. I knew that they were going to be great but they were impeccable. The selflessness of Whitney, Dave, and Stacey was incredible and believe me, they were tired, too!

4)That I would have lost so much weight. I’ve lost weight due to dehydration before from events but I hardly recognized myself afterwards. LOL.

5)That I would feel this much satisfaction out of accomplishing my goal of finishing my first 100 mile foot race.

Thank you!
Mom and Dad and the rest of the family for being so supportive
My running club buddies
My GUTS friends
My neighbors, childhood friends, and facebook friends
And to Whitney, Dave, and Stacey, the best crew ever.

Beth McCurdy

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