Shannon & Pam, after months of training, officially became ultrarunners with finishing Way Too Cool 2010 (3/13/10). They continue to run the long distances as they continue to challenge themselves physically & mentally. This is where they post those triumphs and also their tribulations.

September 26, 2010

SNERS Victory! Shannon

This says it all!
Yesterday was my final hoorah for the year and my first trail marathon, actually first marathon period!  I survived and finished - yeah!

If you've been one of our patient readers and have been following my training for this race, you know I've struggled on several runs leading up to yesterday.  Well, although those training runs were rough, we learn from them, not to mention, even if they're rough runs, they are great mental training days!  If I've learned nothing else about myself, I've learned that I'm a fighter and survivor!

Yesterday morning the weather was perfect, that is good news and bad news all in the same 4 little words when you are talking about a long run!  When you start in the dark and it's nice enough that you don't need long sleeves, that tells you it's gonna be warm/hot later in the day.

Early morning happiness
photo by Ralph
There were quite a few of us FTRs running the marathon and we all met up before the start.  What a high, knowing you've got lots of friends out there on the trails!  I did receive a bummer message before I left to come to the race, Jennifer woke up with a fever and sore throat - NNNNOOO - she was my buddy for the day, since Pam wasn't running this.  Now who am I gonna run with?  I DON'T want to run this alone!

Ralph is the guy in the black shirt behind me.  He was my honorary turtle yesterday.  Mindy is the gal in white standing, she also earned an honorary turtle status (although I told her it would only last until she kicked our asses at the next race)
Well Ralph ended up being my buddy for about 18 miles, he earned his honorary turtle status.  Unforturnately, he started to slow and feel nauseas, although I didn't realize this until he caught up to me at the Cardiac Hill aid station.  He wasn't doing good!  He ended up not continuing :(.

However, I didn't have to go on alone!  Sitting at the bottom of Cardiac Hill was Mindy, who also was not having a good day.  She was going through exactly what I went through on my last big training run out there.  Serious nausea, heat, and being alone!  She had been sitting there for a while, so she decided she was going to give it a try and keep going.  So we started our ascent!

Ok, so this portion of the trail I have never experienced! OMG, now I know why it's called Cardiac Hill.  I don't know exactly how far it goes, but it feels as though it goes 5 miles UP!  There are false tops, which is cruel!  It's all single track and has a lot of switchbacks, so you never know when you're getting close to the top.  But you do know you're done when you hit the canal - oh what a sweet site that was!  That hill alone is enough to make you rethink if you'd be willing to do this race again!

We had to stop A LOT to catch our breaths on that climb!  Mindy was really struggling, but I wasn't gonna leave her alone!  No way, no how!  Having been in her situation, I know how much you need someone with you to help you get through it!  The mental game that happens when you don't feel good and you're alone on the trails - YA NOT GOOD!

When we hit the canal we walked a lot, which actually helped me too.  My legs had become really fatigued climbing Cardiac, and I welcomed the walk!

As we came to the end of the canal, I picked up the pace as I knew we were getting close to the FTR aid station at ADO.  I was a like a horse to barn.  I knew Pam was there and all my FTR friends, I totally got a 2nd wind.  I never allowed myself to get too far ahead of Mindy though, and I think she felt the same about getting to the aid station (horse to barn).

Me coming into the ADO aid station - I know I'm a goofball!
Photo by Pam

Me at ADO aid station, feeling good!
Photo by Pam
What an awesome welcome!  The cheers from everyone totally gave me a high!  I love our group!!  Pam was there taking pics, Jenni grabbed my bottle and hydration pack and refilled everything, everyone made sure I had what I needed.  My concern was on Mindy and I wanted to make sure she was getting what she needed.

All the way from Cardiac to ADO she was pretty sure she wasn't going to continue to the finish.  But she's a fighter and a survivor, and when I asked her if she was gonna finish with me, she said YES, but she needed a few more minutes.  I said no problem, you just let me know when you're ready!  I was feeling great and motivated, but also patient.  I knew I wasn't going to meet my goal of sub 7 hours, but I was ok with that!  I was helping a friend and it also helped me as I didn't push myself too hard, therefore, I was feeling really good!

Us leaving ADO onto the finish at No Hands
Photo by Pam
We got going, knowing it was pretty much all down hill from there.  I hadn't run this portion of the trail for over a year, but I knew it started downhill and then we'd be exposed on rolling hills.  Well, I guess I didn't know that the RD Julie Fingar would send us on a different path - gggrrr.  We came to one point where we had to take a sharp left turn and wham - straight up hill - WTF!  They lied!  It's not all downhill from ADO to No Hands - gggrrrr.

The evil last hill we had to climb before the finish.
Well we started climbing and came across a double marathoner on her way back and she said, if it's any consolation, IT IS all down hill after you clear this hill.  I said are you sure?  You're not lieing?  She said no because she's been walking all the way from No Hands up hill.  Well she was right. The nice thing about the change in course is it took us off the exposed rollers and put us on a covered single track that was all down hill.  Which is good and bad.  By the time we got down to the bottom of this, my knees weren't too happy.  But, they shut up and we started on the ugly exposed rollers.

We had to stop once so that Mindy could rest, then we continued on.  Running when we could and walking.  Then we started seeing the signs.  I said we've got to be within a mile of the finish.  I came across a sign I wanted to take a pic of and Mindy kept walking.  The next thing I know she's yelling "I see it, I see it!"  She was seeing the finish line.  Well what do you do when you see the finish line within your sights?  You start running with enthusiasm, no matter how bad you feel.  She took off, then I took off.

Mindy ahead of me on No Hands Bridge coming into the finish chute.
Photo by Pam
Ya, Mindy is faster than me in general, and still faster than me even when she feels like crap!  She beat me!  But I'm ok with that because she would've beat me even if she didn't feel like crap!  We finished with most of our FTRs sitting at the finish patiently waiting for us!  It was great!  Pam was there, Bryan, Cathleen, and Chris.  All of them had finished way before we did and they waited - Thanks!!

I'm finishing - my offical finish time 7:14:03, happy to say I didn't finish last :)
Photo by Pam
They had popsicles at the finish - OMG - that was the best popsicle I've had in years!  Pam also had a PB&J and Corona waiting for me!  She is so awesome.  I wasn't ready for either, all I wanted was the popsicle.

Mindy and I at the finish with our popsicles
Photo by Pam
 Mindy and the rest of the FTRs caught the next shuttle back to Cavitt and Pam and I headed to her car.  I finished my popsicle, then on the drive back ate my PB&J.  YUM!  We headed back to the ADO aid station and that's where I enjoyed my Corona while standing in the canal giving my legs an ice bath - wow that felt great.

Photo by Pam
We stayed there for a bit talking to Diane, then we headed back to Cavitt.  Went in to see what was going on.  Double Marathoners were coming to Cavitt and only 1 had finished so far.  This guy was fast.  Pam got a hamburger, and I put my name on the list for a massage with Lily.  After Pam finished her burger she headed home and I stayed and hung out with Lily and the gang.  Lily is the wife of Coach Nikon of Fleet Feet.  Nickname given by Trailmomma and I got to see Coach Nikon come in.  I believe he finished 5th overall, 4th man, and 1st in his AG!  That was neat to see.

The massage from Lily felt great.  I had her work on my upper back and shoulders as they were tight from the hydration pack.  I almost felll asleep on her table.  I was difinately feeling tired, although I didn't realize it until getting the massage.

Today was a great day.  I wish all my runs could be like this.  I give a lot of credit to my success on this run to Diane Cressey who has helped me with my nutrition and most recently with her Balanced Runners Workouts.  Without these workouts, my core wouldn't be as strong as it is, and I know I would be much more sore than I am.  Thank you Diane!! I can say that I didn't hurt at all yesterday, although my hip flexors are little sore today.  If you recall from past races, I've been so sore that I had to walk downstairs backward, not this time :)

I'd also like to give huge thank you to my chiropractor who patiently kept adjusting me every couple of weeks cause I consistently trash myself, Dr. Steve.  He can't wait for me to take a break :).

Dr. Steve, you'll be happy to know that I am done for the season!  I will continue to get in at least 2 runs a week, one short and one no longer than 10-13 miles, but I want to focus on my new pation, mountain biking.  I am still considering doing the Merrell Down & Dirty Mud Run/Obstacle Course on Halloween, as that will be just a fun and muddy run, no longer than 6 miles.  It's on my radar!  But other than that, I'm not considering any more races until Way Too Cool 2011.  Which I will attempt to get into.

I plan to keep this blog going, although, it will focus on a lot of other stuff than just trail running.  Please follow me and my new pation of Mountain Biking, it should be just as up and down as my trail running.

In the meantime, stay dirty!


  1. Yeah Shannon!!!!! Sooo excited and so happy for you! That is just awesome!!!!

    So happy you got a massage from Lily too post race. I think I miss that the most about post race activities. :-)

    Rest up and enjoy the off season and your mountain biking.

    You'll be happy to know that my family and I found a home in EDH!!! We're in escrow right now . . . it was a weird and crazy short sale process but hopefully come November i'll be up there and maybe you can share all the cool running spots!

  2. Waa Hoo!! You did it, girl! You are tough as nails and looked fresh as a daisy afterward, with clean feet no less, how'd you do that??? It was an honor to be your crew for the day. I thoroughly enjoyed myself!! So proud of you! I love the changes to the blog makes me want to post more! Now we get to rest alittle until Dec when Way Too Cool training starts again. Are you sure you don't want to run AR 50 with me??? Just kidding!

  3. Great job Shannon!!! Saw you on the trail and you where running strong!

    Congrats on your first marathon and an impressive one at that.


  4. Shannon, I am so proud of you. Not only did you compete with such spirit but hung back with a fellow runner so see her through. I admire you! You take a well deserved rest and recover fully and if you try AR 50 ... I will hunt you down!
    In Health,
    Dr. Steve

  5. I know, I'm a bad influence :( I promise I won't allow you to run a 50 miler! I'll need you to get me thru AR 50 in one piece!

  6. Holy cow, you're incredible! I love reading your race reports.