So as you may know, this weekend I competed in and completed my first ever 100km race in Trail Racing Over Texas’s Crazy Desert Trail Run in San Angelo State Park! It was totally epic and I am planning a hugely thorough blog post devoted to it that will cover my nutrition before/during/after the race, my gear, strategies for the race/the heat (high was 90 degrees!), blister prep, the importance/necessity of a pacer/crew, etc. It will be an enormous post so it might take me a while to get it all together, and if you have anything in particular that you want me to be sure to cover, please let me know and I will! Anyhow, just as a little teaser though, I wanted to post two pieces of writing with you today; one from each of my two crew members to share their perspective of the weekend.
The first one is from a friend of nearly twenty years, an old college friend and suitemate, Antoinette. The second is from my friend Mike with whom I’ve had the pleasure of being a mat neighbor to in yoga class for about five years now. They both know me well and I loved hearing what they thought about this weekend. I will definitely be mentioning them in my big post about the race, as they were critical to my success. I could not have done it without their help! Thank you Antoinette & Mike! I love you guys! This was a special memory and I love their writings, and I wanted to share with you all. And stay tuned for more about this incredible weekend!
Never a Quitter
by Antoinette Curl
For years, I’ve known that Megan is very, very competitive. I once made the mistake of getting into a prank war with her in college — it ended with me desperately trying to remove dozens of inflated lubricated condoms from my bathroom in the minutes before my parents arrived for a visit! So, it was no surprise to me that Megan decided to attempt a 100k. What better way to test herself and push herself beyond her limits? While some people might say it’s crazy to try to run more than 60 miles in one day, even more might say it’s totally insane to attempt it while eating a raw vegan diet. Not Megan, though! Maybe she’s trying to prank all the haters?
In volunteering to help her, I knew that we’d be given plenty of directions, since Megan, in addition to being very competitive, is very organized. At least 78 Ziploc bags were sacrificed to organizing all of Megan’s supplies, from celery to batteries. At each stop, Megan texted us a list of things to have ready for her. Honestly, she was so prepared that she really didn’t need help from us. We were mostly moral support.
After the first loop of 20+ miles, Megan was looking good and feeling great! Once the second loop began, the heat kicked in, and we could see it wearing on Megan. Her spirits remained high, but at some point in the third loop she started to get pretty exhausted and worried that maybe she didn’t have it in her to finish. But, as much as she’s competitive and organized, she’s as determined. Never a quitter (even in a prank war), Megan pushed through and managed to complete in under 14 hours! Sadly, I missed her crossing the finish line because I’d estimated her finish time closer to 14:30 — she proved me wrong by a huge margin! And, she didn’t poop her pants once during the whole race! [This is a reference to my 50 miler last year when I did in fact, have not one, but several accidents in my pants.]
by Mike Keuber
Saturday mid-morning I rendezvoused with Antoinette Curl at a Marriott in San Angelo to coordinate our activities in support of Megan Lehnhoff’s audacious plan to run 100 kilometers (62 miles) on a desert trail in 90-degree heat. Earlier in the day before daybreak, I had deposited Megan at the State Park for her 6 am starting time and saw her safely through a couple of aid stations, which were located every four miles or so. At the second station, I collected her lights (hand, ankle, and head) to bring back to the hotel for recharging before she needed them later in the day after the dark returned.
Back at the hotel, I suggested to Antoinette that we would be “servants” for a day, and she initially seemed a bit taken aback. “Servants?” But then I explained that I had borrowed the term from competitive cycling, in which each team has a leader who is assisted by several “domestiques.” Of course, we all know that domestique means servant in French ;).
As Megan’s domestiques, our job was to attend to her needs at three aid stations (the fourth station was inaccessible) and the start-end point of each of three 21.7-mile loops. Those needs could be nutritional (fruit), hydration (for her, water), equipment (lights, shoes, socks, gloves, arm bands, scarves), medical (cuts, bruises, blisters), or preventative (anti-chaffing, sun-block). Often Megan would text us as she was nearing an aid station and tell us what she would be needing. Sometimes she would grab her fruit and keep going without stopping.
Before the race, Megan had filled four separate bags filled with a variety of fruits, and we brought those bags to the race organizers at 5 am on the morning of the race so that the bags could be distributed and waiting for Megan at each aid station. Antoinette and I knew that we had no access to the fourth aid station and we weren’t initially planning to travel regularly to the other aid stations. Instead we planned to focus on the conclusion of each loop. But as the day progressed, and as we became more familiar with locating the aid stations, we decided to see Megan through as many aid stations as we could, not only to help her with maintenance, but also to provide her with encouragement from a familiar face. Sometimes she would text us as she approach, and tell us which fruits she wanted and ask us to remind her to put on some kind of lotion.
Later in the day, Megan and her fellow runners shifted into what I called distress, but that Megan suggested was survival mode. We could see that her thinking seemed to a bit confused or scattered. She might change her fruit request three times in the last three minutes before she arrived. That is why she was so blessed to have Antoinette’s husband Chris join Megan for the last 21 miles as a pacer. Although Antoinette and I weren’t on the course to personally observe his calming role, we were greatly relieved in sending Megan back-in-the-ring, so to speak, for the last 21 miles with Chris alongside her. The concept is analogous to using a spotter in lifting weights when you want to strive for something that might be beyond your ability.
Because the last aid station was inaccessible, I decided to go back to the hotel when Megan and Chris left station at 6 pm for the last nine miles. They had been walking for a while and slowly shuffled away after getting their lights operating. Antoinette and I tried to calculate when they would finish and guessed about 8:30 pm. So we decided to go our separate ways and rejoin at the finish at 8:15 to be safe. Then about 7:30, Antoinette texted me that Chris was hoping to get in by 8 pm. I responded to her, “Wow! That seems like a stretch goal,” and because I was only 15 minutes away at the hotel I resumed my relaxing for a few more minutes (I might have been watching a key scene from Kevin Costner as Wyatt Earp ;). After a few minutes I got in my car and started driving and had driven only five miles when Antoinette texted to say our heroes had just crossed the finish line. Ten minutes later I joined them in their celebration.
I should have known that Megan wasn’t going to fade at the end. Indeed, she consistently achieves negative splits (faster finishes than starts). After the race when I suggested to her how concerned I was about her condition during the last loop (i.e., distress, survival mode) and that without Chris I doubted she would have been able to finish, she quickly agreed that Chris was invaluable, but just as quickly assured me that not finishing the race was not an option.
Of course, some people don’t finish, and someday Megan may not finish. But her indominatable spirit, and that of her fellow racers, is what I will remember about this weekend.