Monday, June 4, 2012


     I had an eventful Memorial Day weekend so am writing my thoughts on it down before they are lost forever.  Life has a way of erasing the old to make room for the new - lots of details and feelings I don't want to forget, and one incident I can't ever forget.
     My weekend kicked off Thursday at around 11am when I left the office for an employee lunch at an apartment complex in KCK we own and manage.  I would not return to my place of business until Tuesday morning, promptly at 8:15ish.  I am almost remiss about explaining the pure elation I felt at an unbounded 117 hours that lay before me, but not remiss enough.  Monday through Friday, excluding holidays and two weeks vacation a year, I work as a controller for a property management company ("company" being one man, John, who owns rental houses and a few apartment buildings) 8:15am to 2pm.  I have a lot of free time not available to most people.  Believe me, I know how big that is and I enjoy it and appreciate it and know that when it's gone I will probably miss it more than I think.  I've been here 5 years and have alot of freedom, as long as the work gets done the way John demands, we are kosher, and that's not too difficult.  No stress, no taking work home, get to wear whatever I feel like.  If I want to sleep in and not take a shower before coming in, no one will be the wiser.  On the other hand, my boss is. . . .a piece of work.  More often than not, when people I know through my work found out that I was planning on running 100 miles, or (later) that I HAD run 100 miles, they would comment how that must have been nothing compared to working for John.  I found myself unable to argue with that.  He has been fired as a customer on more than one occasion - businessmen would rather he not approach them with money for performing services - they want him to leave and never come back.  In addition, I am ridiculously underemployed.  Many days I am done with my work by 10am, left with 4 more hours to kill.  I replaced a full time CPA and a part-time receptionist - I have no idea what the hell they did all day.  I have a Master's of Accountancy, passed the CPA exam, have public accounting experience under my belt, yet there have been days that posting his golf scores are my "A1 priority today, Erica".  I don't expect sympathy, kind reader.  I know perhaps there are a few other people who are not completely satisfied with their employment and have a horrible boss, for far better reasons than mine.  I will take underemployed over unemployed any second of any day.  I also know this is not permanent - I am nothing if not persistent and determined, and I am positive I will be able to take advantage of a greater opportunity, as yet unknown, to be more useful in my "career".  Why people aren't banging down my door to pay me handsomely to run their accounting departments is beyond me (I guess the felonies and 15 months jail time are blemishes), but fine - if the mountain doesn't come to Erica, Erica just goes out and gets a bigger and better mountain.  Digressing - sorry.  Suffice it so say I arrived at our Employee Appreciation Lunch practically skipping, one fine meal of Oklahoma Joe's ribs and coleslaw away from sweet sweet freedom.
    Later Thursday afternoon, sitting on my couch watching Parks & Recreation with a jumbo Slurpee (ok, and some peanut M&M's), Bandit got dropped off for the weekend - his family was going on a road trip and I was petsitting. 
Bandit.  Bad to the Bone.
Bandit was rescued by Chain of Hope, a grassroots organization that does a lot of rescue efforts and education of owners in the "economically challenged" areas of KC.  COH came into contact with Bandit while he was in the yard with his owner - a shitty house in a shitty neighborhood.  They approached the owner to ask about Bandit (see if he needed any help, make plans to get him neutered, etc.), but were unable to carry on a conversation with the owner as he was fucked up on something and couldn't comprehend the English language at that time.  So they left their information with him - about all they could do just then.  A couple of days later, the owner called for help - his puppy was sick, diarrhea and vomiting.  COH went over and was able to get Bandit from his owner - just in time to save his life.  Bandit was dying of Parvo, an insidious disease prevalent in puppies that kills the majority of them.  Bandit survived - a miracle in and of itself!!  Once cleared of all that, I got Bandit to foster.  He was very hand shy -- apparently the guy also liked to hit his dog.  He still loves to bark like a ferocious beast at men (but he digs Brian, who was the first to see the rottenness in him, going so far as to say that mangy mongrel has no redeeming qualities - granted, this was after a copious amount of pee and poo had to be cleaned up off his floors).  There was another time when I was fostering him that he got away from Brian's yard in midtown.  We searched for him, and came across a Mexican family out on a walk who told us: yes, we saw Bandit.  Little black dog, red collar - some guy in a yellow and brown car picked him up and drove off with him.  WHAT???  My heart fucking sank.  My world got very very small.  We walked in the house to call Chain of Hope, not knowing what to do next.  I was sick.  Walk in the door and there comes Bandit trotting out from around the corner.  It was only about 15 min from when we discovered he was missing to when he was found, but that was one of the top moments of relief in my life.  Like one other time when I came "this close" to getting Tboned by a car when I was on my bicycle.  We took him to the dog park on Saturday of Memorial Day weekend and he went out of his way to go bark at some poor guy.  The guy held out his hand, Bandit sniffed it, then continued barking at him.  The guy shrugged his shoulders, turned around and walked off.  Only to be followed by an incessantly barking Bandit, saying "how dare you walk away when I'm barking at you!!"  I have loved that goddam dog from the first moment I saw him (when he was charging me, barking up a storm).  I fostered him a few weeks, then my friend from high school saw my pics of him on facebook and after some discussion, decided it was time for her husband and three awesome kids to meet him.  When they arrived, I let Bandit out, and he promptly ran right up to them as they are coming up the drive, barking up a storm.  It is one thing when a 70lb German Shepard or some such animal does that.  It is quite another when a floppy-eared, seal-eyed 30lb porky pig looking bundle of cuteness does it.  God I love that dog.  My first thought upon awakening Thursday was along the lines of "YAY!!!  Bandit comes to stay today!!!"  All in all, this was a fantabulous way to spend the first hours of my glorious Memorial Day weekend. 
     Friday I attacked the Fairway Fan - 11 hilly miles in the heat.  It was one of the few runs since my 100 miler (love it when that comes up) that I felt good.  My runs have been fairly miserable almost all of the time since February 4.  Most times, it is reminiscent of why I didn't run for most of my life.  I feel heavy and clunky, am slow, and working way too hard to barely keep up with other people (or now, with myself pre-100 miler).  It has not been fun in the least for me, hence the Summer of the Bike.  I've been finding myself looking for reasons to quit on my short runs that I used to do in my sleep because it is so hard.  Frustrating.  Not Friday though.  Friday's run was joyous, happy and free!  Back to Brian's for another cookout Friday night - filets and pineapple something brats, salad I concocted from SunFresh salad bar, corn on the cob, blueberry/strawberry shortcake for dessert, Sophia for company - the cherry on top?!?!  She was nearby hanging out in a coffee shop with no electricity at her own house.  And I looked cute - I remember after asking Brian if it was OK to invite her to dinner too I told him I looked so cute that I didn't want her to miss it.  It was a great night - spent with some top notch dogs, friends and food.
     Saturday I got up early to go to an 8am Pilates class (I can run 100 miles but this Pilates crap is kicking my ass abs), then it was back to Brian's for breakfast and dog park with Bandit, Elliot (my faithful hound) and Crazy Callie (Brian's dog, another COH rescue who I couldn't part with.  She was going to make me a foster flunkie, but I should have known Brian would fall head over heels with her too - they are a great team and she is transformed - when I first got her she would run out of the room if I walked in, she'd been treated really bad, kicked and hit.  Well, guess who is your bona fide happy dog now?!?!  It's been amazing/inspiring watching her be the best dog she can be!!).  I get the best foster dogs ever for realz.  Saturday night we hit the boat for some crab leg buffet action.  I like to go to the Isle of Crap 'cause it's the sleaziest.  I feel at home there.  No gambling though - first of all, the only $5 crap table was a no crap table and the cheapest black jack table was $10.  I spend $105.25 to get $100 out of the ATM (just rape me already!), then chicken out and we don't gamble.  I don't know what else to say -- I had a bad feeling, Brian said he didn't care either way and it was up to me and I got scared and bailed.  I prefer to believe that the $100 I got out of the ATM would have been lost, but there's that part of my brain that is convinced that I would have turned that $100 into $200.  I regret the things I didn't do much more than the things I did.  And I've done some pretty regrettable things, trust that.
     So Sunday finally rolls around.  Ever since I heard about Chain of Hope last fall, I knew I wanted to do Outreach with them.  Kate Quigley is the owner of Chain of Hope - check them out at  She writes a blog that you can find there too - I've read every entry and rarely am I dry-eyed by the end, whether they be tears of joy or tears of sadness.  They are the voice for these animals that have no voice, and the moment I heard about what they do I knew I wanted to be a part of it.  I finally went out with them on Sunday - we were in the Northeast for most of the day, driving down alleys looking for dogs, checking up on dogs Kate looks in on regularly, learning a lot.  Most of the dogs we came across are outside on a chain 24/7.  It was over 90 degrees on Sunday and just about every dog I saw was miserable.  Many with no food, no water.  We fill them up with food and water, talk to the owner if home, leave info if not, fly gel and fly bags to hang.  Fly gel is put on their ears - flies bite their ears and also other parts of their body raw, called fly strike.  I would be putting the fly gel on a dog's ears and their ear would just be coming off in my hands.  It was good to see some of the dogs that have been helped by COH - Kate has educated the owners and they do make progress, feeding them regularly, using tie-outs instead of chains,  giving them a doghouse in the shade, etc.  More often than not it was just heartbreaking to see the misery in the dogs' eyes, pleading you for help, so happy you are there.  I was really to busy to process much of anything during the day, and found myself kind of stunned.  A lot of doing without really thinking.  It would sink in later on.   When we got back from Outreach, I left with a new foster, Norman!!  He is a one-year old sheltie mix and I got another great one!!  He was chained on a front porch 24/7 and in bad shape when Kate found him.  She would watch his owners come home and see Norman begging them for attention and they would walk right by him into the house - no pat on the head, no nothing.  They are idiots.  Norman loves playing with other dogs - him and Callie go at it for about 30 min, rest for a few minutes, then repeat.  He is housebroken, except he poos on the floor during the night - we're working on that and I think we can nip that in the bud pretty quick.  As you can see, he is gorgeous.  And, not surprisingly, he loves any attention he gets.  I walk in my door then sit down to take off my shoes.  He gets right up on me, glues himself to me (puts every square inch of his body against me) and relishes all the ear rubs and good boy's and head rubs he gets.  Norman gives good love.  Goodbye miserable existence, hello happy dog!!!
I'm Norman!!  Gimme a belly rub!

   So Sunday was a big day and about to really blow up.  Fireworks at Union Station!!!  We took all the dogs.  Brian had a hold of El Dog and Callie.  I got Bandit and Norman.  We were a big hit with all the kids - Norman and Bandit especially were kid magnets.  At 9:30 the fireworks start and the dogs go ballistic for a good 10 seconds.  Then they calm down -- Elliot and Callie actually enjoyed the show, says Brian.  Bandit was completely spooked though and even though I had hold of his leash, he broke free and took off like a bullet, leash dragging behind.  I jump up and chase after him, bringing Norman along.  Bandit was headed due east in a straight line like a bat out of hell.  I face planted in the grass pretty quick in the midst of a throng of people - it was a good SMACKDOWN.  Right back up though.  I yelled "NO!!" when I saw him jump down a little wall and without a second's delay tear across Main. . .and then Grand.  I just knew something awful and tragic would  befall him if I didn't catch him.  I kept asking and people kept pointing "He went that way!!"  I was a couple of minutes behind him.  The last people that saw him were watching the fireworks from the balcony of their lofts on Union Hill.  They saw him run into the Union Hill Cemetery.  This guy (out with his dog) that lived there said he would keep an eye out for him since he lives right there.  Well, that's not enough.  I got into the cemetery with Norman and we ran all the way around in there, calling his name, searching for him.  Fireworks are booming all around me the entire time.  Then they stop.  I see the guy out there with a flashlight looking for Bandit.  I see a car driving around the cemetery -- it stops - it's the caretaker couple.  I tell them all about Bandit.  Then I go all the way back to Brian and give him Norman to take back to his place.  I go back to the cemetery to look more.  The caretakers are out to lock up the gates at 11:30.  Still no Bandit.  I start walking/running back to Brian's, totally out of my mind.
     I call Sophia.  I call Patty from Chain of Hope - Bandit only has his rabies tag on with their animal clinic number on it, so I'm hoping she can get ahold of the vet, as they will be closed the next day (Memorial Day).  She helps me calm down. .. a little.  Not really.  Brian sees me walking down Main and picks me up.  We go back to his place.  After a couple of minutes, we both go back out again.  I have to do SOMETHING!!  The caretaker told me there was another gate open 24/7 so I try to find it.  Instead, a couple of cops stop me and we all end up jumping the fence and looking more for him - I see their flashlights for awhile, then they leave.  I stay a bit longer, but eventually have to accept that it's dark, I've been around every part of the cemetery and haven't found him - what I'm doing is no longer productive.  So I head back to Brian's - he had been driving around looking for Bandit and just got home too.  Brian goes to bed - he needs sleep bad.  I can't sleep.  I stay out on the couch, making the dogs take turns being squeezed by me and crying in their fur - all they want to do is sleep too.  I try to watch tv - no go.  I try to read - no go.  I think how great a bottle of whiskey would be right fucking now.  Right after that I remember that I have a big bottle of nighttime cough medicine with alcohol in Brian's medicine cabinet.  Luckily right after THAT I remind myself that as much as I fucking want to really really bad, if I drink I'm no good to Bandit.  So instead I imagine all the awful things that are happening to Bandit.  Like he tried to jump the wrought iron gate around the cemetery, but his leash gets caught and he hangs himself.  Or he ran into the 'hood and got picked up by someone who is going to chain him up and abuse him his whole life.  He is terrified.  He is miserable.  He will never know joy or love or security or comfort again and it is all my fault.  I wake up Brian and cry and tell him how helpless I feel.  I wear myself out.  Bandit is all that is on my mind.  I think of how he was rescued, how we thought he was gone that one time and he was in the house and how he was saved my some wonderful neighbor of mine -- oh yeah - I left him out in my yard with Elliot when I did Outreach that day.  He got out somehow because when I came home from Outreach he was inside my house.  So someone saved his ass already that day.  I realize that Bandit has his own incredible Doggy God looking out for him, and think that maybe, just maybe, he's alright and we'll get him back safe and sound.  I know he's got a lot of people pulling for him.  After that I can sleep - it's about 2:30.
     I wake up right after 5am.  As soon as I see dawn breaking, me and Elliot and Norman go back out.  We park and our morning walk is around every inch of that cemetery - I never found the open gate, we were walking around the outside.  I saw a dozen places he could easily have gotten out under the fence and gone a dozen different directions.  The sun was up, it was a beautiful day, but I felt absolutely sick.  I don't know how people have kids.  I was absolutely out of my mind, beside myself, my world so small and terrifying -- all over a rotten little dog.  I saw my friend Erin the other day and told her all about Bandit.  She told me how one time her parents lost her in the subway and she was gone for 3 hours.  I feel a close kinship with Erin's folks - like we were in the war together.  I don't believe I was ever lost as a child - I remember we went to Germany when I was about 16 and were walking around Dusseldorf and I tried to get lost to teach my parents a lesson because they were not paying attention to me.  Except I never really got lost because I kept them in sight because I was such a scaredy cat and after like half an hour of tailing them from out of sight, no one noticed I was gone.  So I run up to them, yelling at them how something really bad could have happened to me and nobody would notice.  My mom and dad were both like - "'re right here.  What is the emergency again?"  Fine - they got away scot free that time.  It was one of the last times that happened though.  I've managed to cause them copious amounts of grief and sorrow and loss for several years -- they haven't escaped unscathed.  All part of being the parents of the greatest kid ever.
     I go home.  I turn around half way home to go back, but turn around again.  He could be anywhere - driving around with Norman and Carsick Elliot isn't going to help anything.  I call all the 24 hr emergency vet places.  Wander around the house.  Put up a "lost" ad on KC Pet Connection.  Go to put a "lost" ad on Craigslist.  See this:

FOUND Medium Size Black Dog (28th and Gillham, KCMO)

Date: 2012-05-28, 12:02AM CDT
Reply to: [Errors when replying to ads?]

Found near Union Hill / Union Station around 10:30pm on Sunday. Medium size black dog with white/black markings on belly and on nose. Has tags, but can't call the Vet until Tuesday due to Memorial Day. Found with matching collar and leash, running scared during the fireworks. To claim tell me what color the collar and leash are.

We're hoping to find his family soon! He keeps looking at the door for them.
  • Location: 28th and Gillham, KCMO
  • it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests
PostingID: 3042036151


It's him!! Is it him?  It's got to be him!!!  I shoot off an email real quick:

    ***My dog got spooked by the fireworks and ran off last night -- he was last seen going in Union Cemetery about 9:40pm.  Maybe this is him?  He has a Raytown Kennedy Animal clinic tag on -- red collar, red leash.  His name is Bandit.  CALL ME PLEASE!!!  I am sick over him - I love that rotten guy with all my heart!!!   My info is below - erica 913-271-3728.  Please call me either way --- thank you so much for posting this -- even if it's not my dog, you are a good Samaritan!!***

     I call Brian.  I call Sophia.  I call Patty at Chain of Hope.  I tell Elliot and Norman.  They are happy too, I can see.  I decide the person who wrote the ad is ignoring me so I send them another email (it is very long and repeats alot so I'm not going to include it -- this fucking thing is way too long as it is).  Just after I hit send my phone rings and some beautiful angel tells me yes, the dog has a Kennedy Vet Clinic tag on so I know for a fact it is Bandit.  She was watching fireworks from one of those balconies and saw him running around the cemetery all scared and went down to get him - she called to him and he squeezed through the gate and came right up to her!  So glad it was a she and not a he!!  She couldn't keep him in her apartment, so her parents took him home - I got her parent's address out in Greenwood, MO, google mapped it, took a Puerto Rican shower (spray on body spray) and a whore bath (wash face and private parts in sink) and took off to go pick him up.   By 9:30am, about 12 hours from when I had last seen him I had Bandit in my arms, licking my face, accidently biting my nose (he was super excited to see me too), and all was well in the world.  The lady came out and we talked -  she fed him some ham and peas and rice the night before (he had already eaten his dinner, plus a couple of the other dogs' dinners at 7:00) and he ate it all.  She made him eggs that morning to see if he would eat some, but he managed to tip the pan over off the stove and helped himself.  He didn't pee or poo in their house though - went potty outside like a good boy.  He couldn't have been saved by a better family (yet again).  She told me how she was holding him the night before and he would start to doze off, then jerk awake and cry/whine all scared, like "I'm not home.  Where is my home?".  Her husband came out after a few minutes - Bandit ran up to him, barking his head off.  Shocker.
     I still had the comforter we used to sit on to watch fireworks in the backseat.  Bandit curled up on it and was asleep by the time I got out of the driveway (it was one of those long, out in the country driveways).  He snores a little.  He couldn't have been more beautiful and precious if he was my own kid, I'm sure (but am probably wrong - we will never know as I have promised never to spawn).  We got home.  Ahhhhh.  It's surprising how quickly I got back to acting normal.  The dogs played around while I cleaned the house.  The smile that had been on my face since I found him hadn't gone anywhere.  By the time I was done, this is what they were up to:


I sat down to talk to Sophia on the phone and rehash everything.  Turns out she lost her dog Puccini that morning out on some trails (but found him pretty quick).  Bitch, please - people always trying to steal my thunder. Brian beeped in, wanting to go to the pool.  I said no.  I didn't want to leave Bandit - he was getting picked up soon by Emily and family on their way back home.  But I changed my mind -- I felt weird, didn't want to be alone and hanging with Brian sounded like just what I needed.  When we got to the pool, I called Emily.  I was so glad to be making this call and not another kind of call.  I wasn't super good friends with her in high school, but we certainly knew each other - had friends in common, classes in common, played softball together, that kind of stuff.  Just like people don't want to mess with me (for good reason, although I've shown great strides in abating behaviors such as screaming someone is a cunt skank whore in public and/or destroying their property), I didn't want to have to say "Hey Emily -- well it's great you just adopted this dog and we got to see each other again and I know you've spent a lot of time and energy on him already and I'm sure your kids just love him to pieces, but I lost him.  No more dog for you.  Sorry - hope you had a good trip - see ya around!" No part of that would go over well.  I'm sure she has a lot more class than I do, but I'm also sure she can hurt a bitch if called for.  Doesn't matter.  Didn't have to do that.  I told her the whole story.  After she got him from the house and saw he was ok, she even joked about it.  Said I could petsit for him again (I really hope she meant that), but she'd be keeping her kids in someone else's care.  Fine by me.
     So that's my Memorial Day weekend, 2012.  Beware the rotten dog.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


     The following is my recount of running my first 100 mile event, as told one week later. The experience is still being assimilated into my being, but I think it's settled-in enough for a race report. Here's a link to the results, all said and done (I'm 183rd):

     I trained pretty well for Rocky this year-- having a mild winter helped.  Last year I trained just about as hard for the 50 mile race, and it was much more grueling than this year - lots of runs in the single digit temps on ice and snow.  However, the mild weather had absolutely no effect on the suckiness of, three months into it, running a lot ALL. THE. TIME.  I started Rocky-specific training by racing in October.  For months before though, I'd been building a base with alot of running and cross training.  I ran 45 miles the week before the KC marathon, then ran the marathon (4h34m, 2 min slower than my PR) and a 9.5 miler the next day.  The next weekend was Lake Perry 50k, where I smashed my 50k PR (6h43m), thanks to Sophia aka Ultraphia pacing me and no thanks to an epic meltdown, which you can read all about in my earlier blog.  I was unable to run up my driveway the next day.  Not, I ran up my driveway the next day but I was sore and it hurt real bad.  Unable.  One week to the day after that I ran another PR for fifty miles (10h49m and I beat Shawn Walters even though he officially finished in 10h48m - it's a weird time/space continuum thingy) at Lou's Blue Springs 50/50.  I blogged about that one too.  The next weekend I was back out hitting up WYCO.  My weekly mileage through Nov and Dec was 19,48,55,56,68,45,58.  Did 2 loops at WYCO on Sat and another 10 on the roads Sunday a couple of times in there, but nothing bigger.  I was looking forward to tapering -- running wasn't as fun as I wanted it to be for awhile at the end and I was getting sick of the "training for a hundred" thing.  I tapered for a week longer than I wanted, but I was itching to start not running.  My taper weekly mileages were 24,28,30,20 and no cross training, unless you count yoga.  I do weights and a boot camp class at the gym.  It was too late in the game before I  realized I could be alot cooler if I did TRX or Crossfit instead.  Next time, guys.  I always try to eat mostly healthy (that's the best way of putting it) - real food is the main thing, although Hot Tamales are a diet staple.  I cut out eating wheat (as best I could) at the beginning of January after listening to a podcast at Ben Greenfield Fitness, but haven't noticed a real difference to tell the truth.  But I haven't been perfect at it, maybe that's why.  And I started to salt my food after getting labs done at the doctor and having kinda low sodium numbers.  The week before the race I also started drinking water with Nuun (you say nuun I say none) electrolyte tablets, even though I don't ride the electrolyte bandwagon.  More than anything, I just knew I would drink a lot more water if it didn't taste like. . . water.  Other than that, didn't change much at all.  Overall, I knew I had some good solid training under my belt, which was better than not having it.  It's not everything, but it ain't nothing. 
  So let's get to the start of the race already.  First, our arrival in Huntsville.  My boyfriend Brian and I went to Austin the Thursday before the race to visit his best friend Craig and his girlfriend Maggie.  It was awesome, but not alot of race stuff.  I can't have this be 600 pages.  Then Craig, Brian and I all went to Huntsville.  Dropbag cutoff was at 6pm (you get a bag packed with clothes, shoes, headlamp, socks, nutrition, etc. to have available to you out on the trail, as long as you had your bag in the truck by 6pm) and we just barely made it.  I told Sophia that morning that we should all get together for dinner.  I told Heather the same.  After dropping my drop bag and picking up my race chip and packet, I call Heather to see what's up for dinner.  They are already eating.  I'm like what?  And she's like - well, I couldn't get them to wait.  Following is what becomes reality for me, try to follow along:  I recall how a couple of weeks ago I had mentioned to Sophia that she is a master co-dependent manipulator because whenever I find myself doubting my chances of finishing, I remember her telling me exactly why I CAN finish and I am once again confident.  I tell her I have been tricked into relying on her support too much.   I tell her this to get a laugh, and I do.  But now, the evening before the race, it is all coming together.  She took that information and decided to sabotage my race because she is a mean, evil cow.  AND she's turning Heather against me (I got that part because I texted Heather and told her to tell Sophia she was selfish and Heather, being non-brain damaged, texted back no way and I could tell her myself).  I also texted Sophia about getting a ride to the start and she hadn't texted back right away which was so not like her.  I even call her on the phone to confront her about it all and she was just real blah, which if you know Sophia you know she doesn't run on blah.  Because of all these logical reasons, I started to get scared that this mean evil crap that had ridiculously popped in my brain was really true and I would not see her until the beginning of the race and she would be cold to me.  I knew that would fuck with my head.   And I knew that is exactly what she wanted.  Put another thorn in Erica's side so when the chips are down, she won't have that extra support to lean on.  I knew she planned on passing me on the trail and not make eye contact, laughing inside.  Fine you fucking weird freak (funny I should think that about someone else, huh?).  I got your number and I just gotta switch a gear and get on a different track that doesn't go near the arena where your game is.  It was really eating my lunch and luckily I was able to recognize it was really eating my lunch.  So I did what I've been taught to do and that was do the next thing.  OK - what's the next thing?  The next thing is we needed to get batteries and film at Target.  That's when my psychosis ended.  I was able to be shown reality, which as you can tell, is not necessarily where I am all the time.  Different things started  to "all come together".  For instance, earlier I had gotten alot of texts because of the search for Sophia's missing packet.  A missing packet is a big deal.  When I talked to her on the phone, she even said that after that fiasco she just was like - I need food and so off they went.  I could tell from her voice that she didn't realize I had actually banked on all of us eating together - that's a big one.  Alot of other things too I'm not wasting space on, except for one which was that we weren't even close to being hungry to eat again.  Worth noting that I'm getting all bent out of shape about not being at a restaurant when I'm already full.  Although eating Mexican with friends is fun, I had just done that a couple of hours before and that's not why I came all the way to Texas.  I saw them at the hotel when they got back and everything was fine.  I did not get any "I want to trip you on the trail" vibes and even though I had some worry about my mind going off the deep end permanently one of these days, today wasn't the day and I was able to put my head on my pillow and fall asleep without worry.  Well, except about the whole running 100 miles the next day worry.  Sophia wasn't the wiser for any of this until now, and the only reason I know she'll read this is that I'll tell her there's good stuff all about her in it.  So sorry Sophia that I ever thought you were a mean evil cow because the reality is, you've taught me much of what I know about how to be a friend.  

   OK - NOW we can go to the start of the race already.  I woke up at 3:30am (alarm set for 3:45) for the 6am start.  Sophia and her pacer from CO, Abby were in a room at the Econo Lodge, Huntsville.  My pacer and now soul sister Heather was in the room next to them.  Brian, Craig and I were a few rooms down from them.  We had smoking rooms on the 2nd floor with no elevator because that's where idiots that run 100 miles like to be.  We were leaving for Denny's at 4:30.  I walked out of the room to a torrential downpour.  The race started at 6am and it was still raining, although not as hard.  The bright side being that I'll take rain over wind 99 out of 100 times, and rain is one of those things that only sucks so much, then you get used to it - i.e. you can only get so wet, then you're not going to get any wetter.  It's not ideal, but it's not that bad.  I run with Sophia for about a mile or two - that's it.  It was a great start though.  She told me how she got a call  the night before from family telling her that her grandfather was on his deathbed.  She wondered if maybe he had passed and was watching her from above.  I was a little jealous that she had freshly-dead grandfather otherworld mojo on her side.  My grandfathers were both dead before I was a year old - that's some stale-ass mojo.  Lucky bitch.  It's ok I say this.  I'm already going to hell, and we've established that I may not be the most thoughtful friend you could find.  

     I love love love the Rocky loops.  It's a twenty mile loop you do 5 times.  Terrain is pretty flat, mostly single track trail, a little rooty in places.  A few miles to first aid station, then a few more to second, then 6 miles unaided back the the second one.  This aid station that is the second one and the third one is called Damnation - it's where your drop bag is besides the one at the Start/Finish.  Then a few miles to the fourth aid station, then 3.4 miles back to the Start/Finish.  Aid stations are all top notch - lots of all kinds of food (best potato soup, breakfast tacos, ramen, candy, pretzels, fig newtons, PB&J, etc etc), experienced volunteers, can't say enough great things about them.  There was a lady at Damnation that everytime I came back through after being gone 6 miles would exclaim "You're back!!", looking so happy to see me.  It gave me a boost.  After Damnation, I saw Ashley and Emily (there to kick ass in their first 50 mile) on Jeep Road.  We discussed insults we could hurl at Matty (there for his first 100 too -- for whatever reason he does not respond to positive encouragement) to help him along, then off they went.  Every loop thereafter on Jeep Road (my favorite part - just a wide jeep road through the middle of a forest area) I would remember how fresh and young I felt that first loop, getting some of that feeling back.  I saw Matty toward the end of my first loop - he was headed out on his second loop and was walking.  I asked him what the hell he was walking for, then told him that I smelled pussy and it wasn't mine.  I really had no idea how vulgar it would sound out loud.  Finished the loop in 4h40 min - the max I wanted to do it in, but still on schedule.  I figured I would do about 4h30min loops the first three loops, so a little slow but not too bad. 
Ultra Central - Start/Finish Area Camp

     Miles 21 - 40.  Uneventful.  I know either this loop or the next one there was a tree across the trail that hadn't been there the first loop. At the time, I noticed it, but didn't believe it.  Certainly, I am mistaken.  Trees don't fall in the middle of races.  They wait until the race is over.  Since the race, I've read comments from those who were there when the tree fell, so apparently the trees aren't aware of the falling during a race rule.  OK - there was one other event. It would be much  better for me if this happened in the next loop and I could claim fatigue, but I'm pretty sure it was daylight out.   There is a porta potty at the end of Jeep Road.  I had been looking forward to pooing in that porta potty since somewhere out on Damnation stretch.  I passed two girls to get to the porta potty first.  The second girl I passed yelled out as I was passing - Is there a line? -- to try to hold a place in front of me.  Punk.  Get in the back bitch 'cause I'm playing the front.  I blew by her, but then noticed that there were 3 people waiting.  So I of course yell/moan "Oh Fuck" like it's some big tragedy that has befallen me.  The girl in the porta potty actually said "Oh - Sorry".  Nice.  Now I feel like shit.  haha.  Before I knew it, I just knelt out of everyone in line's view behind the porta potty and went poo.  I think this is the time to interject how much it sucks being a girl at Rocky.  You are never alone for more than a moment those first few daylight laps, and privacy to do your business is an issue.  I STILL have scratches all over my leg from getting in/out of a bush that could hide me on a pee stop on a part that had two-way traffic.  I'm designing a bush outfit next year so I can just walk off the trail and be camouflaged.  So back to behind the porta potty: I go poo and get a baby wipe out of my waistpack and am wiping my big ol' white ass when I happen to look over to my right, down Jeep Road.  I am surprised to immediately make eye contact with Luis, headed up the road with me in his sights.  I know his name is Luis because it was on the back of his shirt and I was behind him for a stretch earlier in the Loop.  He is from Mexico and doesn't speak English.  But I don't have to parlez espanol to know that is a curl and a look of disgust that has formed on his lips and shines in his eyes.  I yell Fuck again and finish up and get out of there ASAP before he comes along.  For as early on in the race as it was I would have hoped to have more decorum, but a trail is a trail and rules aren't what they are on the sidewalk.  Not far to the finish of Loop 2:  5h17min for that one.  Not very happy with the 40 minutes extra.  And my Timex Ironman that's supposed to run for 20 hours crapped out on me after 8 hours so I ditch that at our tent after letting everyone in earshot know what a piece of fucking shit it is.  My attitude started to slip here and there on this loop, just a bit.  Craig is there to snap photos of my progression and simultaneous decline.  Brian was there for hugs and to tell me I'm great. I tell them next loop will be 6h but Heather wants 5h.  Don't tell me what to do.  Abby asks how I'm doing.  Well, to be honest I feel like I'm working way too hard for what I'm getting.  I kept my HR below 70% of max for the first 50 miles and it seemed like I was going slower and working harder than I should be.  It wasn't going to be a day made for racing my best for sure, but that didn't mean it had to be horrible.  That's all I had to say about that.

     Miles 41 -60.  I think this is the loop I see Matty at Damnation (it could have been the second loop though, loops 2 and 3 get mixed up in my memory) -- he's going out, I'm coming in.  He says he needs his rolling pin.  I told him I need new shoes - my trail shoes were biting into my ankle and it was starting to kill every step.  He said - that sucks.  And I said - Yeah, well, it's about not to suck.  I put on my Mizuno Enigmas and I swear it was like putting pillows on my feet.  One of the smartest things I did the whole race, changing those shoes.  Dry socks too.  Although you weren't going to go too far with dry socks.  The rain had made a lot of unavoidable mud slop pits throughout the trail.  Nothing can compare to the sludge and soul-sucking qualities of WYCO at its muddiest, but it was squishy, shoe-sucking mud and I'd rather not have it than have it.  Mother Nature cares very little about my opinion in these things.  I also notice that I'm not so chipper when meeting other people on the trail.  Not that I was greeting everyone before, but I notice I don't even want to make eye contact with them.  I slip into a "If you people would just leave me alone and I can be by myself, everything will be fine" mode.  This happens all the time and when it does, I gotta get right again for this is not a good place to come from.  Thankfully, simply realizing that is where I'm at is enough to get me out of it much of the time, this being no exception. 
     I forgot to reapply A & D ointment at Damnation both times.  I also forgot to get more Gus both times (I was doing no caffeine the first 50 miles, then Rocktane Gu's the rest, every 45 minutes until Mile 60, then every half hour after that, besides eating more than just a little at all aid stations) and had zero Rocktane Gus on me after leaving Damnation, so on the way back to the Start/Finish I came up with the AIR BAT acronym:  A = A & D ointment, I = Ibuprofen, R = Rocktane, BAT = Batteries for my headlamp.  I was very proud of myself and blurted it all out to Heather when I came in at 60 miles, about 10pm.  "I was forgetting stuff so I came up with AIR BAT, It's A for A & D" . .etc.  Brian, Craig and Heather looked at me, interested.  I remember at the time thinking "Wow -- they are so impressed I came up with an acronym and remembered everything, all while running 100 miles, and I am too.  They are convinced I'm a fucking genius".  I now think it was more of a don't take your eye off the crazy ones look.  Brian was there for love and I can't tell you how great it was he was there-- I didn't expect that but it meant a whole lot to me.  He was there for every loop except for the one at like 4:30 in the morning.  It took me 5h53m to do the third loop.  So we're at 16 hours down, 14 to go -- it's a 30 hour cutoff.  That means 7 hours apiece for the next two loops.  Based on my decline over the first 3 loops, and the fact that it's 10pm at night and slow going in the dark, I started seriously considering the fact that I may not make cutoff.  In fact, at this point I thought it very likely I wouldn't make cutoff.  Way back in the beginning of the loop, I came up on a couple and told them my times for the first two loops and what they thought about cutoff.  They said it was too early to worry about cutoff and we were still good.  I liked them.  I got a second opinion from the next experienced guy and he shared my alarm at the 40 minute difference between Loop 1 and 2.  He said that I needed to keep that time loss each loop down - they can't keep getting longer and longer.  I didn't like him at all.  But he was right.  I was going way slow and getting passed a whole lot it seemed like.  I'm not a natural runner -- always hated running and was never good at it.  Other than maybe when I was a kid, I was 36 before I ever ran a mile.  I've always had to dismiss the thought that I can't do 100 miles because of this - practice can only make up for a certain amount of lack of natural ability and maybe I'm not physically cut out for it.  There goes that damn brain, just like the man, trying to keep me down.    

     Miles 61-80.    Heather is my pacer and gets to head out with me on the 4th loop.  I really didn't know her that well.  I ran with her a couple of times at WYCO in December, and that was enough to know we weren't going to have any problems personality-wise.  She didn't complain, she didn't smell real bad, make weird noises, talk too much, talk too little, or talk about dumb shit that I don't care about.  More importantly, I must have not done the same, as she seemed quite eager to buy a plane ticket, rent a car, even buy a Garmin off Craigslist, and spend a weekend away from her loving family to walk around the woods all night with some miserable mouthy chic.  And people call me crazy.  We also met once for brunch to go over her job duties.  I had a list of things - here are some of them: 
  •  Make sure I breathe right.  I should be doing count of 2 in, count of 2 out.  My breathing gets too shallow when I'm tired.  
  •  Give me a Gu every 30 minutes for as long as my stomach will handle them.
  • Make sure to make me run every so often so I'm not trudging a death march.  I told her Sophia's trick she used pacing another guy - Give me 50, can you give me 50?  Meaning 50 running steps.
     I know there were more, but I can't remember them now, or I don't want to give them away.  The only other thing about the brunch I remember I had some kind of fried chicken salad  with yellow mustard for dressing.  That's it for the brunch.  OK - that's not it.  I also told Heather that there would be a little part of me that would always blame her if I didn't finish.  I didn't think it was wrong to say until it came out of my mouth.  Then is sounded a little wrong - not wrong as in untrue, just wrong as in one of those things that I should have kept to myself.  She told me it was ok - as a matter of fact, she would blame herself  if I didn't finish.  Still, I know if roles were reversed, my first reaction would not be one of understanding to such a statement.  I would climb right up on my high horse and let them know that when you point the finger at someone else, you got 3 pointing back at you, bitch.  Anyway, this little exchange is one of the things that come to mind when I think of how perfect a pacer I found in Heather.  
     OK - back to the race.  Mile 61 - This is what I'd been waiting for.  This is where we enter the realm of the previuosly unkown.  There is the - it's the middle of the night and I'm running on a trail in Texas doing some epic shit.  Epic shit that many people can't even fathom - part.  I fucking love that part.  I AM as cool as I think I am in that part.  Then there is the shitty part.  We're 16 hour into it - that is many hours longer than I've ever spent in an ultra.  I'm hurting.  "Hurting" doesn't do it near the justice it deserves.  Let me paint you a picture - the noise in my brain/body with every step was a scream of pain like that of an ewok getting anally raped with a red hot tire iron.  The worst was the part where the top of your foot meets the bottom of your leg.  It was killing me.  K.I.L.L.I.N.G.  M.E.  as they say.  I'm no doctor, but I don't need to be -- I looked at a picture on the internet and I'd say it was my extensor digitorum longus and hallucis tendons that were inflammed.  Meaning they were on fire. My medical reason is that the tendon was shortened up because that's how it is when you are standing, and I had been standing and pounding weight on it for longer than I ever had before.  If Danny Miller has made it this far reading my report, he can tell me if he concurs.  I started to stop forward progress and lean against a tree and put my toe on the ground and lean forward, one foot at a time, to stretch it out and it would hurt so good.  But as soon as I started walking, the ewok getting anally raped feeling would come flooding back.  So I stopped really doing it because it wasn't really having any lasting effect, just wasting time.  It wasn't just that one spot of course --  I kept getting hot spots (I think that's what they were) on my pinky toes -- my feet were in wet socks the entire time and pretty soon I could have sworn that I had a blister on the bottom of my toe, but then it would go away.  I've had one blister that I can remember and it didn't really bother me much and only lasted a few days so I don't have alot of experience with them.  I bitched to Heather about it, but then the pain would subside, so we never went through the rigamarole of taking off my shoes and socks to look at it.  And I never got a blister.  Fucking miracle.  I'm not sure when exactly I lost all ability to regulate my body temperature; I do know that I didn't get that ability back until sometime Sunday night.  I was running in more clothes than I have on when it's zero degrees and I was still getting teeth-chattering cold - it didn't drop below 50 degrees that night.  Luckily, Sophia told me this would happen.  If she hadn't, I would certainly have freaked the fuck out, certain my body was shutting down and death was the next stage.  I was also extremely nauseous the last 40 miles, but I didn't puke.  I wish I would have puked because I bet I could write a great puke story, but it never happened.  I even got a hot dog wrapped in a pancake down the hatch at Mile 87ish, one of the most impressive feats of the race, besides the whole running 100 miles part. Those are my general complaints that would persist until the end.
     Once Heather was with me, I handed the reins over, glad to be rid of them.  I'm sure they weren't the first words out of my mouth upon our start, but it didn't take long for me to find it necessary to let Heather know exactly how much I was hurting, detailing everything above.  I don't like to use the word whining because as a Trail Nerd, I know the shallow graves reserved for them.  But that's the only reason I'm not using it, as it fits.  I graciously let her know that in fact there is no way she could understand my suffering, so don't waste your time trying, as a suffering like this has never been known.  I found myself almost rolling my eyes at my own melodrama, but it hurt too bad.  I was in bad shape in my opinion and was afraid it was going to get way worse before the end -- worse enough for a DNF.  That was still a big uncertainty though, I realized.  What seemed more possible is that I would not be able to finish because of cutoff.  The fact that I worked so hard for this and I may not get it was absofuckinglutely devastating.  I would start almost crying (I know Heather could hear me -- when you're trying to choke back crying sound - real hitched breath, not conducive to running or even walking) the instant it was considered.  These were my darkest spots.  Of all the complicated ways I could imagine using to get myself out of them, what worked was very simple.  I would think of Elliot being out there with me and it would instantly bring some light into my heart and the dark space would fade.  I am well aware that I am too attached to my dog.  It is certainly not the worst thing you could say about me.  I know I brought up and we talked about finishing the 100 miles but not getting a buckle, and although that thought didn't hit me like a ton of bricks like the other, I didn't want any "yeah. . . buts" on my resume.  I imagined saying "Yeah, I ran the 100 miles, but I didn't get a buckle" and I didn't like the sound of it one bit.  
     As for Heather, she got a whole lot of miserableness from me.  I've only recently been clued in (thanks Rick Mayo) that one of the roles of being a pacer is being that person that hears the whining and venting from the runner.  So although I didn't puke, I got to verbally vomit all over Heather.  I'm glad Rick told me that, because I really was getting down on  myself for being such an enormous miserable brat.  I find great relief in knowing that is just part of the whole 100 mile journey.  For when it comes to having a shitty attitude, I am a motherfucking ninja.  Coming out of my mouth were a lot of  - We're not fucking running anymore - Slow the fuck down - This fucking sucks - You're going way too fucking fast -- I'm so fucking freezing you can't even comprehend it - Stop, I gotta pee - You can't know how much this hurts - and a couple I fucking hate yous.  I remember how she started out with "Can you give me 100?"  I snorted so she would be aware (she was in front of me and couldn't see my crabass facial expressions) how absurd those words coming out of her mouth were.  Ummmm. . . listen fucktard.  We start with 50, not 100.  100 steps was NEVER mentioned.  Why you have decided to pull that number out of your ass I have no clue.  You got to be some kind of stupid to think I'm running 100 steps.  As a matter of fact, 0 steps sound good to me.  How about 0?  But I did some anyway 'cause she said to.  I can close my eyes and see her in front of me, whipping around to her right to hand me a Gu.  Every 30 minutes, just as planned.  I never took a Gu without remarking on how nauseous I was and how awful this was going to be for me.  Nail me to a cross already.  When I really didn't want a Gu and she cut me a break, she'd give me a caffeine tab thing instead (she found those things all on her own and they were awesome).  For 12 hours, I had about 2 cups of coffee's worth every 30 minutes I think.  She fed me salt, which I didn't even tell her about or want, but needed.   She had Tums .  She would ask if I was breathing right.  I would answer "yeah" in a way that said "yeah, quit bothering me with fucking shit I already know".  Then I would think - ok, you're breathing is all fucked up, gotta fix it.  And she would keep asking me occasionally, undeterred by my response, and I would keep fixing it.  Heather was exactly who I needed out there.  She had EXACTLY what it took to get the last 40 of 100 miles out of me, something I wasn't going to find on my own that night.  We get to the end of Loop 4 at about 4:30am and are out before 5am.  Loop 4 = 6h22min.
    Miles 81 to 100.  We have a little over 7 hours to get this loop done.  I'm still freaking out about time and the dark spots are still coming and going.  Heather gets as much out of me as she can, but I am resisting going faster every step.  I'm also convinced I'm dying.  We were doing ibuprofen and then Tylenol, switching them.  I was peeing alot still, which was great.  I chalk that up to the fact that wore an ipod the whole time (mine went dead and used Brian's for the last loop - God I was such a bitch to her about getting things out of my bag cause she wasn't doing it "right" whatever the fuck that meant- I totally forgot about that) and took a drink after every song, minimum.  But I'm worried about kidney failure and every time she hands me the pills, I insinuate that they will kill me and it will all be her fault.  I also went poo twice on this loop and was very disturbed by it (sorry, I should only be allowed one poo story per race report).  My poo was SO black, it was like freshly poured tar.  I remember reading once when  I looked up why my poo was bright green that black poo means internal bleeding.  It was really just like from the dye in the Gus or something, I would guess.  But I start arguing with Heather when she tells me I don't have internal bleeding.  Finally, she had to stop, turn around, look me in the eye and tell me "Erica.  You are not going to die here.  I promise you.  You're not going to die today".  In my broken state, I believed her and finally shut up about it.  The more we go along, the more it becomes obvious that we're going to make it.  Besides, the sun comes up and it's true what I've read - you get a big lift in spirit with the rising of the sun.  Everything seems so much. . . better.  Probably something about it being a new day that infuses some freshness in your soul.  By the time we get back to Damnation, about Mile 92ish, I am giddy.  I even initiate some running on Jeep Road and Heather has her first chance to give me some positive reinforcement.  I still give her shit when I discover that we're going to be over an hour early.  I told her to shoot for 29h59m (remember, 30 hour cutoff) so I could expend as little effort as possible and still make it.  My bad attitude skills are only a bit stronger than my slacker skills.  I still think a reason the dark places didn't get any darker and why I didn't hallucinate is that I wasn't pushing myself hard enough - that sounds just like me, to slack in a 100.  Anyway, after the last aid station with just a few more miles to go, I am allowed to forgo running altogether -- we get to walk it in.  I spent alot of time prior to this cajoling Heather into walking but she wouldn't buy it, thank you baby jesus.  So I considered being allowed to walk it in no small victory.  It further elates me.  I got this, I think.  This is really going to happen.  At the end of each loop, you cross a road, then get on a wide trail - huge finish chute if you will.  Abby was waiting for us at the road and telephoned in our impending arrival.  Heather decided that I would run it in alone, so I took off flying.  Sophia captured the perfect finish line photo, which was a good thing because the "official" ones are absolutely horrendous.  

 That is Abby in a white blanket behind me and Heather in red.  We did that last loop in exactly the same time it took to do the one before.  BAM!!  Once again, Heather worked some kind of magic.  28 Hours, 45 Minutes, 100 Miles.  I look at this picture and what immediately pops in my head and heart is - I've always been my biggest disappointment.  I've written and erased that last part numerous times, wondering what comes next, knowing it's not all.  I can't put up a picture of me finishing 100 fucking miles and then have this biggest disappointment crap for a caption.  WTF?  I think I've had so much angst about that phrase because this time it doesn't ring true in me, and frankly that scares me because it's been there with me, part of me, all along - not a good thing, but a comfortable thing.  It's all tied in with the "if you really knew me, you wouldn't tolerate me" belief.  Even though there is at least a real piece of me that knows it isn't true, it is extremely hard for me to let go of the belief that I'm not OK.  It's easy for these "I'm my own worst critic, etc" phrases to be tossed around lightly, but I don't.  This is literally, fundamentally how I feel about myself.  I've only just recently even realized that's what I believed as truth about myself (but I'm the fucking #1 Champion Badginator!?), and now I'm just starting to face the fact that I could be wrong about those.  If I can just keep that feeling that I'm wrong, I think I'm giving myself a big chance.  I'm deciding that I'm a worthwhile person.  My whole life I've known one thing and that's that I'm not OK.  If I'm wrong about that, I could be wrong about other things too.  Hmmmmm.  Leave it up to me to learn a lesson in humility when I started out just trying not to feel like a worthless drain on the world.  I'll move on -- the emo section of the report has concluded.
I just ran 100 miles and boy am I tired!

     I wasn't the only one who achieved great things that day (or the day before) - all the Trail Nerds that came down to run in Rocky successfully finished their race.  There are 450 miles in this picture and we're even missing a few!  AND we all beat last year's winner of the race - Ian Sharman, who set a North American record with a time of 12h44min DNF'd this year.  He had good company - about 160 people DNF'd of the 375 who started.  I've heard him interviewed and he seems like a great guy, but in your face Ian!!  

I love everyone in this picture (except for the guy in the purple hat - he's just some guy that was there - he could be a puppy-kicker for all I know, although he looks pretty nice).  I wasn't kidding about Sophia teaching me how to be a friend.  My entire life my side of a conversation is for me to say the things I think  I SHOULD be saying.  There have been few others that I've been able to have natural, organic conversations with if you will - mine were processed and packaged.  I've had to practice being myself and when I am (and even when I'm not), have received nothing but love and compassion and acceptance from her.  But wait - there's more - I volunteered at an aid station at Psycho WYCO 50k the next week.  The Warrens stayed up until the wee hours of the morning, baking Hot Tamale ('cause they're my favorite) cupcakes for my birthday - you won't believe the shit they had to do to make these cupcakes - covering up the thing grinding down red hots so it wouldn't wake up the kids at way-too-late-thirty in the morning, melting down candy to its tasteless gel center, etc.  For Birthday cupcakes for me.  And Heather came by just to surprise me with the most awesome belt (you get a buckle for finishing 100 miles) known to man, complete with H. BADGER emblazoned on the back.  I know, perfect right?  I know I'm dangerously close to being confused with the smelly fat kid who picks their nose, but I've never had friends like that.  I was incapable of having any friends like that -- no one would get the chance because trust me, I would fuck it up before it got to that point.  And the whole day I spent freezing my ass off with the Warrens and Rick Mayo (I finally know fast Rick Mayo!) and Donnie D who I didn't know before, but who came out of his car singing my praises and ready to lead a fucking parade for me, and Megan M and that Bean guy who I didn't know either.  I enjoyed spending my day with all of them.  I am aware that I care what people are thinking not because of my ego, but because of my heart.  I realize it's weird that it's just now becoming a part of my life, but it is what it is.  I say all this because it just adds another layer of significance to running 100 miles -- you people have changed my life in ways I didn't know I even wanted changed.

Me and Heather -- Mission Accomplished!
Sophia hug

Just past the finish line -- he hands me my buckle as I hang on for dear life.

Heather hug

Brian hug
So that's it for the race.  I could have stayed there all day under that blanket.  The lady who was so happy for me at Damnation came by.  I told her "Look - I finished!"  She comes over to me, squinting her eyes.  "Who are you?"  I told her how she would say "you're back" at Damnation every time and how special she made me feel.  She told me she says that to everyone.  Hmmm. . . more humility.  Duly noted.   
     Checkout was noon and we were already late.  So I went back to the Lodge of Economy for a quick shower, then off to the backseat of Craig's Honda for the ride back to Austin.  I thought I would sleep, but found that if I didn't have my eyes on the road for 30 seconds, I would start to want to hurl again.  I bought some fancy $8 steak beef jerky which I ended up eating in bed that night, the only thing I ate the rest of the day besides a couple of chips and guacamole - I could feel my body starving for food but my stomach just wasn't having it yet.  I laid out at Craig and Maggie's house that evening under a blanket with a heater on me, sorta not watching the SuperBowl.  I didn't want to go to bed...didn't want to be alone. I finally crawled into bed after halftime and that bed felt like a big soft pillow enveloping my body - total luxury.  But it didn't last long - it's Sunday night, I'd been awake since 3:30am the day before,and I could not sleep.  I tossed and turned - I couldn't stay still for more than a few minutes without it hurting and would have to turn.  I was like a slowly turning rotisserie chicken all night long.  Everything hurt.  But once I got up and moving the next day, it wasn't so bad.  Sitting on the plane was uncomfortable and when we had a layover in Dallas and were walking thru the terminal, my knees hurt so bad it brought tears to my eyes.  Which brings me to the Post-100 Mile Injury Report:  The next few days, the only thing bothering me was my right big toe.  My biggest mistake I made was not cutting my toenails before the race.  (I try so very hard to be cool, but things like clipping toenails get in my way.  Clipping toenails?  That's not sexy.).  I usually paint my toenails a different color scheme (Jan is black and silver, Feb is red and pink, Mar is green, etc.) every month.  May is all the colors of the rainbow because May is gay.  My cleverness knows no bounds.  Anyway, with all the activity that goes on right before going out of town for your first 100 mile run, I totally forgot my feet.  My toenail was getting pushed back the entire time and although it looked fine, it hurt.  After a couple of days, when I was running up and down stairs, it would be that toenail that bothered me.  It's just about 100% now though.  I went for a run on the next Sunday - 3 1/2 miles around the neighborhood.  All went well until the end and my right knee started to act up.  I'm just going to give it a bit more TLC and see how it goes.  Short and sweet injury report.  On the flip side, the only other thing to share the podium with Heather is caffeine.  When I recollect the last two loops, I remember it in series of jolts.  I took a 5 hour energy at Mile 87ish and for the next half hour felt like a lean, mean fighting machine ( just with a body that wasn't exactly on that same page).  Of course, just like any other drug that I love, its effectiveness diminished each use.  But I think the caffeine buzz may have helped in keeping the dark times short-lived. I never had to slip into the places in my mind where the real dark fuckery resides.  Or maybe it just wasn't my day to go there.    
     I know this is way too long already, but it wouldn't be a race report if I didn't include Brian and Elliot.  Brian will probably take one look at this race report and deem it too long to read (trust me, there is nothing here he hasn't heard already, probably a few times), so it's ok to lump the boyfriend and the dog together.  I absolutely adore Brian just for being who he is.  For a non-runner, Brian puts up with a whole lot of running crap.  Not once does he roll his eyes and say - "Baby, let's talk about something else.  I don't give a fuck about running".  However, if Brian talks for more than 1 1/2 minutes about football, chances are he's gonna get a  - "Baby, let's talk about something else.  I don't give a fuck about football".  We've been together 4 years now - -we're past the point where he's trying to put his hands down my pants in the movies all the time, but I still get a slap on the ass in public, which I secretly love.  He has friends that have known him for decades.  I notice that friends of his actually make a point of remarking on what a good friend he's been to them.  I only wish I could be half as good a person as he is.  It's not often I get to spend alot of time with him and being around him 24/7 for a few days in Texas made me realize how much I love being around him.  Life is fun when he's around.  
See ya next year Tejas!

     Last, but certainly not least is my faithful hound dog Elliot.  He was by my side through all my training runs with very few exceptions, and if it wasn't for him my training wouldn't be nearly as consistent as it was.  When the alarm went off at 4:30am most mornings, he helped me be a champion and get out of bed.  I really didn't feel like going out to WYCO and running two loops.  It's fucking hard.  But I would think of how much fun Elliot seems to have out there, so off we would go.  I spent a whole bunch of time running and therefore a whole bunch of time with Elliot - just us.  I am quite attached.  He's truly a remarkable dog.  Nothing gets Elliot down.  We have been foster parents to a couple of dogs.  One of them was an abused tripod German Shepard named Olivia - she was a sad, frightened, suffering girl when she came to us.  Elliot taught her how to be a happy dog.  He just spreads joy wherever he goes.  He is responsible for teaching me compassion.  Many times I know I need to be compassionate, but don't know how to do it.  One day I realized -- I treat Elliot with compassion without even thinking of it.  So now when I'm able, I just think -- treat them like they're Elliot.  It works.  See, even my dog is helping me be the best Erica I can be!  Well, that's it for my report.  I'm not good at ending these things - luckily it's not saying goodbye, only see you later.  I can't wait to do the next one!!  We'll close with some joy: