Infinitus 888k Goshen, Vermont May 23, 2018 – June 3, 2018
It has been one week since I returned from the Infinitus 888k trail race. I have so many thoughts, feelings, stories (most of them are dumb inside jokes that still have me laughing), and pictures of my experiences. The tag line under the registration for the 888k race sign up is, “you will regret this.” I can assure you, I do NOT regret it. I cherish this experience and this does include the laughs and the smiles, but I also hold tight to the tears, anger, and opportunity for intense introspection.
I initially signed up for the race in 2017. However, I withdrew from the race about 1 week prior. I had a cycling crash that almost killed me in the summer of 2016 and my injuries had not fully healed. This race felt like it was a long time coming.
I had a plan going into this race. I had a lot of organization and preparation going into the race. However, in the words of Mike Tyson, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” Infinitus punched me in the mouth.
I had to make peace with the concept of “failure.” I realized roughly 3 days in that I was not going to be able to cover the entire distance of 888k (252 miles) in 10 days. Did this make me a failure? Was this race a waste of time? Why work so hard only to know that in the end there would be a DNF (did not finish) next to my name? Lots of time in the woods allowed me to think about this and really feel it. I do not label my 888 as a failure. I made the commitment to run as many miles as I could every day, and I did exactly that. Never once, not for a split second, did I consider quitting.
I stayed on plan for the first 1-2 days. But it became clear that if I was going to safely cover the miles I needed to cover, I’d have to sleep. I also did the initial 100 miles pretty much by myself. I have no problem being in the woods alone. Heck, this is my life. However, I got tired, lonely, achy, whatever…… it got ugly. My worst emotional moments were on a 20 mile (aka long loop.) The route took me close to 8 hours, maybe it was 7:45. It was a long time. I finished close to 3a. If you really want to get to know yourself spend long slow hours in the woods climbing. Every demon that I had came out to chat with me. I was ashamed at the time for feeling sad and angry. I am above this! I know how to be alone. HA! The only solution was to put one foot in front of the other and know that the demons were traveling with me. Feelings won’t kill you but they hurt. And on top of the physical pain of the miles I had done…. Well…. it was a long night.
The next day was very rough physically. I still hadn’t accepted that I needed to sleep, even though multiple people were telling me this very thing. I was blessed to catch up with a group of friends. One was running the 888k, and 2 other new friends were running the deca-marathon. When I am in the woods like this, all boundaries disappear. My friends yelled out to me and I stopped and waited. I was on the verge of tearing up when asked how I was. I replied, “I’m having a really bad day.” The response was, “We are too. Come with us.”
It is amazing to me as an introvert that likes to spend time alone in the woods to realize I needed companionship. I also needed a bunch of sleep, and I was having major issues with nausea, but finding myself in the company of others who were traveling on the same path, and felt the same way I did was a game changer. My gratitude toward my fellow racers is immense.
It all circles back to our needs as humans. Food, shelter, water, yes, they are all important. However, friendship and kindness is in there too.
I was blessed to have my nausea clear by day 3ish. I was able to eat and I ate as much as I could. I had the normal blisters and soreness that come with multiday races of course. I found peace in the routine. I know how great it is to be able to wake every day and my only job was to cover as many miles as I could.
I took a video every day and summarized what was going on. They aren’t pretty but they are real.
I am beyond grateful to my team that supported me and crewed me. I also appreciate my support system at home, the people that helped me stay strong physically and helped me stay healthy and recover. My heart is huge when I think of my family. My husband and my kids were truly there for me. One evening when I was done my husband was trying to get me into the RV. My body hurt so badly I could barely walk. My 8-year-old daughter was waiting in the RV and watching. Through my pain and my tears, I said to her, “Maeve, you see how I look? I know it looks bad. It’s really ok. This is my passion. This is what it means to love to do something so much that you will push through and do whatever it takes.”