DAY ONE: 88km (Eugina to Collingwood)
I started off this day on the right foot as my trainer, Cathy Gallagher, ran the first 6 hours with me to keep me on track. Big hills and a blister early on reminded us to respect Bruce and keep a slow but steady pace. Cathy paced me well and kept the mood positive and exciting. Perfect way to begin a 14 hour trail running day.
Thanks to Chris Brown, owner of life framed photography, we stopped for a quick photo shoot four hours in. Not only did Chris take photos, but a few hours later he jumped in for 15km to keep me company when Cathy left. By the time I hit 50 km I was starting to feel it. Joanne Merkley, an ironman lady, stepped in to finish the day off. Lost keys, more blisters and some sketchy fields awaited us, but we survived
Without the support of them, I would of been toast! I feed off their encouragement and belief in my cause and allowed it to carry me through the day! Positive mental health begins with surrounding yourself with the right people. I had the right people!
DAY TWO: 75 km (Collingwood to Black Bank)
Day two I began alone. Rained all day. It was tough getting out of bed as my muscles were screaming and my mind was not yet in the game. I rolled out of bed at 5am and went through the motions, dressing my blisters and prepping for the day.
As I took my first steps I knew I had to start thinking positive messages to myself. Cathy was not around and it was up to me to refuel my mind with her positive influence the day before. I knew Chris was a few hours away so it gave me inspiration to keep on going. Yes, Chris came back for Day 2 (totally amazing). By the time I saw Chris, I had found some strength mentally, but the blisters were overwhelming.
A nice fall, more rain and lots of hills added fuel to my fire. Chris stayed positive, telling me some stories along the way and motivating me by talking about the food I had waiting at the next pit stop. 🙂 It is amazing what some potato chips, oranges and muffins can do.
Eventually, I met up with Brenda East and Christina Blackley, some very fit Barrie ladies with lots of spunk. I was slow going at that point and feeling some major pains. However, they helped get me into dry gear, fix those nasty blisters and guide me along the way. I know I would of crumbled had they not stuck out the muddy conditions with me. Power of positive people goes a long way! Each HUGE hill became an ant hill in my mind and one foot after the other, with them by my side, I proceeded forward.
By night time, 13 hours and 75 km later I was on my way to my bed. I had a breakdown as I put on my pjs and tried to get into the bed I so longed for all day. I couldn’t manage to swing my feet around into it and all of a sudden broke down. My husband managed to lift me into the right position and get me settled. A very scary experience but one I knew I would come out of. I kept thinking in my mind this feeling will go away – the negative messages of what the heck did I get myself into and the fear of not succeeding. Time always heals negative thoughts and I gave myself permission to close my eyes and worry about things in the morning. A new day brings a new beginning. Stop thinking and be happy with the now – how far you have run so far! Lights out.
DAY THREE: 50 km (Black Banks to Hockley)
Day three was the most emotional. I knew Day 3 was the best terrain by far, with lots of beautiful streams, ponds and wooded paths. But, I also knew I would be alone for the entire 80 km as it was Saturday in the summer and most people were away. That scared me.
Alone. Something I dreaded when I was sick with my eating disorder and depression. The feeling of being alone even when I was surrounded by people. Each minute passing so slowly. An hour feeling like a full day. Alone.
I was up at 4:30 prepping for my 6 am start. I began the day slow and turned to my music to keep me company. I had orignally thought I would use music to scare the bears away, but at that point bumping into a bear was the last thing on my mind. One step in front of the other. Yes Virginia you can! Alone yes, but strong and happy. No more fears of alone. I have learned to be happy with being me – alone or with others.
Yes I can – and I did, until 35km. I started to feel a sharp pain in my shin/ankle after a sketchy fall. My phone was toast (thanks to the rain the day before) and I began to feel each step. No music anymore. I found a stream/pond and I could not resist jumping in. I dove head first and fluttered around like a baby. I did not care that people watched from the sidelines wondering what is she doing. I did not care what others thought. I found my own happiness in that water.
Back on trail and foot throbbing. Not normal and something I knew was not minor. I reach my husband, refused at 42km and headed back out. Yes you can Virginia. Almost.
At 46km my husband knew something was not right. I was hobbling badly. He called my trainer, Cathy, who he was in touch with all day. Together they knew it was time to pull me off as not to further injure myself. After all, it was a training event – to test body and learn from it. The smartest move was to stop. Try telling that to me. It did not go over well. It took 3 km of my husband and Cathy telling me all the reasons I should stop now. “Remember the end goal Virginia – this is training, We do not want you injured for September” said Cathy.
Trusting Cathy and knowing her intentions were well founded was key. I cried, walked, cried and kept walking. I needed to get to 50 km in my head and I also needed to process the fact I was about to stop. NOT QUIT but stop for the right reasons. Thank you Cathy and Ray for telling me what I needed to hear but did not want to acknowledge. Thank you for being the friend and husband I needed and having the guts to make the tough call.
213 km (over 5 marathons) in 3 days is not a bad training event. Instead of focusing on not completing the last 30km, my focus is on what I did accomplish. I needed others to help me grasp that. Positive mental health is a daily adventure – this day tested mine to the limit. Thank goodness for others in our lives to pick us up when we are down and change our negative self talk and convert it into positive energy.