Post by Jannine Myers
Just last week Anna and I posted about setting running goals for 2012, and already some of our amazing WOOT ladies have taken up the challenge and tackled what is undeniably an incredibly difficult feat. When I first heard last weekend about the small group of Kinser women who had just completed a 50 mile run from Camp Kinser all the way up to Okuma, I have to admit that I thought I had been misinformed. But as a steady thread of Facebook messages regarding the event slowly began to trickle down my page I realized that what I was reading was no mistake at all.
At the age of twenty three, just three years ago, Kinser WOOT member, Jenny Nates, describes being the victim of a “near-death” experience which resulted in a temporary paralysis of her legs. Through months of rehabilitation Jenny eventually learned to walk and run again, but the process was slow and sometimes quite painful. Determined to live her life to the fullest once she made a full recovery, Jenny vowed that she would celebrate all future birthdays by giving herself some type of challenge that would a) acknowledge her appreciation of life, and b) test both her physical and mental strength. Hence the idea to run fifty miles on her 26th birthday was not some crazy ill-conceived self-dare; it was a seriously considered notion that eventually gained acceptance from her husband and not surprisingly, her favorite group of running friends.
Jenny’s running friends, in fact, even went as far as showing their support by promising to run either part or all of the distance with her. With just over a month to plan and organize the logistics of such an event, Jenny began to search for tips in the book “Running Through the Wall: Personal Encounters. Since neither she nor any of her running friends had ever run an ultramarathon before, and with little training under their belts, Jenny wanted to ensure that the run would at least be safe for them to do.
In preparation for the day’s event, Shanna Diep, who ran twenty two of the fifty miles, says that vans were loaded up the night before with food and water, changes of clothing, coolers, shoes, towels, and chairs. A support crew consisting of husbands, friends, and family members, met the girls at pre-designated rest stops; it was because of these stops every ten miles, and the fifteen minutes they took at each one to replenish themselves, that Shirley Thomas believes she was able to stay motivated. “Knowing we were stopping every ten miles,” said Shirley, “made it easy to break down such a long run.”
|Enjoying a fifteen minute rest|
That’s not to say however, that running fifty miles was “easy.” Bear in mind that these ladies began running around 6am last Sunday, from camp Kinser in the south, until just after 7pm that evening, when they made the final turn into the gate of Okuma Campgrounds in the northern part of the island. From before sun-up until after sun-down these girls continued to run forward, each one refusing to give in to the pain and discomfort that inevitably racked their bodies after the first thirty miles or so.
I was going to try and sum up for you everything they felt and experienced on their journey, but as I read each of their accounts I realized that the only way I could truly convey the emotion that permeated throughout the group, was to let them say it themselves:
Jenny Nates – Initiator and Planner
Total distance Run – 50 Miles
My initial plan was to run it alone and have the hubby follow me in the car to make sure I survived . Now all I can say about that, is what was I thinking?! BUT THANK GOD for these ladies I met on this tiny island. They have become so dear to me, such amazing friends! I was so happy they joined me on this journey. Stopping every 10 Miles, 15min breaks at each stop tracked by my NAZI timekeeper husband – food, drinks, chairs, hugs, kisses, positive re-enforcement – these were all KEY parts of this SUCCESSFUL and exciting journey. Throughout the run there were times where I was ready to quit but never did I say it out loud because the girls around me kept running and looking STRONG … that kept me going!
Total Distance Run – 48 Miles (“I lost two miles because my left heel was in a bit of pain”)
I decided right away to go on this amazing adventure because I’ve been wanting to do an ultra for about two years now. Honestly, the first ones to rope me in were the WOOTers – y’all got me hooked! Tons of tears from this crazy island girl, all throughout my run. I started out with mixed emotions, and then as I ran with all of “my big sisters” I felt strong, happy, and confident.. and everything I saw along the way…Amazed me Tremendously!! I thought about my upbringing, of how cruel, distrustful and ugly it was and I never thought there were beautiful, good people and places in this world…But, this right here, was WOW!! It is Real and it Exists!! This lady Jenny is an amazing God-send! She brought us all together and she planned it out perfectly!! It was an awe-inspiring experience, one that I will never forget!
Total Distance Run – 50 Miles
It wasn’t until about the 30 mile point I that started to feel the muscles cramping in my quads. Then another thing started ailing me as we entered Nago…my stomach! I had nausea really bad and felt like my stomach was on fire. This pretty much lasted the rest of the run and well into the night. Not sure why that happened but it affected the last leg of the journey for me and slowed me down quite a bit.
Emotionally I felt really good, I was happy & excited to be doing this with some of the strongest and most encouraging women I have ever met. I kept asking how can a 50 mile run feel so good? I’m positive it’s because of the amazing friends I ran with, and the way we supported one another as we finished this AMAZING goal. I thank God that I am healthy and able to accomplish such things. I look forward to more challenges like what we’ve just done and many more running days with these phenomenal women.
|Shirley gets a much deserved hug from her son|
Total Distance Run – 22 Miles (Shanna’s farthest distance prior to this runs was 13 miles!)
Shanna describes the scene as the girls finish their last few miles: I drove to fhe finish line and waited for the rock stars to make it in. It was very dark and we could barely see down the road as there were no street lights. I don’t know how they were running like that. I was actually a little worried because I knew they didn’t have any lights on them. But…. they made it and it brought tears to my eyes. Allyson was the first to come in as she had met them about 7 miles before the finish line. She had been at scuba training all day but drove up to support them at the end. Then came Jenny our first 50 mile finisher. She was in tears. I have never been so proud of one of my friends. She did it, it was her birthday and she made it. I could feel the love from her and how blessed she felt to have all the support she did. Benita, Shirley, Jenny, Bri, and Krista all completed the 50 miles. As each and everyone of them started coming in we were all there to cheer them on. Many tears of pain and excitement were shed at the end but all in all they were happy tears. The event for me was very exciting and I was so happy to be a part of it. Having friends that you share a passion with is great. We will forever have a bond that will never be broken or forgotten.
Total Distance Run – 30 Miles
When we got to the first rest point I still felt wonderful so I decided to run the next 10 miles. This part of the run was incredible; the view was breathtaking. To my right was the forest, to my left the clearest, bluest water. I was completely lost in the beauty of the island. Before I knew it I was at the second rest point, which was 20 miles. Now it was time for me to take off the running shoes and join the pit crew/cheerleading team. So for miles 30 & 40, we stood on the sidewalk cheering and waving as the girls came in. The final stretch, the last 10 miles, it was time to put the running shoes back on! It was dark by this time! I remember thinking how blessed I was to be able to run from sun up to sun down with thirteen of the most amazing, strong, beautiful woman; without each of them I would never had made it that far. And without my husband James, can’t forget the guys. We had the best pit crew EVER!!! Now next year I’m doing the full 50!
Total Distance Run – 50 Miles
At about mile 45 the darkness set in and mentally I started to fade fast. I was thinking I can’t do this and there is no way I’m going to finish this run. We had about five miles left at this point and all of a sudden “The Joker” by the Steve Miller Band came on my ipod. This just happens to be my dad’s favorite song and I started thinking how much I miss my family and how these girls, in the few short months I have known them, have become my family. Wiping away the tears on my salty, sweaty, unshowered face, I told myself how much my family of ladies was counting on me to finish the fifty. Writing this now, brings back all the emotions from that day and I am again sitting here crying like a baby, as usual! Hugging all of the girls and my husband at the “finish line” could easily be compared to post-deployment hugs.
(Final note: McDonald’s fries never tasted so good on Sunday!)
Total Distance Run – 50 Miles
All of us learned something about ourselves, or our partners, or what we are capable of achieving. Anything is possible. I received this message from a friend at work, who said the description fits me perfectly. Bible verse Isaiah 40:31 says, “But those who trust the Lord will find strength. They will be strong like eagles soaring upward on wings; they will walk and run without getting tired.” I really do believe God was guarding each and every one of us. It was at mile 48 when I think my mind started playing games; Krista kept reassuring me that we were almost done. When we saw Bruce, Jenny’s hubby running towards us, I just started screaming with joy. I was very happy and overwhelmed to have accomplished our mission for the day; a 50 mile birthday run for Jenny! Thank you again to all the pit crew, WOOP/ WOOT ladies, and my family for your support.
Total Distance Run – 10 Miles
I only ran the first leg with the ladies (Judy joined the support crew for the remainder of the run), but I can say for the first 10 miles we were all excited and ready to go. I liked what my husband said as he drove by all of us…”IMPRESSIVE sight seeing all of you on Highway 58 and let’s just say, there was a lot of pink out there!”
After the 40 mile rest stop, as soon as the first runner got up to go back to pounding the pavement, the rest all just followed without any questions or hesitation. I don’t even know if these ladies realized how much their bodies and minds were in unison at this point.
Mile 50 – Once you exit the City of Nago there aren’t any street lights so it was PITCH black on the highway. You could hear their shoes scuffling the pavement before you could actually SEE the person, so as each runner appeared it was if a black curtain had just been lifted for them to take center stage. And that is what each of them deserve – CENTER STAGE with a spotlight on them (we had a flashlight). It was emotional, it was beautiful, it was ABSOLUTELY surreal.
|Allyson Snyder, Lola Atkinson, Jenny Nates, Bri Poore, Krista Hambley,
Shirley Thomas, Benita Delacruz, Judy Otero, Shanna Diep
If I had to say three things about this day it would be….1) Combine “I” and “We” and anything is possible; 2) we will all be forever friends; and 3) YES, hell might have frozen over on January 8th because for the first time I ran before the sun rose! Why? Because it was for my dear friend Jenny’s birthday; she had a goal and was so gracious to share it with all of us.
Final thoughts from Jannine – a) I’m not sure I would have the will, strength, or endurance to do what these girls did last Sunday, and b) I love what WOOP member Kelly Mulder shared with us when she posted the following:
|Absolutely right – just because these ladies are wearing PINK,
doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be taken seriously…….
Congratulations ladies, on an amazing run and incredible accomplishment; we are all so proud of you!