Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Ultra-Marathon Adventure

Ruthie living it up and being fed breakfast in the big hotel chair!!
 Well, we had quite the adventurous trip to Arizona for Tad's first ultra marathon, which was a 50 mile trail race in the mountains! He was going to go by himself since he was running it with some good friends from college, but then we decided to make it into a family vacation! And it was a crazy one at that! In the last 2 months, we have been on 4 trips! They all happened kind of randomly, but each one was fun in its own way! So, the kids have really learned to be more flexible and sleep in different places. Which is a far cry from Maddy when she was little who could hardly sleep anywhere but her own crib!!
The kids having fun in their hotel bed!
 This trip in particular was a little hard for the kids, because we were in the car everyday, almost all day for about 5 days. I thought the day of the race we would watch Tad start, and then go back to the hotel or hang out in town. But our plans quickly changed when I realized we didn't have the official race map with checkpoints written out. We had friends who had the map and we could follow them to the next spots. We were 45 minutes away from the hotel and I didn't want to get lost and not be able to find Tad on the mountain when we returned! So the kids spent that day mostly in the car as we raced around trying to see Tad at different checkpoints!!
 We took 2 days to drive to Arizona, staying the first night in the infamous Roswell, New Mexico. Alien town!! It was pretty comical. Tad said he didn't want to tell Maddy anything about it because he wanted everyone to be able to sleep that night! But they got a kick out of the aliens that were around!!
 Fast forward to the race. We left the hotel about 4:30 am. The kids were not happy to be up that early, especially Ruth. I felt horrible! We ended up running a little late, and Tad had to book it to the starting line to get his things there by 5:30. The race started at 6 and the parking was about a quarter mile from the starting line, so I hoisted Ruth on my back into the hiking backpack and started down the trail in the dark. The beginning to an absolutely crazy day I will never forget! The crazy ultra-racers started with their headlamps since it was still dark!
 Mind you, this race was in the mountains! Not just an average marathon, or ultra marathon! Hiking! Elevation! Craziness!
 Our dear friends from college were there, Ian and Ruthie. Ian ran the race with Tad and Ruthie and Ian's brother hung out with us for a little bit. It was so good to see them!
 It was freezing in the morning, but it quickly warmed up to crazy warm temperatures for the day!!
 Tad at mile 7. Feelin' good!!
 Coming down the path to the first checkpoint where we could see them!
 Still feeling really good! So good to see them together!
 The narrow mountain drive to the next checkpoint where we could see them! Beautiful views! The next checkpoint is mile 25. We waited awhile there to see them! 
 And it started to get hot! We went from our winter apparel to rolling up our pants and taking off our coats, and I got sunburned really bad!!
 But the kids had fun playing in the dirt!! At least that! Had a little lunch on the side of the road!
 Finally, we went for a walk hoping to see Tad on the trail! Judah, at this point, and it was not a long walk, said "I just can't do this!" Poor guy!
 Ian had to drop out at mile 22 because of his knee and Ruthie and Eric had to go rescue him by car. Tad had to keep going by himself but he was still feeling good at this point! We saw him at the checkpoint, he ate and drank, and changed his shoes, and he was off! And this is where the story starts to get interesting.
We saw him 4 miles later at mile 29. Since Ian and Ruthie had other friends running the race, they drove ahead and watched them. So me and the 3 kids were on our own. I asked some workers at mile 29 how to get to the next checkpoint, since we had no map or directions. He gave me some sketchy directions and said it was mile 33. I said, "I don't think we are suppose to go to mile 33." He said, "I'm not gonna tell you you can't go." So, I thought to myself, "Tad would be really happy if he saw us at an extra checkpoint. We could encourage him. And I already have the directions."
So we started off. But once we made a turn and ended up on a super narrow mountain road, I started getting nervous. The roads ended up being pretty rough, and there was no way I could turn around. We finally got to mile 33, and waited for awhile to see Tad.

 One of the workers gave the kids a book to read. It was pretty warm. I was getting worried about Tad, as he was alone and it was almost time for the checkpoint to close. We hiked up the hill a little and waited for him. Finally, we saw him. He was close to the cutoff point for the checkpoint, so he needed to get through fast. He ate some and was on his way. We got directions to the next checkpoint, mile 40. 7 miles that way. That sounded easy enough. Oh my word. The 7 miles weren't marked well. And the mountain terrain was not meant for my Pacifica. It was treacherous. Judah and Ruth fell asleep. And I'm surprised they didn't get whiplash. I made a couple of wrong turns. I didn't think the car was gonna make it through these rough roads that had deep spots, high ridges, super narrow paths with a cliff on the other side. I was lost. I had no service on my phone. I was responsible for 3 small children by myself. And I was scared to death. I was shaking while driving. I couldn't just stop the car and get out. There was no one around. There were a few people at the checkpoint a few miles away. A motorbike passed me and did a double take. That was before I realized how dangerous the path was. The second motorbike I saw I tried to flag down, and he didn't stop. I was about in tears and I was telling Maddy she had to pray.
We finally made it back to the familiar checkpoint we had been at and just kept backtracking until we were off the mountain.
By this point I just wanted to go somewhere familiar and to find the people I knew. I tried to remember what the camp was called that we had started at that morning. I remembered, "Kentucky Camp" and started seeing signs for it. Phew! Time for the next adventure. There were flashing lights at the entrance. When I stopped, the policeman told me that there had been an accident (of course, right at the entrance to the camp) and that the camp was closed. No one could go in or out. I told him my husband was doing a race and that it was on that mountain. He said I could go hang out in the town up ahead. So we hung out at a gas station where I called my parents and tried to figure out what to do. I passed by the accident several times and they finally opened up the camp. There had been some motorcyle road rage and a truck had creamed someone on a motorcycle. We passed by the mangled motorcycle, the body wrapped up and a pool of blood, and the cop car. I just wanted to know Tad was okay.
We finally hiked down to the camp, we hadn't had dinner. The car was a disaster from things flying all over the place while we were driving through the treacherous mountain. This mommy was spent.
We got down to the camp, and by God's grace, they were serving dinner, frying up hamburgers individually on the back grill, and there were picnic tables to sit at. For free. And our friends were there. What a relief. They said that all the racers had passed mile 46 and it was getting dark. I got the kids their dinner as we all waited for the racers to finish. At one point, as we were waiting, Tad walked up behind us, not where the racers were finishing.
His knee had given out. He couldn't make it past mile 40. He tore his ACL and knew that he couldn't safely finish. He waited over an hour to get a ride back. He was okay. He was exhausted. He was worried about us. But we were all safe and sound and back together. And ready for our beds!! We drove back to the hotel and told stories of the day. And we were thankful that we were all safe!!!
 So, that was kind of the long version. But I am documenting that adventure so I can go back and read about it in the future!! I hope to never have such an "adventure" again!! I am so proud that Tad completed 40 miles! He was bummed that he couldn't finish, but it was 14 more miles than he had ever done! And he is a winner in my heart!!!!!

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