Erica’s Delirious Death March

Last year I went off the deep end and discovered the ultra running world. Obsession took over and I was head over heels for the community, sport, and outlet. Fall 2016 I completed Noble Canyon 50k, then the Mount Laguna Marathon. A few friends joked that the logical next step was to do a 50 miler. We came across the PCT 50 miler taking place May 2017. I’d had a fascination with the Pacific Crest Trail after learning about the hikers that hiked the PCT from San Diego to the Canadian border. However, I knew I wouldn’t leave my job for half a year (and relationship, and dog), to attempt the feat. What better way to experience PCT than to run 50 miles of it in one day?!

Some of my training included running the San Diego Trail Marathon in February, Baja 30k in March which is a rugged ~19miler East of Rosarito, and Oriflamme 50k in April. I was feeling great and so excited. A week prior to race day… stress took over. Then it got worse; I was coughing, tired, and developed a full blown head cold. I RARELY get sick. My boyfriend asked if I thought it was smart to follow through with the run, but I knew there’s people in far worse shape than I was, that have done tougher things than this. Race morning I took non drowsy meds and acted like nothing was wrong! Positivity crashed quick when my self defeating talk started sooner than expected. Climbing up the PCT from Boulder Oaks, all I could think was “it’s too cold out here, what am I doing?” I felt depressed so many people were passing me around mile 13 and stressed about cut-off times, I tripped and felt sorry for myself, my breathing was terrible, and I was bummed to be sick on my long anticipated race day. 

 

My friend Tom had tentatively offered to pace me, so when I made it to Penny Pines and saw him- I told him I was in bad shape and he joined me at about mile 22. Accountability and his patience helped tremendously. We were climbing a section around mile 28, passing 2 male hikers. I stared at one confusingly and was convinced it was an ex-boyfriend of mine. I was baffled, was this real life? I almost turned around to ask if it was him, questioned delirium and didn’t want to lose more focus. I muttered to Tom, “This is a nightmare.” We made it to Todd’s Cabin where I hunched over to catch my breath, a volunteer cautiously asked if I was OK? Tom answered, “she’s fine!” I had no energy to talk. I then couldn’t stop eating quesadillas, thankfully Tom told me I had enough.

When we got to the last aid station, my mantra was that it was only 10ish miles left. I gained speed before Kitchen Creek, and passed people on the downhill. About 2 miles to the finish, I couldn’t run anymore. It was a mental block I hadn’t yet experienced ever. Tom told me, “all the people that you just passed, are now passing you!” That’d usually motivate me, but I couldn’t do it. We made an agreement that I’d find it in me to start running right before I crossed the finish line, and I did. Somehow I made it through this race, it took me on one of the craziest mental roller coasters yet. On the drive home I coughed uncontrollably, lost my voice, and was sick for several days after, but it was all worth it. If I could run 50miles while sick, I can do anything! The Death March was worth it.

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