Race SLO’s CEO & Founder, Samantha Pruitt, journey to the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run
In daring greatly to achieve big audacious goals and strive towards there fulfillment you must take risks. You risk the investment of your time, resources and energy. You risk the strain of your relationships with others and yourself. You risk the growing pains of learning how to make small daily progress towards your goal. And most importantly you must risk the chance of failure.
After working four years towards the goal of competing in the Western States 100, I stood in the dark on the starting line just staring up at the first 2,700 foot mountain climb. I was calm, joyful and ready. Once the shot gun was fired we were off And I worked diligently to follow my detailed game plan. My conservative pace for the first 15 miles allowed me to enjoy the breathtaking vistas and powerful conviction of my fellow athletes. I hit checkpoint one and two right on my target time and well above cut offs. I started my icing protocols diligently, well aware that the high-altitude and escalating temperatures would soon be having an impact. By mile 20 the temperatures had risen 35 degrees from race start. My head was spinning.
By mile 30 it was over 90 degrees and I was now running behind and battling extreme nausea. I hit that check point, where my crew was waiting with my needs, however the ticking clock allowed no time to stop. No longer able to eat for hours, I sucked on ice cubes chipping away at the relentless technical climbs and betting on myself to make a come back as usual.
Fully exposed in 100° temperatures I made the next checkpoint cut off with only one minute to spare. No crewing or stopping allowed for aid. Now being chased by the safety sweep patrol, for the first time I got to experience what it’s like to truly be the last person. Though I could no longer speak or think straight I found great comfort in their company as they gingerly encouraged me to run faster so I could stay in the race. Taking a double dose of anti-nausea medicine and sucking on ice cubes I shuffled along bonking like a drunk sailor.
In a time wrap and not knowing exactly where the next check point related to time was (my Garmin did not match the safety runners or the map) I charged on as hard as I could stopping from dizziness about every 200 feet. I knew if I could just get 15 minutes in the shade to rest to take on fluid and calories I could bring myself back to life as I have many times before. I got mad and then cried when no one could clearly determine how much further we had racing the clock to the next check point. I ran with all my guts out until we finally hit it and I was told I was 3 minutes past. Hopeless, I hit the ground and drifted off into denial.
Still in shock I woke up on a cot with people all around me and my race identification wristband had been cut off. It was 107 degrees. I was loaded into a car by two strangers and driven one hour off the mountain to the nearest medical tent. I had lost 7 pounds in just 39 miles. Fed warm chicken broth and covered in blankets from the uncontrollable body shakes of dehydration, I started to think clearly about what happened. The flood of embarrassment, shame, regret passed through my veins quickly and I immediately became more concerned with locating my crew. Once I could open my eyes and talk again I realized that it was only a race.
Within an hour, surrounded by the the unconditional love and support of my entire team, I reconnected to reality. I realized then I too needed to give that same unconditional love to myself. One by one my army told me of their love, respect and understanding. We had been in this together and were defeated together. Now together we would heal.
I woke the next morning without an ounce of soreness in my muscles from my stolen short race distance. Over breakfast we all shared funny emotional stories and I got an understanding of what their race day 12 hours was like and they mine. We tracked race results, celebrated others victories and attended the buckle award ceremony. After we headed into the American River to cleanse ourselves in the spirit of the river.
The following day, before returning home, myself and three of my crew headed back out to the Western states 100 course to run 10 miles and say goodbye to this goal. I felt like I could run forever. Driving home solo, reality sinks in and of course I am disappointed. I’ve played over in my head a dozen times what I could’ve done differently and what if I have that extra three minutes back and was able to continue on. However, I Believe that everything does happen for a reason and have great respect for the lessons I have learned up on this journey.
In daring greatly you must take risks and failure is one of those risks. I am committed to be kind to myself and grow from this. I will refuse to allow this failure to hold me back or define me. Instead I will use this as an opportunity for deeper self exploration and for a driving force to feed my next great challenge. I hope that you will join me. Let’s together.