Monday, April 2, 2012

Grateful and loved.

From my nieces in Michigan.
Umstead 100 was the hardest thing I have ever done, and it included many firsts for me. For example,
    •    This was my first distance beyond 52 miles.
    •    My first time puking twice, immediately followed by the thought, "okay, now I can really run."
    •    And the first time I was ever envious of someone with a broken leg. I found myself saying "Well, at least he gets to sit down."

Running 100 miles is a selfish endeavor, and would be impossible without the support of other people. I want to shout from the rooftops, thanking the volunteers and pacers of Umstead 100. They gave their time, energy, and weekend to help people they may (or may not) have known achieve their goals and dreams. They endured sleepless nights, rain, heat, cold, and then more rain, all to help someone else feel pride and glory. They are the unsung heroes. And I am very grateful.

For me, the biggest, most special gift of the weekend was not running 100 miles, or the euphoria of finishing, or having accomplished something that seemed impossible—something I had only dreamed about. Instead, what I hold closest to my heart is the love, support, generosity, and kindness that my friends and family gave me all along the way. I have never felt so loved as I did this weekend, and I am humbled and blessed by the love and compassion that surrounds me. You each gave me drops of sunshine that lit my way and made my soul shine. And I will treasure this for the rest of my life.

I want to thank you all (this is in no particular order). So THANK YOU

    •    Monique Turco, for flying down from Michigan at a terribly busy time, joining me for three laps, and running your first ultra with me,  For the music and unwavering positive energy, humor, and reminders of what the human body and spirit are capable of. Even in the face of cold rain. I admire you, and I am so thankful and feel lucky to have gained you as a sister!

    •    Barefoot Josh Sutcliffe for spending your 37th birthday with me, and for being so enthusiastic and relentlessly encouraging.  And thank you for pacing me barefoot. I loved all of the stares and comments. Thank you also for all of your advice and wisdom—before, during, and after the running. You are so giving. I admire your spirit and attitude. Thank you for seeing me through that tough Lap 6, and for singing to me when I needed it most. I really hope I can return the favor and crew for you next. And I promise I won't sing for you.

    •    Brandy Burns for never letting me stop and putting up with my manipulative attempts to sit down. You were the perfect pacer for Lap 5, the lap of bodily functions. I am both thankful to you for that, and feel sorry for you for that. I can't wait to return the favor for you one day soon.

    •    Iris Sutcliffe for spending your weekend with us, and volunteering for two shifts! It was so wonderful to see you when I would come through AS 1. Thank you also for helping me change my shoes, and for just being absolutely awesome and encouraging. I love hanging out with you. You are one cool chick!

    •    Dana Gay for coming out and running mile 68 with me. I cried when I saw you. It was such a nice surprise. Thank you! Thank you also to John and Gracelynn. I was so touched that they came out to cheer me on. It means the world to me. Here is to your upcoming half! I can't wait to do it with you!

    •    Elizabeth Edwards for leaving Issac and John and your warm, dry house to come out to Umstead by yourself, in a thunderstorm, in the middle of the night just to cheer me on. I know you had to sit at the gate for a long, long time. Seeing your face made me so happy. I am grateful and honored to call you a friend. I am also super sorry about spilling boiling hot chicken soup down your back when I hugged you.

    •    Randy and Lori for driving all the way down from Creedmoor in the middle of the night just to see me for one minute. Your support and encouragement lifted me up, and I so grateful for the gift of your presence. I love you both!

    •    Layna Mosley for being such a great friend and running hero! Thanks for your pre-race gift, and encouragement all along the way. I can't wait to run with you when we are both no longer gimpy.

    •    Gina Murray for encouraging me, listening to me, and being so supportive and interested in this event. I LOVE YOU SISTER! Oh, and the box of Kerr's chocolates just arrived, and I have already begun to stuff my face with them as fast as I can. They are SO good. You know me so well. THANK YOU!

    •    Joel Johnstone for being proud of me and telling me. Your support means so much to me. Thank you brother. I love you dearly! Thank you also for the music list!!

    •    Emma, Calyx, and Mia for the good luck charm and card, and for cheering me on. I love you guys and I am so thankful for your support!

    •    Kelly Bruno it was an honor and pleasure to go through this experience as a first-timer with you. I loved hearing updates on your progress, and seeing you out there made me smile. You are an inspiration, and I am in awe of your determination and strength. I am hoping we can have more ultra adventures, but also hoping that won't be for at least several months, maybe a year :)

    •    Laura MacLean for coming over to my house the week before to check on me, and wish me good luck in this ultra. I have always admired you in both your running talent, and more importantly, your beautiful spirit.

    •    Rhonda Hampton for suggesting that Umstead 100 be my first 100. You were so right. Thank you for making this a such a special event. It made me so happy to see you out on the course. Thank you for cheering me on. A highlight from the race was having you come by on a bike . You are simply amazing.

    •    Lauren Wilkins for lifting me out of my funk at mile 47, and reminding me of my true goal in finishing the race. I am so glad we both got to finish our first 100 yesterday! CONGRATS!!

•    Jay Spadie for running with me and making me laugh for most of the first two laps. You did so well yesterday! GREAT work out there.

•    Danielle Rowland for coming out in the rain to cheer me on, see if I needed a pacer, and also for offering to hide a toothbrush behind a tree for me. I am also grateful for your running beside me at mile 18 and letting me ask your advice on how to combat the dental decay that I will inevitably face from ingesting sugar for 24 hours.

    •    Heiko, Ronnie, Karen, Harold, Jenny, Scott, Brad, Ryan, Michael, Dennis, Lisa, Charles and all my friends who volunteered. Thank you for being there, and thank you for the encouragement. It means more to me than you know.   

    •    Everyone who left comments on the blog, I am so grateful for your support. Thank you for thinking of me and seeing me through this incredible journey. I loved hearing the comments as I completed the last lap. That was so incredible and brought me to tears once again.

    •    Diane Roberto, Godmother, for sending your spiritual guidance through the Internet. I appreciate your love and support in me with everything I do. I love you.  

    •    Dad for sending your love, words of encouragement, and support all along the way. Thank you for always being proud of me, and supporting my dreams. I remember running with you when I was 8, and I am so grateful to you for introducing me to the love of running. I know it took about 20 years for it to sink in :) Thank you also for the congratulatory flowers today! I cried when I saw them.

    •    Mom, for driving all the way down from Brooklyn, and popping out of the woods at mile 37 to surprise and support me, even though she thinks this event is absolutely crazy. I kept yelling to anyone who would listen "My mom is here!" Thank you for making me feel so important and special. I cry when I think about this. Thank you for being there for me. Always.

    •    Anthony, the love of my life, for enduring 6 months of ultra ramble while you sat on the sidelines. For a "taper toy" camera to distract me from my obsessing. For gathering everything I could ever possibly want or need and having it ready for me each time I came through the loop. For staying awake for 48 hours to help me, keeping a blog for me, advising me, making me stick to my plan, running/walking the last loop with me, and keeping my spirits up by reading all the words of encouragement from everyone on the blog. Thank you for being forever on my side. I love you with every inch of my being.


  1. Congratulations to you Shannon! I meant what I said when I said you were one of my running idols. You continue to inspire and amaze me. I was happy to "run" into you and be able to help. This is what it is all about.

  2. What a heart-felt 'thank-you' blog. These folks obviously meant so much to you. Awesome. But soon you will owe us a race report! Complete with pictures!!

  3. I know you feel grateful to everyone who helped you reach mile 100, but I feel grateful that you let us be part of your epic journey. You are a perfect example of what it means to have a successful running life without taking it all too seriously (on the outside anyway!). Congratulations on your well-earned buckle!

  4. Not a moment of regret and thrilled to be a part of your masterful performance. You're a fantastic person.

  5. You are so very welcome, Shannon. I loved watching (via thanks, Anthony) from afar, and I can't wait to see you and run with you.

  6. I'm glad to have been even a tiny part of helping you achieve a dream. That alone is rare and precious.

  7. Great run, Shannon! I guess your sugar-fueled frenzy sustained you through the race. Who needs fancy energy drink concoctions when you can perform like that on Twizzlers and Gummy Bears? Maybe just skip the Pad Thai with Ensure chaser next time. And I can attest that you bounce back from a good puke like it was just a sneeze. My last 25 miles had some tummy issues, and I did not handle it with the speed and grace that you did. Excellent job, and thanks for all the laughs and smiles along the way.

  8. Shannon my only regret is that I missed the finish. I loved seeing you out there know that you would finish strong. Thank you for letting me be part of this awesome acomplishment. In the words of Sally Squier, "You are bad to the bone".

  9. Fantastic race report! Thanks for sharing your journey! Congratulations on your race, again! Hope to see you soon!

  10. Wow, very well written, and an amazing first performance. Are you going to share your training secrets?

  11. Congrats again! Great idea for a blog. Wish we could see more of these. I am hoping to crew for a friend's attempt at our local 100-miler this year. Cheers!

  12. Thank you Shannon. I know you are grateful for our help, but you are the one with the commitment, hardcore training, talent, and dedication to pull through (and place 8th female) something crazy like a 100 mile race. It was amazing to watch and be a part of it. Its like showing up for the thanksgiving dinner when all the shopping, cooking, and work has been done - We just got to enjoy the celebration. I cannot believe your strength and determination, and all with a smile and a positive attitude. Your an amazing person and I am so glad I got to be a part of this journey of yours!! Congratulations!! You are absolutely LOVED!!

  13. Shannon, To know that you have that much faith in me that you would trust me to support you in something so important is truly an honor, so there are no thanks needed. Thank YOU for letting me be a part of your amazing accomplishment. I remember you told me once that the reason you liked running ultras was because it made you feel tough. While this does prove that you are one freaking tough cookie when it comes to running ultras, in every way you are one of the strongest, kindest women I know. Congratulations again. :)

  14. Yup, I read this and by the end I was crying. I completely understand the sentiment you mentioned in the beginning. The 100 miles was almost an afterthought to all the people that help us get there. Congratulations again Shannon!