AC100 - Round 2 - Breaking 24

This year 98 people dropped out of the angeles crest endurance run. My race unfolded flawlessly until the 75 mile mark. From spending the proper amount of time in training for the race, to the hanging out with the family on race weekend, I felt more positive and more confident then last year. I was putting time in the bank throughout the day with the ceaselessly motivating, hard working, crazy supportive team surrounding me (Mom, Dad, and Steve). It was exciting to push myself and see how much better i felt then last year until chantry flats. with 25 miles left to go i was right where i wanted to and we thought we had 9 hours to get to the finish by 5am (earning a silver buckle for finishing 100 mi in sub 24 hours). we actually only had about 7:30. time suspiciously kept nipping at our heals and we had to take the 2 last epic climbs (+5000') in the dark without stopping. The residual exhaustion from a long day of heat and altitude was starting to reveal itself. Our theme has been to 'JUST KEEP MOVING.' if it hurts, slow down. if you feel like stopping, walk. Steve who began pacing me after 50 miles kept saying, "relax, run your race. your doing great. keep moving. one step at a time. that'll get you there." Descending the rocky twisting trail down into LA and back to the finish was tricky in the dark. Last year the sun had already come up when we were on this section. After we left the final aid station with 5 miles to the finish a flurry of runners was around us, everyone frantic to finish before the 24hr mark. Now it was truly a race against time. We pushed as hard as we could and slowed down as little as possible splashing through creek crossings and jumping down rooty boulder strewn single track then power hiking up little hills rolling off the top into a stiff desperate trot. A group of runners rushed by saying we had only 50 minutes to get there. "COME WITH US!" they yelled. But I knew that I could only maintain an efficient build to the end and it would be my last push. "Take it easy, this is your race" Steve said. I tried to say something back but it came out in gasps and burps and other nonsense. Finally the trail let us out onto a flat forest road near JPL and I took a deep breath. When we hit te tarmac all i could think of was how i wouldnt let myself not make it in 24 hours because I didnt want to do this race again! street lights revealed a runner agwad who we followed through the neighborhood. and I was glad because my dim batteries were nearly dead. I kept asking steve how much time there was. "plenty, you got this". Then we turned the corner with altadena park down the street and i could feel the hair on the back of my neck stand up. Across the grassy field to the finish line where runners and race crews were huddled around lit tents and volunteers were making burgers, chicken soup, and hot chocolate. After waiting all night for the race to start and all day for the oppressive canyon heat to fade with the sunset, after waiting for the steadily growing pain to be relieved, and after wondering for a year if I could be in the pictures I had seen of people finishing in the dark... I'm now in one of those pictures! I kept smiling as it started to get cold and things began to really hurt. The word lucky doesn't quite express how I feel to take part in such an event and to have such a positive outcome beyond my expectations. The biggest priveledge is having such a special crew to share it with.