Day 3 started where day 2 ended. With Annie not pleased. The goal of 60 miles per day felt unsustainable, after the previous day took nearly 14 hours. That left 10 hours to sleep, eat, unpack/repack, etc. Even in the face of that, she tried to be positive. The day featured about 18 miles of trail, followed by nearly 30 miles of road, with a little more trail after that. We were optimistic that the road sections would be faster and maybe we could get more than sixty miles in, or at the very least be done before 8pm!
Her first stretch was the Northern Blue Hills segment. It was a section of about 8 miles, with a 2 mile road connection to the Southern Blue Hills section. The routine has been for me to wait at the road crossings to help guide her, as many of them aren’t marked at all. I parked and waited, figuring it would be about 2 hours. 2:15 elapsed and there was no sign, so I started hiking in. I finally saw her, and she was beside herself. She had gone off trail, done unneeded creek crossings, and generally she was defeated. Her body ached under the strain of 120 miles in two days. For context, most elite athletes don’t hit 120 in a WEEK during normal training. Annie had done it in 48 hours. But those miles add up on the knees, the hips, the feet.
After we got to the road and I pointed her the right direction, I told her I’d drive to the other end, park, and run in to do as much of the segment with her as I could. That seemed to help cheer her up, so she grudgingly trudged forward. I got to the other end, changed, and headed in. I got to experience what she’s been dealing with-trails that are unmarked. Trails that are under water. So many little things that probably aren’t a big deal unless you are already mentally beaten. Those things become daggers to the heart of your motivation and your ability to enjoy what you do.
We met up and finished the segment, and she sat down to eat and prepare for the 28 miles of road ahead. I determined that at some point that morning, she hit rock bottom, mentally. The point where body is fighting you every step of the way trying to get you to stop pushing. If you can resist, your body adapts. But most of can’t resist. We can’t push back on that pain hard enough to force it to retreat. Luckily, Annie pushed through it. Most people would have said screw this, I’m done. She said, well this is gonna suck, but if I have to walk all 28 miles, then so be it”. Truthfully, that’s what happened. After about 8 miles of a very slow trot, she decided walking was actually faster. At this point, she had to accept that 60 wasn’t happening today. She said she’d finish the road section and see what time it was and go from there. When we hit the start of the next trailhead it was 550pm. Mentally, now, she wanted to continue. But physically there was nothing left. She waved the white flag and we headed to the hotel.
Annie was crushed. To her, day 3 made her question if she could truly do this. She fell into a restless sleep while I caught up on social media updates, paid my bills, and got things prepped for day 4. That’s the difficult part about something like this-it continues on. It’s not like a race where you give it your all and then take a week off. Run, eat, sleep, repeat. For 3 weeks. And life back home doesn’t stop. Visa still wants to get paid on the 4th. I have a daughter I want to speak with every night. But the show must go on. All we could do is hope for day 4 to be the start where things begin looking up. My last thought as I fell asleep was, “160 miles in 3 days….she’s 15% done. 85% of this trail lies ahead, including a road segment on day 4 of more than FORTY miles.”