I was hit with a vivid memory of the minutes after my emotional meltdown in the 2011 Sustina 100. I crawled to the top of the Wall of Death and found Beat at the top with his sleeping pad laid out on the snow, and a spread of chocolate and other snacks on top. It was his peace offering after I had reamed him out for lecturing me about time cutoffs when I was feeling sick and demanded he leave me alone. One year later, the memory met me with a smile, and I wanted so much for Beat to be here with me so we could have our junk food picnic on top of the Wall of Death. Tears started to fall into my open grin, and I consoled myself with all of the mushy nonsense that the tough exterior of my non-basic self would usually squash. But no one was here to see me gush, so I gushed, relishing in the empowering acknowledgement of strong love.
I munched on deep-space rocket fuel and squinted at figures coming toward me from the distance. The lead bikers. I had been expecting them. The current out-and-back course of the Susitna 100 allows me to see nearly every other person in the race as they pass. As I was achieving mile thirty, the lead bikers were nearing mile eighty. They'd be done within three hours, before it was even late. I knew I had more than 24 hours in front of me, and laughed at the thought of what they must think of me and the other foot racers.
I had an idea because I've been a cyclist in this race before. Even with my "skinny tire" mountain bike, I'd never been beaten by foot racer, even the course record holder (my ex-boyfriend, Geoff, who ran the Su100 in 2007 as his first 100-mile ultra in 21:43, a time I can not fathom.) Back then, I thought the foot racers were kind of quirky, to say the least. The former lollipop course meant I never even saw them. They were the ghosts of the Sustina 100, haunting the quiet hours long after most everyone else had finished and gone to bed.
"Ah, how much worse can it get?" I thought. I still had 59 miles to go.