April 12th & 13th 2024

50 Mile | Marathon | TS Half

When You Doubt Yourself, Lean on Friends

Lacy Arant is a stay-at-home mom to 5 and 7 year old boys. She is also 3+ years sober so running is a much needed outlet for her! Lacy has been running for about 10 years, but more regularly the last 5. She stepped foot on her first trail in the fall of 2021 and immediately fell in love!

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Photo credit: Mile 90 Photography

August 26, 2023 

It’s been about a week since I finished the Transrockies Run, a six-day stage race consisting of 120 miles and over 20,000 feet of elevation in Colorado. I’m volunteering at packet pick up for a local 50k and chatting with Eileen, a fellow volunteer and ultra runner. I mention that I think I want to try the 100 miler at Kettle Moraine in 2024. She casually tells me I should just bump up my Mines of Spain distance from the 100k to the 100M. That’s insane, Mines of Spain 100 is less than two months out! She reminds me that I’m already well-trained coming off Transrockies and asks what would be different if I waited until Kettle. I can’t think of anything. She asks what’s stopping me and I say I’m scared. She tells me I’m going to be scared next year too so what else. I try to think of any excuse but can’t. The rest of the day the idea of bumping up to the 100M was bouncing around in my mind. I anxiously wait to finish my volunteer duties so I can text my coach and get her thoughts… is this a crazy idea? She tells me, “If it was me, I’d be like F it. I’m doing it.” Well, ok then, I’m doing it! I message the race director and jokingly tell him I’ve been peer pressured into bumping up to the 100M and he’s all in on the idea.

The Race

Mines of Spain 100 is a 100k and 100M trail race held at the Mines of Spain in Dubuque, IA. It comprises three (100k) or five (100M) 20ish mile loops with approximately 2,800 feet of elevation per loop for a total of 14,000 feet of vertical gain for the 100M… and stairs, lots of stairs.

October 20-21, 2023

It’s race weekend! This is my second year at Mines of Spain 100, last year I completed the 100k. As I wait at the start line, I’m much less nervous this year. Having done this course before and successfully completing the Transrockies Run gives me a boost of confidence. I feel stronger and more prepared. Although there’s still a lot of what ifs in the back of my mind… Last year during my first 100k, my third loop was horrendous. My IT bands got cranky, and I had extreme knee pain the entire loop, which took forever because I walked the whole thing. Would I have a repeat of this same pain? I try to push out the what ifs and focus on the miles in front of me.

Loop One

We’re off! It’s super congested at the beginning, but everyone’s talking and having a good time. After a few miles it thins out and I’m trucking along. The weather is beautiful, the climbs don’t feel like death (thank you Transrockies), and I’m enjoying the views and taking pictures. I finished this loop six minutes under my target time. Back at the start/finish, also known as Crewville, my husband, Jeff, helps me refill, restock, and kicks my butt out of there.

Loop Two 

I feel good. I’m keeping up with my nutrition and I have good energy. The herd has thinned out and it’s a lot easier to find a groove. One thing I love about this course is that it’s not a simple loop, there are a few out and back sections, which means that even if you’re running by yourself, you get a lot of opportunities to see fellow runners. Seeing friends on course and getting a high five, a great job, a whoop whoop, is energizing and a real spirit boost. Near the end of the loop, I manage to kick a rock in the air about the size of a golf ball that then comes down and lands on the same toe I kicked it with. Ouch! This stops me in my tracks for a few moments, but I take a few deep breaths and continue on. By this time, the balls of my feet are starting to hurt too so I slow down a bit, but still finish within twenty minutes of my target loop time. Back at Crewville, I see my aunt waiting for me, what an awesome surprise!  I restock, pick up some warmer clothes, my light and poles, and head out on my third loop.

Photo credit: Mile 90 Photography

Loop Three

I’m a little nervous starting the third loop. This is where the wheels came off last year, and now it is dark, I’m alone, and my feet are hurting. But I drink some Coke, eat some Ramen, and get back to it. The first half of the loop I get a second wind, the second half I start to drag because I hurt and I’m tired. BUT my spirits are up because this is a huge improvement over the previous year. Last year I completed three loops (the 100k) in 20:43:52. This year I came in from my third loop in 17 hours and change. I took over three hours off my 100k time! It’s the middle of the night now. I restock, change, and pick up my first pacer, Amber, for the fourth loop.

Loop Four

The dreaded middle of the night until the sun comes up. My feet hurt so bad and I’ve got the sleepies hard. I try to run at the beginning, but I just don’t have it in me. Between the pain, the sleepies, and falling way behind on my nutrition, this loop starts going downhill fast. Amber does her best to support me, telling me stories and at times yelling at me to open my eyes, but I just don’t know what I need from her. This is all new territory. The farther along we get, the more painful my feet are, the slower we get. As day breaks and we get closer to EB Lyons, the final aid station of the loop, I tell Amber to text Jeff and tell him I need him there. I’m ready to quit. At this point, it has taken so long to complete this loop that I cannot for the life of me see any way that I can finish another loop before the cutoff. We get to EB Lyons and I see Jeff, I start crying because I’m tired, in so much pain, and I’ve already made up my mind that I’m done. Thankfully, I have a husband who believes in me and understands my goals. There’s no way he’s letting me quit. He makes me eat and the aid station volunteers (shout out to Trail Sisters Iowa City) convince me to at least get back to Crewville, it is only five more miles. I make it to the bike path that leads up to Crewville, it’s only about three-quarters of a mile, but it is a climb, and every step is so painful it’s making me nauseous. This loop takes me eight and a half hours, but I finally make it back to Crewville. 

Decision Time

As I walk up to check in, defeat all over my face and in my heart, the race director, Josh, tells me, “I know what you’re thinking right now, there’s not enough time for another loop, but I promise you there is!” It’s 9:30 am when I finish the fourth loop and I have until 11am to start the fifth loop so yes, technically there is time, but the fifth loop will have to be faster than my fourth loop. I can’t pull that off with the way I’m feeling! His wife, Michele, sits me down, which feels so good, and forces me to eat. I’m way behind on calories and even though I do not want to eat anything, I know I need to. Michele talks to me as I sit there, tells me that she knows I can make it to the first aid station, “just get to the first aid station and decide from there, Jeff can pick you up from there if you need him to, but just get there.” While I was finishing those last five miles of the fourth loop, Jeff was doing the math to ensure I could still get the fifth loop done before the 5pm cutoff. I would need to maintain a twenty-minute pace. That doesn’t seem too scary, but with the elevation and the way my feet feel I’m still not convinced I can go on. Then my friend, Yvonne, sees me and knows exactly what I’m feeling. She comes over, grabs me around the neck in a you listen here kind of way, and tells me there’s no way I am quitting and all I need to do is step onto the pavement. I’m not sure if it’s Yvonne’s authoritative British accent, or the fact that I know I can trust her and I know she knows how I’m feeling, but whatever it is, I decide I can at least get to the first aid station. I eat some more, restock, and shed some layers; all the while Yvonne is stalking me to make sure I actually get back out there. I do exactly as she says and step one foot on the pavement, and then another, and then another. It’s about 10am now and it’s happening, my new pacer, Laura, and I set out on the final loop.

Photo credit: Mile 90 Photography

Loop Five

Laura is exactly what I need at this moment. She becomes drill sergeant. She doesn’t ask me if I can run, she tells me we are going to run to the next pink flag (the course markers). We reach the flag, now we are going to power hike to the next one, now we’re going to run, now we’re going to walk. Because I can always see the next flag, this is easy for me to handle mentally. We can see the sun shining through the trees and she asks me what I think God is trying to tell us right now…that I am strong, that I can do this, that I’m not alone. Nothing has really changed, my feet still hurt and I’m still tired, but now I have food in me and someone telling me what to do. Now my focus is elsewhere, the next pink flag, instead of my feet. And Laura is keeping track of our pace and aid station cutoffs, one less thing for me to focus on. We made it to the first aid station an hour before the cutoff and now I’m determined to finish this thing. Forty minutes before cutoff, and halfway done with the loop, we make it to the next aid station. We continue on, focusing on the next flag all the way to the third aid station with thirty-five minutes to spare. As we head towards the final aid station, EB Lyons, where I wanted to quit earlier, I start to panic. The cutoff for this aid station is 3:30pm, but that only gives me one and a half hours to finish the last five miles, which has a lot of stairs and a big bike path climb. I tell Laura I need to get to EB Lyons by 3pm. She understands the assignment and we pick up the pace. How am I even doing this right now? We arrived at 2:55 pm. I get some food and Laura hands off the pacer bib to Jeff. I’m so excited to finish the last five miles with my husband. He’s not a drill sergeant like Laura, but I don’t need that anymore. We push through the miles, and I continue to use the flags as small goals. As each of the last five miles ticks off, Jeff says a prayer for me, and it is so calming. I see Yvonne on the trail pacing another runner and she is so excited to see that I didn’t give up. I get another burst of energy. As we leave the trail and reach the road, I know I have less than two miles left and plenty of time to finish now. Waves of peace and relief come over me. I make it back to Crewville in six hours and twenty-six minutes, almost twenty minutes faster than my third loop. How is that even possible?

Finish

I cross the finish line and everyone is there that wouldn’t let me give up. I immediately started crying and hugging Josh and Michele. Yvonne is in tears seeing me finish, she knew deep down where I was mentally when I wanted to quit. I’m so grateful, her words got me to take those first few steps of the final loop. Laura’s there, I know I would not have made it without her, she’s the true MVP of my race. My aunts and uncles, and my mom with my two young boys who got to witness their mama cross the finish line of a 100 mile race! This race was 100% a community effort. I truly believe that if it weren’t for each person’s encouraging words, tough love, and support I would not have made it across the finish line.

Afterwards I see Eileen, the one who “peer pressured” me into bumping up to the 100M. I walk up to her, pointing to the finisher’s belt buckle in my hand, and lovingly say, “this is your fault!” and give her a big hug. I am truly blessed and thankful for this community.

Photo credit: Mile 90 Photography

About the Author

Lacy Arant is a stay-at-home mom to 5 and 7 year old boys. She is also 3+ years sober so running is a much needed outlet for her! Lacy has been running for about 10 years, but more regularly the last 5. She stepped foot on her first trail in the fall of 2021 and immediately fell in love!

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