I survived and even lived after to tell about it.
I waddle along for another mile and finally reach the point to go downhill. I promise I would have done the white girl dance with just the music in my head and the groove in my heart. I was that happy.
Here is where it gets dicey.
Photographer told me and the drop-out guy (he just kinda hung out at the aid station waiting to go downhill). She said "look for the blue markers. There are about 7 of them and that’s a lot for Becky. When you get TO the waterfall, go right. There will be a sign and all those blue markers.
I played the photographer’s words over and over. "AT the waterfall, go right, blue markers, go right AT The waterfall". There was no waterfall. Now, I realize at this point that I was a little sketchy, but I knew there HAD to be that waterfall. I walk up the right path a little ways and HEAR the waterfall. Bless America, I was close. I ran like a wild banshee and almost run into the damn cave. I saw a sign with a arrow drawn in black marker pointing the way. I really could have used that sign back up there at the path split off. (Looking back, I kept my eyes on the blue markers, straight ahead. Where I was supposed to turn, I didn’t see any markers, but I saw the ORIGINAL markers leading straight ahead and up the bluff, from the beginning of the race. I should have been looking all around for the turn)
So, adrenaline is a deal-breaker for people like me. sucks the sugar right out of me.
Anyway, after my brief moment of scare thinking I’ll hear chainsaws any moment or die like the bugs I’ve been joyfully stepping on, I run like hell…for about 15 steps then I walk.
Back through the campground, back around the lake, across the damn dam. Hi fisherman, you have to be hot and the fish ain’t biting. Back up the pavement, and I saw the bridge. But I really thought I was imagining this. Nope, bridge. I ran and yelled. I did. I let out a primal yell with a nice twangy accent. I heard my name "Katrina!!!" I heard cheers and imagine my surprise that after almost 5 hours, there were people from a local running group were yelling my name.
Cross the line, stumble and can’t believe I just did it.
E. and J. are there instantly and I’m glad they are. I could feel myself going down. Knees shaking. I grabbed my last gel and held it out. One of them opened it. One of them had water. Once I got my knees working again, two people wish me well and send me off with an official Twisted Ankle medal just for our running group and napkins to pass out to potential future TA racers. When I walked back to the tables to get my bag, some lady grabbed my medal around my neck "hey, where did you get that??!!!!" I politely yank it back and mumbled something like it’sfromarunninggroup, but in my head I was crying "let go lady!! It’s MINE" It took me forever to convince her that she had not missed out on anything. I told her it was from a RUNNING GROUP that made them FOR THE GROUP. I wasn’t going to give her one of the napkins either.