Fortitude to Finish: Securing my Badwater Qualifier at the Daytona 100by Dawn Lisenby on 03/05/22
When I first saw the word fortitude in a comment made on my post regarding my worry about finishing the Daytona 100 after losing my sister, it spoke to me. When I looked up its meaning it became clear why:
1. courage in pain or adversity
2. “she endured her illness with great fortitude"
My sister Debby showed great fortitude throughout her entire 8 year battle with metastatic breast cancer. Surely, I thought I could do so for a little over a day despite my grief and an injury sustained 3 weeks prior to race day from a hard fall on both knees while out on a run.
It occurred just after returning home from being by my sister’s bedside, and getting the news that her liver was rapidly declining. It was painful enough that I had it checked for a fracture and had to run with a compression sleeve on my left knee leading up to race day.
I have reflected on how I finished despite these obstacles and have come up with the following nine items (using the letters in a word I now cherish) to share what enabled me to have the “fortitude to do so despite my pain and adversity.”
F-Friendship and family. My crew, pacers, and family, showed great understanding and love for me throughout the days leading into and during the race. Lulu, Amy, (crew) Andrea and Rebecca (pacers) were attentive, caring, invested, unflaggingly positive and fun. As all good crew, pacers and friends are.
Additionally, along the way I was buoyed forward by my friend Mike Martinez who was manning the 50k AS. At mile 22
I had begun to experience excruciating pain on the top of my left foot, most likely a compensation from the taping of my left knee for the race.
I thought about quitting due to it. Seeing him running out to greet me with his bull horn, and displaying a sign he made for me, lifted me so high that it carried me all the way to mile 50. Where he once again showed up to check on my progress.
O-Ocean aka Big Blue. At lows I listened for it to keep me moving through the 70 miles I ran solo till I picked up my first pacer around midnight. I was also motivated by my Big Blue quest to finish another 100 miles, with now all but two short segments left to complete it.
R-Radiant sunsets and sunrises from the beginning to the end of the race. I have truly never seen so many back to back gorgeous ones. As depicted in my pics that are in order of occurrence. It was a gift that fed my soul. It kept me moving forward with gratitude to be out there.
T-Trust-At the beginning of the race I was probably 3rd to last. I went out especially slow due to my knee injury and exhaustion. But I kept trust in the process, my training, my plan, and my fueling. It paid off with my passing many runners and running strong up till mile 70. I was proud to finish in 27:08 considering my circumstances.
Had my injury not led to my having to tape my opposite knee at mile 50 due to compensation, and both knees swelling by mile 80 inhibiting my being able to run anymore, there is no doubt in my mind I would have PR’d this race (which I was only 15 min off of doing) despite all that should have kept me from even finishing it.
I-Intervals-I changed my run/walk intervals for this race due to injury and they worked like a charm. That’s all I have to say about that. Somethings must remain secret.
T-Teamwork-We had a simpatico team of crew and pacers. Cooperation, along with plenty of laughter, was had from beginning to end.
U-Ultra adventure and community. I love the problem solving that a 100 mile adventure brings. And the ultra community once again showed up for me by bringing me into this race feeling supported and cared about. It made all the difference.
A special note of thanks to Lisa Smith-Batchen for her understanding and love shown to me in the days leading into the race. Having lost her sister just recently to cancer too, she knew more than most what I was going through. I carried her words with me through the race “just think one more step forward”.
D-Dedication to the goal of achieving my Badwater qualifier. It has been a long held dream to run the “worlds toughest footrace”. It therefore was a great motivation to reach that finish with only a month left to secure a necessary qualifier to secure my 2022 race entry.
E-Emerge. I wanted to use the inspiration of my sister to come out of this race with the courage and strength to face the future without her by my side. I believe I have, and will continue to be successful in this due in large part to the overwhelming support shown by all of you along the way. I know you will continue to be there for me in the days ahead, as I will for you in your life challenges. We got this! Thanks to all of you for all your love and kindness these past 4 very difficult weeks.