50 Miles of Gratitude: (7) My Epic Finish Line

….and My Story Runs On….

I normally don’t like to post videos that are over a few minutes but I was doing a speech project for my Toastmasters club so I figured I’d make it into a blog post too.  Toastmasters is one of my other passions.  I’m already a Distinguished Toastmaster and I’m working on my 2nd one now.  This speech was from the Advanced Manual, The Entertaining Speaker and it was Project #4 which is The Dramatic Talk (scroll to project 4 if you click on link). My objectives for the speech were:

Project 4 – A Dramatic Talk
Dramatic stories are another way to entertain an audience. Through drama you create images in listeners’ minds, which enhance and add interest to your message. Vocal variety is critical in a dramatic talk. Vary the volume, pitch and rate of your words. Also convey drama through your body language and facial expressions. Make sure your voice and body language reinforce, not dominate, your verbal message.


  • Develop an entertaining dramatic talk about an experience or incident
  • Include vivid imagery, characters and dialogue
  • Deliver the talk in an entertaining manner

Time: five to seven minutes (I did 6-8 min)

You may have to turn up the volume as I didn’t have a microphone. The “script” is below if you want to read it instead.

I realized when I was running this morning that today is the 20th of March and it’s been 30 days since my race!  I’m obviously not writing a blog a day but my goal is still 50 blog posts for the 50 miles.

50 Miles of Gratitude: 50 Posts about my first 50 Miler

“Script of Speech”

Introduction: Lisa Pozzoni is delivering a speech from the Advanced Manual: The Entertaining Speaker. This is Project 4: A Dramatic Talk. Her objectives are to develop an entertaining dramatic talk about a personal experience.  She is to include vivid imagery, characters and dialogue while delivering the talk in an entertaining manner.

Lisa has been a Toastmaster since 2004. She has already achieved the highest level of Toastmasters: Distinguished Toastmaster and is working on her second one.

Lisa is a running coach, the owner of The Running University and the only ChiRunning Instructor in Arizona.  Her passion is to help people cross finish lines they never thought possible.

Please help me welcome, Lisa Pozzoni, The Sands Of Time

Speech: It’s 4:30 am on Saturday, February 20th 2016.  I’m in a hotel room in Page, AZ.  I wake up super excited! It’s the day after my 45th birthday and a day I’ve been waiting for 5 months!

I’m sitting in the “library”, doing what most of us do: phone in hand, checking facebook and emails.  I know my friend Elaine is also up at this point so I send her this text (SLIDE ).

An hour and half later, at 6am, we find ourselves at the start line with 200+ other crazy ultra marathon runners getting ready to run 50 miles. This is Elaine’s 2nd 50 miler and my first!

The air horn goes off and we have 15 hours to complete our mission.  Plenty of time! I just did half that distance a few weeks before in 5.5 hours. (SLIDE) But we also have cutoffs to meet at specific aid stations.  If we don’t meet them, we are disqualified.  And then add about 40 miles of sand to run through but we trained for that …we got this!

Our first challenge was to get to the first aid station cutoff.  We had 3 hours and 15 minutes to get through 11.5 miles of sand.  Not only was there sand though, (SLIDE) we had the privilege of running through Lower and Upper Antelope Canyon, one of the most photographed canyons in the world!  We stayed focused while taking in the amazing scenery and kept running…BAM first cutoff made with 30 minutes to spare!

Our next challenge was to be at the 28.5 mile aid station by 2:40.  We knew we would have no problem….well, until we got to the hardest part of the run. (SLIDE ) You’d think the sand was the issue (not that it wasn’t) but all of the sudden we are on at Horseshoe Bend and climbing up and down cliffs. I was literally channeling my inner Spider Woman and was on all fours a lot!  At some points we are about 5-6 feet away from the huge canyon drop off (SLIDE) (I’m terrified of heights).  We kept waiting to see the road as we knew that would be the aid station but it felt like a scene from Groundhog day.  Up and over a cliff and the same exact scenery.  We were climbing and not running which slowed us down.  We finally could see the road but we were cutting it SO close! We got to that aid station at 2:29 BAM (high five), next cutoff made with 11 minutes to spare! We quickly grabbed some stuff and moved on.

Oh no! Here we go again as we approach Waterhole Canyon.  We arrive to the trail with a small danger sign right before it….takes a sharp right turn, then straight down….  I slowly creeped down on my butt the whole time until I reached the bottom. We went through a beautiful canyon and approached several ladders that we knew would be there.  OK getting up them but thankfully had some help getting us up and over.  We lost some GPS signal and my TomTom died.  (SLIDE ) We had no idea how far we were from the next aid station but we were cutting it really  close again. …we kept pushing each other until we could see the aid station from far away.

We got to the next cutoff at 4:04pm BAM (high five), next cutoff made with with 6 minutes to spare .  I gave my hydration pack to my boyfriend to fill it, got my snacks, and started heading out when I realized I forgot something. I forgot to give my honey a kiss!  I run back while Elaine is yelling at me, “the sweeper is going to be leaving any minute…let’s go!”  (SLIDE) We started walking real fast up the next sandy hill and kept looking behind us to make sure we stayed in front of the sweeper.  We are making the calculations …OK we have to do 5 miles in an hour and 40 minutes. We got this! More sand…we realized we hadn’t seen trail markers in awhile and lo and behold, we passed a turn. We had to back track a bit …and there was the sweeper again…I was literally 50 feet in front of her.

We get to mile 38.5 at 5:40 BAM (high five), next cutoff made with 10 minutes to spare. This was the last cutoff outside of the 15 hours to be done (9pm).  We had already agreed that Elaine could go at this point as I’m slower than her and I had a few friends who were going to pace me the rest of the way.  We were finally done with the sand and I could get a good running groove going.  My pacers were fresh and helped me stay focused.

I asked my friend Lori several times how were doing on time. We were OK but still cutting it close. We get to the very last aid station which is .75 miles away from the finish.  The guy very matter of fact says you have 10 minutes until 9pm.  No words of encouragement…just the facts.

I scoot down another hill on my butt…it’s dark now and we both have our head lights. Off the hill and there is more sand! WTH?!  I start swearing when from far away, I can hear my friend Susan yelling “come on.  You have 2 minutes.”  I’m seriously like, really?  I’ve been galavanting around the desert for the last 15 hours, cutting is so close several times, I was like, whatever…if I make it, I make it! She keeps screaming at us to hurry. I can’t see the finish line as I finish straight up a hill …now they are both screaming at me telling me to hurry…I turn the corner, I can hear the race director on the microphone, saying my name and something about my birthday. I can’t believe I’m sprinting at mile 49!  I look up at the clock right before I cross the finish line…

I cross the finish line at 14:59:10….….(SLIDE)

That was my most epic finish at any race! (SLIDE 10) Yep I was the last official person to cross the finish line!  In the racing world we call that .. DFL …as a running coach, I say:

Dead F Last is better than Did Not Finish, which trumps Did Not Start.

50 Miles of Gratitude: 50 Posts about my first 50 Miler

From My Running Story to Yours….

(if you feel inspired to share your comments, do so below…I want to hear your story too!)

0 thoughts on “50 Miles of Gratitude: (7) My Epic Finish Line

  1. Curious that this post deals entirely with you versus a cutoff. Cutoffs have absolutely nothing to do with an individual effort in and event. Cutoffs are normally set so the race organizers can pack up and leave at a specific time, either based on their logistics, desires, to satisfy their contract with the venue, or to avoid penalty charges. It’s a business, you know. In a race of this caliber, when a
    cutoff is set it is implied that the entrant, based on experience, research, knowledge of their limitations, etc, short of an unexpected physical problem, is fully confident that they will beat the cutoff within a significant margin.

    Yeah, I know that you need to make lots of speeches as a Toastmaster and I’m sure it was well-received, but for this BLOG, I’d be far more interested in what you learned. What were your expectations, what was lacking in your preparation, what went right /wrong, what would you have done differently, and being so close to disqualification, would you be writing 50 BLOGS if that was the result?.

    • As you know, since your wife is also a Toastmaster, we learn to speak concisely and to the point. This speech was meant to entertain and due to time constraints I had to stay on point. I was excited that I could combine my two passions to create this speech which I decided to videotape so it could be part of my blog. I appreciate all your questions, and this is exactly why I am choosing to write 50 blog posts about my experience. Some will have lessons learned, some will be entertaining, etc.

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