First things first… I finished!! I crossed the finish line at 7:32 am Sunday morning after 25 hours, 32 minutes and 54 seconds of me and my crew’s hard work. Good for 4th place overall. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Early in a race is always a blur to me. I don’t really remember anything specific happening. I try to just take it easy and relax. I caught up with my ultra friends that I had not seen in a while, made new ones, and just cruised along. The only thing I really was concentrating on was keep my food and drink in check .
Somewhere along the way, I did not keep my fuel in check. I was over drinking and not taking in enough salt. My stomach started to feel horrible at around 30 miles. Also, my right knee was killing me! I was trying to keep a positive attitude and kept telling myself “This too shall pass.,” but it wasn’t it was getting worse, both symptoms. I started doubting if I could finish like then, when all of a sudden, a grumbling happened way down in my stomach. I stepped to the side of the trail and puked my guts out! I stood there for a minute and evaluated the situation, an older gentleman said" “you need more salt, I’ve been there” and handed me a few salt pills. My stomach did not hurt anymore. I was getting a re-do on my liquids-to-salt intake. Ok, one problem fixed, now when I get to the start/finish, I’ll change out shoes and go from there.
I came around the corner and spotted the start/finish. My cousin Dylan, who had came to crew and run some with me, was standing there cheering. I ran over and gave him a big hug.
It’s funny how things went from me feeling really down to great within about a 3 mile span. We ran really well on this next loop as the course was packing down more and more. There was still lot of mud, but overall a huge improvement as the day went on.
I hit the 50 mark and was feeling great.
While we were out, my father-in-law (who was crewing for me through the night) and wife set up an crewing area for me. All of my gear was there along with a tent if one of them needed to get a few winks
Since it was just past 6pm and the sun would be going down while I was out on this one, I grabbed my arm warmers, some thin gloves, a stocking cap and my head lamp. I had Dylan hang back so I could use him later on. Ron grabbed a burger for me while I refilled my water. My wife and daughter were still there and I said I’d be back around 9 or so. They decided to stay for one more loop before they would say their good nights. I headed out to the trail again.
I began down the muddy slope eating my burger and just smiling to myself. I was now past the 1/2 way mark. Every step I took meant that there were more miles behind me then in front of me. No problems at all to speak of, besides the general crappy feeling of having feet that had been wet for hours and the fact that I could not even think about taking another sip of Perpetum, both of these things could be dealt with. About 3/4 of the way through the loop it got dark. I turned on my headlamp and just enjoyed the feel of the “new trail.” Even though I have run here before and had ran 5 other loops this day, in the dark there is no real sense of distance or what is coming up so in an odd way its almost like being somewhere unfamiliar. As I was finishing out 60 I decided it was time to address my feet. This worked out well as I got to spend a little bit of time with Micaela and Gianna before theny went back to the hotel for the night. There was a hot spot on the ball of my left foot and both pinkey toes hurt pretty bad, I had Ron grab me some soup while Dylan and I worked on my feet. We got my socks off and cleaned my feet off. There was a lot of grit on them. The Mizuno’s I was wearing are fine shoes, but they are very porous. Porous is great for stream crossings, but there were also letting in a lot of sand on silt from the creek. My knee had not hurt since I changed them but I had to do something before my feet got any worse. We slapped blister guards on each pinkey toe and I decided to try some duct tape around my foot to cut down on the fiction. Both of these worked great. I said my good-bye’s, kissed Micaela and Gianna good-night and went out for another by myself.
I left for 60-70 with my soup in one hand and water in the other. I had ditched the Perpetum as I had carried the same bottle for 2 laps and barely drank any. Water, Edurolytes, and soup was pretty much my diet for the next 10 hours. We cruised along, running in the flat areas and marching up the hills. I still felt great. This was serious mileage for me. I’d never been above 52, so the fact that I was still kicking was strange, but I figured I’d just go with it, since you never know when it will go away. I came around again, grabbed Dylan to pace and a pair or warmer gloves and headed out for 70-80.
I continued on the next 30 miles like this with an exception of a much needed shoe change and foot doctoring at mile 80 (which Dylan and Ron handled like a pit crew). I felt like a machine. Not in a “you’re a machine!” type of way, but in a singular task focused kind of way. I sort of zoned out and just did what I had to do to get through the each of the remaining loops. My agenda was as follows:
- At the Start/Finish fill up water and eat a burger or soup
- Eat some fruit at Totem Poll
- Get hot soup at Heaven’s Gate
- Eat a caffeinated gel just before returning to start finish
- start at step 1 again
Then all of a sudden I was back around for the 9th time. This was it, the final loop. I needed to have a 3 hour loop to hit under 26 hours. Every lap so far had been under 3 hours, but did not want this to be the one that was over. I was starting to feel it and was just trying my best to stay focused and knock this thing out. I approached this lap just like every other, tasked based. Dylan and I headed out for the last time. I was starting to realize what I was about to do. It was pretty overwhelming, but I had to keep that in check. I still had a few hours and a nasty course waiting. I did not want to lose focus and have something dumb happen like falling or roll an ankle, so I just kept pressing on. After we hit the 1/2 way mark I was getting pretty excited. We got there in around 1:20, just needed to duplicate the effort over the next remaining part of the course to hit my sub-26.
Everything on the last loop was like a list,
- Totem Poll aid station - check
- Stream crossing 1 – check
- Golf Hill – Check
- bridge marking 1/2 way- check
I was just checking off each part of the course that I would not be seeing again. Finally I crossed the last creek crossing and worked my way though the last mile of the course. We climbed the last big hill, ran past the Frisbee golf course, hit the last little bit of trail, turned left then ran our way toward the Finish Line. Dylan was already with me, Ron was out there with Gianna and we all ran it in together.
I could not believe it was over. The whole thing had been so consuming of my life over the last year that when I finally stopped, I unraveled a bit and started crying. The thoughts of my time spent training, wife’s support and sacrifices, how awesome Dylan and Ron were to be out there all night long to get me through this, the physical and mental exhaustion of just going hour after hour after hour, all rushed over me at once. It was an amazing experience that I could not have done without the great support of my family. I’ve thanked them a lot already, but I’m not sure if it will ever be enough to show how grateful I really am.