I hadn't planned a report. This was a message I composed last night for my training partner but several of you have asked how it was and congratulated me on my time so I decided to send this ever so slightly edited version out to the world or a small part of it at least.
I am Truly Blessed to have such wonderful people out there that care about me and share my stories with.So here it is.
Well, I survived but just barely. Next to Massanutten, this was definitly the hardest thing I've ever done. In a way it was even harder but, I don't think I can explain it in words that you can understand. More on that in a minute.
This race is essentially two totally different courses combined for one race. The 1st 11 miles are run on roads, mostly paved.Slightly uphill the 1st 2 miles, mostly down the next 2 and then a downhill plunge for about 4 miles. Then flat in the valley for the next 3. You return to this point at 50.8 miles and finish the way you came. The remaining 40 miles are predominately trail. Very steep, rocky trails. The total elevation change of 14, 200 feet is mile for mile more than Massanutten.
Not only was the course two totally different ones but so was my day. Actually about 4 differnet days for me. The 1st 16 miles I was feeling great but then my stomach started feeling bad and for some reason I was having a hard time getting a deep breath. The sad part was the next 5miles would have been the most enjoyable section of trail on the whole course. Instead of having fun though, I was struggling with whether or not I would be able to continue. Once again I found myself struggling with dehydration like at Vermont but I couldn't drink anything. I finally dragged into the 21.8 miles aid station, barely able to think. I sat in a chair and was able to drink some ginger ale and that seemed to sit well with me.. After about 5 minutes I got up and headed for the next trail. Slowly I began to feel better and able to drink. By the time I was halfway around that 3.8 mile loop I was on top of the world, feeling great and running as well as ever in an ultra.
In spite of my bad spell, I was now in the top half of the field which is very rare for me and I was on pace to run under my fantasy goal time 16 hours. The next several hours I was as happy as an Ultraman can be. At 37 Miles I began the longest segment. It was a long slog up a rocky dirt road that went on forever. I climbed for 1.5 hours before it leveled out enough for me to run any but out of the 8 miles in that segment, I was climbing at least 6.5. To make matters worse it was during the warmest part of the day and exposed to the sun for a good part of the time. I was passed here for the first time since mile 17. It was pretty lonely out there most of the day. One of the people was David Snipes. David always is very encouraging to me and we were close together for a good part of the remainder of the run, usually meeting at the aid stations.
I finally made it to the 45.3 mile aid station but I was not in good shape again. My stomach was not happy and although I was starving I couldn't eat. Except for 1 gel and one cookie and half of a milky way bar, I hadn't eaten anything in 10 hours and 30+ miles of running. The only calories I was getting were from coke and ginger ale at the aid stations and it wasn't enough. I sat for 19 minutes trying to get my stomach settled enough to run. The amazing thing is I was still running fairly well on the flats and downhills, but I was dragging on the climbs. Thankfully the next 5.5 miles were all downhill and flat and I was able to make pretty decent time and recover a little until I got back to the start of the road section at 50.8 miles just as it was getting dark enough for me to need a light.
I ran almost all of the next 3 miles to the base of the long climb back up to the Parkway. I knew if i just kept moving I would still go under my realistic goal of 17 hours. The full moon was just rising above the trees at this point but I was struggling to keep moving up that long interminable climb and couldn't enjoy it. At this point I didn't want to keep going. I was not having fun, I felt like crap and I decided I would never run another ultra. Well maybe a flat 50K now and then. And I still have to run Masochist next month. and I still hope to get into Western States next year, but that's it, I quit.
Well obviously I did keep going and finished in 16:38. I should be esctatic, since I exceeded my realistic time goal and finished 39th out of about 80 starters. But as I sat around at the finish nothing seemed to matter. I felt like a beaten man. It's like I left a part of my soul out there somewhere on that course and I'll never get it back. I had to dig deep for this one, all for a time that in the big scheme of things is totally meaningless. Last night on that dark lonely road looking for an answer why, I couldn't find one.
Things are looking better today, they always do. It's amazing how low blood sugar can screw with your mind. Throw in exhaustion and feet pounded into submission from a billion rocks and it's understandable why I was a mental wreck.
On a lighter note, I had a Jerry moment for this one.( Note: Jerry is one of my best friends. If you knew him you would understand what I mean by a Jerry moment. One of these days I may write a book of Jerry Moments) It came just as we started the 1st trail climb around 12miles. The guy behind me says, are those two different shoes you are wearing? No I said, but then I looked down and sure enough I had an Asics 2090 on one foot and a 2100 on the other. At least I had a right and a left. My feet didn't seem to mind.
Hope to see most of you at Masochist