I had chosen to get a good nights sleep in a motel about 25 miles away from the race site knowing I was going to be dealing with sleep deprivation over the next 72 hours. I woke up refreshed and had a nice waffle for breakfast before heading over too the fairgrounds.. Unfortunately the stomach bug that had hit me Tuesday morning was still not 100% over so I was really hoping it would not be too much of an issue during the race. I had really concentrated on staying hydrated..
I arrived at the site and saw a few familiar faces while I made my final preparations. I was feeling excited but also a bit apprehensive having never done anything of this magnitude in my years of ultra-running. 72 hours is a long time and I had a rather lofty goal in mind which even under the best of conditions would be a difficult challenge for me and would not allow for any lolly-gagging. I knew I was putting myself under pressure but I wouldn't have it any other way.
It was a bit foggy, upper 60's and humid as we began. My plan was to go out a bit hard on this first day and go for some intermediate goals and then hope to hang on for day 2 and 3 and hope I hadn't run myself into too deep of a hole. I was also prepared to back off of that plan as soon as it begin to look like things weren't going well. Well, what I wasn't expecting was to lead the first lap. I began at what felt like an easy pace and noticed after the first 1/4 mile that I was only about 10 yards behind a group of 4 runners By the half the distance was still the same and that's when I decided it would be pretty cool to be in the lead after the 1st mile so at 3/4 I made my move And 50 yds later I missed a turn ! There was an arrow pointing straight but it was from another course apparently but the guys behind me yelled for me to come back so I had to work a bit harder to pass them all again. Crossed the line in 8:32 and immediately backed off to recover and then settled into my real pace.
It was warm and humid and the MTC shirt came off after the 2nd mile. The course is not flat by the way. I would guess it's about 1/3 upgrade, 1/3 down grade and the other 1/3 flat with the grades varying from 1 to 2%. For most of the early miles I was running nearly the whole lap for the first hour and then began experimenting with and timing while taking walk breaks at different points to see how it affected the over all pace. I soon figured out what seemed to work best and settled in to that pace.
Things were going very well for me. My legs felt good, the energy level was good and I was right on pace to get a 100 mile pr for the 1st day. I was working the nutrition and hydration strategy and everything was clicking. The only issue was it was still very humid and getting warmer into the mid 70's. Thankfully it stayed overcast the entire day other than a few moments a couple of times when the sun would peek through. The miles were sliding by and I felt good but it wasn't much longer that I could tell I would not be setting a hundred mile or 24 hour so I made the decision at mile 25 in 4:32 to shut it down. I stopped to take my first break and eat some lunch and texted the Angels an update.
That would kind o f be my routine for the remainder of the race. Take about a 15 minute break with my feet propped up about every 10 miles or so, get some food in me and then walk all or most of a lap before resuming the running. I was soon back out on the course and was able to share a few miles with Bill Gentry and Bob Ring. They were on a set pacing plan but every now and then over the next days if they were starting a lap as I was getting up from a break I would join them for a couple or 3 miles. These were some of the best miles of the weekend with these guys I've known since I first began running ultra's 12 years ago.
At some point a pretty lady pulled up beside me that I thought looked familiar. She said we had met at Beast of Burden last summer. Turns out she had given me a ride back to the start after I had to drop with the injury. Her name is Maryka and she set Canadien age group records for the 48 and 72 hour distances.
I was very disappointed that before I even got to 50 mile that I was getting some blisters. I had one rather painful one on the left forefoot, one on the left outer heel and one on the right inner heel. Great ! Normally if I get blisters at least I'm over halfway done but here I am looking at another 66 hours of dealing with the pain. Oh well, suck it up and stay focused.
Despite backing off I was still running well and went through 50 miles in 11:05. I could have probably tried to push it for a sub 24 100 but it would have been meaningless and just worn me down so I let that thought go. At mile 57, around 10 pm I texted the Angels and told them I felt I could get 90 for the 1st 24 hrs and I would update them in the morning. I took time to pop the blisters and put on some new socks. When I had taken off the socks I discovered another blister between the pinkie and 2nd toe of my left foot that I was unaware of. I didn't need to tend to it. It had already popped and was a nice bloody little mess. Oh well, I don't have time to mess with them or worry about them. I'm a man on a mission.
I headed out into the night ready to settle in for some relaxed miles. The course is well lit with street lights so no worries there. I was hoping it would cool off but it never got lower than the mid 60's and still very muggy. I was not planning on sleeping any this first night unless I was struggling. I really wanted to get in as many miles as possible while staying relaxed. Everything was still going well as planned. I was still taking a short break about every 10 miles, posting a FB update, eating a little and back out on that by now very familiar loop. I did get a bit groggy around 4am but I was maintaining pace and I knew from experience that a soon as daylight would come back around that I would perk up for awhile.
I was a bit surprised that it begin to get a bit light by 5 am. And then at 6am I begin to perk up just as the rain started. The first few hours it was a light rain and sprinkle and it was still warm so it was not really an issue just yet. By now the 48 hour runners were assembling to begin their race. I hit mile 90 just a few minutes before 9am and the end of the first 24 hours just as i had predicted to the Angels.
To be continued !.