"the real victory isn't the act of smashing through the tape and crossing the finish line; it's not seeing your name first on the list or standing on the highest step on the podium. this is not what makes your legs shake with fear and excitement. victory, the real victory, is what is deep down inside each one of us. it's what we can't believe will ever happen despite all the training and will on our part, and yet it is finally what happens. despite all the thinking and brandishing of calculators, after so many hours of preparation, after so many days of training, of telling ourselves that we can win - or simply finish the race - it is as if something in our unconscious is constantly telling us that it is impossible, that it would be too wonderful, too brilliant, too incredible for it to become reality. that what we want to achieve is only a dream. and when you cross the line, when you look behind and see that it is real, that you are flesh and blood, and that what seemed possible only in dreams has become real, you realize that that is the true victory"
and we're gone
i can't adequately describe the level of positive energy at the beginning of this race. all of us know that only half of us, at best, will make it back here before the cutoff. there are some elite runners here, there are some bad ass peeps competing with their friends, or with their previous times, and there are also a bunch of normal people who just want to see if they can even finish in time. while leadville is one of the larger 100 mile races, and some smaller races have a special vibe of their own, the fact that there is no qualifying standard and that anyone who feels adventurous enough can throw their name in the hat adds a bit of depth to the excitement and the "unknown" of this race. regardless of anyone's backstory, we all want everyone to make it. as ultrarunning is both a competitive and communal endeavor, we are here for each other almost as much as we are here for ourselves. we've all just started, we all feel great, we're all full of hope, and we're doing it together, racing across the sky in the pre-dawn hours
"A few years ago, Barrera was addicted to drugs. He used crystal methamphetamine, and then he discovered crack cocaine. He was homeless for a time, and then he was a thief. He lived in doubt and fear, in paranoia and darkness, until one morning in 2010, when he went for a run.
Coach Weber's section by section guide
Cory's Aid Station Instructions:
“It is not that the meaning cannot be explained. But there are certain meanings that are lost forever the moment they are explained in words.”
- Haruki Murakami
Stepping into a crowded elevator Monday morning, about to ascend 27 floors, to where the winter sun rises after arrival and sets before deparature, a colleague offers a hushed elevator-speak greeting, asking "how was your weekend?"
sounds and images of the present disappear. goosebumps on the surface my skin and the sense of a chill in my bones, as it all comes back...
Feelings and memories that are hard to put into words. a weekend where multiple winter sunrises and sunsets are also observed, not from the comfort of a climate controlled home or building, but outside, where the below-freezing climate is controlled by layers of gear and levels of effort.
the first scene that comes to mind is 8am sunday monrning, when i had been on my feet, attempting to make forward progress, for the last 22 hours and 78 miles. it's cold. so cold that water vapor from exhaling freezes onto my hair, and so cold that my eyes freeze shut every time i blink.
"let's try to run for a few minutes" adam says, trying to get us to generate body heat. it can be hard to continuously run though, 70 or 80 miles into a 100-miler.
as in life, i turn to music. a motivating song comes on, and we run. this usually lasts for the first 30 seconds of the song. then, we talk about the song and about music and about life, and wait for the next song to get us moving, so we can warm up a bit. then we run for a whole song, and we are warm. then i walk for a whole song, and we begin to freeze, and adam reminds me to run again, as we both get just a bit too close to the edge.
adam joined me as a pacer at mile 62.5. previously, his farthest distance run was 8 miles, and he paced me for 25 miles. wowow!
before he started pacing, he crewed for me, so i saw him every 12.5 miles at the aid stations, and every time i came in he was either helping another runner or laughing with another crew or some volunteers, yet he never missed a beat in taking care of me. can't wait til it's his turn and i'm crewing or pacing for him.
62.5 to 75 was what you'd expect from a couple of old friends catching up at 3 in the morning after one of them has been running for 18 hours and the other is crewing and pacing at an ultra for his first time.
we had left the aid station at mile 75 well-preapred to do some run/walk in 15 degree weather, as we were perfectly comfortable during the previous 12.5 miles. we didn't know the temp drop was coming, so we had left without enough layers, leading to 3 hours of being on the brink of freezing.
getting to the beginning...
this is michael, who i met at umstead 100 last year, have kept in touch with, and who i spent some time DNF'ing Leadville 100 (2012) with. he introduced me to and previously DNF'd this race, dropping around mile 80 (same thing at the summer version as well).
We saw him each out and back, and finally, 23 hours in and during the cold snap, he was headed back in on the last leg (mile 90 or so for him) and would certainly make it to the finish line this time.
as we first saw him approaching this time, he exclaimed "THIS FUCKING SUCKS!" we exchanged some high fives and congrats, and it sure felt good to see a friend who was confident and happy to be breaking through whatever it was that limited him last time around, knowing that this time he'd cross the finish line.
adam and me at the start:
early on, it was nice to have runners nearby. the crowd thinned quite a bit after the first two out-and-backs, and after 12 hours most of the 50-milers were done. 35 people finished the full 100. not sure how many FD's ("fuckin' done," the colloquial term for DNF) there were.
the picture below shows what the scene looked like the whole time. run 100 yards of this course and you've seen what the entire course looks like, with a bit of variation added when the canal is on the left (back) instead of the right (out).
i had forgotten to eat for the last few hours, or just didn't care to, so i ate nearly an entire pizza and a grilled cheese sandwich or three. eating 1000 calories at once is great to get things back to normal, though it's not too helpful when you need to keep moving forward, preferrably by running.
imagine being in the cold for 3 hours (after being the cold for 12 hours). then imagine sitting in front of this:
gasport aid station. just like the previous heater, imagine being freezing, and then seeing this, and knowing there are miles and hours to go...
middleport aid station, at the 12.5/37.5/62.5/87.5 mile mark, is a town hall type room connected to a laundromat, which comes in handy for runners drying clothes.
this was around 1am, just before adam set out to pace me. i asked if there were shifts here, because these ladies were at the start 18 hours earlier, and they explained that this is their aid station and they are proud of it and that's why they do it their way, for the full duration of the race.
adam made it 25 miles and did great! around mile 85 the cold snap broke and i was feeling good. here he is, guiding me into the aid station at 87.5:
it's 3 am. i'm sleeping. can't though, no sleep. i'm outside. there is a chill in the air and it is dark, save for the ambient glow of a full moon, softly illuminating an alien desert landscape.
must. wake. up. i'm 78 miles in, and there are 23.4 miles to go.
i fall into stride with some runners and make some new friends. we chat for a while. one of them is falling asleep too. they're playing "name two bands for each letter of the alphabet," to try to keep their brains moving, and they're stuck on x. they are from new mexico, and they know leadville like the back of their hand! they know karen?! socializing keeps us awake for some minutes. we play leapfrog with our paces and can't keep pace. alone again.
an erosion-prevention log built into the trail looks comfy. sitting down to find that it is comfy, i nod off. right away the next runners wake me up. seems like they thought it looked nice and cozy too, though the middle of the trail is probably not the best place to sleep, they advise.
what they don't realize is i did try sleeping off the trail, but the desert's version of fall leaves is something like spent cactus spikes, and those are not nearly as cozy as a log built into a rocky trail for erosion prevention.
around this time it occurs to me that a bench is up there somewhere. i just have to make it to the bench.
in addition to being tired, foot smash thing is starting to really hurt my left foot. it's happening too soon. we're not even close to "almost there."
time passes, and there's the bench. something feels not quite right about the bench prospect though. passing runners will see the bench and they will be concerned and ask "are you ok? need anything?" "yes, sleep," i'll reply, and they'll have woken me up.
the aid stations is just a couple hundred feet up. i recall that another runner was snoozing on the water resevoirs last time i passed (the course is 6+ loops). earlier in the day the ground under that aid station canopy was covered in discarded gel packets and was swarming with bees, and we had to dance around a bit to avoiding getting stung while filling our bottles.
now, that same area of ground, composed of coarse gravel, looked like the most comfortable bed in the world. as i stumbled in, so did another guy in a similar state. "can we just nap for 10 minutes?" we both ask the aid station attendant to help us out. i set my alarm to wake me in 9 minutes, lie down on the gravel, and rest my head on a water bottle of a pillow.
9 minutes later, my phone quacks, and i wake up. foot smash pain is gone, i'm not tired anymore, and my legs feel... almost fresh!? wohooo! i'm up and out, runnig the next 15 miles, no problems. 11 minute miles uphill at mile 95? why not?!
eventually ran out of gas, and hiked it in for the last couple miles, getting to the finish line in just over 27 hours.
collected some new bling!
there were highs and lows throughout the day, and it may never cease to amaze me how the body and mind can oscillate between the highs and lows. moments of elation are balanced with moments of pain so intense that it becomes clear that the best choice is just to stop and go home. i saw a runner near the halfway point that i had spent some time chatting with earlier who now said things were going poorly and that she was going to be happy just getting the 100k done and calling it a day. the race has a 100k option so that your results still count instead of outright dnf, and she and i had both dnf'd our previous races (western states and leadville respectively). i cited a story of my friend michael who i remembered seing go from being a complete stumbling zombie at mile 60 or 70 to then blazing up hills a few hours later. and hours later, i saw her again, smiling, feeling great, and well past the 100k mark. she finished the full 100 miles.
i had several moments like that. texted mimi during my first low, which was at mile 18. 18?! i have run a least one 20 miler once a week just about every week for the last year now, so to be feeling defeated at mile 18 was absurd. in my head i was telling myself "something must be seriously fucked up if i feel like this already, so it's fine that i'm done. sometimes it just goes like this." fortunately, this happened:
i did this one solo, without a crew or pacers, because of some thing i made up about how doing it solo might at least partially make up for happened at leadville, presumably by making it harder and by leaving me with nothing and no one to fall back on. while i missed my running bffs, i feel good about getting it done on my own. i went to some new place by msyelf, watched the sun rise in the desert having never seen such a landscape before, and met the challenge of me vs myself for 27+ hours.
was this really a solo effort though? unless you are in 1st place on a point to point trail in an unsupported race with no aid stations, i don' think there is any such thing as solo. the local high school track team helped fill my water bottles at one of the aid stations. new mexico friends help me stay awake. LA Lakers 'WORLD PEACE" uniform costume guy gave me a gu roctane in the middle of the night at a time when i couldn't even remember what kind of product roctane was (i've consumed a fair share of this in the past). friends sent me encouraging and funny texts. zombie doctor (who as of this year now holds the men's world record for most hundreds in a year, which he referred to as "have run a few of these this year") shared some important lessons about bloodflow. the lady who had lost 3 close people to her, 2 that week, and was still out there, reminded me to be thankful and made me think that if she's out here getting it done, i sure as hell have no excuse not to. karen (dnf redemption!) and vicki and tommy countless others helped me pass the time, sharing gear reviews, race reports, dreams, goals and life stoires. during those times together the pace unknowingly picks up, the concept of mile markers fades away, and we temporarily forget about the pain. we're just there, in the now, and we're together. beyond each individual runner, the human spirit is putting its best foot forward.
the editor's note from this month's issue of ultrarunning magazine, by tia bodington, captures this well:
"one of the most striking things is that you can never know, just by looking at sombeody, how they will do in a race. they may be fit, but injured. they may be carrying 20 pounds more than optimal for their frame, yet be so well-trained and determined that they beat the socks off of everyone else in their age group. they may be a novice and not know the meaning of that special kind of ultra pain that creeps up after mile 82 or so.
the runner next to you could be a junk-food junke, vegan, omnivore, or cavement diet proponent. maybe they're just getting over chometherapy and out jogging a 100-miler anyway, or just getting over the flu. mabye they're a top triathlete or sub-three-hour marathoner checking out another sport.
you don't know, just by looking at sombody, excatly "who" they are, only that they are here on the trail next to you, deserving of your consideration and respect as a fellow ultrarunner. you don't ask if they are a republican or a democrat before you say "good job, stay strong, you can do it." you don't ask if they are gay or straight, pro-choice or antedilvuian before you ask them what they'd like in their bottle at the aid station. you choose the common ground - without juding other aspects of their lives. that's one of the great things about the ultrarunning community"
running 50 miles with mimi at the north face endurance challenge 2012, madison, wi
all i ever wanted was to pick apart the day, put the pieces back together my way
finish in 29 hours or so, with 30 being the cutoff. a reasonable goal based on previous ultra experience and time available for training and fitness improvement. so starting off, we've got one hour in the bank. let's maybe have two hours in there for next year.
no sleep! 4am start. woke up at 2:15.
both at silver rush and here, greg (a friend of matt's and mine from ny, who finished last year) and I managed to find each other with no set plan to do so, amidst hundreds of other runners coming and going from all directions. yay!
Start to May Queen (13.5 Miles)
802 cheering runners, even more cheering onlookers, and the stream of headlamps were all electrifying. people in their yards in pajamas and nightgowns, screaming their heads off and high-fiving us to get us moving.
as we headed out of town and into the turquoise lake area, tons of people were camping out, fires burning brightly at 5am, awake and ready to cheer on their runners.
Start to MQ Results: 2:37 (target) / 2:29 (actual) / 3:15 (cutoff)
May Queen to Fish Hatchery (23.5 miles)
the first signficant climb, sugarloaf, went smoothly. hung with greg, sunrise in the mountains is beautiful and feels even better with friends
the powerlines up there are where we're headed
if it looks like i'm weeping, i probably am. i remember that beastie boys were playing (on random) at this point, and everything felt super
powerlines down (where my day would later end on the way back in)
off the trail and on the stretch of road into Fish Hatchery.
one of the hardest parts of the race for me to think about. was feeling great, on schedule, and 100% sure that i would finish. playlist on random left me listening to time to pretend by mgmt and feeling indescribable excitement and joy. i find it fun to play with song lyrics and make them about running. pretend you got this, and you got it.
not long after this, along the road, there were cheerleader girls yelling for people just before the aid station. must have been pros because it's like they looked into everyone's souls and called out whatever might be the most inspiring thing for that person to hear. neat.
MQ to FH Results: 4:55 (goal) / 4:37 (actual) / 6:00 (cutoff)
Fish Hatchery to Half Pipe (29.1 miles)
this is the road section, and first time with doubles of nutrition (plan = refill bottles with water at a remote aid station and fill it up with powders myself, instead of doing a quick and easy handoff and receiving fresh bottles like at the crew-accessible aid stations). wasn't quite prepped for storing the extra powder bags, and luckily matt passed in the car and was able to find and deliver my other belt thing. it took 2 miles out of FH to get all stuff situated and to fall into a rhythm. body was struggling a bit from the powerline downhill and mind was frustrated by 10s of minutes of trying to organize stuff. did some run/walk. the road is deceptively long.
and then, a right turn, and finally we're off the road:
Half Pipe to Twin Lakes (39.5 miles)
i studied the course enough to know about most of the obvious parts, and paid no attention to this middle section, full of rolling ups and downs. it dragged on forever. i began to daydream about seeing my friends faces at twin lakes. then, seeing my friends became the only thing that kept me going.
and then there i was, on the famous (ha) descent off of the trail and into the twin lakes partytown area, 40 miles in and right on time. this aid station is huge and full of crew and family and friends and supporters, a thrill to approach, especially when you know your buddies are in there.
Twin Lakes (to Hopeless) to Winfield (50 miles)
heading out of the aid station and into the meadows. wtf?!:
llamas (or alpacas?)
hopeless aid station, one of the most magical places on earth, because it exists only one day a year and is full of smiling helpful volunteers, even though it is located at 12,000ft+ and is inaccessible by road (hence the llamas).
lookin up at greg, making his way up
at the top!
luckily we had good weather. even though i suppose that it's statistically improbable that lightning hit that tree while people were runningb by it, there is a tree right on the trail that got struck by lightning.
ryan and mimi awaiting my arrival at winfield. go team! these two did a top notch job for first-timers crewing and pacing. they attended to my needs, thought ahead for me, made me feel good, stopped me from feeling bad, made sure i had what i needed, made me eat, gave me something to look forward to, kept me company, solved problems on the fly, had to be ready to run many miles, and on top of this gave up a whole weekend away from their families. it's hard to explain that in addition to making sure i have the right stuff, and have someone there to functionally run along side me, that being there means adopting and eminating a certain positive attitude and unique approach to a challenge. even though i can't explain it now and didn't define it for them up front, they were it, and that made my day. mutliple times they brought me back from having fully accepted that it was ok to quit. wish that i could have finished, if only to make it worth their while.
ran into http://www.dailymile.com/people/MMCDUFFIE/entries/17405037" target="_blank">michael on the way out, who i met at umstead 100. we saw each other on the way up hope as well, and spent some time catching up. hope all the runners enjoyed our chatter "michael and i fell in love at umstead earlier this year, and now we're rekindling our romance here on the trail in leadville, unplanned! how special!" also the rock stars were all passing us on their way back in at that time so we were acting like 14 year olds about tony, nick clark, and anna frost.
being so far behind schedule, ryan and mimi headed out to figure out wtf is going on with me
this lead to a much appreciated, advance (before the aid station) mountain dew and honey stinger waffle thing. ryan was also trying to convince me to eat some honey stinger gel thing. hopefully when he saw people puking 20-40oz at a time later, he understood what i meant when i said there was no way i was gonna try to consume that thing until i was feeling better later.
Made it there, completely bonked, and the +21 minutes in the bank (over the 29 hour goal) were now -61 minutes. Coach said "get some calories in you" and that was it.
TL to Winfield Results: 12:38 (goal) / 13:39 (actual) / 14:15 (cutoff))
Winfield to Twin Lakes (60.5 miles)
Still bonked on the way out. Glover did a fantastic job of getting me moving. having someone open your gu, hand it to you, and then take the finished packaging is the best thing ever!
"we're running to the next marker" he kept saying. "all i got," i kept saying, long before the next marker, returning to walking. eventually things came together, and i was ready to move.
started getting ahead of him. took all the nutrition he was carrying for me, not wanting to get too far out only to have no calories.
even though it might be hard to choke down a gu or a few on a long run around chicago, when you are climbing a 2000ft steep ascent you can feel that factory of your legs cranking and you know you need to fuel it. seems like i nailed the nutrition for the climbs, taking in 100 calories every 10-30 minutes, as needed based on feel and energy expenditure.
should have thought about what else i might need before parting. earlier, as we left winfield, we almost left without a headlamp, which would have been fine if on schedule and not an hour + behind. ryan went back for it while i kept moving. he temporarily put it on his head.
after he got me back to life, and we got past the rolling CT section, i started scurrying up hope pass. passed some people. realized that ryan was behind me, out of sight, and that i had no headlamp and no salt.
cruised up hope pass on the way back in. never ran out of breath, passed a bunch of people, even jogged one of the flatter sections. contrasted with running out of breath on the 4 12,000ft ascents at silver rush, this seems to be due largerly to a 4 week hypoxico tent rental (no thanks for the exploded eye blood vessel though) and months of altolab use.
luckily, before we split up, ryan gave me his shoes, and saved the day (it would be sunday when i dnf'd, so seems like it counts)
nearing the top,started talking with some people about extra headlamps or ideas for how to get one. the guys in front of me said "find one to borrrow at hopeless, if you have only that microtorch, you are done."
thinking that it was unlikely that i'd find one to borrow, i thought to myself: "you are incorrect. i will do this."
asked for headlamp at hopeless. no luck. headed out into dusk, soon to be dark.
time for the micro torch.
held in my left hand while also holding and using a trekking pole for balance in the dark. this particular light also has a convenient, battery saving, 5-minute auto off.
what followed was a harrowing and exhilirating hour or two, running 2,500ft down a mountain in the dark, on rocky, rooty, uneven, winding trails.
in addition to having no light, we were also chasing the cut-off to get into twin lakes. i could walk down and surely miss the cutoff, or i could go for it.
missing the cutoff would mean missing a chance to run in the mountains with one of my best friends, and i was not about to miss that. "i have to make this cut off because mimi and i are going to run together here."
found a group in front of me. pacer in front, then a girl with no light, then the pacer's runner, lisa. the pacer was incredible. "big rock to the right, lots of roots here, this part is really ... (as he falls on what he was trying to describe.)" lisa kept checking on me. runners would come up behind us, and when they had their bright lights, mixed with the bright lights in front of me, when i'd look down at my tiny dim area, i could hardly see anything. at one point i made some dorky star wars reference, gonna just close my eyes and use the force down this thing.
somehow, made it. got to the meadows, and saw the stars. the stars at 9,000ft elevation are like when you cross your eyes at one of those 3D book things; fully immersive. saw the lights of the twin lakes aid station just ahead. saw a shooting star in the direction of TL. yes, really. heard a conversation going on. just wanted to zone out and feel the words of normal people talking for a few minutes, while keeping moving. a few minutes later, still listening in on that conversation, familair sounds register. it's greg!
hung with greg and pacer karen for a minute and couldn't really keep up. at the stream crossing, i took my shoes off, because i knew i didn't have enough time to dig out a pair of socks and clean up/lube feet at TL. so i lost greg. when i got across the stream though, karen was waiting for me, waiting to give me her headlamp. what a relief! she ran ahead to get to greg, and i eventually caught them before we got into TL.
as we rolled in to the aid station and crowds, there were still tons of families and kids hanging out, even after 9pm. more of the thanks for being here! thanks for inspiring us! uhhhhh, chills. you realize your baby is sleeping in your arms and it's the middle of the night and it's cold and you're in the mountains, right?
checked in, and almost missed the checkout timing sensor.
shoes were filled with sand.
had to put on cold weather gear, an issue which mimi successfully forced. thank you.
it was chaotic. they put the barracade up, people were still cruising in for a while. a few minutes later, even as we rolled out and up the climb, we heard the cheers for runners making the (extended?) cutoff? it sounded good; it sounded like hope.
at winfield we were down 61 minutes, now at TL we're down ~80 (was in the aid for 10 minutes before hitting the out timer where this was registered). even though i had zipped back up hope pass, this time was largerly due to the bonk recovery time required from winfield to the base of hope
Twin Lakes to Half Pipe (70.9 miles)
started off bonked again due to that downhill. couldn't stop for nutrition with only that dim light. needed to stick to the pace and attitude of lisa and her crew.
TL inbound starts with a bit of a climb. took a long time to get the calorie deficit back up. with mimi's help, we finally got moving again.
because i was using the headlamp karen gave me, it had different batteries than what i had backups for. this made me nervous about the next leg of the course.
mimi kept me moving.
"hey look at that bridge, nice" i though to myself at some point. as we got closer, the elaborate wood bridge i saw was simply a patch of tall grass. haha.
even though it seems like we stopped too often to admire the stars, we got to the next aid station 20 minutes ahead of the cutoff!
TL to HP Results: 19:35 (goal) / 21:10 (actual) / 21:30 (cutoff))
Half Pipe to Fish Hatchery (76.5 miles)
at the HP aid station, we asked for batteries, and of course someone gave mimi more batteries than we needed. and so it goes, at ultras.
after HP the course mostly levels off, with a few miles of trails and then 6 or so miles of road. that road back in is a total mindfuck at 3am. the cars on the road into FH look so close ("i'm almost there!"), and then they look so far ("i'll never make it!"). FH looks so close, and then it looks so far. We got some run/walk in here, quite a good amount. apparehtly, just the right amount. We arrived at FH inbound at 24:15:03 into the race; 3 seconds after the cutoff. "We're letting you through, just be practical and get in and out of here." i was feeling great, so i spent 2 minutes in the aid station, and headed back out.
just fine relative to the cut-off, not so good relative to the plan.
HP to FH Results: 21:32 (goal) / 23:15 (actual) / 23:15 (cutoff))
Fish Hatchery to DNF (~80 miles)
saw ryan again, and got my headlamp back!
the road was ok, i had had enough of the pavement though and was excited to get to the base of the trail.
before that, there was some weird house along the road. during the day, they had a sign outside that said something like "more whiskey for all men" (greg says that this says "fresh horses and more whiskey for my men") and at night they were blaring music from a PA that we heard as far as 2 miles out from FH. i work the county line?
after those sounds quieted, we heard a pack of wolves hooting and hollering in the mountains. spine tingling.
this is where i really needed to have some time in the bank. at the base of the climb, i knew we were chasing the clock and my nutrition was low again and body was a bit stressed from our agressive (if you can call 14 minute miles aggressive) approach to FH. needed some time to do some flat walking, or really slow climbing, and there was so much pressure to keep moving.
on my back, lying upside down on the ascent, desparately hoping to drain some of the ____ out of my legs. dunno what it was. just. so close.
mimi tried her best. i could only go when i could go. too many hours of chasing the clock, of going at peak to barely make it, instead of going slow and steady. recovering from a few bonks is a lot harder than keeping it balanced, but i hadn't kept it balanced.
so, that was the end:
we stopped in one place on the way up the powerlines and i tried to get it back for some time. by the time we decided it was more likely that we could safely get to where we came from than where we were going to, we saw some ATVs on their way up the powerlines.
FH to MQ Results: somewhere between 24-25 hours
DNF to May Queen (via 4 wheeler and SUV)
At May Queen we saw Greg roll through, what a bad ass guy!
We were freezing from our ride. But some guys with legit hypo rolled in. Their faces were pale and vacant and their bodies violently and involuntarily shook trying to generate heat.
Ate some fresh flapjacks, yum!
how to DNF in 4 easy steps.
or, take any number of steps in these 4 pairs of shoes and you'll DNF
that was all it took. one thing lead to another. the mintues added up.
#1 was because my salomon sense, which i love and fit like a favorite old pair of jeans, were falling apart. the smal hole above my right toe seemed like it'd be ok, and a then a couple of miles in, the side split. on pavement this would be fine, but we're running through dirt and gravel and sand, and when your shoe fills with that, it's like taking a power sander to the bottoms of your feet.
#2 cost 5-10 minutes and gained nothing. the nb110s i changed into weren't laced right, didn't have gaiter velcro, and there was no time to lace them properly. so these also let in tons of dirt and rocks and provided a fair amount of foot smash too from not being tied right.
#3 was a disaster. the shoes i tried to go down hope pass in caused my toes to be smashed to the front. i tried anything. curling toes under, rolling forward from heel, etc. you just can't run fast down a steep mountain when curling your smashed toes under because the rest of your structure isn't ready for that base and it hurts. it took me just as long to get down the back of hope as it did to get up. and this is a steep 2000+ ft climb that goes up to 12,600ft.
#4 didn't help either. took 5-10 more minutes.
the elevation profile was like this:
|1||Active||5:00:38 AM||0.00 mi||02:44:14.6||13.50 mi||-17 ft||+723 ft / -739 ft||12:09 min/mi||-||Start to MQ|
|2||Active||7:44:52 AM||13.50 mi||02:08:28.7||10.00 mi||-554 ft||+1236 ft / -1790 ft||12:50 min/mi||-||MQ to FH|
|3||Active||9:53:21 AM||23.50 mi||01:34:40.5||7.00 mi||+323 ft||+350 ft / -28 ft||13:31 min/mi||-||FH to HP|
|4||Active||11:28:01 AM||30.50 mi||02:17:22.6||9.00 mi||-591 ft||+952 ft / -1542 ft||15:15 min/mi||-||HP to TL|
|5||Active||1:45:24 PM||39.50 mi||02:20:02.8||4.50 mi||+2986 ft||+3000 ft / -14 ft||31:07 min/mi||-||TL to hopeless|
|6||Active||4:05:27 PM||44.00 mi||02:36:10.5||6.50 mi||-1996 ft||+674 ft / -2670 ft||24:01 min/mi||-||Hopeless to Winfield|
|7||Active||6:41:38 PM||50.50 mi||02:35:04.9||6.50 mi||+1905 ft||+2678 ft / -774 ft||23:51 min/mi||-||Winfield to Hopeless|
|8||Active||9:16:42 PM||57.00 mi||01:32:35.1||5.50 mi||-2860 ft||+24 ft / -2884 ft||16:50 min/mi||-||Hopeless to TL|
|9||Active||10:49:18 PM||62.50 mi||03:24:06.1||9.00 mi||+512 ft||+1520 ft / -1008 ft||22:40 min/mi||-||TL to HP|
|10||Active||2:13:24 AM||71.50 mi||02:00:43.5||7.10 mi||-173 ft||+92 ft / -265 ft||17:00 min/mi||-||HP to FH|
|11||Active||4:14:07 AM||78.60 mi||00:50:54.1||1.96 mi||+282 ft||+404 ft / -122 ft||26:00 min/mi||-||FH to fail|
|Totals:||00:04:24.0||80.56 mi||-181 ft||+11654 ft / -11835 ft||17:55 min/mi||-|
I am confident that i was fit enough to do this and that i had a solid plan. Only minor tweaks are needed to ensure a finish next year. like, wearing fucking shoes that aren't falling apart and that fit. organizing aid stations a little bit differently will help with a few minutes too. and who knows, if this year's female winner, tina lewis, can go from ~30hours her first year (second ultra), to 5th place in 2011, to 1st place this year, maybe i can make next year a bit more comptetive and exciting.
Planning for and doing a hundred like this is just incredible. wtf are you gonna need at mile 60? when are you going to be here or there? when should your crew pick up the pacers? what if this? what if that? extra. backups. spares. matt did a great job of filling in all those blanks, thinking of the things i hadn't thought of, and making sure all of our stuff got to the right genearl place at the right time.
hours and hours away from my family, early morning runs, late night runs. days of friends' lives. thousands of dollars. not seeing my wife on the day of our 12 year anniversary. walking in the door with no shiny new belt buckle to show the kids.
all for nothing.
finish or not, it was 25+ hours of being here now, being in the present, being truly alive. we smiled some of the realest smiles (though not sure if next year will be just the same kind of smiles, as tony's presence (look closely at the background of this pic) is up in the air).
a few times a year, this little mining town comes alive with a mass of people who are all there to do the same thing, to give it our all together, to try to see if we really can do more than we think we can.
until next year
not long ago i was a fat smoker guy. so mabye you want to say congrats when you read this. please skip that because even though to you finishing 80 miles might seem like a thing, it's not. i set out to run 100 miles in the mountains and did not succeed yet. i will next year, for sure.
instead, for this year's effort, think about you, and think about how we're all (except for an elite few) just a bunch of normal people trying to find or test our limits. finish or not, it feels great to give it a shot. so many other great thoughts and moments and memories are left out this because it's just too much. when's the last time your mind was overflowing with 24+ hours of non-stop exciting memories?
so the final thought is this (one that you think to yourself):
maybe i could do this