I got to the park early, picked up my packet and chatted with RD Marie Lewis and caught up with friends as we waited for the pre race briefing at 7:30am. At 8am we were outside, shivering at the chilly start line and then we were off! Fourteen 4.5 mile laps ahead of us!
The course was in great shape, although the wooden foot bridges were a little slick the first several laps. I settled in quickly, and knocked out the first lap in 50:59. I stayed under an hour for each of the first three loops, a little quicker than I probably should have run them, but I was feeling good. I was trying a new fueling strategy, using "Generation UCAN", along with some homemade hummus wraps for a little solid food along the way. I was having a UCAN shake every 3 hours or so for my main source of fuel, along with some electrolytes that I would grab at both of the Aid stations. I opted not to use my hand held, as I never remember to switch hands, and wind up with my left shoulder aching after about 20 miles.
Finishing lap 3! Photo by M. Lewis
Lap four I slowed it down a little bit, and was starting to pay the price for a quick start. I stayed pretty consistent for laps 5 through 9, although I did hit a little low spot around mile 20, but I ran my way through it. I would run this race pretty much by myself, with the occasional company of friends as we caught up to one another along the course. I had broken code and went to the Sony Walkman W early, and was enjoying the Megadeth and Motorhead now pulsing in my ears as I stomped along the roots. I got a nice surprise towards the end of lap seven when I spotted my training buddy and Momma to be Lauren walking the trail in the opposite direction and taking pictures. She had come down to the race to cheer us on. I kept on truckin', knowing I would see her again at the start of lap 8.
Rollin'! Photo by L. Wilkins
I ran back into Lauren around mile two of lap 8, stopped to chat a minute and got a quick hug, then soldiered on. The sun was starting to sit low in the sky and we would be running in the dark before we knew it.
I finished lap 9, changed my base layer, shirt and gloves, got some more generation UCAN and grabbed my headlamp. As my ultra buddy Bill Gentry would say: "It aint a party 'till the lights go out." I was ready to party. I enjoy running at night. Lap 10 was my slowest, due in part to the extra time needed to change clothes. I had a strong lap 11 and was looking forward to getting done. The roots were getting larger and hungrier now, nipping at my feet as I struggled to clear them. My Garmin and Walkman had both died at this point, but a least my Fenix headlamp was still going strong and lighting the way. Finishing up lap 12, I had a brief spell of paranoia and stopped at the timer's table to make sure I only had two laps left. Once this was confirmed, I set out on my way.
2 laps left!
2 laps left!
I was cruising along lap 13, right around mile 56, when my foot hooked a root on a slight downhill section. Pete Rose would have been proud of the form I exhibited as violently crashed to the earth.
I was okay, just extremely pissed off. I walked for the next quarter mile, my trail tourettes in full effect. I believe several new profanity couplets were invented along this quarter mile stretch. Even with that, I still had a solid lap, 2 minutes faster than lap 12.
The final lap: Coming in to the timing mat at the finish of lap 13, I was at 13 hours, 58 minutes. I had no intention of trying for a WS qualifying sub 15 hour, even though my buddy Jim W. was standing there trying to egg me on! I was in full "DNS" (do nothing stupid) mode at this point, trying to focus on the roots and not recreate another "Charlie Hustle" trail moment. I ran a little, walked a little, making my way past all the landmarks I had come to know all too well. I came through aid station #2 for the last time, stopping to thank Doug and Jimmy for their gracious hospitality, grabbed a quick cup of Gatorade and chugged on down the trail. Soon, the lights of Race HQ were glimmering in front of me. I climbed those God Forsaken root stairs one last time and crossed the finish in 15:07:35.
Roots! Photo by M. Long
I was very happy with my time. I changed clothes and hung out inside the "Recovery lounge" where Denise was working her massage magic on the badly beaten bodies. I stayed there for a while, chatting with Jenn E. and my buddy Jim W. I can't recall exactly what we talked about, but I remember laughing a lot!
I gathered up my stuff and faced the next daunting challenge, driving two hours by myself back home! Got back to the house around 2:30am.
Thanks to Marie Lewis and all the awesome volunteers that make this a special race. Congratulations to all who qualified for Western States and good luck at Lottery time!
Shoes: Altra Superior (3 laps) Altra Torin (11 laps)
Socks: Pro Compression Athletic Socks
Brooks Rouge Runner Shorts
Nike Pro Base Layer Turtle Neck
Pro Compression Tee and Beanie
Generation UCAN Lemonade Sports Nutrition Drink
Home Made Hummus Wraps
Copious amount of water and Gatorade
Sony Walkman W
Fenix HP 11 Headlamp