Originally I had planned a video checking in through out the day of the race, but it turned out dumb probably should’ve worked those details out before hand. Live and learn….
My ear had calmed enough just to be mostly annoying, and once I stepped outside into the brisk 38 degree air the ear had quickly dropped from my major concern list. After picking up my customary pre race cup of coffee and
Fiji water I headed out to the desert. I watched the temperature read out on my dash start ticking away like a some horrible countdown that finally stopped at 26. It was literally freezing!!! I did a walk though of the starting area and dropped my drop bags in the appropriate areas and quickly returned to the comfort of the car. I got myself together and all geared up with about 20 mins before the start and headed to the starting line with about 35-40 other runners huddled under three heat lamps.
After a quick briefing the time had come and we were off. Everyone did their shuffling and by about a mile in everyone seemed to settle in. There were a few times I wanted to speed up but kept myself in check, the first 20 miles flew by feeling pretty good I was hydrated and fueled and slowly beginning to warm up. The one thing I did realize early on is that I had done almost no actual trail running prior to this race plus no hill work (this is called foreshadowing). The aid station at about mile 21 was the first time I really sat down and took a minute to take off my gloves and pants and eat some actual food, then I was off again. The best part of the race is the two and a half mile climb to the top of Thompson peak a few miles short of the halfway point, it was brutal. I’ve ran the Mount Lemon Marathon in Tucson which is all uphill and this 2.5 miles was worse than that! You could just watch as everyone would try and come up with a better way to get up this beast, from side steps to walking backwards. I hit the top (22.5 miles) at 4 hours and ten minutes and sitting in 15th place. I was super stoked about both and could focus on getting either a sub 9 hour and/or a top ten finish. Down the mountain I headed and the tricky part of the descent was the surface would go from rough dirt road to old concrete, I was able to pass 3 guys on the way down. Somewhere between the bottom of the descent and mile thirty is when nature called and there is no holding it until the next aid station to use the porta potty, there are none on the course. But this was no big deal because the call I got only required a quick flip out and I would be on my way. Turns out my colon got jealous of the relief my bladder was about to get. This quickly became an issue. I locked down both systems until I could come up with a plan, the biggest thing missing from the plan was TP. My paced had slowed at this point. I was hoping to come across some litter, turns out no litter bugs in those parts and a decision had to be made, I had struggled for about 2 miles at this point. That’s when I was passed by one of the guys I had passed early, that was the last straw, I was wasting time for vanity. So BAM I handle my business behind some bushes and grab a rock for after care and I was back in the game! Nothing better then running without that tension in your gut… At mile 30 I was at the 6 hour mark I figure I lost at LEAST a half hour if not closer to 45 with potty nonsense, but I was still feeling okay about the 9 hour mark. The trail from 30 to 38 was pretty smooth and I was able to find a steady rhythm and pace with one aid station in the middle so my bottle was full and I had plenty of nutrition. As I approached the last aid station at mile 38 is when I started feeling the affects of not being trail/hill ready. My ankles and Achilles had started to let me know about their displeasure. I loaded up at the station and headed out. Maybe it was the fact I had already ran almost 40 miles but I was totally clueless on how far I had left. I knew I had to hit the start finish line and then had a 5 mile lap, I just thought I was like 4 out not 7 from the first pass of the start/finish line. The trail was pretty technical at this point and my Achilles were full on rocked to the point were I was changing my gait and putting more stress on my quads. Then bim bam BOOM I went down. I laid there for a second looked around and got up and did a quick inspection no real damage to my body but I blew up my nearly full water bottle. This is when things got rough I was super tense and every time I tried to pick up the pace my lower legs felt so tight after the fall any up or down hills sucked. Then I got passed. I hadn’t seen anyone for 3 hours and this lady comes strolling by. I made it to the start/finish line aid station at 9:14 and was greeted by my boys and special lady, it was a good pick me up. I got a drink, filled my bottle, and head out for my last five miles. The family buzz lasted for about 3/4 of a mile; when the death march set in and I became super frustrated because I was still mentally fit and never felt like I was going to bonk or that my fitness was not up for the challenge. The next 4 miles were brutal. I was passed 3 more times and was racing the sun. I was able to come to peace with it all and realize that I’m so close to having this ultra thing figured out. 10 hours and 56 minutes I crossed the finish line with my boys cheering and happy to be finished.
My wife handed me a shot of tequila and a plate full of watermelon and I headed home an Ultra Runner…..