It's been a long time since I've been wound so tight before a race. Barely sleeping each night, spending the days feeling tired but at the same time feeling like lighting bolts of energy could shoot out of my fingers at will. I know allot of this is normal before a big race but this was out of hand and I needed to settle down. So Wednesday before the race I did what every runner does when he feels stressed out, I went for a run. I ran up in the thin clean air of Alta, looping up through the Castle area beside Supreme lift. It was mystically quiet and some fresh flowers were out celebrating the recent rains that had poured out of the skies the last few nights. I saw a badger crossing the path and thought to myself “is this a good omen or bad? I 'd rather see a cheetah” My legs felt like somebody else's, fresh clean and full of energy as if they could propel me at 6 minutes miles at will. I headed up to Katherine's pass and contemplated how I would feel coming up from the opposite side with Jay on Friday night. I headed back down with hope and good feelings running through my head as if on drugs of many years long ago. I scooted around a moose as I passed the lift station of Sunny Side lift headed for the dirt road that would take me back to my car. As I ran down the road I thought “I 'll be fine, I'll get a good nights rest and be ready to rumble Friday morning” I turned the IPod up to drown out the response that came through my subconscious self as a whisper “your not sleeping if I can help it”
I'm on the starting line standing next to Peter, I don't feel good, I'm tired and am honestly kinda of dreading the day. I'm putting on a good face shaking hands wishing people good luck. The count down starts and were off. I shoot off like a rocket not really thinking about it, I'm surprised I got myself so far up in the field and the trail is actually not too dusty. The first miles blow by quickly and I can see Jason Berry up just ahead. Then all of a sudden Peter shoots by and the three of us find ourselves running together We head up the long climb toward chin scraper, Peter leads the way and Jason and I are happy to follow his lead. We run together until we hit the road at mile 11 just before the first water only aid. We leap frog back and forth after the water aid and come back together just before Francis Peak I'm actually feeling pretty good and just a few minutes of my pace chart.
I leave with Peter but feel like running alone and soon start pushing the pace ever so slightly to get out ahead. I turn the Ipod up and just start cruising the road. I used to hate the dirt roads early on the course but have started to like them the last time I ran the race, thier easy and its nice to just turn the brain off and move easy. As I approached Sessions Lift Off aid station I felt my IT band start to tighten and contract. Next thing I know bam it fires and I crumple to a stop. Panic starts to set in, I'm thinking my race is done, I slowly start to hobble again thinking to myself to just keep moving and maybe you can figure this thing out. I actually make it to Sessions on my split. As I start the climb out of Sessions it fires a few more times and I stop at the pass and sit down and stretch. I am also getting large sticks from the side of the trail and try rolling the IT band with them. I pop some Ibuprofen and salt with a bunch of water and start moving again. It seems to be working, it hurts but I can move okay. I slowly catch up to a few runners and finally settle in with Chris Cawley. We chat quite a bit and run for the most part together into Big Mountain Aid Station which I reach exactly on pace at 12:45.
Big Mountain Aid Station is great but I know to get out of there quickly, I weigh in and come in heavy which seems strange. I dunk water on myself as Marge gets me my Gregory Hydration pack. Roch fills my hat with ice and I take off with Kathleen. I tell her I'm in a good place but my knee is killing me and take another Ibuprofen. We got out slowly as I drink some coconut juice and take in calories. I'm thinking of all the people I saw back at the aid station feeling guilty for not taking more time to say hello but soon realize they understand and start to forget about. I know from our practice run that Kathleen takes about 20 minutes for her heart rate to go down so I go really slow to let her warm up. We talk a little, not to much, just enough to pass the time. We are moving slow but that was the plan. A few people pass us but I was prepared for that. We make it into Alexander exactly on time.
We make a quick 2 minute refuel and head out for the gas line climb eating watermelon. Its hot and we get passed again, one guy goes running by uphill all the while saying how hot is is. Kathleen and I come into Lambs Aid Station feeling good and on time.
My next pacer is Shawn and we get out just behind Peter and catch him on the road. His pacer Scott Dickey gives me a ITB strap which seems to lesson the pain in my knee. We jump out ahead as we jump on to the single track for Bear Ass Pass.
I'm starting to feel tired and pound calories as we make the long climb up to the pass. I can hear Peter, Scott and Robert Mueller below as we near the summit. Shawn and I make steady and uneventful progress making it almost to Scott Pass Aid station before we have to turn on our lights while enjoying a wonderful sunset to the west. At the gate at Sleepy Hollow we pass somebody dressed in a marching band uniform. Jay joins us for a little bit on the Guardsman road to see how I am doing then takes off to Brighton to make sure I have a quick transition. Marge crews me in the parking lot then I head into the lodge for weigh in. Everything is a blur and the lodge seems like some foreign planet. I see lots a friendly faces but I just want to get back on the trail and get moving again. For the first time I'm feeling beat and tired and want to get the race over with. We leave at 9:26
Miles 75 to 100.
Jay is a breath of fresh air and energy. I can tell he really wants me to do well and 10 minutes out of Brighton he is already asking me if I can run a few flat spots. I say no to the first request. After the dam Jay gets in front of me and starts running some of the flatter spots going around the lake. I follow and start running when he does, this seems to be working and we do this all the way to Katherine's Pass. At the pass Jay's instruct me to starting drinking a bottle with Coke and water in it saying it needs to be done buy the time we reach the high point of the course and the start of the plunge down into Ant Knolls. I do it and can feel some energy coming back. We pass four racers on the decent, some slowing down because they think they are off course. We tell them their good but they don't seem to believe us. We keep moving, blowing through Ant Knolls and heading up the Grunt.
I am moving pretty good, the knee really hurts but so does everything else.
Before Pole Line Aid Station I do a lot of drunken sailor running, weaving on and off the trail. Nothing much happens all the way to Rock Springs, there is a runner close behind but does not seem to be gaining. The moon is out and its beautiful. The Dive is terrible, the Plunge is terrible, the wheels are starting to come off. Lots of heavy breathing, short 2 second stops with hands on knees trying to hold it together. My stomach is starting to cramp and I don't feel good. Jay can sense I'm slowing and is doing everything to keep my moving, and finally I throw up. I get it over with and move on making my way slowly down to Pot Bottom. At the aid station Jared Campbell joins us as well as Peter with Christian who is his pacer. Peter gives me a hug and we leave together for the last 7 miles.
Peter is stronger and pulls away quickly, I regress back to my old 100 mile habits and just move steady but slow. Jay is out in front by a few feet leading the way acting as my sail trying to pull me up the hill. We start the decent, I almost loose me stomach again but manage to keep from gagging, not sure what would come up at this point anyway. I weave down the road trying to just keep moving and finally hit the single track trail leading to the final 1 mile road sections to the finish. Jay is talking about lights approaching and if I want to race but at this point I really not listing. It's turns out to be Jared and he ask if he could joins us to the finish. I was honored and humbled and of course said yes. We run in together and finish in a time of 23:07. I am ecstatic to be under 24 hours but I am too tired to show much emotion or give it much thought.
As is always the case I could not have had such a great race without all the help and support of allot of people. But I especially want to thank my pacers Jay, Kathleen, Shawn and of course my wife Marge who did another faultless job of crewing me for the entire race. The race organization and volunteers were excellent as always. Of course there is the race itself which continues to resonate in my heart and haunts my soul, it truly is a trail of Heaven and Hell.