It has been an epic 15 month journey to my first 100 mile race. Before we get into the review of my race I want to thank a few people. First, my wife Nikki, who let me train and supported me the whole time and even came out to crew for me. To my other crew members Troy, Andrew and Marcos. Thank you brothers for the massive support and being willing to give up your own time. And lastly to my mom, who opened her home for us to sleep and eat at.
Now comes the fun part.
The morning of the race we got up at 5ish AM and headed out the the race. Once we had arrived, I got the last minute things together and my team left to get coffee so they would not kill me later (And I thank them). 7 AM was the start. It was amazing the group I kinda just fell in with while running over Badger Mountain, 700 ft of elevation, right off the start. These where some salted old runners with multiple 100 milers and a one had just completed the Big Foot 200 miler (bucket list) race last October. I got to talk with the amazing men as we went over and got some amazing little nuggets of wisdom for running.
As I hit the first A/S my crew was there cheering me in and had everything I needed ready. BTW, Andrew was awesome and brought the loudest cowbell I have ever heard. Once, I was refilled it was going to be about 11 miles until I got to see them again. I left the A/S and started out towards the next mountain which was called Candy Mountain, but there was no candy. This was near a 800 foot climb up and down. I was still running my race and my plan. They had another A/S where I got some solid food. They had one of my favorite snacks of all time peanut butter and banana sandwiches, well they had pb and j and I added the banana. I refilled liquids and was off.
This lead me to Red Mountain and I met up with a really awesome Canadian young lady, we talked about everything but the run which was awesome. Once up this near 1000 foot climb the views where amazing and I started to cruise down hill. Down a few switch backs then a short pavement and jeep trail section to a short but near straight up section. I got to the top and relaxed for a bit and just strolled for about 1/4 mile then I looked down the hill and there was the next aid station. As, I was looking down I saw my team down there and then I heard the cowbell. Andrew promptly received the Californian 1 finger wave from me. I got down the hill and hit the aid station. I actually took am moment to rest an get refilled on everything. Once, I was good to go I left Sunset A/S and headed out along a 4 mile stretch of pavement.
I was flying on the pavement and met up with an awesome runner from my old town and we just talked until we hit the next A/S. This was McBee Parking. I did a sock swap and found a couple blisters. Once, they were dealt with and new socks where on. I was ready to go but my crew made me st for a minute to get food in me I had not ate or drank anything over that 4 miles. Once, they were satisfied, I headed out up McBee Ridge. Ok, I knew by looking on the chart that it was going to be a climb at almost 1500 feet of gain over a half mile, but once I got to the bottom it set in. I luckily had my poles, thanks to my crew, and started to climb and pull myself up this hill. This was a huge time sucker for me. Once, the near 3o minutes that it took me to get to the top passed. I was ready to go on the next portion.
McBee Ridge I wish I would have had taken more photos that is the only way I could describe the beauty that I saw over the next 6.5 miles to the turn around A/S. I had the best cup of chicken noodle soup that I have ever had up there. I head back out along the ridge roads and just soaked in the sun and beauty. I hit the ridge A/S and retrieved my poles for going down hill.
I was flying down hill cruising and feeling awesome. I came to a small section that had a build up of tumble weeds and had to step off the trail and then back on. Now, this is where I did not follow training or my plan. I have always avoided jumping over or down ledges and like items. This was a small 18 inch ledge and I just hopped off back on the the trail and felt a sharp pain shoot up my leg and then into my back. I slowed down for a it but my knee stated to hurt like hell. I got down the hill and met back with my crew and let them know. At this time, I knew from the pain it was going to be hard to make times but I was (and still am determined to finish theat 100 miler).
I left McBee Parking A/S and started on a slow jog down to the sand quarry. This is where it really started to hit the fan. The jeep trails at this point where sand and rocks. I could not step with out almost falling. I had to pull out my poles and just walk it out. The next 10 miles where some of the best and worst of my running “career”. I could not actually run with out physically falling, which I did many times. But the amazing thing is the family, yes I mean family that the trails create. I had multiple people, just walk with me through this section. One even stopped running to make sure I could make it. Lucas was his name. He was attempting to complete the 100 miler and decided that he should make sure I could hit the next A/S. So we walked all the way in.
At Orchard A/S I said thank you and good bye to Lucas. At this A/S I told the team that it is now going to be an A/S to A/S decision. I got refilled, new socks and shoes and night gear. I headed out for the last 10 miles. I had to go back over Candy and Badger.
When I hit the last A/S before the finish/turn around. One of my crew, Andrew, stepped up huge to help me get over the last hill. We walked over Badger just talking about life and all the crazy lights we were seeing on the horizon means it was pitch black out. On the way down the last portion of Badger, Troy, joined us. We talked and joked the whole way down. Once, I saw the finish line I took a deep breath and decided I would call it here.
As I approached the finish the volunteers and my crew where there cheering. One of the volunteers approached me and it was the director I told him I was calling it. Once, I said my knee was done he started to ask where at and how did it happen. I walked me to the finish line and even though I was signed up for the hundred dropped me to the 50 miler and awarded me a medal.
Now, all this being said this was one of, if not, the best race I have ever participated in. I will be back next year to get that belt buckle. This injury was 100% my fault and I will come back stronger and smarter.