The day started very early. Actually I had trouble sleeping the night before. I almost left at 9 pm but my cell phone was not charged. Unknown at the time wouldn't matter anyway. My buddy and I were going to sleep in the car. I was thankful he came along to send me off before sleeping in the car for 3 hours till the start of his first marathon.
Getting to the start from the car was a task, it was dark and foggy. The car temperature read 39 as we left the car. Quite the departure from 90's 3 days ago. We finally found it and I left my bags at the drop tent. There were propane warmers with lava rocks, how cool. The race was very low key and relaxed. I think I was still in the porta-potty with 3 minutes to go. Dean Karnazes said some random thing about the star spangled banner being written today then counted us down and ran away leading the pack.
As we made our way out on to the road all 200 of us the marshals kept yelling at us to move on to the shoulder out of the road. "This is an active road" they kept yelling. Yea try and mess with 200 runners with lights on. Plus it was 5am, no one was there. I looked back to see all the lights a few half dozen times. The sight was amazing. Before making the turn north on 67 I looked to the sky to admire the stars, something I like to do frequently. And just like that a shooting star. It was a sign that God would be with me. I was amazed to see Orion low on the horizon a sign of winter to come.
It was difficult to run in the dark and I did not like that much. I was always focused on right in front of my feet as I ran as opposed to focuses 5-10 feet in front of my path, that is what I normally run on trails. The first section is easy to run with some hills to walk, but once you get to Scuppernog the trail is hard dirt with some but few roots. The trail winds past campgrounds a midst tall pines.
Someone stated that at aid #1 there would be a place to drop the headlamp in a large bucket. Well as I got to aid one there was no bucket. First aid station was in 1:19.33 not the 11:00 pace I wanted but off by :23, no biggie its early. As it was still cold I planed on wearing my outer Wheaties jacket till mile 11.2. In Wisconsin the coldest time of day in the fall and winter is 30-60 minutes after sunrise. In a last minute change of plans I took my North Face hat out of the bag for aid #2 and put it in my other drop bag. Good thing I did this because when I got to the second aid station there were no drop bags.
11.2 miles done in 2:07.55 just about the same pace as the beginning section. From aid #1 to #2 is spend on the horse trails. This area is familiar as I did a training run out here in June and did my first 50k on the same trails. There is a lot sand and some loose rocks on the hills.
I felt comfortable with my overall pace at this point. I didn't feel comfortable with my lower back. It was starting to get tight. I supposed from looking down as I ran in the dark. Along the way I did yoga stretches as I ran and would stop from time to time to bend over to crack my back and stretch my hamstrings. Leaving the aid station I was upset. I knew this could happen I was reminded last night when I was cramming with research on http://www.ultrunr.com/index.html. The website said be prepared to part with anything in a drop bag. I didn't think it would come true, the next day. I was fuming and could hear Joy's voice in my head, "Let it go David!" So I tied it around my waste and kept running. After a quarter mile that didn't work to I tied it around my neck like a cape. Wheaties Man!
This section of trail is a little more narrow and technical that the previous miles. This is where you get to know the Ice Age trails. Roots, Rocks, and Potholes (Reggae) Side story....I like Bob Marley there is a song Root Rock Reggae-pot/ Bob Marley. So when running trails I sing it from time to time pointing out Roots, Rocks and well you get the point. There is a nice down hill section of the Ice Age that leads to open prairie. Training at Lapham Peak I got to love the prairie sections. The smell of wildflowers. Being able to see the glow of Goldenrod and other various plants I have come to adore.
I got to aid #3 16.67 miles in 3:15.58. Overall pace at that point was 11:45, I was very happy with that. That aid station did not have drop bags either, my thoughts were that maybe it got misplaced there. No luck there. I charged on towards 50. I could not wait to get to mile 21.2 where I hoped my bags would be there. I was still tight in my back but I started to suffer from bad brain. Evil thoughts raced through my head. Maybe this is not for me? Maybe I will be done at 21.2?
Coming into every aid station is like a party, and the miles in between are like a desert. Coming to 21.2 people were cheering loudly, and for me. That was nice. Mile 21.2 was a big mark for me. Low and behold my drop bags were there as scheduled, what a relief. I spent the last umpteen miles wondering if they would be missing too. My oldest daughter hid a picture she colored on an index card (just like Mommy does every day in her lunch) in my drop bag. I was so happy to see it. I love my Daughter. A change of shoes, socks and shirt are AMAZING. Not to mention getting rid of the Jacket, long sleeve and headlamp. I picked up the bladder I dropped and filled it with Cliff Shots Lemonade. Every aid station I would grab a cliff bar and potato with salt. I would refile my bottle and or bladder and continue on.
21.3 miles in 4:19.50. My original goal was to be here in 4 hours. 20 minutes behind schedule and the first time my overall pace slipped past 12 minute miles.
The next section of trail is death. Yes it is just like Lapham Peak. I should have ran 21 miles then gone and dome some black loops at Lapham Peak. The terrain is undulating, is goes up and up and on the way back it still goes up and up. You would think, oh this will be a nice downhill, ehhhh wrong! 7.13 miles is the longest stretch with out aid. You run out to Emma Carlin trail head and then retrace your steps. I like sections like this where you can see others on the course. Lots of hills and lots of oak trees with wildflower undergrowth. Around this area is a gun range and it sounds like war. At times I actually wished I would get shot so then I would not have to run anymore. I have never heard so many gun shots at once for so long.
Somewhere near mile 23 my phone died. So much for tunes late in the race. This just added fuel to the DNF fire. I was going to call it quits at the next aid station. I had no will or motivation to run anymore. Today or in the near future. I was going to hang up my shoes.
Finally I reached aid #5. 28.2 miles in 6:16.57. Overall pace 13:16. I again passed another milestone, my pace slipped past 13 minute miles. This section was 16:29 for the 7.13 miles. Lots of walking. I would calculate what I needed to do to walk it in. I needed to do some more work first. I borrowed a phone from an aid station worked and called Joy. I let her know I wanted to quit and I didn't want anyone at the finish or quitting line. I refueled with Cran-Razz cliff drink and walked out of the aid station. My goal was to get to 31.4 a mileage PR. Once there my next goal would be to get to aid #6 where I had a drop bag. From there, get to the split where the 50 rejoins the main course. Then the next aid station. From there I could walk it in.
I got back to aid station #6 35.6 miles in 8:19:17. A distance PR and time running PR. Good boost to the psyche at the time. My paced sank to 14:01 overall, another section near 17 minute miles. I found a seat on a hay bale took my time to gather myself and refuel. The Cran-razz was nasty and killed my GI. I could not wait to change back to Lemonade. Salt and Potato and back to walking down the trail. Charging towards 50.
This part of the course you are still retracing your steps back to the main course where the marathon and 50k run. Since I took longer than expected by the time I got to the split all the other racers were further up the course. There were times on the course during the day you were alone for an hour and not see a single person or animal for that fact. Then you would come across the random hunter in camo with a shotgun. Throughout the day you would leap frog other runners. Everyone was super nice. People would ask if you are okay or needed anything. Maybe just a conversation to pass the time. It was great seeing an ultra friend who offered to take my lamp for me but I declined.
Aid station #7 came quick 40.4 miles in 9:37.53. After waiting 7 plus miles for aid 4.8 is nothing. Pace didn't creep up too much. From #6 to #7 pace was still in the 16's This section is lots of sand and big climbs with loose rocks, again part of the horse trails. We will take these trails back to the start.
Aid #7 was it a PARTY! Frat boy theme or rappers? Who cares it was fun. I had the men make my special drink. Gatorade, Mt Dew, and salt. One guy even attempted to drink dew from the bottle and simultaneously pour salt in his mouth. He almost puked. Told him it was a good hangover cure too! Sure put a smile on my face when I needed it.
Aid #8 came quick again as I was able to run more and more the later the race went. 45.75 miles in 10:56.17 My overall pace went up 2 seconds. Almost 2 minuets per mile faster than last section. 3.7 miles to go, my goal then was to finish under 12 hours. The closer I got the faster I ran. I crested the last hill and put the hammer down. Coming back into the finish line I was running 9's. It is so good to be a 50 mile finisher! 11 hours 44 minutes and 53 seconds. Praise God.
I got my drop bags and the missing one was there, that was great news. Got a hot meal and went to get a massage but they were closing and told me to come back tomorrow. I HATE that, this is not the first time I ran late and the massage people left. I don't make enough money to sign up for races and pay for a massage. Dean was gone too. Missed him by 15 minutes. The beer did not taste that good so I pitched it. I got ice cream and fries on the way home, way better! Got to freak out all the young girls at Culver's when waiting for my fries I asked for extra salt and started pouring into my mouth.
Running 50 miles is a head game. One second you are great, the next pissed off. One moment you are feeling good, the next wishing you would get shot. It is ups and downs literally and figuratively. Physically I feel good a little tight, but no blisters or lost toe nails. I do have some chaffing issues, but ehh its all good.
I did have some hallucinations on the tail. Once I swear a chipmunk ran in front of me and when I got two feet from it, it turned into a butterfly and flew away. On part of the horse trails there are cut down pines and I kept thinking they were sewer covers or people squatting.
There was a time and it usually happens after I run long, I looked to the sky and it feels as if all the clouds are rushing to one vantage point in the sky before my eyes.
Also I sill have not learned to pee and run.
Some important things I learned on the run.........
God answered my prayers but wish he would answer other prayers for sick people and hard situations.
God put this hill in my way
-to grow me stronger
-to rely on him
-to let His strength carry me
-to glorify Him.
I love my wife and kids. She does so much for every person in this family. And she truly loves me as she submits to the Lord.
Lastly somewhere along the course I spotted a feather. I picked it up and put in my backpack. In a hard spot I would think about the Bible and the verse that mentions soaring on wings like eagles. I decided to find two more, one for each of my girls. Little did I know how important they would be! When I got home I looked up the full verse and cried.