Wednesday, April 13, 2011

LOL100 ..To the Finish!!

Lap 4 - Mile 66-88: When we left I was completely out of it. I mean I couldn't tell you which way was up, my only focus was to keep moving down the road as fast as I could. I know the temperature was colder but it would get warmer in the early miles of the course and then colder at the back end. Up till this point my legs were pretty tired. I have some soreness in the lower quads which I knew was going to happen because of the long gradual and some short roller sections that the quads would take a beating over time so I was careful not to all out blast the downhills. I learned this at Javalina100k last year. My shoulders/neck and arms were just tight and I would my circle arm motions to and neck motions to try and stretch them out. At times I would even just stop and stretch my upper body and then it started to be the same with my lower body. My hip flexors were seriously tight and early in the day I could lift my leg up and stretch but as the night set it and long into it I would have to balance while hanging on to the shoulders of Antonette or Molly and then I would have to physically grab my hamstring from behind the knee and lift it to stretch! I did this several times through out the night and then I would massage my quads which seemed to help for a while.

Antonette was doing a great job keeping me moving, carrying my water bottle and anything else that seemed to weigh more than 1 oz! She would stay just a step ahead of me on my right side and I would basically just keep walking with her. At some points I would stop, bend over at the waist and cuss!! I knew I was so sleepy and my mind wanted to shut down, shit I have been moving for 18+ hours in Snow and cold and now its had enough, but good positive mantra would take hold.

I knew coming to this 100 it was going to be tough, period! Its a 100 miles and that is no easy task, on any course. I knew there was going to be hard times, fun times, bad times and times I couldn't even catagorize but before I even started, before I even showed up on race day I told myself one thing: STRONG MIND, STRONG BODY. This would be the fail safe positive reinforcement phrase for any negative thoughts or feelings that I came across. When I bent over to cuss and I realized what I was I doing I quickly stood up and started moving repeating to myself in my mind.. Strong Mind, Strong Body, Strong Mind, Strong Body.. It worked. My other goal coming into this race was no Whining, No Bitching, just get it done, I don't recall too many times I bitched or whined but I know I did and would quickly change my thoughts.

As we made it down Biatch Hill for the 4th time and approached the RV I decided I did not want to stop as I was simply too tired and in fear of becoming too comfortable I told Antonette I would keep walking and grab some much needed No-Doze, Red Bull and anything else to wake me up. Molly would be jumping in at this time and soon taking over at the far turn around when Antonette was done with her 22 miles. As I approached the aid station my hands were so cold so I stopped to warm them up on the heater they had there. I saw Jim Freeman and Ron, who I have know from other local races and they were manning the aid station. I talked briefly and then kept moving. Once I started moving I knew I had to move just a little faster because stopping had cooled me down and now I was even more cold so I just started going!

In the back of my mind I actually wanted to see how far I could get from Antonette and Molly before they caught me so I guess we could call this burst of energy. I'll take what I can get at this point and just kept moving at a fast pace than I had been moving in the past 2 hours. I was all alone. No other lights ahead of me and I could not see theres behind me. The cold was pretty strong as I could clouds of my breath when I breathed out. I kept this up for a while and then I noticed I started to slow down so I would turn around and look to see where the girls are and I could barely see there lights coming from afar. Damn!! I got too far away from them and now I would have to hold out solo until they caught me. I felt alone at this time and realized how much Antonette had been helping me and the value of a pacer. As my thoughts began to wonder I noticed I didn't really feel my body, no soreness, no pain in my toe, no cold. I just felt like I was there. I could see the cold, I knew it was cold but no feelings. Maybe because I was so sleepy I was sleep walking, ha!

I finally slowed down and knew I was wondering back and forth on the road. I would feel myself start leaning to one side and then I would see the dirt or the ditch and go oh shit! move over.. so I would get back to the center of the road and then I pull to the right, same thing! Back to the center. I felt like a wobbling idot out there swaying back and forth on the road and still no Antonette or Molly. I really thought a couple of times I was going to fall over and they would find me there on the sleeping on the ground. I knew I could not fall down because as sleepy as I was I would truly just smack the road most likely without any bracing and if I did happen to catch myself falling it would be too late and I may break a wrist or something so falling over was not an option! I finally heard Molly and Antonette behind me and so I stopped and waited the last couple of steps for them. They quickly said that I was on the move and that it took them a couple of miles to catch to me. Antonette handed me some PB&J and I quickly ate the whole thing, guess I was hungier than I thought. Then I took some No-Doze and chased it down with a Red Bull. Okay I thought I have about 20 mins and this shit will kick in!! Thank God!

As we continued to walk I still had my swaying back and forth on the road and they would both make sure I stayed in the center. Molly on the left, Antonette on the right. I remember continuously stopping and being so frustrated with not being able to wake up!! I know I stopped one time and just stood there like Superman, with my hands on my hips, my eyes closed and thinking just for a couple of minutes, but it only lasted about 10 seconds as Antonette would grab my arm and tell me to open my eyes. Then she would start pulling me a little just to get me moving. By now I realized it was super cold and breathing air in was actually hurting my teeth so I would cover my face with my running buff and then I would be okay, well, kind of. It would make my face nice and warm and then I would feel even more sleepy, so I then I would take it off below my chin, a shot of Cold Air and this game went on for a while or until the Sun would come up.

As we approached the back of the turn around I must of really started to slow down because Molly soon told me that she was going to walk in front of me and for me to follow her foot steps, to keep pace with her. At first I was like slow down!! (in my mind) but I knew they were trying to speed me up so I didn't really mind. They wanted me to speed up because I was going to slow and I would become cold and since the early morning hours were approaching it was going to get colder! As I followed Mollys feet I would would have my eyes down toward the ground and this only made me want to close them more but at least it gave me something to focus on for a while. Soon we were at the turn around and I gave Antonette a big hug and thanked her for helping and getting through some tough night/morning hours. As were at the aid station the aid station volunteer said I hope you dont want any liquids because everything is Frozen. The water, the pepsi, all liquids were frozen. I was basically okay and just wanted to get moving again so I started walking off and Molly tended to the water bottle stuff and soon caught up to me.

Just after we left the aid station Antonette came driving by and I remember looking at her car, it was covered in snow and frost and I knew it was seriously cold. I could feel how cold my hands were even with my gloves and I remember pumping my fists just to try and warm them up more by increasing blood flow. At some point, either then or a little bit later Antonette brought some soup and the cup was nice and warm but didn't last too long warm and I was able to drink and eat it all. Molly and I were on a little faster pace and I seemed to be a little more awake and focused. The Sun was soon be rising and I kept looking over the mountain to see if I could see it. This was a good focus for this time because I was starting to wake up and Molly said just hanging in there till that Sun comes up and you will be alright. As we approached the RV I had to grab my Garmin charger again as I wanted to make sure it didn't die out and a couple of other things, change of shoes back to the ones I had started with and I was out to finish lap 4.

It was still dark out and climbing the Biatch Hill was still no fun! I just put my head down and after what seemed like forever and still no Sun I was at the top of the damn hill. The last 4 miles the Sun finally started to come up and I was waking up. Molly and I started to chat more about the night and other random things and soon the pace was much quicker. My legs were throbbing now that I was awake and more alert to the fact of what was going on. I had noticed that my hand held bottle was not working or something was messed up on it and I kept examining to see WTF! I just couldn't seem to get water out of the top, like it was plugged or something. At one point we stopped at an unmanned aid station and I needed more water so I unscrewed the top and looked underneath the lid. Ohh, no wonder, I told Molly. Look at this, as I showed her the lid. The water had frozen under the lid and was like slush! Yes, it was still cold out and the damn water bottle had started to freeze over, and enough so that it froze the bottom of the lid and that's why I could not get water out of it. I banged the lid on the table and the ice/slush came out, refilled the bottle and off we went with a great working water bottle. Finally we were approaching the end of lap 4 and I told Molly I had to use the bathroom and I needed to sit down and stretch my quads at the station.

Lap 4 completed, 25 hours 6 mins @ mile 87.52.

After a couple of mins we were back on the road and the Sun was shinning and feeling good with a little warmth. It was actually quite a bit warmer this morning and I knew I wanted to keep moving so I would not be in the "heat" after all that cold. By this time I was back at the last decent of Biatch Hill and stated to go down, we had a couple of run times leading up to the Hill which was nice as this meant I had totally made it through the night and I was still able to run a little. As we went down hill Bill had approached and was checking on me and Molly had said she was going to go to the RV and get some food being as I had not eaten a while and I still needed energy for about 8 more miles. She said she would be back in a few minutes and it was my job to keep moving down the hill and being as I was awake I was okay by myself.

As I was walking alone I just started thinking about how far I come since yesterday at 7am and all the elements that I went through. I was looking around and thinking, Holy Shit, I can't believe I am doing this. I noticed that with every step I could feel my whole body pounding, the vibrations of every foot step running up my leg. My shoulders were sore and achy, my feet achy, my body just hurt but in a different way from pain, it just hurt. I remember the time when Antonette and I were running Headlands 50miler and at one point she started to cry and I asked how she was and she said everything hurt, even her ear lobes, just everything, this was the exact same thing she described, I knew what she meant. I was a pretty emotional moment, I was over whelmed with emotion and I just started to tear and cry. I was happy, proud, hurting, and mostly for those few moments I felt helpless because after all that have done and experienced over the last 25 hours, Dez had gone through and is still going though so much more (if your new to my blog, Dez was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in Oct). I could only think about her as I walked with every step and although crying I knew I still had to be strong for her. I saw Molly and Bill driving back up the hill and I tried to compose myself and I was okay for a short time. Molly jumped back on the course with me and I guess I had not done a good job composing myself as she gave me a little pat on the back and of course this was the consoling I guess I needed because I started to tear/cry even more. She reminded me of how great I was doing and offered me crackers which I really didn't even want but I took one and next thing I know I ate the whole package! By the we were coming up on the aid station at the RV and I was not going to stop just a quick grab of some snacks and water and off I went to the turn around. Bill was waiting at the turn point and soon it time to High-Five that damn ass sign I had passed 4 other times! Once I made the turn around it was a nice little downhill slope back to the RV where Dez, Tim (who finished and won the overall in 20 hrs 17 mins and Catherine) were still all standing outside by the road and cheering me on. I grabbed some more snack, told Dez when to expect me at the finish and off I went to tackle the last of the Biatch Hill!!

As I started back up the hill I was in a good walking pace and feeling much better than hours past. Just before my turn around there was another runner ahead of me heading back up the hill, he was about 15 mins ahead and walking pretty slow. I remember Tim telling me I needed to catch him but my mind was in no place to chase anyone down, just finishing was the main focus. As Molly and I continued on the hill I could no longer see the guy ahead of me so I happened to notice my watch and time and based on my pace and my distance to finish I was going to finish after 29 hours. Hummm, that just didn't sit right in my mind and I wanted to be under 29 so at I started to walk a little faster trying to calculate how fast i needed to go to break 29 but it was taking me too much effort to do so, so when I caught up to Bill, who was now on mobile crewing duties till the finish line, I asked him what my pace needed to be to break 29 hours. He had replied and said he thought my pace was too slow and I wouldn't be able to. As I passed him, I raised my hands in the air and yelled, Come On!!! What's the pace? As he pulled up next to us he said he would drive a little farther ahead and figure it out and let me know. He drove about 1/4 mile ahead, just before Biatch Hill started to get really steep. By this time it clicked in my head, GAME ON!!! I was gonna break 29 hours and it was going to start with this freakn' ass hill! I kicked it in gear and went into super power walking mode!! I started attacking the hill and walking as fast as I could, I knew that on this hill you can lose time and I was not going to give it any more than so now it was turn to take some back. I quickly caught up to Bill and he yelled out I needed 17/min pace to just break 29 hours, I was still over 4 miles out. I said Okay and kept walking as fast I could. Arms pumping. Breathing out hard with ever other step. I heard Molly pass Bill and she said she couldn't keep up with me! I had just done a Big B to my pacer, I dropped her at mile 96. I didn't bother to look back to see how far she was but I tried to go faster and harder to get more space between us, I knew she would catch me once at the top but I wanted to get up that damn hill for the last time. Finally, I made it to the top and I turned around to see where Molly was and she was not too far behind. She pulled up next to me and then we started to run. I told her I was going to try and run 4/1's and although it was not a true 4/1 it was close! As we approached Bill again, who was keeping track of the pace said I was running way too fast and way ahead of breaking 29 hours, he said I covered that last mile, 97, at a 12 min pace and now only needed like 21 min miles to break 29. I said thank you again as I passed and I kept running as much as I could. I had also asked Bill to drive back down to the RV area and tell Dez she needed to get to the finish line because I was way ahead of the finish time I had told her or she would miss me. A couple of times I would glance at my garmin and see 11-13 min avg pace so I knew I was doing good and approaching mile 98 I was about 15 mins ahead of 29 hours but now I quickly calculated what I needed to break 28:45!! About this time Dez passed me and I gave her a quick smile and way and said see you in a few minutes, so I kept running!

As the last mile approached and on a walking breaking, Molly stopped me and said that this was it for her. She was done and I didn't need her anymore, it was all mine to take to the finish. I said, no you have to keep running, she said no, you've got this and I will see you at the finish line, this is all yours! I gave her a big hug, big smiles and off I went. As she and Bill drove past they pulled up just a little ahead of me and waited to keep an eye on me. I ran as much as I could and finally they said, We'll see you at the finish! and drove off.

I actually hit 100 miles on my Garmin before the actual finish line and was pretty happy about that but it was not the finish line, I had about 1/2 mile to go. I ran as much as possible and kept looking at the time. As I rounded the corner I could see the finish line, the trucks and the aid station, I never caught or saw the guy in front me from way back when, but if I had I would have tried to run him down. I ran up the last little small incline and I could see the clock and it was ticking!!! I saw Joyce with her clip board and her watch and waving me in and I looked at the clock and picked up the pace the last 50 yards crossing the finish line at 28 hours 42 mins, 58 seconds!! I had finished!!!!! Dez was standing right there by the line and I ran straight to her with a big hug/embrace and yes, tears. Tears of accomplishment, Tears of Happiness, Tears of Success! It was a great moment as I got my 100 belt buckle. I gave Molly another hug and thanked her and Bill several more times!

What an epic adventure! I am so lucky to have had a great pacers/friends Izaac, Antonette and Molly! They all had a part in dealing with me on the course at very different times. The weather was truly crazy, so much so that it caused others to drop. I later learned that at night when Antonette finished her pacing at the back aid station it was 18*!!!! I knew it was cold but I had no idea it was that cold and I am glad I didn't know because it could have played with my mind. I also finally realized that any race with Molly Sheridan is an adventure as she bring the best in all cases of weather so I shouldn't be surprised it snow, was 18* and sunny warm the next morning! haha! Love you Molly! I wouldn't have it any other way than the way this race went down. I give a HUGE BIG LOVE YOU to Dez for being out there all night and worrying about me, at one time I didn't want to go in the RV because I didn't want her seeing what I looked like because I am sure it was not a pretty site and that just makes loved ones worry more, again, I love you.

I will talk more about tid bits of things over the next few posts and other memories and stories I will hear about from Antonette and Molly and fun sleep walking episodes! Until then.. thanks so much for reading my recap and sorry it took just about as long to write it as it did to run it! ha!



Speed Racer said...

Riveting. Amazing.

In my experience, there is nothing, but nothing, but NOTHING more draining than extreme cold. You are my personal hero for finishing so strong.


SWTrigal said...

Wow JT! You are awesome and what an accomplishment! I just did a 50k and cannot IMAGINE running 100 miles under any conditions! So happy for you -congrats!

S. Baboo said...

Great job JT! You really pulled it out in the darkest hours and that's what it's all about. Now you know what it's like to make it through until morning. Great job also on taking care of your feet. I didn't read anything about terrible blistering, which I experienced during my first 100.

Formulaic said...

Awesome report. Man, you almost had me in tears with your report.

You big wimp!

Awesome job out there. Can't believe you pulled a Baboo!

You the MAN!