Ok. So where was I? (I didn't think it would take me this long to get to the 2nd half of the report!)
So, I had just come through the halfway point in 3:29. Ellie reminded me that I was way out in front of my 8-hour splits, but I just didn't feel like I was pushing too hard. So, I stuck with it.
The four mile stretch from New Fane back to Mauthe was probably run a bit faster than I should have. I continued to put down the calories via CarboPro and nuun, and was pleasantly surprised to see I had about 16 minutes on Tony (2nd place) and about 30 minutes on Logan (3rd). After seeing them it was great to see the rest of the runners coming through. Plenty of 'way to go!' and 'looking strong''s were exchanged.
Just north of the Mauthe Lake shelter, I passed Dan, who was smiling as always. And about a mile down the trail, just before getting back to Mauthe, I saw Matt and Jennifer. All were in good spirits...although my spirits were waning a bit. My stomach wasn't quite right. I think it was the increased pace and a full belly that wasn't happy. I ran the segment from Mauthe to New Fane in 36:05, and the return was 36:02. Maybe a minute too fast.
Coming in to Mauthe, I knew that this was the crux of the run. I would be leaving Mauthe and then running 7 miles back to Butler--and these miles would now be trail miles beyond a distance I've ever run on the trails! I have only done a 50k...and by the time I'm through this segment, I'll be at Mile 37. Dan had given me advice and warned me about this section too. So, my plan was a full bottle and a conservative effort to save myself for the 'racing' left in the last 13 miles.
Something was wrong though. I got to the Aid Station and immediately downed two cups of water. I didn't take anything else in, and even refused the water bottle from Ellie upon leaving Mauthe.
|Smiling...and about to Puke|
This section was definitely the low point. I ran it a full 2 minutes per mile slower than I did on the way out, and I was in trouble. I was just...tired. I honestly thought about laying down for a bit on the side of the trail! If not for the oncoming traffic...I might have.
So, an hour and 11 minutes later, I'm finally coming back in to Butler Lake. 37 down. I'm exhausted, tired, almost dealing with tunnel vision...and the one thought in my mind is DON'T WIPE OUT WHEN COMING DOWN THE STEPS!
At Butler, I had a great crew there. Not only Ellie and my parents and my kids, but also a couple friends and their kids came out too! I'm very lucky...I only wish I had remembered some of them were there after the game--I had forgotten they were there until looking at the photos of the day!
|The Crew. Nice poses, boys!|
|At Butler Lake, using my kids' heads to hold myself up. Low Point captured in a photo!|
As soon as I got to the table at Butler Lake, I started eating. I slammed two cups of Mountain Dew, then two cups of Coke, then a wedge of turkey sandwich (delicious!!), then a wedge of PBJ. This race was definitely including some firsts. I've never been that tired during a run, and up until this aid station, I had never eaten solid foods during a race. As I left the aid station, I took a bottle from Ellie and slowly made my way back up the stairs. "Let's turn this thing around," I thought to myself.
Making my way across the open fields just north of Butler, I was surprised at how quickly I was doing better. It's about a mile before the trail re-enters the woods, and by the time I was back in the woods, I was able to move and run at what felt like an honest effort.
|Mile 40...moving okay again!|
I did my best to keep it honest as I made my way up and over the highest point of the course, Parnell. Coming down the other side...I did my best to keep my shoes rubber-side-down and not wipe out. Man...this course is no joke!
At Mile 43, I was at Hwy 67. 7 miles to go! Looking at the aid station, nothing was appealing. I think I had a drink or two of Coke, and then just decided to get going. The volunteers were wrapping up some sweet turkey and avocado sliders, but I guess I was just done--beyond food by this point. So, I took a bottle with some CarboPro and nuun and headed out. 7 miles to go!
Those last 7 miles were great. I was not talkative at all, but it was nice to share the trail with some of the 50k runners, and simply enjoy what I think was the best day of the entire year, let alone the best day of the fall season!
Finally, on to the pavement, and then down the finishing stretch. About 30 yards from the finish, I stopped running. I just looked ahead and thought about what I had accomplished. I also wanted my kids to run towards me, so that we could run in together. I was seeing a lot of familiar faces, but hadn't seen my kids or wife. Suddenly, someone yelled "Get going!" and I realized it was, in fact, pretty odd for me to stop this far from the finish line. So I started jogging it in again, and then, right in front of me, were Estelle and Edwin. What an incredible moment.
|Best. Finish. Ever.|
|My AMAZING Crew Chief and my pacers from Mile 49.9 to the finish.|
|Selfie from the Ditch with Pops.|