Part III – The Long Night

As I woke up in the tent on Saturday afternoon after almost 3 hours of sleep my first thought was about my stomach. It wasn’t hurting nearly as bad and wasn’t bloated anymore. I ate some crackers, no problems. I drank some Gatorade, it felt pretty normal. I took some Ibuprofen and again, no upset stomach. I started having hope again.

I lay in the tent and stretched out my legs and realized that I actually felt pretty good. I began thinking about a plan for finishing the race. I was no longer thinking about racing but instead, was focused on how I could finish in the 30 hour time limit. I was now about 11 hours into the race and 40 miles in. That left me with 19 hours for the last 60 miles and somehow, it seemed very doable at that moment.

I got myself ready with dry socks and my backup shoes. I got on a clean shirt and lubed up. I then realized that Julie should be coming in soon from her third lap. So I hung around the aid station for 15 minutes waiting. As I began heading out, she came in and I told her to hurry up and that I’d do her 4thlap with her. I was feeling great and ready to go.

She was having a tougher time at that point and took over an hour to catch me but we stuck together for the entire loop. I was feeling good and it was nice to be the person helping rather than hurting for a change. I would run when she was up for it and walk when she needed it. When she started talking about dropping out, I tried to help without telling her what to do. The only thing I said with major emphasis was that before she quit, she would at least lay down and rest for awhile before handing in her timing chip.

We finished the lap and both went back to the tent. It was getting cold and we snuggled together, all dirty and sweaty from having just finished 140 miles combined together. I stayed for a little over half an hour and then took off. I was ready to make up some time and thought that if I could run sub 4 hours for each of the last two laps, that I could still be under 24 hours.

I felt good for the first 6 miles or so and then the normal aches in my knees and the overall tiredness set in. I did a lot more walking the latter part of the fourth lap and at the 76 mile aid station I stopped to try and get warm.

Somehow I had screwed up again. Last year I ultimately gave up after getting too cold on my fourth lap. But last year it got down to 19 degrees. This year it was in the mid to high 40’s and I still found myself shivering near the end of my fourth lap. I sat by the heater, they gave me a blanket and a trash bag, they gave me hot tea. Nothing was working. The cold was deep in me and I couldn’t help but shiver.

Then another runner at the aid station that had a friend crewing for him offered me his jacket. It was a really warm one and along with a trash bag overtop to hold in my body heat I left the aid station. Twice I turned back thinking about trying to call my dad to either come get me or to bring me all my clothes. But instead, I went with the guys that gave me the coat and a couple girls that were leaving at the same time. I was able to shuffle along with them for the remaining four miles of lap four back to home base and back to the warm tent.

At that point it was back to decision making time. Do I go on? How much rest do I need? What is my plan? How much time do I have left? And while the answers to these questions may seem easy and questions that could be answered simply and rationally, at that point in the day, 23 hours into the race, they were anything but easy.

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