Part IV – What I Learned

I slept for about 10 minutes and then I heard Julie’s voice. She had finished the race and was so excited. Normally I’m there for her at the end cheering her in and this time I’m laying face down in a tent under blankets with twenty miles left to go. I definitely had the thought of dropping out right then and there so we could all call it a day and go to sleep.

But after thinking about it a little, how I’d encouraged Julie, how’d I’d quit last year, and how I’d battled this long with all the stomach issues, I knew I had to keep going. So I got dry socks, cleaned up my feet, got on my warm clothes and trash bag, and headed back into the darkness of the early morning.

It was 5:15 am when I started and the cutoff for leaving for the last loop was 6 am so I didn’t have too much time. I knew that I had to maintain at least 20 minute mile pace if I was going to make the cut off. I also needed to keep moving to stay warm. So I started with a slow shuffle and kept it going most of the way. I hit a low point on the Damnation loop again but got going again when someone started catching me. I tried to jog all the downhills and flats to delay his passing me and eventually, I pulled away from him.

At that point I was over 90 miles in and had gained ground on the cutoff time. My confidence was rising and I kept on with the pattern of jogging the flat and downhill sections. I probably passed over 50 people in the last lap and I came in with my dad jogging beside me in just under 28 hours (27:56) to complete the Rocky Raccoon 100 miler.

What an amazing experience! It’s a life event that I am very glad to have been fortunate enough to have and I am very thankful that everything has worked out the way it has so I get to feel the way I do. At times I hated running, I hated ultras, and I was downright miserable. They were probably some of the lower points in my life that I can recall. But I kept going. I somehow convinced myself mentally that it was worth it and that I could do it and it actually worked. It didn’t work out how I’d originally hoped but I made it and that is what is important to me.

Having my dad there as crew and having my wife there running alongside me was also very special. My dad was so helpful and wanted nothing more than to be everything we could have wanted and more. He was always there and always willing to help with whatever we asked. When we weren’t there he was in the tent helping others or catching a brief shuteye in the tent or car. I’m not sure either of us would have made it without him being there and I know Julie and I were both proud to finish with him there waiting for us. He even came out for the last few minutes of my run into the finish.

I am also very humbled. While I cleaned up in Marathon Madness prior to this race finishing anywhere from first to seventh, I was struggling to finish this race by the cutoff time. So part of me was initially a bit embarrassed but as I’ve thought about it, the fact that I pushed through with all the stomach problems and actually got as low as I did and still finished 100 miles means a lot to me and I’m very happy with outcome, regardless of the time and place.

Of course I’ve already begun to think about how I can do it better and what I’ll do next but out of all the things we’ve done over the years with hiking, biking, working, and adventuring, this one has to rank up pretty high on the life impact scale. I feel very powerful, driven, and confident and I feel so excited about life and all that I can do with it. It’s really an awesome ride, even if at times it seems like madness.

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