I'm layed-up on the sofa, foot elevated, looking down at my swollen right ankle, writing this email. I'll spare you all the details of the race...just some highlights. This was my most challenging 100 miler thus far.
First off, I need to say thanks to Orval (father-in-law) and Angela (cousin's girlfriend) for supporting me during the race. I ask for them to stay up all night in wet/windy/cold conditions, and only to support me for a mere few minutes at a time. Angela then had to endure (all at night) a slow slog through the same conditions with a guy who was moaning and groaning (and cursing) for 12 hours. Words can't express my gratitude to the both of you for these sacrifices.
The first 60 miles went by relatively well. I was fueling and drinking properly and taking the necessary electrolyte caps on schedule. It was raining about 90% of the time, albeit the first few miles on the road out of Williams. I had my pace under control....not running the downhills too hard and walking most of the uphills. From miles 60-65, I noticed that my right ankle was a little painful attempting to run downhill....but the pain wasn't alarming. In addition, just around mile 60, my core body temperature dropped and I became cold. This was a result of climbing in elevation, the temperature dropped and the wind and rain increased in intensity. I was able to borrow a light weight shell from a generous volunteer at the 60 mile aid station but it only helped slightly. One mile from the 65 mile aid station, a woman whom I'd never met, stopped her car as I was hiking up the gravel road and offered a garbage bag to put over my upper body. I thanked her and my friend Trevor (we were running together at this stage in the race) made a make-shift coat - as my hands were worthless due to the cold.
I arrived at the 65 mile aid station - exposed on a ridge on Dutchman Peak - shivering violently and in about 5th place. The wind and rain were blowing from all directions. Orval and Angela were there waiting for me with reassurance and calming voices (it sure is nice to have a crew in such conditions). I was able to get dry clothes on with help of Angela and Orval as I huddled around a propane heater. I stayed here for about 15-20 minutes (maybe even longer)...making sure I got my core body temperature up. I tried to eat some food but was feeling pretty nauseous at this point.
This was the start of pacing duty for Angela. It sure was nice to have her with me during the last 35 miles. As she and I left the aid station, the pain in my right ankle was slowly increasing. As we neared the Glade Creek Aid Station at mile 78, I had been relegated to walking the past number of miles on much of the downhills and muster only running for 3-5 minutes on level stretches before needing to take a break from the pain. This is where my spirits took the first nose dive as I was passed by at least 10 runners. There was nothing I could do as this pain persisted throughout the rest of the race. I was afraid to take any pain medications to prevent any kidney issues later on in the race or after.
The climb up to Wagner Peak was another low point. The trail was steep. The temperature dropped. I became cold again. And yes, it was still spitting rain. I hadn't been able to eat much of anything since Glade Creek as nausea episodes would wax and wane. It was during this stretch that my emotions spilled out on the trail. It was at this moment that I thought I wouldn't finish. But getting to the short out and back section to the summit of Wagner Peak, my spirits lifted as I noticed that I hadn't lost much ground to some of the runners that blew passed me between Dutchman Peak (mile 65) and Glade Creek (mile 78).
The downhill from the top of Wagner Peak to the finish was slow and painful. I hiked all the way down to the Road 2060 Aid Station. I was then able to muster a fast hike on this gravel road with a few minutes of running. A last ditch effort was made of "running" about 75% of the last 4 miles to the finish. Again, cold and wet conditions as a torrential rain spell hit Angela and I. So much for a dry finish! I finished in 26hrs and change.
I want to thank all of the volunteers who came out for this inaugural race. The aid stations were well-manned and stocked. They anticipated what the runner needed. The course was well marked - except on a few sections the spacing of the ribbons was a little far.
Lastly, to my #1 fan-base, my family. The support they provide makes this all possible.