Boy. That one was a tough one to let go of. In the week before the race, my son was sick for a couple of days with a nasty stomach bug and I had a creeping dread that this would be what some people call a race killer. The above photo was taken as my compatriot David Jared (Mr., Coach to you) charged down the boardwalk, after yelling at this poor guy with a camera, at the end of our first 25 mile loop at Huntsville State Park. The sky had just cleared and instead of the humid, dreary woods we had just spent many hours running through we were now graced with the blue skies and the last mile our loop. These would be the last blue skies we saw for the rest of the race.
David and I have been running friends for a few years and when he mentioned he might be in for the Rocky 100K this year, I registered for the February race the same day. I hadn’t really spent a lot of time running with David in the past because he was so much faster than me I was usually running far behind him. Oh how the tables have turned. I was going into this race with the full intention of finishing and keeping up with David, maybe even dropping him if conditions were right. I had put together a solid training block since my 50 mile debut at Wild Hare with a particularly heavy week or two around the winter holidays and was confident in my fitness and speed. I had my eye on a strong mid pack finish and knew it was within reach.
We drove in to Huntsville on Friday afternoon and went to the state park to pick up our packets. Shirts were LS and looked good, I got the LS w/hood and love it. We walked around a little bit and checked out the start/finish line, found the DDR tent for in the morning and then connected up with Ben in Huntsville for dinner. Ben will swear he doesn’t give a shit but pre-race is usually Chili’s or pizza, we opted for Chili’s this time and turned in early. We were in a motel that opened out onto the parking lot and crashed early.
3:50 am, David’s alarm goes off. 4:00 am, my alarm, and David’s go off. I get up. 4:10 am, David’s alarm goes off. I start getting coffee and a protein shake. 4:20 am, David’s alarm goes off. I take care of…business, and start getting dressed. 4:30 am, David’s alarm goes off. I’m piddling around and getting set for the day. 4:40 am, David’s alarm goes off. David finally gets up and starts to get ready. Longest alarm ever!
We got to the park a little after the 100M start at 6 and juggled around for a better parking spot since we didn’t figure walking to the car after our 100K was a fun idea. The DDR tent was right by the start and we dropped stuff off, said good morning to Kenny and Mike and got last minute things taken care of. I walked over to say good morning to Kyle at the timing area and made sure that I had everything I needed with me for the start. We were looking at 25 mile loops and I had packed most of what I needed in my UD hydration vest, the most popular colorway too from the looks of the 5 or 6 that I saw throughout the day. Could be that it was on clearance a few months ago on Running Warehouse…
Our race started at 7 and it was bright enough not to need a light. I was carrying my Nathan Zephyr Fire 350 instead of the headlamp I’d used previously and have found that I prefer carrying a flashlight to wearing a headlamp if I can help it. We walked through the first couple hundred yards before we started running at a slow/moderate pace along with the people around us.
We both felt really strong for most of the day, I was mixing in a lot more running than I had during my 50 miler a few months prior and things were on track for a 15-16 hour finish. At the end of the first loop, I changed out my tops and bottoms and socks and started to feel the first rumblings of what would end my race early. We stopped at The Gate and were moving well until a few miles later when David mentioned his kidneys. At that point my guts were pretty unhappy and we went through Damnation after stopping so David could try some biosalts to see if it would help.
1.5 miles out of the aid station, David sat down on the side of the trail to figure out if he wanted to tax his kidneys and I tried to find a tree to puke behind. Making the tough call, we turned around and hiked back in. We ran into Rolando and Jessie pacing Kenny and Mike, told them what was up and then kept pushing to the aid station. When they saw us coming back in, Ray and Liz both gave us that look and they knew we weren’t in good shape. Turns out, you can’t get a ride from Damnation so we had to hike another 3 miles to the Nature Center where Ben met us, he said I sounded drunk.
I started shaking and got into David’s car while they grabbed our stuff and we headed back to the hotel to shower and get on the road. As soon as we pulled up to the hotel, I jumped out of the car and puked in the parking lot, this was the beginning of a very long 3.5 hours…
David drove us back to the Metroplex, pulling over 8 times to accommodate my ailing stomach and when we finally made it home, Kristi got me settled in the guest room and I spent the next 24 hours living off of ginger ale.
This morning, I finally got out for a shakeout run and things felt pretty back to normal. I was sore longer this time because I was unable to take in fluids or calories for the last 3 hour stretch of the race and the next 24 hours after and I had a pretty wicked blister under my big toenail on the left side that has finally settled down.
Will I go for Rocky again? Probably not. I’ve got my sights set on the Wild Canyon Ultra at Caprock Canyon and before that, in a couple of weeks, the Tinajas 50K that I ran with Kristin last year for her first 50K. I’d like to knock a couple of hours off that time this go round!