I'm not quite sure what happened. You see I had this humongous 26 page race report wrote up. That took me a timed 41 minutes and change to read through. I had packed everything from my past experiences with the 100 mile distance into that report. It took me 10 friggin days to write. 10 DAYS!!! I'm telling you it was filled with history, action, adventure, comedy you name it. If it had anything to do with ultrarunning it was in there.
Somewhere along the way though. Between finishing and transferring it to my blog something happened. Whether it was the length of my report. Which I was dreading having to type into the computer. Followed by all the editing I would have to do. To make it just right. Or whether it was something I rediscovered about myself. During this whole process of putting all my emotions I had for this particular distance onto paper I'm not sure.
So I decided to forgo the lengthy blow by blow version and replace it with. Basically a few thoughts about the race and a lot of well deserved thank yous.
First and foremost. I want to give thanks to the one major component that was key to my success this time around. My crew. More specifically my wife Jessica. Without her support over the last several years. Her believing in me. Believing that I could do what a lot of people thought I couldn't. Believing I had in me what a lot of people thought I didn't...
She has been there with me through it all. There when I've won and there when I had fallen well short of my goals. Most importantly she was there both times I failed at the 100 mile distance. She more than anyone knows what I've been through. There were times when I wasn't much fun to be around and made life very difficult for everyone around me. While I selfishly chased after this finish line. Selflessly though she has remained by my side and been my rock. For that I can never love you enough. Thanks for sticking it out.
I also want to thank. My buddy Lee Crane. Brother, you waited on Ryne and I all day. It's hard enough to crew for one runner let alone two. You and Jessica handled both Ryne and I like a couple of professionals. Never once losing your cool. Then you went above and beyond the call of duty and stepped up when we needed you the most.
At mile 81. After being up all day hustling with Jess from aide station to aide station. You happily jumped into action. Lacing up your shoes and guiding Ryne and I through the last dark 20 plus miles. I couldn't have asked more from a crew member. Hopefully one day I will get to return the favor.
Next I want to thank Melcher. For allowing me to sucker him back down here to take another crack at misery. Your the only guy I know with a sense of humor as sick and as twisted as mine. Which in fact was a big part of why we were able to stay together the entire freakin 101.5 miles. Without your comic relief to keep the mood positive I don't finish this race. I'm already looking forward to the shit were gonna get into next year brother.
As for the race itself. There isn't much I remember. Due to the fact that for the better part of 23 hours. My head was locked into a position that didn't allow me to take my eyes off the trail. Here's what I do remember though. There were a lot of damn leaves on the trail. Under all those leaves were a lot of damn rocks. A regular garden of rocks that God decided to plant along the entire length of the trail. There were water crossings, water crossings and YUP! you guessed it more water crossings.
Miles eight through 17 was some of the most un-runable trail I've ever had the experience to run on. At one point I yelled back to Ryne and said. "If the rest of this race is like this section. Then there is no way in HELL I'm going to finish." Luckily for me the rest of the trail was quite tame relatively speaking. "It was what it was." That became the motto for the rest of the day. it was like well, were here we might as well get it done no matter how long it takes. Towards the end of that section. I was rewarded with the only view I got to enjoy the whole day from the top of Sutton Bluff. Overlooking the Black River.
I've got to hand it to Paul, Stewart and the rest of the SLUGS for creating one hell of a monster. It was a lot tougher than I had expected it to be. I imagine a lot of other people thought that too. Which was a contributing factor to having such a low finishing rate. (44%). For the shear technical difficulty of the course alone I would not recommend this race as a first time 100 miler. On the other hand. Eleven of the top 20 finishers, finished there first 100 miler at this race. All I can say is. Just know what your getting yourself into and plan on it being nothing like you expected.
The finish for me didn't play out quite as I had envisioned it would. For years I dreamt about it going down a certain way. That there would be this huge amount of emotion attached with crossing that line. Eight years was a long time to take. To finish a hundred miler. I guess when it comes to your own dreams. There is never a cutoff...I figured because of the length of time that it took me to actually get one done. I'd cross the finish line with tears of joy streaming down my face. That Jess and everyone around her would all be cheering and crying and that it would be one big slobber fest. In contrast it was nowhere near being like that. Instead it was more like...
The last 50 yards Ryne and I were bickering about Lee crossing the finish line with us. There were some cheers. Some smiles. Then we crossed the line. Ryne and I hugged and gave each other a pound. " Like dogs do." Paul handed Ryne his buckle then Me mine. Followed with a handshake and me saying something like," I've waited a long time for this." Then a hug from Jessica. Then I sat down at the picnic table next to Ryne. They asked us how we felt? What we thought of the course? You know the typical stuff. To which we replied with the typical answers. Then we got in the van and drove back to the hotel. The last thing I remember before I fell asleep. Was the feeling of relief.
Looking back on it now. I was happy and still am with my finish. It was a tough race and only five of us finished under 24 hours. I know I probably left an hour and a half out on the course somewhere. Ryne's and my philosophy was better safe than sorry. So we did just that. Played it safe and got the finish in. We never got carried away trying to chase someone down late in the race. We just kept doing our thing. This time around the finish was the most important thing for both he and I.
I want to thank Jeff Browning for giving me solid advice. That stuck with me throughout the race and my training towards it. He'd told me that. "Before you can RUN a 100 miles. You first have to run a 100 miles." Thanks for helping me with keeping it all in perspective buddy. That's solid advice anyone can take to the bank. Considering how Jeff RAN away with the race in 18:39.
Jeff wasn't the only one that gave me advice. I received little bits and pieces of help and encouragement along the way from all of my friends. I would tell them how I felt in the days leading up to the race. In which they would reassure me that, I was normal. That it was O.K. to be scared and nervous. Everyone believed I had it in me. "You can do it." They would tell me. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other and don't stop until they tell you to.
Now that it's over. Now that I've finally gotten that monkey off my back. I think back on all those years I spent racking my brain in. Trying to figure out what the big friggin deal was.Why this was such a mental roadblock for me. For the life of me I can't find a reason.
Everybody said once you finish a hundred miler it would change your whole outlook on life. I don't know about that. I don't feel any different. I learned some things about myself out there but nothing I would consider life changing. To tell you quite honestly. For me there was an eight year build up in this quest for a hundred mile finish. My Holy Grail. When I finally arrived at my destination. I felt, well. Kind of let down.
That emotion I had expected to feel. The joy, the relief, sense of accomplishment, whatever. Just wasn't there. So I suppose I'll keep searching for that feeling I'd hoped to experience with this race. Whether that means Western States or Hardrock or if I need to go and try my luck at a long trail speed record somewhere. Who knows, we'll see. I had a lot left in me at the finish line of this one so the possibilities are endless.
Before I finish up here. I want to real quickly thank everyone involved with this race. Along with my sponsors Salomon and the Great Plains Running Company. For everything they did to get me here and get me through. It goes without saying that. Volunteering and crewing is a selfless job. If it were not for your sacrifices. I don't think that we as runners. Would be able to accomplish the things we do. You offer us a shoulder to lean on when we're tired and food to sustain us when we are hungry. You patch us up when we fall apart and fill our bottles with fluid when we are thirsty. Providing us with inspiration and encouragement along the way. Making us believe that. It is possible to do this thing. This feat of physical endurance and mental tenacity. That a large part of the human population deems impossible... A reality for each and everyone of us.
Thank You, Thank You, Thank You...