I'm not sure who still reads this but I figured that I would give things a few days to clear up before writing any report from my race on Saturday now I look down and holly crap is this a long report. Oh well maybe it will help me to remember things in the future.
Once upon a time there was a boy named..... okay that isn't going to work.
So the race started right on time at 7. I started my day at the end of the pack right where I wanted to be and watched 160 people head into the woods in front of me. I was with Bob, Red and Maria and having a good time breaking some cement off my legs. There really wasn't much talking going on at first and even after a mile it wasn't up to the normal communications so I had to interject the now normal "So speaking of sex" which seemed to loosen everyone up a bit. After about two miles we reached Otawa Point and Melissa was waiting for me. She was happy to see that we were taking it easy and we all just seemed to settle into one conversation after another. I think it was about 4 miles into the run when some of the runners around us took offense to the conversation and one woman even yelled back "language". I found it humorous as we had been discussing everything from Dr Ruth and onion rings to well you can imagine and when Red had somehow directed the conversation to the unnecessary circumcision of pubescent girls in Africa all of a sudden our language was offensive. So like any group of katty school children it just seemed to drive the conversation back toward the size of the male anatomy of all the runners who were faster then me.
A bit earlier in the run when everyone was talking about all those crazy fast guys in front of me I figured that I would help out my ego some by making a suggestion that maybe they can run a little faster because they don't have as much "manhood" to get in the way. This then lead to a discussion that the really slow runners may have been hampered by the need to deal with keeping a cadence with three legs instead of two. In hindsight this seems pretty funny with the way I finished. The girls all seemed to get a kick out of it so I even went as far as to say that I would to "cup check" some of the first runners on the way back as a way to verify this. So for those of you that have never gotten to spend a long run with our groups you have missed some very interesting times. What fun would it be if we were to just run so fast that no one could talk.
Well somewhere close to Snowville our group was once again separated even though I'm not sure how/when. It became Maria, Melissa and I with various other runners who seemed to use us for a pick me up as they dropped back or came up (mostly dropping back as we started DFL). I didn't spend any time at the aid stations and instead just walked/hydrated/ate while others stopped. We moved good and in no time we were on our way to the Boston Store. The first place runner passed us as we headed down the hill toward boston and just then we heard the train whistle. This is the first time I had ever been passed prior to boston store by return runners which was a good sign.
Kam passed us as we were leaving the woods and I then realized that Mark was stopped on the other side of the train. He looked pretty unhappy when the train cleared but it gave us a good story at Boston as they were telling us about Kam outrunning the train by only 20-30 yards by some accounts.... Crazy...
We headed toward pine lane and everything seemed good. Nothing new until just before the turn around my left leg started to twitch as if a cramp was forming. We spent a little longer at Pine Lane then planned and I had them refill my Camel Back as it was empty (as planned) so I took a couple s caps and for some dumb reason drank some Coke. The girls were done with the bathroom and we were out again. We were almost spot on 3:30 as planned at the half. A full 30 minutes slower then my first Buckeye 50k and it was 10 degrees cooler and I am in far better shape now.
Well as we entered the pines on the way back I started to feel some cramping in my quads so I took it slower then normal (this is normally where I pick it up and move on out). Maria who is normally my counterpart through this section took off like we always do while I held back and conserved. This would be the last I would see of Maria who went on for a PR. We kept running for most of the downhills and flats to the Boston Store. I had really started to feel my quads and I was pretty sure it was dehydration but maybe it was just not eating enough. So the aid workers at boston store helped me out with some watermelon (covered in salt) and an orange. In hindsight I should have eaten a lot more here. I am always overly worried about my stomach but worrying too much to eat pretty much ended the good part of my day. I headed out out into untested territory. This was the furthest I had ever made it in a buckeye and the longest I have ever gone in any race without puking or self imploding. We hit the up hill that takes you almost a full 3/4 of a mile to the piano keys and this is where everything hit me. The constant uphill had my left quad cramp up. I could watch my entire leg pulse with each step. Melissa told me I needed to get moving and running or it would get worse so I tried to run some of the flatter section near the top of the stairs. Then we started down the stairs and my legs really stopped cooperating. On the next uphill heading back toward Boston Mills Rd it really got bad. I couldn't get my left quad to release and stopped a couple of times on my way up the hill to try and get it to release so I could at least walk normally. When we finally got up to the top of the hill at the point when you come out into the driveway for the roadwork building on Boston Mills I sat down on a large rock and told Melissa for the first time of the day that I was done. I believe here words were "what the fuck... we are kinda in the middle here it's not like there is someone to give you a ride". Thinking back I would have never quit here but it was just the response that came out of my mouth when she started trying to get me moving. So we got going on the trails and at this point had made it over 20 miles in maybe 4-1/2 hours. I was able to get a little more running in off and on on the downhills including the paved downhill going down to Blue Hen Falls. The problem was the uphill after. This is when things begin to get cloudy and blur together. every uphill from here on out included stops to hold on to trees. At one point my heartrate seemed to be racing so fast that I could feel it in my temples and it wouldn't drop back down. I don't think there is any way to overstate how many times Melissa should have just left me. I tried everything. I got out my ipod, the crutch I have used to get me through hard times while training and the f'n think didn't work. Apparently I was sweating so much that when I turned it on the rocker switches had moisture in them which would randomly cause it to turn of and then I couldn't get it on for a few minutes etc. At some point it started working but was playing one of my daughters songs and I couldn't get it to switch playlists. Well at least it drove me crazy while walking. The last 11 miles of this race would end up taking me the same 4-1/2 hours as the initial 20. We were being passed by people and about a half mile from Snowville some guy passed us as Melissa was really letting me have it. She didn't know if she should push me more and risk having me just shut down or take it easy and try to talk me into a better mood for most of this section but just as this guy was coming past it she really let it fly. Apparently he reported some of the incident at the Snowville aid station which really got a laugh and even got Tara to head back up the trail looking for us. Seeing her come bouncing up the trail with her ponytails was a good sight and I was really encouraged to see that her and Bill had waited at Snowville and wanted to see me get through this. I think everyone knew that even if I had wanted to quit there was no way for me to do it with Bill standing there giving me hell. I will omit some of my comments to him at this point as they weren't so kind and I really do appreciate all of them being there for me. This was the first time that I could try to fix what was wrong. I ate everything I could at this aid station and they even filled a bag full to take with me on the trail. I sat down while my water was refilled (I know this is bad but Bill took a picture and it was immediately on facebook with a caption "will he finish?". On my way out I heard one of the aid station volunteers ask a question and then heard Bill say "He will finish now". I'm not sure if they knew I could still hear them but Bill was right.
I thought I was walking pretty good at this point but then a local personal trainer caught up to me who was working toward his second finish at the summer Buckeye I believe. He's not a man of many words (or maybe no words) but when I asked if he wanted to get buy he indicated that our pace was fine. I picked it up a little and the three of us walked for 5-10 minutes together until the next uphill. At that point he headed around me and moved on. Melissa gave me a look that could kill and followed it up with a "come on". Like I said most of this is a blur but for some reason this part is clear in my memory. I looked at her and told her " I just got passed in a foot race by ________" and something about nothing she could ever say should motivate me more then what just happened. Well one way or another I made it to the finish. I actually stopped and waited for a man to pass me before heading into the driveway for the finish because at that point I didn't care enough to have my ego act like I was so much faster. I got to the finish and stopped to see the last three digits on the clock read 911. It was enough to give a little levity to the situation and I just stopped. Lloyd was taking the tag off my number and someone yelled "are you going to cross the finish line?". I looked down and realized I was about a foot short. I think I took a step and then walked over to the pavilion. I don't remember who all was there but I have received many emails from individuals who where there to help. Pizza and water showed up in front of me and I just shut down. In a way that is all me I even found time to make a comment about getting the same fuckin metal as Mark Godale and Kam (as Mark stood there supporting the runners coming in hours after him). I made eye contact with him after my statement to try and let him know that it was not meant personally and later exchanged emails.
So in retrospect here goes. I received emails from people who were at a lose at what to say as I seemed so discouraged even in my successful completion of an endurance race that has kicked my ass on multiple occasions. To them, I am still discouraged and upset. I try to be successful at everything I do in life and unfortunately most of the time I have measured that success by comparing it to others. In comparison I was bib number 151 out of 167 and finished 152 out of 154 finishers. At the finish line this is where what little of my mind that was left was at. In retrospect there are many people who would say I finished 152 not out of 167 but out of the smallest portion of the population who could even be so strong as to attempt to run 50k on the Buckeye Trail. There are always ways to make a finish out to be more or less then it is. I guess it is just up to the person measuring. So here is my take for my blog.
I was out to finish a 50k that I started working toward 5 months after I started running. I was naive and had no idea of the journey which would lead me to today. If it wasn't for this journey I would never have met such a great group of people including the one who helped me to finally complete it. Out of the emails and calls I received after the race over 50% of them came from people who I have met as a direct result of the Buckeye. So the journey isn't done it's just moving on. At this point I don't have plans to ever again run the summer buckeye 50k. I will definitely run the training runs as these have always been my favorite part. Maybe my place in this grand journey is meant more to help others through then to do it myself. Maybe I was to offer levity and companionship for the other people who trained and finished so well on Saturday.
So 2-1/2 years after starting running for the first time in my life, 7 years after reaching my maximum weight of 250+lbs and 2 years after attempting to complete a 50k trail run this part of the story is done :)
Oh and to the runners reading this. See you out there training for the fall marathons. I think I'm going to try something new this year and maybe I can hit the trifecta on the half marathon distance... Buckeye 1/2, Akron 1/2, Towpath 1/2. Then of course there is the Buckeye Winter 50k....... the 30k option obviously.
3 weeks ago