“In the event of an ultra, never bring the tent.”
I feel certain that this should have been in Life’s Little Instruction Book, somewhere. It only makes sense. However, I brought the tent. I was officially invested. It is one thing to quit a race, grab your shit and go home; it is entirely another thing to ask 10-15 people to get up, move, help you pack your tent and go home. There was no getting outta this one.
This weekend was the Fortitude 25k/50k, more affectionately known as “Stanky Creek”. It was four laps of literal ups-and-downs and all-arounds.
Here is how it shook out:
Pre-Race: Could not have been happier. Love to see all of my old friends. The weather could not have been any more perfect. Life was good. Everything just peachy.
Lap 1 of 4: Man, I love this feeling. I knew going into this thing that I was going to go out too fast and enjoy what I could, while I could.
Is going full-throttle on the front-end of an ultra-marathon a good idea?
But is it effective?
But does it work for me, personally?
Let’s just get that out there.
It seems as if I have about 3.5-4 hours worth of “Go” in me. After that, I just crap out. It doesn’t matter if I try to pace myself or even walk- I have 3.5 hours from the time the hourglass is turned to get as many miles in as I can because there is a big, honkin thud coming up ahead and when that happens…big boy is done.
At the end of Lap 1, I get to see all my friends in the parking lot. Yay! It is so much fun. I love running, I love everyone. My pores are literally oozing with excitement and my nipples are lactating joy. I couldn’t be happier. I love this shit.
As I am leaving the parking lot aid station it occurs to me:
“Dammit, I meant to grab some salted potatoes (Amanda makes badass salted potatoes. They are magical.) I forgot potatoes and body glide. If there are 2 things I didn’t want to forget, it was potatoes and body glide- I forgot both.”
7.5-ish miles in.
Lap 2 of 4: Man, I’m kinda tired. I still feel good though. I am singing a hybrid between Girl on Fire and Total Eclipse of the Heart. I am just trying to make it through this lap and reach the halfway point in under 4 hours. I am substantially slower but still arguably running. No problems.
I made the lap with time to spare. I can relax a little bit knowing that the wheels can comfortably begin to fall off of my big pear-shaped waddle wagon.
I see my friends again. I don’t think I like them as much as I did 7.5 miles ago. I don’t like anyone or anything quite as much as I did during my first Alicia Keys impersonation. They offer me some food and try to get me fixed up.
I leave the parking lot aid station.
Son-of-a-bitch, I forgot my body glide. Why do I keep forgetting the things that I spent 2 hours looking forward to getting. Crappit.
15-ish miles in.
Lap 3 of 4: Things have begun to get real. My life is no longer a Neil Diamond tune and the wondrous emotions of Widespread Panic concerts past is no longer carrying me as I frolic through seasons of nostalgic emotions.
Like this sucks for real.
These roots have grown exponentially in the past 4 hours. I’m not making this up. This course has changed. I have changed. I am a shell of a human.
I see Brian Williams before the midway aid station. He has run out on the trail to provide me with some company, not encouragement. Brian is good at being real, not nice. When I told him how bad it sucked and how much pain I was in, instead of consoling me, he just agreed. “I know, I have been there. We all have been there and you have too. Just keep moving.”
I thought to myself, “Well, thanks for nothing you sympathetic-less bastard. I am in need of pity, consolation and hugs and the best you have is acknowledgment?”
Waddle waddle boom boom.
Finally, I reach the parking lot at the end of lap 3. My damn friends are still here. Don’t they have places to be? I wanna quit so bad but the people are just hanging around my tent like it’s open to the public or something.
Someone asks what they can get me, I ask for some crystal meth or PCP but no one is carrying (I need new friends). The best I can get is a couple of naproxen, at lease I think it was naproxen. I don’t really care what it was, it worked.
I see my friend, Gavin May, told him that I was tired and that this shit sucked. He asked me, “What did you think you were paying for when you signed up? Quit bitchin. What can I get you?”
I said, “Gimme a goddamn cookie… and some pickle juice….to go.”
An ultra race is one of the few places where it is perfectly acceptable to disrespect every person who is doing their absolute best to help you succeed. It’s really a beautiful thing and creates an odd bond that you really only realize after the event is over and you have some time to sit back and appreciate the effort that people go through to help and support you.
I am off to start lap 4 annnnnndddddd…..
I forgot my damn body glide. I have got the redass from taint to twilight and if I don’t get some relief, Nesbit park is gonna go up in flames by way of my redeye. I am already in a hell that will only be made worse by the shower that awaits me.
Ain’t no turning back now…..and I can’t leave because those bastards are still in my tent. Why did I bring that damn tent?
23-ish miles in
Lap 4 of 4: I have been here before. It’s terribly lonely. It just takes so damn long. I try to run when I can but it’s so pathetic.
Something happened along the way. I am not sure what it was. I am assuming it was the naproxen but suddenly I felt kinda, sorta ok. Let’s not get carried away, I wasn’t going to start clicking off 10minute miles but at least my ultra-waddle was existent.
I knew if I could make it to Brian Williams’ Midway Aid-Station of Apathy I would be ok. The problem was that I did make it there and Brian was nowhere to be found.
“Oh shit”, I thought.
He has to be here somewhere. The last time Brian was not where I expected him to be, he jumped out from under a goddamn wooden bridge and scared me so bad that I still have a painful knot in my chest that hurts when I breath.
I am in no condition for a scare, I thought. This will kill me. I am looking up in the trees and becoming dizzy from the exhaustion and fear that Brian is about to ninja-jump outta of the trees and get a real kick outta giving me my first documented heart attack.
Thankfully, Brian was helping someone else down the trail so I got off easy. We walked for a little bit, enjoyed some conversation and then I was on my way to finish up.
The last 3 miles were the best that I have ever experienced at that point in a long race. Again, I guess it was the naproxen but I have never felt anything but terrible when finishing a race. Granted, I didn’t feel well but my fourth lap felt better than my third and that has never happened.
Anyways, I finished. I quickly began liking my friends and running again. I spent an entire day eating and sleeping and now I am slowly creeping back to reality.
To anyone that is on the fence about signing up for a trail race that is further than you every thought you could finish, I highly encourage it. There is a lot to be learned about yourself and others. You will learn that people give a shit. People give a shit about you achieving what you set out to achieve. You will also learn that you can be slow….like really, really slow and no one cares.
Next stop is Walking Tall 25/50k. I am currently signed up for the 50k but realistically, I think I will enjoy about 22miles of that and stop at The World’s Greatest Aid Station which Amanda will be running because the cutoff for that race is a bit faster than I am capable. That being said, it is my favorite trail and event.
Peace, love and all things Beef related,