Emily and I woke up early, left our hotel 5am and drove to the James River Visitor Center (we also gave a ride to runner that didn't have a bus ticket to the start line). Crew cars weren't allowed around the Visitor Center so I jumped out of the car about a mile up the road and made my way to the starting line. Temps were in the low 30's at the start of the race and eventually made it up to the low 50's.
|Christian (L) and Tom (R) before 50+ miles with 9200' of climbing|
|dam right before AS 1|
|cool shot of a runner passing under BRPW|
|Buck Mountain aid station|
I went from being thirteen minutes ahead of the cut off to barely making the cut off. I saw Emily one last time at the Salt Log Gap aid station and she was urging me to hurry because I was in danger of missing the cut off after running forty one miles. I was running/walking fourteen to seventeen minute miles during the last climb. Beating the cutoff was probably not going to happen, I was starting to get negative and questioning my training and my manhood. I had about five to eight people pass me and I sunk even lower. I began to accept that I wasn't going to make it. I ran straight through the Forest Vally aid station because time was tight and shortly after the aid station I began weaving all over the trail. I made it to the final aid station and decided I needed some EFS to help my energy level. I had four miles to the finish and forty seven minutes to do it in. That sounds easy, twelve minute miles on a downhill trail to the finish, but I had been averaging 15:30 pace the previous four miles and that pace would have me finishing the last section in 63 minutes. I became very upset with myself that I was going to run all day and miss the cutoff by only a few minutes (if I were to keep the 15:30 pace I would finish in 12:20 but the cutoff is 12:00 so basically I would miss the cut off by ~2.5%). My EFS started to kick in and my energy level rose and next thing I knew I ran a 12:30 mile. The next mile was 13:14. I had two miles left and twenty two minutes to make the cutoff. With confidence gained from the last two miles I became a man possessed and started hauling ass! I ran my second to last mile in 9:30, which meant I had thirteen minutes to go 8/10 of a mile. Was I really coming back from the dead to finish the race in under twelve hours? I was feeling it and decided to really push the pace and I was overcome with emotion as I closed in on the finish line and saw everyone yelling and cheering me on. I ran the last 8/10 of a mile at a 9:00 pace to cross the finish line in 11:55:03.
As soon as I crossed the finish line I shook RD Clark Zealand's hand and started hooting and hollering as I hugged Emily. Both Clark and Dave Horton looked over at me and smiled as I was carrying on, I proceeded to shake Clark (for a second time) and Dr. Horton's hands and thank them for putting their hearts and souls into the race. I exclaimed how much fun this race is and Dr. Horton yelled to me "that's the way it suppose to be". Talk about an emotional race.
Each race offers it's own challenges to overcome and as soon as you become comfortable or complacent is when you are doomed for failure. Each race gives me an opportunity to stay humble because no matter how much I plan I always have to be ready to adapt to the given situation. You can never read enough, study enough, or run enough to perfect running. Some things are out of our control and, for me, that is tough to accept because I like to be in control, but pushing my self to the limits is a true introspection into my soul.
Congrats to Christian (10:46), Tom (11:13), Nica (11:22 & AG winner), and Mary (one tough lady who finished what she started).
Shoes: Montrail Sabino
Hydration: Nathan 1.5 Liter Backpack
Nutrition: GU, S!Caps, EFS shot, Vespa, Coconut water, XS shot,
Shorts: Zensah compressions shorts
Shirt: Tech T-shirt
Gaiters: Dirty Girl Gaiters
Gaiters: Dirty Girl Gaiters
Watch: Garmin GPS 310xt
Extra Pictures from the race
See ya on the trails,