The forecast had reducing chances of rain each day and predicted the rain would taper late Saturday with nice fall like temps with lows in the 50's overnight and daytime high's in the upper 60's. About the only thing right was the high's,
It all started when I said I would never do another 100, then I accidentally clicked on the Pinhoti registration. Brad Reed wanted me to work out with some cross fit sissy's named Cindy and Murph. Didn't do that cause I enjoy my status as somewhat cool. So I took his other advice and bought a kettle bell and tried to incorporate two cross training days a week coupled with 35-60 mile weeks. While I was not faithful to the cross training, Barkley Fall Classic proved that what I did had rewarded me with some success.
I get to the race start and see the usual race posturing taking place; the warm up sprinters, the woods squatters thinking no one see's them, the normal bearded guys, the fashionable bearded guys, the guy showing off his man-bun and finally the barefoot guy who technically had a man-bun. (Craig you are the normal Bearded guy)
Scott Bell and I made a pact to run the whole race together, which lasted approx 19 miles when he decided I sucked and wanted to win. Except for the yellow jackets, and the man-bun barefoot guy getting lost, the first 30 miles was somewhat uneventful. Like when Benj and I run together, Scott (who is redheaded) and I decided it more efficient when one has to pee, for the other to go also. So we stop at a creek crossing and for some reason I felt it necessary to ask him, "Does the carpet match the drapes?" He said yes.
Since the start of the race it had been raining on us, however, it was slightly warm and very humid. Because of the constant rain, every creek crossing meant continued wet feet. Coming through the half marathon point with a pack change, kisses and slaps on the butts for my crew we proceed mostly uneventful on our way to the Morgan Lake aid station which greeted us with a gorgeous waterfall, and a big runoff to cross. Greetings from Michael Campbell, and the other BUTS I continued without Scott to Bald Rock.
My calves and quads were aching so I decided to squat in a creek crossing. Just about the time the bologna pony was going to release some crystal light a guy comes in and says "I may drink some of this water." #whyisthiswatersalty #wheredidwarmwatercomefrom
Much of 27-40 was a blur. I remember running with a BUTS named Jake but that is about it. Everything else was becoming miserable. The climb to Bald rock consisted of dwindling light and dense fog that gave the sense a guy in a mask was around the corner ready to hack me up. and eat my liver. Up to Bald Rock on the side of a slippery cliff I made it to the board walk to be greeted by Jeff Deaton and my wife. As soon as she asked me if I was ok, I had to choke back an ugly cry. My crew set me up at Tony Scotts Bed and Breakfast aid station. Jeff told Martin Schneekloth all of the changes I wanted, and I could tell by the look on his face he was not happy. I was sick of Tailwind and the food portables I made. My whole food strategy fell apart transforming from wholesome nutrition to a sweaty redneck buffet where the dirty kid is licking the corn nuggets.
Martin jumps in to pace me as we begin the Blue Hell descent. This was no trivial pursuit, rather it was very dangerous. The constant rain had formed a river of rushing water that we could not see but definitely hear. It was so foggy the flags could barely be seen and parts of the trail were washed out like a mudslide. At one section I lost all footing and began sliding down the cliff. There was nothing Martin could do but holler at me to grab something. We all know he wasn't going to jump for me. Going down we catch Benj and Megan Nobriga and make it to the bottom together towards 45. We come into 45 to be greeted by our Huntsville friends and suck down more Coke. Caffeine was all I wanted due to the continuous fatigue of running in the rain.
Martin and I enjoy a long road section until we again hit the dreaded single track again. At 40 I took off my Brooks Cascadia's and slipped on Altra Lone Peak's. I was doing my best not to piss Martin off for the next 20 miles so I tried to run before he would tell me too. The rooty, rocky single track proved difficult for me. My Altra's were excellent at finding every root and rock to bump uglies with. I got so mad I started yelling. Martin told me to stop getting mad or it would get worse. Well it did. I broke down once and asked God why was He allowing this to happen to me. I am 60 miles into a race of my on will and blaming God for stumping my toes repeatedly. What I realized if He was telling me anything was to hold back on this rough section to keep me protected. So as I settled back the toe/rock copulation ended.
Out of the woods to the mile 65 crew point I sat for more Coke and whatever else I could find on Tony's truck. Martin wasn't going to give me a caffeine pill yet, however I told him I needed something to get me up Pinnacle. Jeff Deaton and I set out for Porters Gap then the Pinnacle climb. But wait! No one told me about the friggin climb right out of 65. We leave Porters Gap at 68 and after a short ways had not started climbing and I hear music. Jeff says that we must be close. Close? There is an aid station before the climb? I was confused...I thought the aid station was on top. The aid station never came and the music went away as we began the climb to what I only assumed was Pinnacle. 6wks later of intense climbing I hear the music again only to be taunted for what seemed to be an eternity. Back and forth with more BUTS people (Sonny). By this point, words had escaped me. Only grunts and head nods that only a caveman could understand would be my form of communication. Into pinnacle with the BUTS people again. A couple of ladies would ask me if I wanted this or that, however, I could not say anything. Only look an nod. One of the ladies who I did not know calls me by name and compliments my butt or something like that as I left. Later on at some aid station I turned to see some woman on the side of the trail standing in an awkward pose. As soon as I turned toward her I high-beamed her only to realize why she was standing awkard. She had her hand up her shorts squirting liquid plutonium out of her foober. (female-g@@ber)
At some point we finally break free from the single track to some jeep road. HALLELUJAH! About the only thing I remember until daylight was hoping Jeff would tell Martin that I did good. Daybreak on the climb and along the ridge brought fierce wind, continued rain, cold and my buddy Ed on the side of the road covering up some fudgesicles.
The wind was ripping through my exposed skin, and I stayed just on the edge of beginning to shiver. I knew that I needed to press to stay warm. During the descent to 85 I saw a single car on the road and feared that I had missed the cutoff. Continuing on I saw more cars and then at that point hoped I had missed the cutoff so that I could stop and lay down. Of course in my heart I knew that I would seriously regret it and pushed. Coming into the aid station I was met by my friend Eric Fritz only to see his mouth moving but not really sure what he was saying. Rumor has it he thought I looked like crap and told me to put my panties on to cover up my vagina. Some lady heard it, thought it hurt my feelings and told him he was mean. Hahahahaha, someone actually felt sorry for me. I only remember a couple off faces even though so many friends were there. Dana because she is blonde and Martin cause he was dragging me inside a trailer to sit down. Not sure what happened in the trailer..Next thing I remember is Janice telling me I have to get up and go. The look of concern on her face was on full display and I just did what she said. Anya (Martin's wife) and I set out for the last 15.
In my mind I am thinking about how long it will take to do 15 miles. Normally 2.5 to 3 hrs, however, I knew it would be more like 4-5 hours. I had to quickly break that thinking and focus on just 85-90. We set out at a decent pace. Anya is so encouraging and pushes me in a way that makes me think its my idea. It was so cold and I didn't want her to suffer so I made every step intentional. If I remember correctly no one passed us from that point forward, rather we were reeling in people. The temps begin to warm slightly as we make it to 95. More coke and we push on for more dirt road to 95.
Literally from 65 on I had to stop and pee at least 20 times. Not even joking. I would drink some water then a few minutes later stopping to pee. One time I stopped a little to soon and didn't let Anya get far enough away before little beefy out...I had to remember I was not running with one of the dudes, however it didn't phase Anya. I even pooted on her. She began to run in front a little and tell me we would stop at the stump...run at the flag, etc. She anticipated the inclines and give me the landmarks for the walk breaks.
Into 95 I make googoo eyes at some brownies then proceed to put them into my mouth like a Hardees commercial, except without the bikini and hose pipe. More Coke and 5 miles to go. We are back on trail at this point and something rises up in me and I take off. Anya is no longer in front, rather running behind me cheering my surge on. Next thing I knew we hit the pavement, thinking we had only 3 miles to go.....Wrong, per Mr. Fritz who drove up told me it was about 4.5 miles. He also told me Martin was coming that I better start running. So as soon as I saw Jeff and Martin we started jogging again.
Before hitting the main road, Eric told me a bunch of people were walking to get going if I wanted to gain some slots. I told Anya lets go. We didn't run fast, rather consistent until we saw the stadium. Anya starts screaming at me and I get a shot of adrenaline and take off. When I hit the track I ran faster than my 5K pace. I could hear the cowbells and people hollering my name, so I ran harder and 10 feet before the finish line I threw my hands in the air! Fell into Janice's arms for a much needed embrace.
My goal for the race was 24 hrs. Of course this goal was not realistic since I finished in 28:25. It started to feel like a failure until I realized that this was a much different race. Also, because of how I finished. My prayer was to finish strong. You see at Thunder Rock I finish at such a low point. I wanted that feeling of my hands in the air. I got it.
What got me through the race? 1. A good friend Nathan Judd, took the time to write me notes for various points on the course, telling me a story coupled with scripture. That scripture stayed with me and allowed me to draw upon the message as I struggled. 2. The thought of my wife being there through the whole race, and the anticipation of seeing her at every crew point. 3. My crew was so good to me. When I couldn't think for myself clearly they guided and encouraged me. Not sure why they like me but I'm glad they do. I care for them deeply and one in particular hates this sappy stuff. 4. To my Father in Heaven who told me I could do all things....Plus I had to repent for blaming Him for the feet stumping.
FUNNY STORY BREAK: So after the race Eric tells me about this guy who comes into 85, pulls out some chamois cream like product, sticks his hands down his shorts and lathers his new potatoes. Then the dude without regard for anyone else, sticks his hands in some aid station food and begins to eat.