Imagine this....you pull into Sweetwater Creek State Park in the dark. People scurrying around with headlamps and others standing inside their car door with the interior light reflecting off their bodies when all of a sudden.....THERE IS A TOPLESS CHIC WITH THE INTERIOR LIGHT REFLECTING OFF HER BODY! I did a double take then realized it was just a dude with abnormally full and perky fun bags. We get to the pavilion and I go straight to the bathroom in hopes of feeding the white throne. I was partially successful. Chit chat with Pete and his hot wife Lisa, Benj, Jerry,Jeff, Shar, David, James, a couple of Asian ladies, some old guy and then Michael Scott. Day is breaking as we line up to start the race. 70 degrees at 7 am. We're off. We begin a 3.77 mile loop around the park and back to the start area. Next, what I thought was actually 2 different bridge crossings was one bridge and a big loop back to it, followed by trek through and out of the park alongside Sweetwater Creek. Of course somewhere in the first 7 miles the coffee I decided to drink earlier that morning decided to work causing me to pull off trail and pray no vipers were in the area of my squatfest.
|From my Suunto Ambiet|
The trek alongside Sweetwater creek was a beautiful single track trail with amazing scenery all around. I could tell the heat was rising, however the trees provided a welcomed covering. I was feeling great. I kept my pace under control. So there was this Vietnamese chic that I met at the Music City Ultra. This lady is tough! She beat me there and we ended up running together for a period of time at Snakebite. We chewed the cud about this and that then she said..."You remind me of my brother and look just like him." To which I replied, "Your brothers white?"...."no, just same face." I was feeling great, especially when I caught my friend Jeff Deaton before the 1st neighborhood entry. When running in a lot of canopy cover you expect your GPS watch to be short. So we are in the neighborhood thinking that the turnaround had to be close. Nope. By this time the heat was sucking the life out of us not to mention being out in the open. Around mile 16 we enter the woods again confused as to why we had not reached the turnaround point. 2 miles later we come out of the woods into the open for a 1/4 slugfest to the turnaround point. I felt like what I let around mile 7. Up to this point I had avoided any solid food only relying on gels for easy calories. At the aid station I at a couple of orange slices, potato and downed some coke. WOOOHOOOO! I began to feel much better. At the turnaround point my watch recorded 91 degrees. It looked like the walking dead of people coming to the aid station. Now for the 15 mile suckfest back to the finish...Yep, 18 miles out and 15 miles back adds up to 31 in Mississippi, but in Alabama its 33. I was ok though. Whats 2 more miles right? Entering the woods be head back on the homemade trail with 6 inch high spikes where the DR Trimmer didn't get close enough to the ground. The cutout is about a foot wide, grass is 5' high, and you are meeting oncoming runners. You can see the dismay in each face as they realize they are way past where they thought the turnaround was. Each person that past I told them they were almost there. I find the coke begins to wear off pretty quick. I make it back to the neighborhood and am resolve to a walk. At this point it is 93 degrees and I am out in the open.
|Altitude and Temperature from my Suunto Ambiet|
I get deep into the woods and every creek I am sitting in and pouring water on my head. I continue to see runners who haven't made it to the 1st neighborhood section and don't have the heart to tell them how far away they are. At one of the unmanned aid stations 2 ladies asked me how much farther to the turnaround. At this point I was 10 miles ahead of them and just knew that in the heat there was no way they would be able to finish the race. If your walking at mile 12 and I'm at mile 23 suffering??? Usually at this point in every race I am questioning why I do this and thinking that there is no way I can do Thunder Rock 100 miler. I finally make it to the last full aid station to cheers and cowbells...such a beautiful sound. I ask them how much farther...and she says the worst thing she could say to me..."6 more miles." I was floored! I drank 2 popsicles, violated some coke and took off. Made it to the bridge and saw a girl running the other way and heard them say "...about a mile or so to the finish"....WOOOOOHOOOOOO! Then they told me to turn on the bridge.
|Photo from Conteches.com|
I was confused. I still had a 3 mile loop before my 1.5 mile to the finish. Initially we ran this section the opposite way. Now we had the steep climb in front of us. A big storm rolls in with thunder and lightning all round. I get a little scared and pray that all the runners, crew, and volunteers are kept safe. The climb sucked so bad. My quads and calves both started cramping. Each time I raised my leg they would try and put me to the ground. There was rain all around but I couldn't feel it because of the canopy. I reach the top of the loop and my run on the downhill dirt road is diminished to a literal Sasquatch Trot. Then it happened. Mr. Jeff Frigging Deaton comes frolicking by. I wanted to push him down so bad. I cross the bridge for the final 1.5 mile to the finish. I pushed every flat section and just prayed that the cramps would go away, and they did. Out of the woods and up a street climb to hear a lady heckling me on a megaphone, "...hurry up, I don't wanna be out here all day!", so I mooned her and kept running...She told me, to take the steps and I'm just a few second to the finish. Up the steps, there was the finish about a 100 feet away. Nobody behind me...I walked in to cheers and hot old ladies. I finished. I am a 5:49 Mtn Mist finisher...a 6:42 Stump Jump finisher. Both have more climb and are much more technical. I had been running 50 miles a week for a few weeks and entered this race thinking I was gonna pull a 5:30 or better. Nope, 6:54. All said, I finished around 15th overall which I was happy about. This course was GREAT! The aid stations were GREAT! The cheers, service, all of it. The heat can change everything. Ok...before this race I body-glided JimTom, wipe-ally, and my thigh twins. The only thing I didn't glide was the meat-curtains (butt cheeks). Everything! I mean EVERTHING was raw and inflamed. Every movement down there became painful. I popped two more Aleve praying for quick absorption. Tired and whipped, Jeff Deaton, Shar Hendrick and myself set out for home telling our war stories for the day. Wow, what a day.
|Lisa Martin-Photo by Gelinas|