Sunday, September 17, 2017

My Last Barkley Fall Classic-Sucking from My Hose

Testicle Down-Photo by David Major

Dr. Ambien prescribed me a great nights sleep. Not sure how I ended up in the same bed as David Thurman...was kinda awkward telling your best bro that his hand was not between a pillow. Up at 4:30 and out the door by 5:30 heading to Frozen Head. Seeing the changes to the course gave me and many other previous BFC finishers a false sense of hope. This year, Testicle Spectacle, Meth Lab, an Rat Jaw would be in the first 11 miles...then a cakewalk from that point forward.

Laz evidently lights his Cigarillo blunt and we strut off sizing up the competition and excited about not having to deal with a train going up North Old mac, except we had to deal with a train ALL THE FRICKIN WAY UP NORTH OLD MAC. Equally it pizzes me off the people who try to pass on a half track. We are all trying to get up the same friggin trail and there is nowhere for any of us to go. Finally reaching the jeep road we are able to spread and the dude who was the train conductor pulls off to pee.

I had to figure out a quicker way to get down Testicle and Meth Lab and upon reaching both that problem was solved for me. Within about 1/10th of a mile we were on our butts doing the Alabama Slip-n-slide, except it wasn't a family reunion/Tinder meetup. Thankfully the many people front of me used their taint-meat to press the thorns into the mud making my mud sliding somewhat fun. Thankful for my decision to wear those outdoor pants that the legs zip off. Unfortunately some ladies made some wrong decisions that should "crack" you up.
Testicle Up-Photo by David Major
Dead Deer, and everyone looking like they had a bowl of Ex-Lax Chili, we make it to the bottom, across to the church and a tongue kiss from the bib-puncher heading back up.

This would be my third time down Meth Lab, and I do not remember it being as steep as it was. On about a 15'-20' drop a dude tells me, "I'm gonna have to catch you. just slide as fast as you can." I thought what is this guy doing. Well, he was right. As I slid faster and faster, I was eventually united in a loving embrace with this dude, else I would have ended up in some pain. 

Finally got the opportunity to meet Heather Kralj, and her, David and myself prancer-sized to the prison, through it, over the wall, into a dark sewer know the kind where you would expect a clown to be hiding. Heather seemed to be a little scared and like a real man, I stepped aside and let David lead us.

Photo by Clark Annis
We begin the ascent up Rat Jaw. An email was put out this year that unless you go up the power-lines, you are cheating. I was so happy to discover that someone had cleared a trail all the way to the top. That someone would be the top 20 runners. Everyone in the southeast likes to think their mountain has a Rat-Jaw equivalent, but I am hear to tell you that they are incorrect. Pictures CANNOT provide sufficient detail for anyone to get any sense of the experience they are about to encounter. For much of the approx 1.25 mile climb I am on all four limbs. 

Photo by David Riddle

Slow climbing, Heather and David are complementing the curvatures of my sensational buttox, and in their favor I had switched from one product that produced serious "Tailwind" to Sword, which has left me ethanol free. I find it amazing that while climbing, you feel some of the briars that wrap around your taco's and burritos, it doesn't really affect you till later. I had to take several rest breaks going up, causing Heather and David to leave me. What I thought was an advantage (climbing Testicle and Rat Jaw early), was actually to my detriment. After climbing the tower, I realized my quads were trashed. 

Photo by Clark Annis

Even so, I figured I would make the cutoff with no issues. Leaving Tub Springs heading to Garden Spot. Early in the race I told several people to make sure that when they cross "Ball Sweat Fence" they will go a little ways, then the trail will cut off to the left...there was no sign there last year coming down, but to make sure they go left. As I approached that very spot there was no sign and a bunch of runners going straight. I yelled that I think we were supposed to turn left. A lady pulls out her map and points were the gate was and that the trail shows going straight. I went with her and a few others trusting that possibly that intersection was not the one I thought it was. All of a sudden people are coming from the front of us and the back of us. I estimate that there were approximately 50 people standing together looking at the map. I tell everyone that we should have taken that left. Another guys speaks up stating they did take the left and at the top there was a sign pointing left that brought them back down on the previous trail. We all go back and trek up and there is the sign pointing to go left. Eventually, we trek further up to a two way with no signs and go both ways. A friend had found the correct way and pointed us forward. Bib punch and we are off.

One of the people with me at the "Junction of Lost Souls" was Chad Hause. Chad was in the top 15 coming up Rat Jaw, but found himself with me, and without water. We ran/walked for a long ways. I got him to run when he probably didn't feel like it. He was getting dizzy, and there was no way I was going to leave him. I pulled off the mouth piece from my hose and made him drink. There is no worse feeling in a race then being without water and have dry mouth. We make it to the aid station spent. I wasn't for sure if Chad would continue or not. I leave thinking I could still make the cut-off but inside knew I wouldn't be upset if I did. The first 11 miles were most likely designed to break runners. It broke me. I knew the last climb up Bird mountain would be tough, but I didn't realize just how bad it would be. 
Junction of Lost Souls-Photo by David Riddle

Chad, Melissa Wagner and myself pushed the best we could. Eventually, the roles reversed and Chad was having to wait of me. Well, he didn't have to, he told me that I didn't leave him, and there was no way he was going to leave me. The quote of the day came from Chad when he stated, "There are only 10 switchbacks up and 10 switchbacks down." There is NOTHING in Alabama to prepare you for the switchbacks on Bird Mountain. It's not the pitch, its the length of them that is so hard to prepare for. At least with Rat Jaw and Testicle you know it's straight up and done. The switchbacks were as numerous as the "No GPS" posts on the BFC page. They annoyed the fool out of you and were non-stop.

Even before reaching the top, I had done the calculations and knew there was no way to make the 50K cutoff, and to be honest, was ok with that. I had the prize in 2015...Today I was ok with the Marathon.

People wonder why I(we) do these things. I know why I do. It's meeting and running with you. The relationships built from these events are priceless. Watching people finish and begin to cry brings tears to my eyes. 

When you are at these events, try to remember someones name...It means the world to them.
Heather Kralj-BFC 50K Finisher

Me and Clark

David Thurman0BFC 50K Finisher

A couple of Goons

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