Friday, July 27, 2018

Last Annual Vol State 500K: My Last Race Report


I have been to many races, and seen many things, however, the Vol State roster is a mix of personalities like I have never been a part of. The Screwed runners were spread among three buses and shuttled across the state following the course backwards. I didn't have a personal relationship with a single person on my bus. I knew "of" people, but that was about it. In trying to be myself I threw out a couple jokes and nothing. It was like the new kid trying to fit in but failing. I messaged Janice like a third grader and she quickly replied that I would make new friends. 

Our bus driver is rather a bulky woman who may have played Roller Derby in the 70's, was an excessive smoker as revealed by the excessive mucous hacking. You could tell when her "jam" came on because the 6.5" tweeter heavy speakers would blast Bon Jovi and Aerosmith directly into our earholes. Tammy was cool.

I wasn't able to really assess the field until stepping on the ferry to cross to the start. There was the dude who looked like Jim Belushi in a cutoff pink shirt, the lady in the sports bra with the bottom 1/4 of her titties hanging down, the topless guy, a couple hot chics and a mix of hippies, oldies, yuppies and guppies.

What I do like about this race is the fact that many of the people are older and in fact, are more apt to beat younger and even more skilled people at this distance. There is a strategy to this race and you gotta learn it fast.

"Where are you going to sleep?" was the question asked most of me. I had the perfect plan layed out to where I would run approximately 30 miles then bed down for 4 hours then another approximate 30 miles. I had hotels and or road angel stations marked out every 25-30 for stops. I made my mile 29 goal an hour early and hoped to eat and bed down for 5 hours. Sleep was nowhere to be found, rather leg cramps that made me scream like a Mississippi hooker then the feeling of worms crawling through my legs for the next 3 hours. 
While the Gleason Fire Station was WONDERFUL and  had cots, food, and showers, sleep could not be found. Only resting of the body, but not the mind. 

Finally on the third day after another hotel stay I ended up in the Parker's Crossroads Inn. It was a quaint little dump with the aroma of fresh sewage and damp carpet which was probably the result of a drunken trucker orgy. I cannot believe I actually took a bath in that tub. I couldn't stand the smell any longer and requested a new room. Feeling completely drained from the previous 2 days I felt I needed some time to refresh. I stayed at the Parson's Inn for about 8 hours, with sleep given here and there.

Coming in to Linden had the promise of an amazing room at the Commodore Hotel. The Commodore is an awesome restored hotel and the owner set me up in a 5 star room, and garnished me with fruit and Epsom Salt for a luxurious bath. As I snuggled in the king size bed I fell into a deep sleep. About an hour later I was awoke to something slamming the hardwood floors in a rhythmic pattern followed by the bellows of pleasure coming from a female soprano voice. As I listened to her voice rising as if it where the climax in a Mariah Carey song I finally realized what was taking place. This woman had vocal stylings in a way that I have never personally experienced making me feel sorry for my wife that she got stuck with me. After her third climb to the top of the mountain, things settled down next door. Of course, my sleep was forever lost and in that semi state of sleep, only her voice could I hear over and over.
Gleason Fire Department

Lewisburg (Celebration Inn) had the promise of good sleep until I poured an entire bag of Epsom salt into my bath thinking more would be better. An hour into my rest I awoke with hell's flames burning my feet. My feet had some reaction and swelled up because of the excessive salts and were they literally burning. After some crying, praying and meds, the burning subsided but not the swelling.

Coming in to Harrisburg I was able to beg a woman for a shower. She washed and dried my clothes and allowed me to sleep on her back porch. This was the first time that I was able to get any quality sleep. I did wake up to her cat stroking me on my stomach ever so gently. I didn't resist.

While looking for a place to bed down in Tracy City I walked around a Baptist Church looking for a plug for my phone. I notices a Harley drive by a couple times. I noticed the Harley guy pulled into the next church to where I was walking to ask them if I could lay down there for a while. As I walked up I knew something was wrong. I told the men that I am sure they are wondering what I was doing. They replied yes. You see the guy on the Harley was a Cop and the the guy he was talking to was the Sheriff. They were about to come get me. I explained I was running a race and just looking for a place to charge and bed down. Thankfully, the Sheriff knew about the race and all was well. 

The concrete at the church was killing me so I tried the grass and eventually their flower bed. While the flower bed was the most comfortable, my hips could not longer stand it. I needed to get to the Road Angel Station at 295.

The key to sleep on this course is to take 20 minute naps at various intervals. Believe it or not, they can refresh the mind.

I didn't think food would be a problem, however, it was. Running screwed, its not that easy to carry a kilo of Sword. Me being a connoisseur of Zaxby's and Bojangles, I thought I would do well. Nope! Once the heat takes over, I found the bulk of my calories would come from liquids. Chocolate milk, Coke, Gatorade or fruit juices. Most solid food I could not stomach. After a couple days I was able to eat some pizza and eventually more breakfast, but hamburgers or big meals were out of the question. Simple carbs, chips, snickers and fruit became my staple. Fruits were the most appealing especially on the long open stretches where heat consumed us.

Another key source was Pedialyte. The stuff taste's like the sweat from the balls of the Fat B@st@rd from Austin Powers, however it does work. I never wanted to get the gyna cramps again so I made sure to drink Pedialyte as much as possible.

On my way to Hohenwald I came up to a gas station that had freshly prepared golden brown fried cheesticks, stuff with the finest cheeses made in a factory. I am telling you that stuff was amazing. Road Angel stations would be more snack based to which I was very grateful. Fake brown sugar Pop Tarts taste like filet mignon at 1 am. Any kind of cookies was a welcome, yet still, fruit seemed to be the most sought after for myself.

Seriously, how many times in your life would you ever consider eating food from a cooler on the side of the road. If someone wanted to screw with us, they had the perfect opportunity. I got Desitin on a cookie and didn't even care.

I literally only new about 3 people running the race. All three were faster than me, but I was the only looker in the bunch (talking bout you Andrea). For the first 16 miles its seems like a large group was in a line, then around mile 17 I found myself completely alone. It stayed this way until around mile 41. I came up on this 5' 1" chic with a long pony tail that was wrapped in a black sleeve. It was dark and I asked her where the Farmers Market was. I had missed it. So Rebekah and I decided to run together. Not long into our run she felt the need to tell me she was hispanic. That's cool, I love Mexican food so we had at least two things in common. She was joking about hispanics and we just laughed and laughed like a couple of cherry churros. She tells me about a Mexican restaurant called "La Chi Chi's" revealed is slang for "The Titties". Well you know I wanna go there. Save the Chi Chi's! My stomach started rolling and it was only a matter of time. Dark roads with no light and the occasional dog, I couldn't hold it no more. I called her name, apologized then floated a burmese biscuit. I felt so much better. She laughed, which was the wrong thing to do cause I kept letting them fly. I truly enjoyed my time with Rebekah and we carried each other through some tough scary sections. We come to AJ's the next morning and both can barely eat. As I get ready to press on, she tells me she needs a nap. I never see her again.

I found myself alone again and this time for about 100 miles. There was the occasional passerby, but relatively alone until mile 161. Coming into Mack's Whiteside Market, completely busted, there was a group of ladies and a dude. I was in such a daze that I don't remember everyone there, I think it was Ben, Angie, Anastasia and Julie.

There is a long stretch from Hampshire to Columbia and it was getting late. Anastasia and Julie are both accomplished ultra runners. Julie has over 200-100 mile or greater races. They do not want to set out on the next section alone and want to hook up with me. We sleep about 4 hours on a wonderful ladies back porch (she shall remain nameless so you don't sleep on her porch). As we left I didn't realize that I would spend many miles with these two. Julie is a APRN cancer nurse and Anastasia is a Barista and Stylist. As we talked I asked the typical questions..."Are you Mexican like Rebekah?" Seriously...I looked to Anastasia and here is how the conversation went.

Me: Are you married?
Anastasia: Yes
Me: What does your husband think of you doing this?
Anastasia: Long story or short?
Me: Whatever doesn't put me to sleep (jk)
Anastasia: Well my husband...blah blah blah....divorced...blah blah blah.
Anastasia: Now my Wife she is a runner too....

I didn't know what to say. I have never been in this situation before. It was the first time that I have ever ran with someone who was a barista at Starbucks. Julie, Anastasia and myself made it through the night and enjoyed Hardees for breakfast in Columbia. After fitting one of my maxi pads to Julie's back we trekked for the Glendale Market. As soon as we see the Market Anastasia asks me to take a picture of her topless on the bench. She tells me she's gay so its ok. No, no, boobies, straight boobies, three boobies, it doesn't matter. They are still boobies to me and I don't think my wife would allow that. So I go inside and let Dee do the photoshoot.

Anastasia and I had been side by side for some time. I lost her in my peripheral vision and turned around to see her drop her pants and squat right on the road. When she caught up to me I told her to warn me first, cause I saw side butt and the deuce she shot out. She didn't say anything for a couple of seconds then replied, "Did I really shoot out a deuce? I know I farted but didn't realize anything shot out."

Coming to Shelbyville, Anastasia had pulled away from Julie and I. We took a detour and went down to the waterfall to soak our legs. Julie's heel was looking bad. We were beat up and just needed to rest at the Courthouse. After lunch the ladies decide to push on, but I needed rest. After about and hour I found out that Julie had returned to the courthouse and was dropping from the race. Imagine making it to around 223 miles and pulling the plug. I had grown close to the ladies and now I was by myself again.

Julie and her husband Val met me at the top of Monte Eagle for dinner. Being in there company was special. People who barely knew me yet wanted to spend some time together. I would loved it had we finished together.

When I was broken at Northcutts market, Whitney Franklin, a lady whom I had never met, saw my post and came to find me, just to encourage me.

Shortly after she left Tony and Kristin Trapani had left Savage Gulf to come and find me. Again, people who I was friends with on Facebook, but didn't really know, and here they are sitting in front of me trying to encourage me.

The Ultrarunning community is special. Ultrarunning doesn't care if you are rich or poor, black or white, fat, skinny, a Doctor or a trash man. Ultrarunning is no respecter of persons. Just bring your ability.

If you are going to run this race, plan as if there are no road angels. There presence is amazing, and it could be more devastating to be expecting one and find out they are not there. Praise the Lord that every projected one was there and others that were unexpected. Thank you to the following:

  • Tim from Martin First Baptist
  • Dude with warehouse on the right heading toward Martin
  • Coolers on the side of the road with ORANGES!
  • Monty 
  • Mr. Hinson
  • The NUTT Family
  • Mr. Schmalley
  • The tent on the right before the campground angel (those pop tarts were a dream)
  • The Campground on the left with cots and showers.
  • The families driving by handing out drink
  • The Wartrace Family
  • The roaming Wartrace/Shelbyville guy

Over 314 mile you are bound to have an injury. Blisters on the pinky toes were an early issue. The blister on the center of my foot was the worst. Every touch sent pain all over my body. I popped it several times but seemed to be missing a spot. I cut a hole in my sole hoping to allow the blister room...nothing. Later I had the idea to put moleskin under the sole and cut its hole out in order to give the blister more room before touching the bottom of the shoe. IT WORKED!

If your balls are barking go buy you some maxi pads, coat it with Desitin and slap on. Problem solved.

Somewhere before Wartrace my left shin was aching. It persisted and got much worse through Manchester (250). Finally the pain was directly where the top of the tongue of the shoe is. On a long wide open stretch to Pelham it seized up. I would have to lean back sorta like relieving a cramp. I couldn't walk. No shade, running low on water and 6 miles from the next aid of any kind I could not walk. Spoke with Joe Fejes, Franklin Baker and Brett Franklin. Consensus was, keep going. I finally got angry and just ran. I realized that I could shift my weight to my right side and actually run. This worked great until going down Monte Eagle. Going downhill it would try to seize on my and I would do the stretch thing. Going down the mountain I leaned back to stretch it and I hear some snapping, like little rubber bands breaking.

Anastasia had caught up to me at Schmalley's place and we decided to finish the last 14 together. Everything was going well until mile 306 when I heard a loud POP on my right foot. Again, I could not walk. With an ankle brace and a ace bandage I was able to walk the last 8 miles in to the finish.

So that snap was a little worse than what we thought. Turns out it was my tendon rupturing. The following Thursday after completing the race I had surgery to rejoin the tendon. So as I am typing this I am half naked, on meds and recovering from the surgery.

I prayed a lot during this race. Early on I would ask Him to provide water and food when I needed it. Just when I was about to run out of something, there would be a cooler on the side of the road, or someone would pull over and hand me a bottle of something to drink. From Manchester to Pelham is when things got rough. Left tendon seizing, full sun and no shade I was feeling all alone. I would pray even yelling out to God that I needed Him to help me. No relief. At that moment I could barely walk. I posted about my issue. Many responded with prayer and encouragement. Dennis Holland asked me a simple question..."Do you trust Him?" Not too long after that I saw a truck come by and turn into a field. On the back of it was a sticker that I had come up with around 1994 and had sold them all across the US. You know the sticker of the little boy peeing on Ford or Chevy? Well I had the sticker of the little boy kneeling at the cross. I have not seen one of these in years, then out of the blue when I needed it the most, God showed me he was with me. So I ran....When my right tendon ruptured I didn't know how I was going to finish. I prayed and am so grateful to the family that brought me a brace and ace bandage.

There are times in our lives where we feel Him all around us. It's what we do and how we conduct ourselves when we don't feel His presence that matters the most. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

  • Meeting the Australian Duo Simon Bonnick and Rob Donkersloot. Even though their English sounded funny, I had a great time hanging with them. 
  • Bacon
  • The Pizza at Glendale
  • The Pizza from Pacos
  • Discovering the male benefits of a proper fitting Maxi Pad
  • When the orgy next door quit so I could sleep
  • Deep Blisters
  • Heat rash
  • Heat Blisters
  • Torn tendon
  • Trek through Lewisburg
  • Trek to Pelham
  • Desitin- you can put it anywhere.
  • Neosporin- Task the rash pain away
  • Two Pairs of underwear- wash one and hang on back and let dry
  • Two Pairs of socks
  • Blister kit- Read Fixing Your Feet by Vonhoff
  • Sunscreen- Unless you are already leather, you will need it
  • Hat by day, Sweatband by night
  • Survival Poncho- can also be used to keep warm. If you are wet and it is night you will get cold if you are trying to sleep
  • Bivvy Sack or Mylar Blanket- See above
  • Scalpel- cut holes in your soles
  • Sweatbands around the wrist- Kept my hands dryer
  • Toothbrush- for when your teeth get hairy
  • Wet Wipes- Clean your stanky tootie
  • A couple of Clif or Pro Bars to carry you through a long section with no aid
  • NUUN- I highly recommend these for electrolytes. Doesn't take up that much room and will help you on a hot day
  • Chapstick
  • TwoToms for any spot that will chaffe
  • Bladder with a soft flask. You will run out of water.
  • Offline GPX viewer- Very reassuring to see my blue triangle on the correct course
  • Put everything in zip lock bags
  • Headlamp- You don't need more than a 40-50 lumen lamp
  • Bug Spray- you most likely will lay near some grass


  1. I have no words. Just mad, mad respect! Hope one day we can meet "fo reelz" at a race somewhere. Maybe Destin 50 in 2019?

  2. One of the best posts I’ve read in a long long time! Hope your healing goes quickly! Way to dig deep and trust Jesus, I really appreciated that the most! Love your humor, and just man, way to persevere 🙏❤️ God Bless you!

  3. Awesome! Thanks for the recap and pointers. I am on the waitlist for 2019. Fingers crossed!