This was to be my first attempt at the 100 mile distance. If you read my previous posts, you can see the issues I was having with crew/pacers and family issues. I also told of one of my running friends who out of the blue at Starbucks last week said he would crew me. Then he found someone else to help and suddenly all the burden of getting there and back and having company to run/walk with me during the night was off my shoulders. This was the basis of my success. Yes, success, I did it and I almost can't believe it.
Willie (click on his name to see his report) and Bill (I will post some pics they took when I get them so be sure to check back) picked me up at my house on Friday morning. They had every thing I needed in the way of ice chests, waters, an air mattress and sundry other items. We got to Huntsville TX, checked into the hotel then went to the park for me to check in and so they could sign the pacer waivers. Since dinner wasn't included in the fee, we decided to eat at a local chain restaurant. We went to bed early, and I did not sleep well. If one of them hadn't told me I snored a bit, I would have told you I didn't sleep at all. But I didn't worry about that. We went to the park, and waited for the 6:00 a.m start. It was dark and we had to play follow the leader until it was light enough to see the trail. I had decided to take a very conservative pace and warm up before trying to hold 12 minute miles.
Things went fine the first loop and I did it in around 4:07. Went out on the second loop and this was the loop that I felt the worse on. My knees starting hurting and of course I was projecting forward thinking they they would continue to get worse. They didn't. I finished the second loop in around 4:20. Time for that all important third loop. I knew it would be dark before I finished it, and my crew had my headlamp ready at an aid station. These two guys were anticipating my needs every loop. Neither has run an ultra, and neither has crewed a trail run, but they did better than I could have ever wished. I was starting to fade but my mind was thinking, I can do this. I am not going to be able to do it fast, but I can finish. At about mile 56, Willie met me at the Park Road aid station to start pacing me. I was a bit concerned about this because Willie has been injured recently. I did know that I would not be challenging him with a blazing pace, but still this course is hilly, rooty, and difficult, especially in the dark. Nonetheless I welcomed the company. I won't get into what we talked about, everything, because what happens in Huntsville stays in Huntsville. I walked more than ran, but threw in runs in the spots that I knew were not too rooty and downhill. As I approached mile 80 I was really starting to believe that I was going to do this. But also my feet were killing me. I had taken several pairs of shoe and socks, but decided that if I didn't have any problems I wasn't going to mess with it. I didn't think I had any blisters, but again, didn't want to take my socks off since I wasn't having any serious problems. My feet hurt because I had been on them so long. Last loop, Bill picks up the pacing duties. Bill was just as perfect as Willie. He would ask me in places that looked easy if I wanted to run a bit. It was pitch dark, we seldom encountered others and it was a long loop. Mainly because I stopped several times to rest. But I kept them to no more than a minute or two. As the sun came up, Bill started encouraging me to run more and more. I never would have believed that I could run after covering over 90 miles, but Bill convinced me that I could, so I did. We even started pushing the uphills because I made the stupid comment that I might be able to get in under 27 hours. We almost made it, I think my time was around 27:03. No official results are available yet. Afterwards we were able to shower at the park and headed home. I'm extremely sore, but once I took my shoes and socks off, I see that amazingly I have only one minor blister on my big toe. And I've had worse than that after running a marathon. I am truly blessed to have finished, to have finished apparently with no major problems, and to have had such great friends willing to change their schedules to help me accomplish my goal. Make sure you come back to this post, because I still haven't slept in over 36 hours, so I will probably be making adjustments to this post.