Northwest River Trail FKT attempt commenced on the concrete corner of North Front Street & Walnut Street @ Coffee & Cream in Columbia, Pennsylvania, two minutes after the fabled 08:28am start time. 28 miles on 08.28.20 starting @ 08:28... you get the idea. Couldn't quite squeeze the numbers on my side, but numbers never lie.
You do the math.
I was blessed on this day with a support team of one, Erin Hess. My new friend, co-worker and in many ways, my boss @ times, where we both work together @ the Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative. She agreed to help me just a day or two before this FKT attempt, after a few people I asked were unable to commit on such short notice, as I determined to do this only 7 days prior to the attempt. Erin supported me, riding her bike on the trail with a backpack full of water, Organic Gatorade, Liquid IV, GU and once again, my top secret caffeinated energy drink containing 5... 5! different types of caffeine. Erin and I would both agree during the run that caffeine is in fact a psychoactive drug as well as a performance enhancer. At times she rode along side me, not really pacing me, just chatting. At times she rode ahead. At times she fell back, soaking in the sights & sounds of the trail. We paused @ miles 7, 14 and 21miles so I could refuel, rehydrate take a couple GUs and refill my handhelds. Before the atttempt we toasted to the day (MyBDay) with some fresh Kion coffee, the absolute best coffee in the world. During the run we conversed and blurted out words, talking about trails, training, cigarettes, Shamans, drugs, etc.
Felt really good and strong through the first 14 miles and beyond. Tight splits. I have definitely gotten faster in the last 3 weeks with very little training since the Enola Low Grade Trail FKT. Once again, had to shoot my shot and was not going to hold back much. Started pretty easy. Did not dip down into 9 minute miles very much until the end. 10 minute mile pace taunted me @ times in the last few miles.
ThankGod i only struggled through stomach cramps for maybe a mile or so around miles 18 & 19, I think. Definitely had sub4 in mind for this run. I left nothing in the tank in my attempt to do so (visions of Zach Miller and his signature hard style finishes running through my head as fuel for the fire as I grinded out the home stretch on hangry marathon legs; hips and shoulders building lactic acid, locking tight like vice grips) I know I am capable, but was not able. However, I will say this...
Closing in on the marathon mark, Erin received some bad news from her boyfriend, which, out of respect, I will not go into details about. But it was the kind of news that puts everything in perspective and I do believe we both came to understand this day was no longer about me or my FKT. This journey would come to a close without much emphasis on time or distance, only the Finish. God had other plans for this day. Erin and I were only along for the ride.
I have salted the trail with the sweat of my prayers.
I pushed through the Pain, blood pumping persistence.
Heart throbbing agony as a sobering Finish.
Blood. Sweat. Respect.
Erin totally saved me from making a critical wrong turn early on @ around 2 miles in. She did such a good job managing me! haha