Saturday, June 20, 2020
4:30 am, Plover. I walked the 2 miles from home to the trailhead, which is coming into view. It's just starting to get a little light out. It's a cloudy day, and looks like it's going to be a pretty soggy and deliciously cool run. The temperature is supposed to hold in the sixties all morning. My goal is to beat Paul and Ryan's FKT of 5:26. I'm going to try for a 10-minute pace with 15 minutes of stops.
4:35 am, Hoover Ave. I'm at the railroad tracks. Let's go!
4:56 am. I'm crossing Kennedy Ave. I'm not sure how to manage my warmth with the rain. I'm wearing two lightweight wool shirts. I'm getting wet, but still hot.
5:19 am, Arnott (pic). I took the outer shirt off. Much better. I saw a sign pointing to a hitching post. Is that for real? Ah, It's the Arnott bar. I walked down this road one cold winter night when my car broke down. It was below zero and windy. It was a long walk back to town. A thick wool army trench coat saved me.
6:50 am, Amherst Junction. A little before town, there was a sign on the trail that pointed to a toilet. That was a pleasant surprise. Experience has taught me to carry a "poop kit" in my hydration pack. You don't need it very often, but when you need it, you need it. That was a luxury this morning.
When I got into town, the trail got a little confusing. There's a gap where the trail isn't completed, so you have to use roads for a bit. I started going down a dirt trail to nowhere, before I checked the map. I had added Paul & Ryan's track as a Stava route to follow. Thanks, guys!
I think I'm on the good side of the highest elevation point for the trip, so it should be good going from here on out. I'm almost at the 15-mile point, when I'll eat a baby food pouch full of Greek yogurt, and a handful of almonds. I'm still experimenting with race food. I don't think I'll need any salt, so I left the cheese and summer sausage in the fridge. I couldn't find my high protein bars last night. (I think my 13-year-old ate them all.) I'm kind of over baked potatoes at this point. This run is going to be a fat burning run. I fasted for part of yesterday, so whatever carbs I had stored were gone. This morning, I had my protein power shake: 8 eggs in the blender, with a little milk and a splash of vanilla. Hey, if you don't have any carbs to start with, you can't bonk when they run out, right?
I had been using Google voice typing to keep notes as I went. Apparently, that requires a decent network connection. Between Scandinavia and Manawa, it's pretty sketchy.
I started feeling the beginnings of a sunburn. What? How can I be getting sunburned? It's completely clouded over, and raining on and off. Oh wait, I'm Irish and Scandinavian. On with the sun hat. I did end up with a bit of a burn.
~Mile 18. I was starting to get really tired. Ok, I guess that's to be expected. It was getting tougher to keep up the pace. I really need to keep around 10 minutes to beat the time. My right foot had been really hurting for the last few miles. It feels like it's my Achilles' tendon. After a while, I loosened up the laces again. No, maybe it was plantar fasciitis coming back to haunt me again. Also, I was doing the slow slog shuffle at this point, which seems to make it worse.
Mile 20. I pulled out my secret weapon for when I really need a boost: a couple teaspoons of instant coffee, and a cayenne pepper. I also checked my progress on the map. Even though I was right where I needed to be as far as how far I've come, I have a mile more left to go than I thought! That's not good.
~Mile 22. It started to rain. It was cool. It was refreshing. It was amazing. At this stage in the game, it felt like angels just showering joy onto my face and chest. I held out my arms to feel more of it. The harder it rained the better it felt. I thanked God. A lot. I think sometimes you need to reach a certain threshold of suffering to feel real joy from the simple pleasures. Maybe that's what heaven is like after this crummy world.
Mile 25. I really needed to kick it into gear at this point. That extra mile between me and the finish put me behind pace. I had a Hammer Gel. (Save the sugar for the end, when you really need it.) I was down to my last half liter of water. After striding longer and stronger for a while, my foot was feeling somewhat better. Also, I chomped another cayenne pepper.
~Mile 27. After trying for several miles, I finally got a good enough signal to update my remaining distance on the map. I realized I needed to make about an 8 minute pace at this point. Ok, I want this. Bad. Balls to the wall. I got under 9 minutes for the next mile, and then realized I'm not going to beat the time I need to beat. I would need to pull a sub-eight minute pace, and that's not going to happen right now. This is the part when a race gets really tough. When you know the game is over, but somehow need to find the strength to keep pushing on.
Mile 28. Heck with it. If I remember correctly, the time to beat was some version of a supported effort. If that's the case, I can still get an FKT for the unsupported category. Even if I can't, I'm going to keep pushing. Maybe I'll never be great, but I'll still try for the the best that I can do (whatever that may be.)
Mile 30.7. I think I can see the gate at Wolf Rd. Let's go. This is what it's all about. Hey, I see tail lights. Awesome! My wife is on time to pick me up. Eyes on the price. Don't look back. Oh, my son's probably along. I hope he doesn't run to meet me like at the Ice Age 50 aid station. How am I going to explain to him that I can't run with him because it would be support?
Mile 31.33. No son, just my wife. Boy she was a sight for sore eyes. She never looked better. I did it! It was tough. The will to beat the previous best time didn't overcome my insufficiencies in training, rest and fuel, but I did what I came to do. If this is accepted, I'll have Fastest Know Time stamped before MY name. But for now, it's time to get home, get dry and get a nice tall beer in me. It's going to taste good.