At 6am on Saturday, the Christmas lights at the Onion Shed gave me a little spark of optimism in spite of the daunting task ahead. A cold front had just blown through so I was thankful not to be starting in the rain, but it was quite cold (53 degrees) and windy.
Farmersville to Roxton. Miles 1-50, 10:45 minute pace. I had a little of everything - easy paved pathway, grassy singletrack, sticky mud to ball up my shoes, knee-high grass where I was glad it was too cold for snakes, 4-6 foot twigs and grass that made me wonder if I was still in Texas. And SO much water. The trail was completely submerged in several places. I did a sock change in Wolfe City but didn't make it 0.25 miles before they were soaked again. I had a good scare once when I stopped to take a leak and a rabbit bolted nearly right out from under me.
Roxton to Clarksville. Miles 51-95, 12:06 minute pace. With fresh socks & shoes I cruised through the miles on easy - but very monotonous - pathway/road. Pacers Brandin & Justin J helped me keep my head in the game as night settled in.
Clarksville to Avery. Miles 96-111, 13:41 minute pace. This was mainly a road section, followed by a few grassy trailway miles. This is where I started falling apart. I guess after running 100 miles, my brain was just done. I started walking. A lot. And then I got cold (the temp was below freezing). In Annona I spent over an hour at my aid stop & took a nap. Caroline joined the party for pacer duty, replacing Brandin. In Avery we were able to use the local VFD Hostel; I spent another 90 minutes here, where even my pacers took a nap. No one really wanted to go out again until sunrise. It was so freaking cold.
Avery to New Boston. Miles 112-133, 13:56 minute pace. The trail was was mostly short grass/gravel with a lot of wet/muddy spots which were usually easy to navigate around. Justin M joined the pacer lineup to allow Justin J & Caroline some rest breaks. In spite of having him + Justin J + Caroline, keeping my head in the game was HARD. The cold & exhaustion was taking me down. I caved in and grabbed my music player at mile 120. With under 10k to finish I tried to lay down hoping my pacers wouldn't notice; that didn't work. We rotated between 12 minute runs & 16 minute walks to the glorious finish.
Nutrition. I had expected to live mainly on Tailwind Nutrition, but it was so cold I couldn't drink that much. Most calories came from gels & solid food - crackers, cookies, broth, quesadillas, uncrustables.
Support: Starting at mile 57, I had at least 1 pacer at all times. I also had a crew of 5 who rotated providing aid station support every 5-10 miles.