Hello comrades. Despite pain and dragging my cheeks on the trail the final 15 miles, I put the Croom 50 mile away yesterday with a time of 10 hours, 21 minutes.
Slow, way slow, bro.
I have so many thoughts bouncing around in my head that this posting may seem random...it is.
Saw a guy at the start, older dude with huge mutton chops mustache. Had the Nike swoosh and "26.2" tattooed on his left breast...wonder what that was all about.
Went off the start at 6 am. I was lazy and didn't check the batteries in my Petzl light and the thing pooped out on me. It was burning barely dim, so I had to go into a Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon stance, taking my headlamp into my hand and holding it 18" from the trail to read the terrain. Finally it dumped for good and I stumbled in the dark waiting for the first signs of light. It finally came and I made the first shorty 5-mile loop in 55 minutes.
From there we went onto the main course - three 15-mile loops. Dummy move #2 was bringing a hand bottle that I knew leaked, so when it started to leak again I wanted my back-up bottle - which of course I didn't put in my drop bag at the start line - so I had to run the 100 yards back to the car to retrieve it. Precious minutes slipping away.
Got onto the first 15-mile loop and was staying conservative...of course that meant moving off the trail numerous times to let the 16-mile and 50K jackrabbits run past...no respect for old master competitor, just "on your left!" and gone.
Got to the end of the lap...there's a .2 mile climb back to the start area. Two older dudes are talking about how hard a 10-hour finish will be, and they're walking....I come by on the ascent and one says "he's finishing up." I couldn't let that go so I said, "no I'm not, I'm a 50."
The dude retorts "50K?" and I flatly said "no, 50 mile." That was enough of that. Didn't want to be dissed for being assertive on the climb.
Since I was looking for a 10 hour race, I figured roughly 3 hours per loop. I completed the first one in 2:45, so things were looking good. I went out confident for the second round; moving well (so I thought). Some older dude comes past, no shirt, white hair and pony tail, tie-dye tights. He says "I'm 10 seconds off the pace and the hills come at mile 11."
Don't know what that had to do with me.
I committed one very bad infraction on that lap. Had downloaded a crazy podcast with some smoked-up couple doing a 2-hour Rush tribute show, so I was set for tunes (I saw Rush live in the Newman High School gym in the mid 1970's; Geddy Lee is a total rock master on stage).
Anyway I'm blasting tunes and needed to clear some pollen out of my cavities, so I drew up a big one and hawked it to the left...at the very moment a blond hottie decided to make a pass! I apologized profusely, and she replied with a huge smile "all bets are off on the trail."
I love women who understand.
I neared the end of the loop but something was wrong. Another 2:45 loop would have put me back at the start at 6:30; but that time came and went...and went...I finally completed loop two in 3:15. How did I drop 30 minutes? I felt old and tired and useless, as I stumbled in among all the 16 mile and 50K finishers, who were well into the after race party. But when I came to the aid station at the finish line; my ultra buddy Andy Matthews was volunteering. I said hello and he shouted "Master Competitor!"
That jacked me back up a bit and I moved out slowly for the final lap. Dimwad move #3 was not repacking my little "care bag" that I carry on the course. There was only one Aleve inside and my body was screaming for more. I had asked at aid stations but none was to be found. But then early on the final lap I saw a bag that had been laying on the course for the last two circuits. It had been dropped by another runner, and one man's trash is another man's treasure. The bag had paper towels and three Motrin inside!
I popped the pills and used the towels to wipe my salt-stained face. Good fortune during a long day of suffering.
The last 15 miles were ugly. It was the walking dead on the course, most inflicted with injuries, dehydration or blisters. I went past four runners, blazing past as I churned out 15-minute miles.
So 10:21 was on the clock, the party was almost over, and it was time to head home. I was ready to retire, but thought better of it and ran a slow 60 minutes today. Actually, there is very little residual from the race, so I'll be back at it again.
Trifecta. If I was a betting man I don't know that the odds were good for my top 1, 2, and 3 - Green Swamp 50K in February, Guana 50K in March and the Croom 50 mile in April. Think I'll cut back on the racing for a bit, but Tommy Terrific will be back at it tomorrow. It's the endurance sport lifestyle we all desire.
By the way Happy Easter. Our pastor had a sermon today that spoke of the risen Christ, and that it is a "challenge" to believe such a story. But on this day the story was real to me and the sun was shining and all was right in my world.
Journey on, my friends.