Start:(Hey at least we look more confidant then last year)
The morning is crisp. The heat had been unbearable the night before. I hadn't gotten much sleep. (see Leah's blog for that reason). So i welcomed the cool air and hoped i could knock off the miles early in the day before sun came out and cooked us. *side note* We had left VT/NH less then 24 hours prior with the temps in the 40s, to drive into the Virginia temps well into the mid 90s.
The first 3 miles was basically all uphill, but dirt road so the walking was easy. And it meant that we really didn't need to pack a headlamp as you could run with the residual lights from everyone around you. Rik and I just trot along and listen to everyone else chatting. One woman is going on and on about how she's under-trained and that she forgot this and forgot that, and that her water pack was leaking. If we didn't put some miles between us i knew we'd have to kill her.
At Moreland Gap there was Gary's signature bottle of Knob Creek. I pondered for the next few miles that if the missing liquid was actually imbibed this early in the day. As we climb up short mountain i'm finally introduced to "chicken head" rocks. They were difficult to navigate at 4 miles in daylight. I can only imagine how much of a pain that would have been at mile 70 in the dark.
The trail is tight singletrack through here, which on the origional course, probably would be great, but this early it was as bottleneck. Carl Camp decided it was time to run and pushed past the group of 10 of us. Rik and I tried to follow suit, but quickly lost him. Man can that big fella run. At Edinburg Gap there was hopes of seeing Steve and Leah, dumping some gear, and swapping out a water bottle. Trouble was we were either ahead of schedule or she was behind. No Leah, No Steve. I'd spend the next 20 miles wondering if they got lost or stuck in the parking lot somehow.
As we ran the ridge line towards Woodstock tower the sun had risen high enough were we were starting to feel the heat. Luckily the aid station was amazing full and upbeat. Cold drink, ice, ice cold fruit and i was even offered (and accepted) and ice cold towel. Rejuvenated we quickly ran out of the aid station before stopping briefly at a couple of old hang-glider jumps Marveling at how high up we were compared to the farmland below. We could see I-81 that we had driven in on in the distance and make out the cars screaming along.
On the long decent into Powells Fort i catch up to Bob. He's a relatively local runner who'd a veteran to these events. In his time not running he's a basketball and soccer coach so he helped me pass the miles talking about how his kids were doing in their respective sports. Rik and I had seen Bob earlier in the day. He had been dubbed, "fast-walker-guy." Every time we started to catch him on the runs, we'd get to a climb and he'd pull away again. So when dad catches us rather then saying hello and says "hey, you're that guy, i gotta hit you with a rock!" I could only shake my head and go, "Bob, this is the guy i was telling you about, my father."
At Powells Fort Rik chats it up a bit with a volunteer who had ran Warmog a few weeks prior. Rik had run it on a whim as a last ditch effort to train for this bloody thing. It's nice to know that the apple didn't fall far from the tree. I push ahead knowing that mile 32 is coming up and I'll finally be able to see Leah. It's a long climb, a long hot, exposed climb that has us huffing for air. I quickly go through my 40 oz of water. The only positive is that i can hear the traffic on the road below. Then i see the 1.2 miles to parking area sign and feel like I'm going to die. Rik had snapped out of his low and had trotted on down the hill ahead. I start to go tunnel, but somehow maintain and jog the last decent into camp. Thankfully cold boost and fruit await.
The climb from Elizabeth to Shawl is nothing to scoff at. Feeling amazing from the instant cool down my body got i shot out of the aid station and started to climb. Climbing is all i've got. I'm not a quick runner, so flats and downs are out. The incline is where i make my time. I pass a few runners but the heat is stifling. I again find myself without water with over a mile to the next aid station. I slow again, almost to a crawl. I take my buff off my belt, dunk it into a murky puddle and put it on my head to try to cool myself. It helps, but only barely.
The stretch from Shawl to Veach was long and hot. Last year this stretch of road was dirt, this year, fresh blacktop so the heat was radiating into our feet. Its around here where we hear the familiar *click* *click* behind us. It's "Sticks" (Leonard) the ultra runner that runs with an trekking pole. He and Kc are trekking along and quickly fall in pace with Rik and I. We chat for a bit before splitting up in the Veach Aid. I again pull away on the climb and find a log at the top to rest on to wait for Rik. One, then two, then 5 people come through. I start to wonder what the heck happened. Thankfully Rik turns the bend and finish the climb up to the top. The rest had done me wonders and the climb had done Rik in. I jog ahead and catch up with Kc on the next decent. Rik catches up and states. "i should have known you'd have run off ahead with a pretty lady." Which i jab back with a "like father like son huh dad?"
Indian Grave Trailhead was amazing. After being told at Veach that it was only going to be water i turned the corner to discover a table with the full spread. The volunteer quickly grabbed my bottle and offered me ice, soda the works. I thanked her profusely and told her that i was going to be sitting for a few and waiting for my father. It was probably only a couple of minutes later but the look on Rik's face when he got into the aid station wasn't pretty. We knew we had 4 miles of dirt to come, and then another crew station. I encourage him to get out of there as darkness was quickly setting in. I didn't have much run left in me, but i knew i could power walk the roads and make the 4 miles before dark. We laugh at the cows and how Kc was saying "how could you eat something so cute" about 5 minutes after her saying how excited she was for a McDonald's Cheeseburger that her crew had for her at Habron.
I pull away from Rik and Kc and walk into the next aid station well after dark. New shoes, new socks, and more lube were there, and my stride had already been effected by chafe. As i sit in the road and change my shoes and socks Kc comes in and her crew is amazing. It's like watching a NASCAR pit crew, they sit her down, change and feed her. Rik comes staggering in shortly there after and plops down into the chair, he doesn't look good. Steve is upbeat and encourages him to continue. Rik is smart, perhaps too smart, he's done this course in daylight. He knows this next stretch is 10 grueling miles. He tells me i should go on ahead without him. So i grab my mp3 player, wolf down some more food, grab some skittles and hike off into the darkness alone. I hear that Kc left almost 10 minutes before, i make it my goal to catch her.
I'd been up now for almost 18 hours. Ran/walked approximately 54 miles. The chest cold that was simply a cough was starting to build. By the end of the first climb i coughed, and coughed, then i started to gag until i puked. I try to recoup any lost calories by eating half of the skittles. My taste buds are fried, too many Gu's throughout the day. Skittles, once delicious, were just terrible. Even the podcast i was listening to on the climb wasn't doing it for me, so i turned it off, and tucked it into my belt. The next hour is silent, very quiet. I catch a few runners, but they are in bad spots and can't keep up with me on the climbs. I catch up to Kc about an hour later. We chat for a bit. I learn that she's just graduated from Law School, and that she's an avid 50 mile runner but this was her first venture into 100s. She asks me how Rik and I had met after i said he had gotten me into ultra's 11 years prior. I had to laugh and say, "well, we go back a ways" *paused for dramatic effect* and then explained that he was my dad. She was floored. It was nice running with someone that was chatty. It helped the hours tick by. Unfortunately for me. I had again run out of water and was going tunnel. We rolled into Camp Roosevelt well after my ideal time. I slumped into the chair similar to how Rik had 10 miles before and drank about 80oz of water before getting up.
The 4 of us marveled at Kc's crew again for a bit before Steven proud as he could said "You ready brother?" I could only sigh and say, "as ready as I'm going to get." I tapped Kc on the shoulder and said, "you'll catch us up the trail." And we were off into the dark.
We managed to stay ahead of other runners for some time. Steven chatting about school and how he's getting better at biking. I also learned a lot about energy drinks and "leveling" in video games. It's kind of funny now, he was chatting away and even though we're only 15 years apart i felt like it might as well have been 50. The company was nice though, i've never really shared any bonding moment with him because of our age difference. But he's grown up a lot, and it meant a lot to me that he was out here with me. We chatted about dad for awhile and why he dropped. Then the climb hit, and we were quickly passed by 3 other runners, then another 2. Steve missed a couple of switchback turns and he said to me "it's a good thing YOU'RE paying attention" which could only make me laugh, it'd had been 23 hours, and i was at 66 miles. My chafe had reduced me to a shuffle even in the areas where i wanted to run.
We passed the boy scouts who were camping on the top of the ridge and the adult that was there asked how long we'd been running. I looked at the voice in the dark and said, "oh for about 24 hours now." and was responded with a simple "huh."
Steven raced ahead into Gap Creek once he saw the lights on the bridge. I shuffled in, depleted shortly behind him. I hadn't sweated in over an hour, I was battling dehydration, Rik had dropped hours ago, I was shivering cold, and my chafe was the worst i had ever seen it. Steve had started calling me "Cowboy" based on how i was shuffling along and over the rocks.
The volunteers were pushy. Telling me to eat, and asking me constantly if i wanted a pancake. All i wanted to do was collect my thoughts for a minute. I told the guy "i just want to think for a second." And was told "well you don't have time for that." Really dickhead? I just ran 68.7 miles and you are going to tell me i can't stand here for 5 f-ing minutes. I'm still ticked looking back on it. You are there to help, not badger.
I look at the cut offs at the next aid station. I replay the terrain in my brain from last year. It's 5am now, i've been up for 24 hours. Based on my splits for the last 5 miles there was no way in sin i was making it up Jawbone and across the ridge and down into Visitors. I say it out loud, lock eyes with Rik, Leah and Steve. Perhaps if i didn't know what was ahead i would have thought differently.
I left Gap Creek 1 with the thought of. I'm going to at least LEAVE the aid station. I walked down the road towards jawbone. I sat down on the shoulder, looked at the climb, hung my head, saw 4 runners come screaming past me. I'm sure they knew as well as i that we'd need to hustle something fierce to make this next stretch in time. I didn't have it in me. I looked at Rik, and Leah, unpinned my number and walked back to Gap Creek and turned it in. "141 is done"