Somehow on January 29th, 2011 I find myself amidst some premiere trail runners at the bottom of Roper Hollow Road. The crown has been issued and fitted to my skull and shall not be removed till I complete the course!
|Matt Kirk delivering the course briefing|
|Steady climb right from the start|
This course is very challenging and has somewhere over 6000' of elevation gain with about equal the descent. I am fortunate to know the course as the South Mountains are where I do almost all of my running. It was great to see so many runners enjoying the trails that I call home.
|Course overview by Rubitrack & Google Maps|
|Shedding layers on an unseasonably warm day|
I arrive at the aid station and turn around point in 3:01 which I was more than satisfied with. I take a peek at Sultan's cake but can't find an appetite for solid food at the moment. I feel bad for not partaking in the birthday festivities and gloom over the boner points I will receive. I begin to struggle with my Nathan hydration pack as I always seem to do. With the very much appreciated help of a volunteer, Charles West I believe it was, I manage to get filled up for return trip. I down an Ensure and a 5-Hour Energy and grab a handful of gels from my drop bag. My wife, Amy, takes a few precious pictures of me and my daughter Mackenzie. And just like that before I can think of other options I am off to finish what I started.
|I was her king for the day but she will be my princess for a lifetime|
|Heading back out after the turn around|
Things slowed down considerably on the back 16 as expected. The heat was becoming a little uncomfortable and I was overdressed. Climbing the last hill on Upper Falls Trail around mile 19.5 I develop stomach issues. I'm forced to make a pit stop and and very glad to have brought those baby wipes.
Mile 22 I start to feel the first twitches in my legs and know that some cramps are developing. Let the mental battle begin!
Thoughts race through my head... why am I doing this... this will be the last one... forget about Mitchell... you can still get your money back...
Up to this point I had been consuming a gel and an S-Cap an hour. Somewhere around mile 20 I tried to eat a gel and just could not get it down. I had now gone about 1.5 to 2 hours with no calories and was starting to feel really zapped.
Mile 24 I am feeling really nauseous and need fuel... I squeeze a gel into my mouth and try to wash it down quick. I gagged on it and spit it out before swallowing. The next thing I know I'm vomiting. After three clean outs I rise and I'm aware the nausea will more than likely pass now. The frightening part is knowing how much hydration I just lost and I still have 8 plus miles to go.
Just keep moving forward....
I'm now noticing that I'm not really sweating anymore which is never a good sign. The legs are starting to spasm a little more frequently and I'm having to alter my stride a bit to keep from locking up.
I see Richard Lilly and Angie Burns a quarter of a mile ahead and I use them to pace me for awhile. That worked for several miles but then they faded away and I am solo again. I try to keep things as steady as can be and begin hoping for a sub seven hour finish.
I'm now on the final 3 miles which is mostly downhill and I'm ready to be done. I round the final corner and here some hooting and hollering. I'm either at the end and there are still runners there cheering or I've run into a hunting party thrown by the Roper Hollow Mountain locals.
Then I hear "do a cart wheel"
It is over 6:57:19 and I'm beat and very nauseous. I am very thankful to have been a part of a great event in my favorite mountains. I stuck around and chatted for a few minutes but really wanted to get home. I drove off without really saying farewell as I just was not feeling well. Sadly I had to make two roadside stops on the way home due to nausea and vomiting. Arrived home and slowly refueled and re-hydrated the body.
Woke up the next day feeling much better and the legs felt surprisingly well.
Sights are once again set for the next challenge.... Mount Mitchell
|The Sultan himself earning great bonus points on his birthday run|
Happy Birthday Mohammed and thanks for a great run!