I wanted to thank so many people for their encouragement and advice that it started to get a little like an Oscar acceptance speech. So I decided to generalize the thank you. So to everybody and you know who you are. THANK YOU.
I would like to single out one individual who gave up his Saturday to transport me there and work aid stations. Brad White was a big help and seeing him at the 1st unofficial aid station and the last aid station was very encouraging. I would like to commend Keith Hallmark and the volunteers for a very well organized race. Aid stations were well stocked with stuff and staff.
Weather was perfect. It was a little chilly at the start 26F. During the course of the race the temperature reached low 60s. I was a little unprepared for the 26F temperature at the start. The forecast was for 30s at race time. I had to improvise and start out in a light jacket I had not intended on running in.
The race starts uphill for around 1.5 miles and it seems like it will never crest off. When I reached the crest I was warm enough to toss the jacket off and Brad was there collecting discarded clothing. By the time I reached the trailhead at approximately 2.8 miles the throng of runners had thinned out some. It was a steady stream and there was conversation and plenty of company on the trail. The 25K and 50K racers run concurrently for a little over 8 miles. I had run the trail 2 weeks earlier after heavy rains and there was plenty of mud then. To my surprise after a pretty dry week there was still a good bit of mud. It was still very boggy and muddy in places. My shoes seemed to provide good traction and did not seem to bog down. (Nike Alvord) Things rocked along pretty good at this point with more thinning of the field. The leaders were well away from my position. My fear was over pacing and running to hard at first and not being able to finish, so I tried not to pace with the 25K people.
By the time I reached the 1st aid station (54:32) I was well within my splits. I grabbed some pretzels and a little water and spent 1 minute at the aid station. Back on the trail I was still among several 25K racers. We proceeded to where the 25K and 50k racers split at around 8 miles. There was a pretty good stream crossing and my feet did get wet. My blisters were already talking to me before my feet got wet. At about mile 10 my left ankle gave way and my foot folded under. I had injured it weeks earlier and had turned it once a week every since. I was used to running through the pain and it was OK on reasonably level or uphill running. The down hills were hard because I could only plant with the right foot. This got worse as the race progressed and really slowed my progress to a crawl in some areas. I continued on toward the 2nd aid station. I had recovered some and was running pretty good on the left foot. It took me 1 hour and 15 minutes to go from the 1st to the 2nd aid station. I was still within my splits. I spent almost 3 minutes at the second aid station. (pretzels and water)
I left and headed down the yellow loop. By this time people were few and far between. I did talk to a few in passing. I was usually being passed. My legs hurt, my blisters hurt, and my left foot was sore. The soreness of the foot would override the other pains much of the time, but honestly it was not real severe and I could run through it. The yellow loop seemed a little less technical and after 49 minutes I reached the 3rd aid station. I spent 3 minute at this aid station. I was still within my splits, but I was entering into uncharted territory. I had never run for much more than 3 and half hours solid and I still had almost half the race to go.
As I left I was looking forward to the deepest water crossing and soaking my sore foot a little. I was still passed occasionally by runners who look very fresh. I was not fresh and as I slogged downhill people would ask me if I was ok. I would say yes as long as they were not the sweep. When I finally reached the water crossing I slowly strolled across enjoying some cool relief. My ankle was a little It took me 1 hour and 17 minutes to reach the 4th aid station. The section I had just finished was the worst mentally. I spent 6 minutes there eating pretzels, a GU Gel, and drinking water. I was beginning to crave a lot more water. It was becoming hotter and I was perspiring more. I did see Keith Hallmark at this aid station and it was nice to hear how the race was progressing.
The next segment was the most taxing mentally and physically. My pace seemed to a crawl. Back on the orange loop the going was more technical. The foot was really holding me back on this portion of the trail. Keith had said that all the aid stations were on top of grades. So I would find myself disappointed when I climbed a hill and did not find an aid station. The other disheartening thing was hearing voices and thinking it was an aid station only to find it was some people on horseback. The riders were everywhere and they were very courteous. I finally started up a hill and saw the last aid station. Brad’s truck was parked there, so I knew I had made it out. It took me an hour and 40 minutes to reach the last aid station. I was well off my goal split for a 6 hour 30 minute finish. I was beat, but happy to hear that only 2.8 miles of road and not trail was ahead of me. I spent a couple of minutes at the aid station and had some more pretzels and water.
As I started to run my ankle was holding up pretty good on the flat surface. I managed around a 9 minute pace the last 2.8 miles. The first mile was uphill. When I finally reached the downhill portion I knew I would be OK. I finished the last segment in a little over 25 minutes. My unofficial race time was 6 hours and 37 minutes. I was sore and tired, but very happy. I did manage to grab a small bit of red beans and rice before we headed for home. I spent Saturday evening eating mass quantities of calories.