In December of 2012 I mapped out a plan and race schedule for 2013. I wanted to run another 100 miler and get back into the shape I was in two or three years ago. I also wanted to focus on running some new races versus running the local ultras that I usually ran year after year. As the year progressed I found myself hitting my goals and succeeding at my races. I don't think I ever hit a race in the proper shape though. I would toe the line at a 50k in marathon shape, or a 50 miler in 50k shape, etc. Nevertheless, the fall running season came around right after my biggest month of running in three years. I pushed through North Face 50 miler and set my sights on Pinhoti.
I had exactly 5 weeks in-between TNF50 and Pinhoti. Following a high mileage September that saw me race three times, I knew I needed to recover. I planned on taking three days off and getting back at it. Three days turned into five as my knees were slightly tweaked from the technical trails. When I did start back I had another week of just slow 3 to 4 mile runs. I was now three weeks out from Pinhoti and I hadn't really run in two weeks. I thought no problem, I still have three weeks to cram in a few more long runs and stretch the legs. Boom! My daughter gets sick, my wife is out of town, I get sick....in that order. Two more weeks has passed, and I am now one week out. I woke up the Sunday prior to Pinhoti and managed to knock out a 21 miler on roads. It hurt more than it should of. So, heading into Pinhoti I really had only one quality run in the five weeks preceding. I hadn't run any trails or had any significant elevation change either. It was time to test my mental facilities and heart.
The week leading up to the race was so cool. I immediately wrapped my head around the fact that I would be out there until I was done, accepted it, and anxiously awaited the start. I knew I wasn't trained, but nevertheless felt very ready. Before North Face, I had never used a pacer, and my wife was always my crew of one (Which she was wonderful at!). Pinhoti would be different; my wife, son, best friend and neighbor were all coming to crew and pace me.
This is generally the part where a blogger would give you blow by blow details of the race. I'm not going to do that. Those details really have nothing to do with this race. I will give you a few of the highlights, never the less.
- First of all, due to a massive traffic jam I had to sprint over a half mile just to get to the start, check in, and literally hear the words 'go'.
- The bottleneck to get on the trail .08 miles in sucked.
- My friend Brett, along with others, had said that they were surprised at how bad they felt 15 miles in. I too felt crappy at that point, but quickly recovered.
- I didn't want to see my crew until 28 miles in, when I did see them it was a huge lift. Crossing the waterfall and entering the field with the lake was also beautiful.
- I breezed to the top of Bald Rock, so fast I didn't believe I was there. My crew wasn't even ready for me.
- The pavement at Bald Rock heading towards and after Blue Hell sucked. It was surprisingly painful.
- My wife is a good pacer, as are my son and friends.
- The miles 48-53 are some of the prettiest in my opinion.
- The aid stations and volunteers ROCKED!
- Horn Mountain is hard, especially the third segment heading into 85. I fell so hard I thought I broke my arm. Brett mentally saved my life up there too, when we got off course for 30 seconds, which I thought was miles.
- The last stretch of pavement goes on forever.
Pinhoti wasn't really a run for me though....it was a continuation of a journey. I was just shy of 5 years running at the start. When I started running, I was running away from something....running away from a past I dare not speak of. Or at least I haven't much yet.
I started running a month or so after I got clean from 13 years of cocaine abuse. I waited a month because I literally was afraid to raise my heart rate too much as I thought my heart might give out. It's funny, I have probably only told one or two other of my running friends that. It was something I was always so ashamed of. In all reality, it really never defined me, and the ultra running community would have accepted me just as eagerly.
The run has always been in me; even in my youth my mind and body always told me to run. It turns out that there was a reason for that, and I took to running quickly. I set an immediate goal to run a marathon. I went online, found a 16 week training program, found a marathon 16 1/2 weeks away, waited 3 days and started the set program. I was terrified to miss a day or mile of training. I thought if I did I wouldn't be able to run the marathon. That fear had me training through snow, rain, minor injuries, etc. Looking back it started a great training attitude for me.
16 weeks later I crossed the finish line at my first marathon in 4:01:00. My wife and son were waiting and I burst in to tears. It was wonderful! My first thought was that was tough, but I have more in me. I signed up for my first 50k two weeks later, found out it was on trails, and thus started a new chapter in my life: trail running. Upon completion of my first 50k, I felt the same way....I had more. After the 50k I heard about a 100 miler. My life truly became training and I set my sight on what I thought was the end all-be all of athleticism.
To summarize, 10 1/2 months after my first marathon, I ran my first 100 in 22 hours. I had completed my running goal. After that I put my family first, continued to train, but put it second. I have enjoyed every minute of running. I have missed months when my daughter was born. I have taken days off to spend a lazy day with the family. I went from a front runner to a finisher. And you know what? big deal....the view from the middle of the pack is pretty good too, and quite possibly more fun.
This now brings us back to the beginning of this blog. I know I entered this race wildly undertrained. A 100 mile race isn't easy, it isn't for beginners, and you should be heavily trained to thwart of injury. I had no business starting or finishing Pinhoti. I know what it takes to run a successful 100. I chose to run this race for two reasons, and I knew before I started that I was walking away with a buckle.
The people I love most in this world were there with me for this race.
Every mile I run is a promise that I will never repeat my past.....
...but most importantly....
I wanted to prove something.....With the support and love of your family and friends you can do anything.....ANYTHING!
I told this to them through tears on the last mile.....
......Pinhoti was my slowest 100 to date......but the most memorable race of my life. This buckle is on the dash of my car. My other buckles are collecting dust somewhere.....