Thursday, October 28, 2010

One man, one weekend... 200 miles.

One man, one weekend…  200 miles.  No t-shirt.  No Awards. No results posted.  No fanfare.  No glory.  
Earlier this year, LPTR Craig Swartwout completed the Leadville 100.   In 2009 he joined a very small and select group of runners when he completed the McNaughton 150-mile event on the greasy trails of McNaughton park in Pekin, Illinois.  Beginning the morning of Thursday, November 4th, Craig will attempt to up the ante.  He plans to cover 200 miles on the trails of the Southern Kettle Moraine by Sunday.
It’s not a race.  It’s not an official event.  There isn’t a time to beat.  Just one man, one weekend …and 200 miles.
Why would anyone do that?
There is no bravado here.  He hasn’t published his intentions (I had to badger him to let me blog about it). There will be no media.  He hasn’t dedicated his attempt to some noble cause.  He could have signed up for the Vermont 200 and gotten a t-shirt and had the possibility of having his name published in the UltraRunner magazine results.  He could have waited for a time of year when the weather was milder.   Or waited for a time when the hours of daylight were longer.  But Craig wants to do it right now.  
So why would anyone do that?  Probably to see if he can. 
With planning and crewing help from ultra-legend Tom Bunk and a host of other friends (thanks Robert, Beth and Mitch!), Craig will spend a long weekend head-quartered at the Nordic Trail shelter best known as the starting point for the Ice-Age 50 and the Kettle 100.    
Many of the LPTR’s will be out of town (A large contingency is headed to Mountain Masochist) - but everyone will be rooting for Craig!   

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Glacial 50 from the back of the Pack
By Steve Poulter

As a newbie trail runner and recent recipient of my coveted LPTR sticker, I have no problem confessing or promoting the back of the pack crew.  I’m one of those that with the excitement of a little kid are found darting out with the lean, mean trail running machines and then fading on the first hill and settling into my own pace.  So it was once again last Sunday, with a little more trail experience under my belt, that I set off on the Glacial 50K with a large group of LPTR’s and others in Greenbush.

Flashback 1 hr….I got to the race a little early to watch the start of the 50 miler.  With headlamp ready to navigate the dark (and to make myself feel cool like the 50 milers) I watched as RD Robert sauntered to the start with the racers to a calm countdown of his watch to set off the first group.  The simplicity of the race and the start was exciting.  No timing mats, blow up arches to run through, huge clocks or DJ’s blaring music.  Just the raw nature of runners and gear and headlamps and a sunset soon to happen…and rock our worlds….created a buzz and excitement that grew in momentum as the 50K runners continued to gather in numbers for their start an hour later.

So after final preparations and a pre-race guide from Robert, the 50K crowd started off on the road south in the same simple fashion as the 50 milers.  I did my best to try to figure out where I would find myself….I knew Joel, Todd, and Marcel would be out in the front somewhere…and Marty had big plans on coming in under 6 hours…well, those are bigger than my goals of 6 hours.  My plan was a 5:1 run/walk, I had run a 5:05 marathon at the NFEC last month, and figured I could cover 5 more miles in an hour.  What I didn’t anticipate was the rugged North Kettle Moraine and the heat that would set in late in the race.

After a great chat with Jeff and Angela along the road south and onto the trails, I found myself settling in behind a first timer, a newbie Ultra runner.  I found myself doling out encouragement on a certain finish and advice to just keep moving.  It was cool to sense the uncertainty he held about the race, but an excitement about the day to come.  I settled into my pace and the group spread out, this course required plenty of line of sight to navigate the rocks.  However the solitude was a stark contrast to previous races…it was me and the trail and the strategy and mind games and mental calculations began in full force. 

Funny sidebar…how well do you do math while running?  My goal was to calculate what I thought I would have to run to ensure I made it to the finish before the first 50 milers….let’s see, assuming a 7 minute pace over 50 miles converting into hours minus the delta between my 15 mile turn and their 25 mile turn…when was my last S-cap….every 30 minutes and gels every five miles…where am I…did you see a yellow Ice Age trail blaze lately….what is moving over there…check out that cool view…where was I?   COOL!   Aid station #1!  

So was my day, mental distractions contrasted with severe concentration to dance over the rocks and navigate loose gravel on downhill’s, and trying to take in fluids and nutrition.   As I closed in on Aid station #2, I saw the first of the 50K runners on their way back home.  It was about 2:18 in when I started counting runners, looking for my LPTR holmeys.  I saw Joel in fifth place blazing and was excited to see a familiar face…a couple more LPTR’s were along this stretch as I descended the steps into the AS and Julie was there to fill up my bottle, Jill and Connie were there rooting on the runners and waiting for their guys to come back in, and many familiar faces were helping runners.  I was quick to start back off up the stairs.  

It was soon after I saw Todd looking strong…where’s Marcel I thought, figured they would hang together…guess it would be soon.  Then I saw Marcel, Jeff, Marty and others and started the serious mental calculations again on when I would hit the turn myself, how far were these guys were ahead of me based on the turn…oh well, it kept me busy.

I hit the turn at the bandanna tied to a stick in the ground (awesome…again simple) at 2:57….right on pace for a 6 hour run.  It was here that I started feeling the heat and my pace increase, but I ran pretty steady back into the aid station and it was time to hit the drop bag.  A cool wet washcloth to cool off the head, grabbed my hat our of the bag, and added my Nathan waist pack bottle to the hand held I had been using to double fluid carrying capability.  Restocked some gels, grabbed some food and was up the stairs again.

From here the heat continued to increase and I started finding it hard to drink fluids and intake anything.  I topped off all bottles at the last aid station at around mile 24 and headed back out with some oranges in my pocket…it was soon after the real trouble started.  As I ran my stomach seemed to move into my neck…not a good sign.  I would walk and it would settle, drawing me into a false sense of success, only to try to run and have the nausea come back.  I found a nicely cut stump on one uphill and sat down…head in hands…can I make it,  yes, but what would it take?  A couple guys passed me at a crawl of a walk, they were close to my condition and sympathized, I knew I wasn’t alone in the struggle.

This battle went on until mile 28, when the lead 50 mile runner came running up behind me.  I looked at him and he stopped, hands on knees shaking his head.  He was hurting, and looked like he was running from a band of hunters…adrenalin raised, this is exciting, was there a race on…who was behind him…how close?  Was it Kevin, Christine, who was on his tail?  I shouted some words of encouragement as he headed off ahead of me…and it was then that I was able to start running longer segments.

So on I pushed and the trail broke out into the open fields where I knew I would soon see the road again.  I saw the 1 mile to finish sign and was encouraged to get this thing done.  As I pushed out onto the road and around the first bend I saw nobody.   Just me and the finish line, but the sun was beating down and I zig zagged on the road to find any shade available.  As I was heading north to the final left turn to the finish, I looked back and someone was gaining on me.  My walk / run was pitiful and they were eating the gap.   It was the second place 50 mile runner, later I would learn her name to be Cassie, and gain great respect for her accomplishment of the day.  I always seem to find the energy to run the last leg to the finish and ran it in to a new PR of 6:45 (2 minutes faster that the Ice Age 50K).

I stumbled around the finish area and heard a roar of applause (or a few guys clapping ?!?!?) hey is that for me or Cassie?!?!

And there at the finish was my LPTR friends, soaking up the shade and ready to talk trail.  Overall, awesome day, awesome trails, awesome race, awesome race director, awesome volunteers, and awesome friends.  Can’t wait to return next year.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Glacial 50k - Marcel Uttech's Race Report

Well I finally made it up to the northern Kettle to experience the Glacial 50k trail run. The weather was beautiful, a tad bit warm in the afternoon but that just made you want to finish all the more. The scenery was amazing, with leaves of bright yellow and gold all throughout the woods, and reds and oranges all over the prairie sections. This race was very well put together, Robert Wehner the race director does an awesome job making this race one you want to come back to year after year. I had the privilege this year of seeing Cassie (LPTR) come out from Colorado and smash the female course record by over 30 minutes, taking second overall! Go Cassie!
As far as my own race, well it was an experience. I started off well, setting a good pace and running with Todd Egnarski. At mile 4.5 I was flying down this hill and my left foot caught something and twisted my foot to the right, I actually heard a slight pop-pop noise and pain shot up my leg. I literally yelped (expletive) and while hopping quickly to keep from going down managed to stop myself and assess the damages. I was so worried that the race was already over for me... I started walking on it and it hurt but didn’t feel extremely bad so I tried running on it- seemed do able so I continued on, figuring I would just see how things went. Well for the next 11 miles I felt pretty good, back on pace and making good time. At around the turnaround point (15 miles or so) the pain started to gradually progress, of course the trails many rocks and roots didn’t help my situation, as I was continually stepping on things that made my ankle wince in pain. At about mile 24 I was reduced to a walk. Running was no longer an option. My ankle was trashed, and I felt like an idiot for trying to run practically the whole 50k on it anyway...I just couldn't bring myself to just give it up. I figured I would run/walk the rest, but my ankle just kept getting stiffer and more painful so I had to walk (more like a lethargic lurch) the last 4 miles or so out of the woods, just watching everyone I had passed throughout the race come on by while I just kept reminding my ego," you are injured, just finish and it’s done”...I felt like a dog straining against its leash to chase some cars…
It’s hard to let it go. It’s hard to finally listen to that voice that says “Hey, I’m hurt here and need some attention!” Our own goals get in the way, a fixation of sorts that throws all good natured caution to the wind. The mind of the trail runner…
Boy you really forget how long it takes to walk a few miles when you get used to running them! My Garmin would beep at a mile and inform me that I was on a 20 min/mile pace-ouch! Seemed like it took forever to get out of those woods! However, I stayed positive and used all my extra time to look around me and take in the beauty of fall there at Glacial that was on display. Big thank you to Jeff Mallach for the water, another hour would have been rough on empty! Once I made it to the road, I managed a slow jog (flat surface made me pretty unconcerned about twisting my ankle any further) and made it into the finish. 6:09. By no means a PR, but I made it. The volunteers were great, so many familiar faces! Had a great time socializing with friends and other runners afterwards, icing the ankle and forgetting about my last  20 min. miles...I would say all in all I had a good race. So glad I didn’t sign up for the 50 mile…I don’t know how you people do it! Congrats to all the finishers, that’s a tough course on the feet. I learned a lot about acceptance at this one, glad to hang my hat on it for the year. Be back next year.
Marcel Uttech

My two Left Feet: Glacial 50k

Race Report by Marty Kanter-Cronin:

So lately I’ve been thinking about feet. Not in a fetish way (Oh baby more big toe!) but in an athletic foundational strength sort of way.

This is a common theme with me, becoming interested in developed body areas of various athletic endeavors I take up. Kayaking? Shoulders and lats. I wanted to be a Cat 3-4 cyclist once (I stopped just past the training wheel phase; my thighs are the size of cue sticks), and I was noticing quads for a while.

So now that I’m a trail runner, I look at feet. As a road racer, I never saw other runners unshod, but for whatever reason trail folks just like having their shoes off. First thing they do after a race, just before trying to find a beer is let their toes out of hiding. I get to see lots of feet at races, and I’ll tell you, trail runners feet are tough and muscular.

Saturday night before the Glacial 50 races, I shared a room with three other runners doing the Glacial 50 miler; Kevin, Cassie and Brad. Apparently the need to go sans shoes doesn’t start with post race. Have you seen Kevin’s feet? TOUGH. If Kevin’s feet were a person, he would have tattoos on a 52 inch chest, wear a leather jacket, and occasionally eat glass. TOUGH. And then there were Cassie’s feet. Now, Cassie, being a girl has painted toe nails. But putting a dinner jacket on a bouncer doesn’t hide the hammers for arms. Refined, yes, but likes to pound nails in cement for fun. Several times I saw the muscles in Cassie’s feet trying to get out of each others way. Oh yeah, TOUGH. Then there was Brad. I didn’t see Brad’s feet much because he was too busy setting up a medieval torture device disguised as a sleeping cot. Brads feet remind me of that Bo Diddley song: 47 miles of barb wire, and a rattle snake for a neck tie. TOUGH.

Yeah. Trail runners and their feet are tough.

Then there’s my feet. Bird feet. Wimpy. The kindest description is they belong to a chicken. A small one. Seriously, if you strip what little foot flesh I have, spray paint my bones a pink tone, the before and after photos would show only slight differences. If my feet were a person he would be the skinny guy getting sand kicked in his face at the beach, and looking for some Charles Atlas dynamic tension to muscle up. But they are getting tougher. I have my pinky toes doing tiny little push ups. Really. They are up to 5 and a half.

So getting ready for this race, besides doing my pinky toe push ups, I gotta pick out what to wear and carry. I have an issue (ok lots of issues) with gear. I tend to over-pack for races, something that never happens when I am training. Example: Remember when Joel talked me out of my rain coat at North Face? What you didn’t know was what was in the raincoat. I had loaded up my  pockets with about 147 pounds of supplies. Really. I had three Clif bars, 12 gel paks, seven packs of Clif shots, a gallon of Gatorade powder, a first aid kit, a signal flare, and a bazooka. Ok, I exaggerate. I didn’t have the bazooka. I left it at home. With all that stuff, I just needed a Sherman tank to mount a serious attack on Normandy.

Speaking of tanks, I could have used a couple for shoes on the trail on Sunday. Races like Glacial 50K will either toughen your feet, or send them cowering for the nearest aid station calling MEDIC! Rooty? Rocky?  No, rocks don’t sound hard enough. To borrow some Van Morrison lyrics:

And it stoned me.

Seriously, there are 4 million eight hundred thousand two hundred and fourteen stones on the Glacial 50K course (I counted), and I stepped on all of them. And all but three with my right foot. Unconsciously, I ran much of this race leading with my right. Mashing, mashing. Stubbing, stubbing. Fortunately, no falls. But after a while (25 miles or so) my right foot had given enough, and it was barking at my left foot to take a turn. At that point, I could have used a substitution and gone with two left feet. I have composed a little Haiku to illustrate the footfall pattern from this point on:

Step Ow. Step ow. Step.
Ow Step ow.@#$% OW Step OOOooooow.
Step Step OW ow OW.

For this race, I got the nutritional thing pretty well worked. I only lost about 5 minutes for in-the-woods-jumping potty breaks. My Pre-race meal consisted of no fiber at all, and my night before didn’t have much either (to quote Kevin, fiber is like “a million little fingers in your colon trying to push the dukkie out”). I went with a powder called “Pro-Carb” and mixed it with my hand held drinking water bottle. No stomach issues, no need for a gel every 14 and half minutes.

Speaking of gels, have I ever told you about my issues with packaging? Gah. Before I segway into this, first let me preface it by saying, I am really a handy guy. Really. I re-wired my house, hung sheet rock, refinished wood like nobody’s business. I am good with my hands. I handle power tools like they are wired to my brain.

Yet packaging frustrates me: I have actually opened a cereal box with a table saw. Twice in my life I have been sent to a hospital for stitches from trying to open hermetically sealed plastic. So for me opening a gel pak is like putting on boxing gloves and trying to pick my nose. The job will sort of get done but not without cursing and self inflicted blood letting. When I have to take a gel pak my first thought is always: where’s a good table saw when you need one?

My summary, or long story much shorter: my race prediction was 5:40, and I would have nailed it were it not for the one poopy break. Final for me as 5:43 and change. Close enough and a 10 minute PR. Many thanks to Jeff Mallach for running with me for about half this race.

 Post Run! It’s the Christmas time of any race. Food, Beer, Cheer. Seeing Cassie and Kevin finish 2-3 in the 50 mile was great. All the LPTR’s kicked ass, including Bruce and Joel at the top of the 50K class. Robert did an outstanding job as RD, and those LPTR’s who weren’t running were there enforce as crew or volunteers. My many thanks and appreciation! (Especially Connie and Jill E, who demonstrated the very definition of grace by smiling and offering to take my stinky, sweaty shirt at mile 13. Thank you ladies!)

Lastly, I leave you with another definition: Gold:: The rising sun, shining though a million autumn leaves in the Northern Kettle Moraine.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Grindstone 100 Mile - David Ruttum's Report

I am not invincible. I know most people realise this in their mid twenties when they return to their alma mater and try to replicate previous drinking practices only to awaken the next morning slathered in vomit and a raging headache. Clearly I am a slow learner in that it took until age 31 at Grindstone 2010 for me to recognise that I am not invincible. I guess I should drink. But wait, I have already gotten ahead of myself.
            In my original 2010 race plans, Grindstone 2010 was going to be a fun science experiment. I would have finished UTMB at the end of August and just a short four weeks later I would race another mountainous 100. Needless to say, my plans were changed by the extreme weather and subsequent cancelation of UTMB 2010. Instead, I had two hard weeks of back-to-back 4-7 hour days of running in the Alps. I came back to states more tired than had I just run UTMB. For the interim four weeks I slept and did only 10 hours of running a week.
Toeing the starting line at Grindstone, my rest had been judged successful in that I felt a swarm of energy coursing through my body looking for an outlet. I had my super brother Eric crewing for me and I had already spoken to fellow race participants Ty Dranney, Jason Lantz, and Chris Reed. Andiamo! (“Let’s Go” in Italian- a common encouragement shouted at UTMB). With that we were off and I was comfortably in the lead pack of ten guys. After a half-mile the singletrack running forced us into echelon. I was behind two people that scared me with poor foot placement reminiscent of someone just transitioning between road racing and trails. I decided to zoom around them and my judgement was confirmed within ten minutes when I heard each of them crash. What an arrogant fool I was. I identified that these two were moving too fast over the variable terrain for their safety, yet I, the experienced ultra runner would never fall victim to the same problem. What hubris! The mythological God’s alerted to an act of hubris by a mere mortal, decided to clip my Icarian wings about an hour later.
In the meantime, our lead group raged-up the first significant climb. By this time darkness reigned and I was reliant upon my main headlamp and ultra running Barbie headlamp around my waist. As an aside, at the prerace meeting, Clark announced that he was raffling a Black Diamond headlamp and shortly thereafter I was the winner. As Clark had four girly headlamps and one stout, manly headlamp, I saw him look at me, then look at the manly headlamp, and then award me the girly headlamp. Thanks Clark! Do you think I look good in pink? What a vote of confidence. I am a little girl. He should know, I think Clark has three little girls. Still, the ultra running Barbie headlamp was brighter than my intended second headlamp so it usurped pride-of-place around my waist.
 After a short descent from the summit, we started a technical descent over a slag heap. This slag heap consisted of rocks about 60cm in length, 30 in width, and 30 deep, arranged in a random heap and freely mobile over one another. Footing was precarious and the darkness magnified the danger. A cautious runner would have controlled his descent over the heap and then increased speed later. Not the invincible me! I seemed to float over the slag heap, like a winged Icarus flying toward the sun, and then they ended. I made it unscathed and I had gained five minutes on the lead pack behind me in just two or so miles. Wow. Descending is cool. I breezed into the first aid station a wellspring of energy. As Clark and Horton told me I was two minutes ahead of Karl’s pace last year, I should have read caution in the tea leaves- instead I said “Cool!” and reenergised rocketed-off.
Sensing hubris, the God’s did not immediately melt Icarus’ wings- no, they let him get farther and farther toward the sun and then let him hang his own noose. Me too. Emboldened by the praise of Clark and Horton, I kept-up an unsustainable descending pace. A mile or so after the aid station, on another technical descent, my hubris caught-up to me and I placed my foot underneath a rock only to keep moving forward. My foot severely plantar flexed and inverted (foot was pushed down and the ankle rotated inward) causing instant pain and a crash back to earth. While I did not literally crash to earth, I did have to walk for a minute or so and assess the situation. I sensed burning pain on the anterior and lateral surfaces of my right ankle, but I could still bear-weight on my ankle. My inner voice thought “Perhaps this was just a warning sign that I should be more cautious!? Why not continue running?” Great idea David. So, ever the optimist, I took off at a slower pace and waited for Brian Schmidt (eventual winner) and Ty Dranney to catch-me-up.
For the next hour or so, Brian, Ty, and I had a great time running together. We uttered encouragements and worked together to better motor along. Eventually my ankle could not take the pace and I slowed the pace again and waited for Chris Reed to catch-me-up. By this time, Chris and I about pulled into North River Gap. Beside my ankle, the body felt great. Chris and I tanked-up on fuel and off we went up the feared Grindstone mountain ascent. Chris was my tugboat in so far as my ankle was increasingly painful and he did all of the hard pulling. I gutted-the pain-out and stayed on his tail. Chris is a rock star! Unfortunately, by the time we pulled into Little Bald Knob at nearly 44miles, I could not cruise the flats as fast as superstar Chris. My ankle hurt too much. At this point, I lost contact with Chris and had to start running my own race. I do 100pc of my training alone, not necessarily out of choice, but I have yet to find other ultra runners in Pittsburgh. I am used to running alone, but running with superstars like Brian, Chris, and Ty makes ultra running far more enjoyable and fast. So it goes. Speed ahead to the Reddish-Gnashing-Reddish knobs sequence and Brian, Chris, Ty, and I were all within one minute of each other (me the lantern rouge).  Descending Gnashing knob I completed the thrashing of my ankle. Once again, I planted my right foot underneath a rock and continued to run forward. My right ankle was now totally buggered. I walked for a few minutes and assessed that I could run the flats and uphills, but had to walk the downhills.
Survival mode. Every ultra runner knows what this means. I entered survival mode about mile 52 in a mountainous 100. Not good. As I stated above, my survival mode involved running, read jogging, the flats and uphills and walking the downhills. This survival mode was mentally tougher than the survival mode entered secondary to energy problems. Energy problems are usually temporary problems- too little sugar, too little electrolytes, too hot, too cold, etc. Once solved you may continue on as if nothing had happened. Not so with a physical malady. This ankle was not going to heal by going slower. Damn! My mind was castigating myself for not slowing down while my inner demons were castigating me for not unleashing my pent-up energy and taking-off- “Too hell with your bloody ankle!” Later, these demons transitioned into the “You should just abandon now” crowd.
Situations like this teach us something about ourselves that could never be revealed without facing significant adversity. History gives us many examples of adverse situations bringing-out heroic characteristics, but in our current risk sanitised world, we see less and less of this. My current situation was reduced to ignoring my ankle and pushing-on to the finish. I did not let the adversity overwhelm me to the point of folding and losing track of my goal. Nothing else entered my mind. Job, bills, future plans, etc. had to wait. I was living entirely in the moment. I had achieved a tranquil sense of clarity. [I attain a similar state when working as an anaesthesiologist during a crisis, but this state is work related and therefore not pure. Outside of running, the capitalist machine has moulded me into a machine that can enter this type of state to achieve an economic end, but again this is not pure. This is simply economics. Sorry to be so cynical about health care, but once you finish training as a health care provider; all you see in the health care industry is a naked rush for dollars]. Running is pure in that nothing beyond my own personal satisfaction is at stake. Not money. Not power. Not sponsorship. I run for myself and nothing else. This allows me to take calculated risks and achieve a sense of adventure in my life that is otherwise filled with mitigating risk. In a previous lifetime I would have joined an expedition to a new world and taken adventurous risks, but sadly the capitalist machine has pounded this foolish risk taking out-of-me.  Now I must take risks and achieve adventure by paying money to enter events that the public views with disdain as senseless acts of self flagellation. How sad that western society has changed from glorifying risk taking and adventure to creating a nanny state of fear where children are not even allowed unaccompanied to play outside.
Back to the race. I was now running my own race and forgot about leaders and goal times. I was going to finish albeit not as I intended. Just when I thought I had my body under control, the God’s through another thunderbolt at me. Slowing down had decreased the temperature of my internal furnace and I was getting cold. When I get cold and experience heavy vibration, like on a run or the bike, my corneas become oedematous and my vision becomes cloudy. I know that my ophthalmologist father is cursing the day I underwent LASIK, but I experienced this while downhill skiing long before I had ever thought of having LASIK. Damn. Now I have cloudy vision and a buggered ankle and am running a rocky course in the dark. The internal demons were screaming “Time to stop. Now you have enough excuses.” Oh no. I continued on. In the next few hours I managed to fall five times, once even rolling about 5metres down a hillside, because I could not exactly see where I was going and my right ankle could not compensate for any missteps.
These shenanigans reached a comical peak in the North River Gap area where a balmy 2 degrees C made my corneal oedema even worse. Keith Knipling had passed me about two minutes outside of the North River Gap aid station. Unbeknownst to me, he collected his similarly attired, blue Virginia Happy Trails t-shirt wearing pacer, Sean, at this point. As I left the North River Gap station Keith turned into a blurry two Keith’s! Boy was I buggered. Was I bonking? Was I hallucinating after sleep deprivation? Was my corneal oedema blurring my vision that badly? Why were there two Keith’s bounding along the trail? I decided that I better not examine myself further for fear of deciding I was totally barmy! Why not just run after the two Keith’s! Perhaps you get extra places if you pass TWO Keith’s!? The mystery was solved about an hour later when the weather had warmed enough for my corneal oedema to regress and I could tell that there were not two Keith’s- no, Keith had a pacer! Duh! This realisation surely prevented years of pharmacotherapy and counselling to palliate my hallucinations!
Well, now that I could see again, old Peg-Leg could navigate the course without falling anymore. I kept on moving and told myself to be patient and stay in the moment. I would finish. These feelings kept me warm inside. In the mid 90’s, Jason Lantz blew me away. I was so happy for Jason to see him running the kind of race he wanted and is capable of running! I knew that Jason had been plagued by injuries for some time yet always had a positive, gracious attitude. Even though Jason could not contend for another victory in the Old Dominion 100, he came to the race and graciously cheered-me-on over the entire course. What a humble, outstanding person. It must have taken a huge amount of courage to deal with injury and then cheer-on your competitor! His courage was exemplary and taught me how to be a better person. I was ecstatic to see Jason achieving and killing the course. As he strode away from me, he embodied happiness, strength, and perseverance. His triumphal image carried me over the last few miles. Witnessing his joy has added to my love of ultra running and it’s special community.
At the finish, I was warmly embraced by my brother, Clark, and Bobby Gill. I had achieved personal satisfaction in that I was able to stay in survival mode for about 48miles and finish against significant adversity. Moreover, I still managed to finish 6th and 45min faster than last year in 22:18. Not bad for a Peg-Leg.
Now the part everyone is waiting for- what did my right ankle look like? Well, as I took-off my gaiters and shoes, my right ankle was slightly swollen. Within ten minutes of losing my shoes, my right ankle was the size of a grapefruit and I had the fattest foot and toes ever! My right foot looked like a dodgy farmer had injected a litre of saline into a pigs-foot to make it weigh more for sale. Fortunately, the rest of my body somehow avoided any damage (despite the multiple falls) and I could compensate for the bad ankle. As a stubborn doctor, I have not seen any of my colleagues, but have read extensively on ankle injuries. I think that I have a grade 2 tear of my anterior talofibular and calcaneofibular ligaments. I am resting, icing, compressing, and elevating. Now two days later the oedema is subsiding and I can make limited range-of-motion exercises with the ankle. We shall see about Ozark Trail 100 on 6 November. Thanks to Bobby Gill, you too can see what my ankle looked like after the race. A special thanks to Bobby for calling it a cankle! Come-on Bobby, you know how sensitive I am about my fat legs! Laugh!
Chapeau Clark and his entire race crew [Chapeau is another term I learned at UTMB. French for “tip-of-the-hat”. A congratulatory compliment]. Chapeau Bobby Gill for exhaustively photographing the race weekend! Chapeau to my super brother for lovingly taking care of me and sharing in my joy! Racing would not be nearly as fun without sharing my joy and sorrows with him! He even forgave me for bear-arsing (see Will Ferrell in Old School) his cooler box at mile 51 when I needed to exchange running shorts for tights! What a brother! Eric. Mental note. Remember to clean the cooler box before bringing to future events. I do not think that was mud on the lid.