Marty Kanter-Cronin's Race Report...
Lost: My equilibrium, my car keys, and about 3 hours sleep. I have just awoken at 3:30 AM, remembering that I have a 2 hour drive from Atlanta to Pine Mountain GA in 30 minutes, so I can have the pleasure of running 40 miles. Ugh.
Found: Coffee and almond butter toast! And my car keys. Hit the road jack with a GPS and a rental car. At this time of morning the 6-lane highway is mine: Zoom Zoom!
Lost: Well, the GPS says the race is….right……. here….. Hmmm…
Found: FD Roosevelt State Park. The race that is. GPS’ are never perfect. Shut up GPS lady! I found it myself.
Lost: my ability to change in a back seat. I haven’t been that twisted and half dressed in a car since I was 16 on prom night. Compact car? Bad Idea. After that move I could join the circus as a contortionist. Yes, that was my left hand and right foot sticking out of the window.
Found: The start line, 7 AM. Lets get this party started! Its about 39 degrees, and slight overcast. The temp will rise only to about 45 today, and the wind is blowing in some of the open sections. Nothing too extreme, really nice running weather.
Lost: My passing ability. We are in the opening section, a flat 3 mile pine needle covered forest and I should take advantage here to pass a few slower people. I don’t. It’s a long day, no rush.
Found: The best view I have ever seen in a race. We are climbing a mountain switch back (one of many), elevation goes from 500 to 1300 ft. To my left is a rock wall, to my right is, well, nothing. Nothing but an emergency helicopter ride and major surgery if I step 6 inches THAT way. The sun is coming up, and I can see for miles and miles. We crest and run on the rocks, BIG rocks, like boulders. Hop hop hop hop hippity hop. AS1 comes up at 5.9 miles, and we are climbing climbing again. I torch the up hills; they are all gradual, but long. PEOPLE! These aren’t hills! They’re bunnies!
Lost: Left behind a whole bunch of runners at AS1. Running on more rocks, this time glacial trail sized. The well drained trail was leaf covered, but recent rains have matted them down. Most of the roots and rocks are visible, and sporadic enough to skip around. Dance monkey, dance! The trail was in such good shape later the course records would be shattered.
Found: The string in my left leg. Due to Marcel’s recommendation, I foam rollered the left leg ITB issue and it was good to go. Feeling good good.
Lost: the string in my RIGHT leg, suddenly. Ugh. I had done some work on both, but probably not enough. My right ITB was barking in my hip and knee starting at 10 miles just after AS2. From this point, I would once again run UP and walk DOWN. Crap. Running up and walking down is hardly a trade off. It’s a losing fight with gravity’s angels. I thought for a while if I should continue. 30 miles more to go like this?
Lost, then Found: my resolve to never quit. I have never DNF’d a race, and I didn’t want to start with the one that would set my new distance PR. Suck it up buttercup, your ITB won’t break. Running now on rolling forest trails with jutting granite rocks in places pine needles in others. Sharp as a razor, and soft as a prayer.
Found: The leaders. Coming back at me. This race is an out and back, with two loops in the middle. Like eyeglasses; we take the upper portion of the lenses on the way out, and the lower portion on the way back. The first three runners are headed back, and the winner would almost break 6 hours. Not quite, and a testament to the toughness of this course; the winner had 50 milers under his belt in 6:30. AS3 comes up.
Found: Water. Miles 21 to 23. A breath taking valley, with streams and water falls: Cascade Falls, Slippery Rock Falls, Big Rock Falls, and more. We cross fast running creeks and streams 13 times in 2 miles, periodically climbing up the mountain and just as quickly dropping back down in the valley. The most beautiful trail section I have ever run, I take nearly a full hour plus some minutes to complete a rugged 2.5 miles. Some of this trail section is also close to bush whacking. I have to duck my head in places to avoid the vegetation.
Found some more: Weezy. I am running with this guy, and he looks so familiar. I ask him a couple questions before finding out he is this guy: http://run100miles.com/race-reports/geatest-est-most-fantastic-est/ . Someone I had read about just a week ago. Small world. Weezy just finished Pinhoti, almost at the same time Kevin G finished. We run, and talk. We hit AS5 and this guy has GRILLED CHEESE! On a real GRILL! I tell him I am leaving him in my will. Seriously.
Lost: Weezy. It was fun running with him, but he was doing the smart thing and walking uphill and running down. We would yo-yo for a while, he catches and passes me down, I catch and pass him uphill. At some point, we must have had more up than down.
Found: My legs. I run from mile 25 to mile 33, and I am in good shape. A little behind schedule, now I want to finish in under 9 hours. I reach mile 28, at 6:30 figuring 2.5 hours for 12 miles should be easy. Right?
Really Lost: Mile 34. Sooner or later if you run far enough, or long enough you will lose your bearings and the will to go on. I’ve never run this far, and definitely never for this long (7.5 hours). All I want to do right at this moment is to stop. For the earth to open up and swallow me whole. Better still I want to be somewhere warm, like the finish line where there is food and a warm fire. I have seen this part of the course before, it’s the return portion of that stunning opening view. It takes me an hour and a half to cover 3 miles. Ugh. All I want to do right now is stay on the trail. Hello, Emergency services… Yes? I’ve fallen off the mountain and I can’t get up. Send the helicopter.
Found: The LAST aid station, at mile 37. I ask the nice lady what time it is, since I didn’t wear a watch today, on purpose. She says: “3:57”. 2.5 hours for the last 9 miles. Now, I have a flat pine covered 3 miles of trail to go, and 3 minutes to do it in to break 9 hours. Now I really need the helicopter.
Lost: Two places. I suck it up run run run hard picking up each wooden leg of shredded kindling step on toes of lead buck shots from a thirty aught six and no I ain’t walking no more and screw you guys who just passed me I don’t give a crap I catch you I’ll kick you in the shins dang it frikin’ hurts. (Cuss words have been modified to a PG rating.) Ran the last 3 miles in 26 minutes. UGH.
Found Found Found: The finish line, 72 out of 131. 40 miles, my new PR for distance. A new total running time, 9:23, almost 3 hours longer than any other.
Lost: my goodie bag in the rental car! I left it behind! Gack! Oh well, all I really wanted from that was the Moon Pie anyway.
Found: a real gem of a race.