The original date was set for a couple of weeks prior until a winter storm decided to hit eastern NC and prevent any safe travel passages to the OBX. Those out there who are familiar with training know a bit about how this change in race date can not only mentally effect a runner but also how it physically challenges one. I was set to go and then Mother Nature had a different plan. Since then I hadn't found a true training groove and in fact I'd battled a cold and other weird pains I didn't feel before the original date. This too shall I pass I continued to repeat...
So moving forward and staying positive, I continued with the vision quest to conquer this Graveyard 100K (actual 63 mile course) beast created by my ultra-marathon buddy Brandon Wilson. I often get questioned with "What did you say again?" "How far is that?" "Are you riding a bike?" and of course other questions eluding to the fact that indeed despite some level of inspiration that this cat must be completely insane. As the poster shows, I don't need easy ... I just need possible! Of course, when I do these quests, there are certainly deep rooted mind constructs other than waking up one day and saying "Oh I think I'll run a 100K". As I often mention, there will be a day when I can't run or even walk. Folks, that day has NOT come! I want to know exactly what I can do versus wondering would of could of should of. Life is too short and I know we can all do more. It must of been in the late 1900's when I first told someone, "The older I get the older OLD gets!" Exactly! So what are your vision quests? Fear not what you haven't done but instead fear waking up asking yourself why didn't you?
This 100K was simply just part of my journey on this almighty search for who I am deeper inside after I take away the obvious roles of a parent, spouse, therapist, and Sensei away. So who are you? Like the wrestling movie Vision Quest, is there a "wrestler" named "Shute" you must conquer? Is there some level of inner demon you must beat?
I'm not going to even attempt to pretend that I could have done this completely on my own. As I planned ahead, I had organized a crew of my wife, Gina and our friend Stephanie Slayton. Additionally, Brandon Wilson who would not only start the staff race would also be checking on me as well as run with me during this 100K journey. To secure a medal signifying my insanity, I had to complete this trek within 18 hours. After having had finished my birthday 44miler in 8:43 during the GORUN Ultra Plus, I had the confidence that I could finish this madness under 15 hours. I would not be another wrecked ship!!
Throughout the week before, I constantly did weather checks. The weather predicted may have changed some but the bottom line was that during some part of my run, it was going to be some nasty wind and precipitation to endure. I had to plan for varying temperatures and conditions. I was internally thanking my wife for my vast collection of underarmour clothing. Ten years ago, I would have laughed at the idea of spending the kind of money my running clothes cost but today was NOT that day. "Be Prepared" the Boy Scout Motto kept ringing in my ears. My dad had always taught me it was better to have it and not need it then to need it and not have it. Despite how encouraging my mom, nuclear family, and friends have always been I often wonder what my dad would be saying about all my crazy adventures if he was still alive.
The work week was as tough as usual. I had just come off a month of over 700 units which was good enough for my 3rd highest month of productivity in my career. This week would be near that pace, full of meetings, and of course the evenings still had a life full including parenthood, being a husband, and of course teaching multiple martial arts classes. People often ask, "How do you do it all?" Well, the truth is that it must be a lot of divine intervention!! haha! But it really does take some kind of positive force and a lot of it from just being organized. I schedule my workouts and obligations just like going to work. I rarely call out from work so I'm certainly not going to call out from my personal life either. You just have to have that kind of crazy mentality if you want to be successful. Sometimes that does mean you get less sleep but I do recognize the fact that my body has adapted and where I can do well with 6 hours of sleep, many people can't. When you've raised 4 kids, you learn to do a lot of things you didn't think you could! The bottom line is life should require you to live and not be owned by your place of employment. For many people I've observed, it's just that. They go to work. They go eat. They go to sleep. They go to work. They get paid. They go to work. Let's face it. If you are in that mode, STOP! Find something you enjoy or find a new adventure and simply put it in your schedule. Yes, when you are an adult you have to plan your spontaneity. Sounds tough but do you really want to look back at retirement and not have any adventures to share with grandkids or anyone else for that matter? If you do then well ok. It will not be that case for me. I pray that your life will be more for you! It's a brand new day so just do it!
Before the week was over, my biggest support Gina was sure to obtain anything I wanted from my list of foods and such. As most of my crazy adventures, I would continue with old reliables such as Fig Newtons, Oranges, Bananas, PB and Jelly sandwiches, and Tostitos Chips. Orange Gatorade, Chocolate Raspberry Roctane Gu, and S-Caps would also be a crucial part. I also ventured out with Amways Nutrilite Chocolate Nut Roll Energy Bars. Note the word ventured as everyone knows it is dangerous to try new things on race day. I planned to take in at least 250-350 calories every hour. The Energy Bar was 190 calories so along with Gatorade etc I would be covered for the hours I would use that combo.
Although one of my favorite superheroes is Flash, I would not be doing anything in this race at any rate of speed considered to be Flash-like except maybe my racing thoughts! As planned, we headed north east to Elizabeth City on Friday with the family and Stephanie Slayton. We would stay at Gina's parents that night. Landon would stay with her parents and Gina, Kamryn, and Stephanie would go with me. Morgan had volleyball and other plans to hang out with friends. For dinner, Gina's dad and mom aka Supreme Bed and Breakfast, would provide me with my traditional pre distance race dinner of steak, rice, and a salad. I knew the next day would be a caloric volcano so I was eating up like it was my last meal. Weight that night would tip the scales at 157, a weight significantly over my typical 145-150 range. I made sure to spend quality time with Landon and Kamryn before double checking supplies etc. I was ready to meet the challenge. By now the forecast changed to lots of ugly precipitation starting around noon or so. I didn't come this far to talk about it so in my mind I remained positive and confident. Good night pep talk from the wife and soon I was off to sleep.
"The pain of discipline is far less than the pain of regret." -Sarah Bombell
That night was typical for me. I had tossed and turned and periodically woke up looking at my watch to see that the time only progressed an hour or so at a time. Throughout my life, I have always had a fear of oversleeping for work, tests, and now races too. Anxiety versus the Sandman would be the theme but this too passed and relatively soon, I was up and ready to go. I often remember my Ironman and Boy Scout Troop 11 friend, CC Wilkins and his phrase of wisdom, "Success begins in the Bathroom". As with all my races and many training runs, I often wake up early to reinforce the fact that mobility helps with motility. Breakfast and good byes to my wife's parents and Landon and off I went with my crew. There is always a tentative plan for action. I had no idea what the day would bring...
Extra Garmin check
Safety Gear check
Extra clothing check
hmmm... did I forget anything?
We had to drive from Elizabeth City to the OBX where we would meet Brandon at the start. As usual, my nerves were in full effect but I was ready.
We had gotten a little confused but eventually we found the correct starting line and met Brandon. Unfortunately, I discovered that all other GY Staff other than Brandon and my crew had decided not to run. My race would be me versus me. I would not be able to rely on Aide Stations or the energy of other runners. I would have to depend on what my wrestling coaches Greg King and Elvin James would call "intestinal fortitude". There wouldn't be any questioning of it. I have always been stubborn and once I decide to do something, you can pretty much believe I will give it all I have to complete the task at hand.
Early on, the run was going very well and I even questioned the amount of layers I had on. I was relaxed and had to remind myself that it was a long day and that my pacing and fueling were important factors. The good news was that the weather was perfect and the predicted colder rainy weather hadn't arrived yet.
I had the best crew. A close friend and fortunately triathlete and wound specialist doctorate level PT, Stephanie Slayton and my soul sole mate Gina a seasoned Trauma and Critical Care Occupational Therapist and most importantly my best friend and wife who always helped me stay positive and push to new limits. Together they would pace me for nearly 20 miles total. Mentally this is essential as it really helps time go by and most importantly helps the miles go by. Sure, I enjoy solo runs too. It's the few moments in my precious high octane life that no one is grabbing me for some worthy responsibility.
In the background is the Bodie Lighthouse...I've always loved these lighthouses... soon I would love really love the Hatteras Lighthouse.
This picture doesn't give this scene justice as there were countless birds in this area. I've always enjoyed point to point long runs. Travelling by foot certainly becomes an adventure. This race provides some of the most beautiful scenery in the OBX.
Mile 11ish... moments before crossing Bonner Bridge
Along this beautiful course is this long bridge. I would take pictures of course and take my time. Unfortunately, just a about a tenth of a mile from the end of the bridge I had the sudden urgent need for a bathroom. Fortunately, after a minor accident there just happened to be porta potties at the end of the bridge! Whew! How lucky was that! With no crew in sight as they simply checked on my periodically using the Family 360 GPS related device application and physically met me about every hour, I would make the executive decision to toss my compression shorts, put on my running pants, and roll out. So yes, I did forget something on that checklist... toilet paper! I was lucky that the porta potties were there but I had wondered often what would I have done if I hadn't been so lucky. Those porta potties were only there due to a construction project.
This temporary bridge was used to cross an inlet created by various storms. It was somewhat scary because you knew that cars would not see you until you were at least at the peak. Defensive running at its best to survive. It is unfortunate that this area may one day require a ferry or a larger bridge like Bonner bridge to access as this temporary bridge had become somewhat permanent.
Eventually, I met up with my crew again. They had picked up one of Gina's life long friends Myra. I would take this time to use some baby wipes, clean up, and fuel up. It was really neat running at the beach as the dunes gave a near desert feel. Fighting sand and wind are never fun but I love the challenge, adventure, and scenery.
They would soon leave me and with no bathrooms in sight I later climbed over a dune for toileting. Strangely, I was very alone and the temperatures were dropping and winds were gradually picking up. This area was like running through a sandstorm. Soon, I was nearing buildings and I then knew my rest area was in sight.
Not too much longer before I reached the Aide Station. My crew would be there and about a marathon of distance would be completed. It would be 24.4 miles before the next stop.
The Rodanthe Community Center
MILE 25.5 AKA AS3
During the staff run, Aide Station 3 was not functional other than a door to tag to account for the complete distance. It was starting to get colder and in attempts to take a picture I dropped my phone. Fortunately, my crew helped out and got the phone that had fallen under the building's deck while I ate up. Again, fueling was important. I would feel as if I was constantly eating. I ate tons of oranges, PB jelly sandwiches, and that one AMWAY Protein bar. I also enjoyed tostitos and fig newtons. Gatorade and S-Caps were used at about 10 ounces and 1 cap every 6 miles. I had to also prepare to soon put on my lights. I had begun to lose my appetite for the sandwiches. I was now just craving orange slices, some chips, and fig newtons. While running I found some large shells. Of course I had to stop and put them in my camel pak and when I got to the aide station, Gina and Stephanie teased me about it. I justified the findings because the shells were BIG! They really shouldn't of picked on me though since while I was running this adventures they had been chasing foam rollers down HW12 and playing with Roosters and Chickens at the Aide Station. Soon it was time to go again. It had been a long day. My crew started reinforcing all efforts of mine including fueling when I should.
Chicamacomico aka Salvo NC
As the time went by the temperature dropped and the rain started. Darkness gradually enveloped me. It would alternate sleet and rain with intermittent snowing. Lights and other reflective gear were now required. At this time, Brandon Wilson friend and race director would join me. It was great to have another pacer as my crew was done for the day. Keep in mind that they were also caring for baby Kamryn. Since it was dark, I found myself getting bored and was very thankful for Brandon helping me maintain progress. The cold rain and sleet had penetrated my clothing. Running gloves simply don't cut it. Brandon did an excellent job distracting me with various conversation subjects from anything joking to serious. It was great therapy and it really helped time to go faster. Your mind starts to wander and you get into deep philosophical subjects when you run long distances. You know.... like what the hell were you thinking you moron alternating with come on you freaking PANSY! But seriously, you talk to yourself and you also enjoy the friendships along the way as you discuss life in general. We won't go into the details of what Brandon or even my wife Gina or even Stephanie and I discussed because you soon learn what happens on the long run.... well you know.... Stays On the Long Run! After about 7 miles with Brandon, we reached Hatteras Lighthouse where we met my crew. The lighthouse was open!!!
Hatteras Lighthouse Webcam!
I went in and although the building was not hot, it felt so warm after running in the teens. I was soaked. Having a tint of blue and shivering along with struggling to strip and change clothes, my wife helped me change clothes. I quickly remembered how wonderful dry warm clothes were! I switched out my running gloves for some semi ski gloves Stephanie had and once completely dressed I felt like a brand new person. Heck I only had a half marathon left. Just about 13 miles left in this 63 mile journey. Brandon and I took off but Brandon waved me on to continue as he went to talk to my crew. I later learned that he told them to stay near in case I started getting weak etc. I guess turning a shade of blue in front of your friends is no way to secure confidence eh? Meanwhile, despite him talking, I was off and feeling great with my dry warm clothes. The rain was now light only mixed with brief spells of sleet or snow. I looked down and was going an 8:30 pace at mile 51! Brandon caught up with me about that time and we slowed down significantly as I realized there was no way I could maintain that pace. After about a half mile I became tired. Strategy changed to running to points then walking until relaxed. Sometimes I could run further and at other times I just wanted to extend the walking portions. I had already battled the worse weather and a majority of the distance. Nothing was going to stop me at this point.
Gina and Stephanie met us with some hot chocolate within the last 10 miles. It must have been the best hot chocolate I've ever had! It was great and it really helped me to get a little boost of energy to continue making progress. I was so excited about finishing that they often had to remind me to eat. In my mind, after completing 50 some miles, I was almost done relative to my start with 63 to go. The reality is that the last 13 can prove to be just the half way point when you look at what the body is enduring. It was probably better though that my mind was stubborn and was already feeling great about crossing that finish line at the Graveyard of the Atlantic Shipyard!
YES!! I finished my first 100k! 13 hours 53 minutes
Nothing like a little bling bling to complete the day!
Mother Nature is still in charge. I would learn later that I would be the only one to complete the course that year because of flooding.
Next big battle... Raleigh Half Ironman
So what is your Vision Quest? Your next adventure? Time will go by at the same rate regardless if you work or sleep. How will you spend your time?
**This blog is incomplete**
stay tuned in for more pics and reading...