After struggling through the road section, due to stomach and leg issues, I was happy to have caught a second wind and finally arrived at Rock Point. My family was at Rock Point for the entire race, along with a lot of friends from MIT, a group I run with in Columbus. It was great to come through and see so many familiar faces. Even though I could have probably used a few minutes sitting down to get some sugar in me I really wanted to get back on the trail. Even though I was a little light headed I figured a gel or two would perk me back up. I decided to head back out on the trail and run with Michelle Bischell for a while, since she was leaving Rock Point as well.
As we got back onto the trail I started to feel the effect of all those miles on the trail. I wasn't able to get my sugar levels back to normal and I became a little disoriented and confused. It's a damn good thing that I know those trails as well as I do because I was really struggling - not with my legs or stomach, but with my mind. I just kept moving forward, trying to drink a lot, and trying to eat as much as possible. I don't remember a lot of specifics from miles 40-59 - except that Michelle and I were together most of the time. We both sort of bonked and were moving pretty slow, and when we did talk we talked about which aid station we would quit at. We were a sorry bunch. Luckily every time I got withing a mile of an aid station I perked up a bit and came into aid stations a little more optimistic.
One memory that sticks in my mind was my not-so gratious behavior at Fire Tower. After struggling the 8 miles from Rock Point to Fire Tower I was so excited to smell hamburgers grilling at the aid station. I thought a Coke and hamburger would be the perfect things to lift me up. To my great dissapointment the hamburgers were only for aid station workers. I was crushed. I didn't want pretzels and another turkey sandwich. I wanted a hamburger. I didn't hide my dissapointment well and I'm sure I came accross like an ungrateful runner. I feel bad about that but emotions difficult to control after running 50 miles. I had some standard aid station food and headed on my way to Covered Bridge where I hoped to see Kevin (more on him later), his wife Elizabeth, and Tanya Cady who is one of my favorite people in this great ultra running community.
Last year the stretch from Covered Bridge to Hickory Ridge almost did me in. I don't know what it is about this trail but it's my kryptonite. It took me 2:30 to cover the 5 miles. I can normally cover 20+ miles in 2:30 so this was an especially pathetic pace for me. I think I could crawl 5 miles in 2:30 under normal circumstances. With how slow I was moving Michelle was moving slower. I came upon her sitting on a log about 1.5 miles from Hickory Ridge. She wanted to drop but of course she would have to get to Hickory Ridge first. I wanted to drop too but wanted to at least get to Mohican Adventures first. I came into Hickory Ridge pretty low. I sat down for about 15 minutes while Wayne cared for me - Wayne is a saint. He loaded me up Advil, water, coke, and food. A wonderfull lady rubbed cold stones on my injured leg. Those Mansfield Road Runners are a special bunch. It was a wonderful place to have a low point, but family was at Mohican Adventures and I had to move on.
The trail from Hickory Ridge to Mohican Adventures is much easier but it just irritates me to no end. It's only about 2 miles as the crow flies but the damn trail zigs and zags and loops around so much that it takes us 6 miles to get there. You literally run right by the Mohican Adventures campground at one point and you still have 2 miles of unnecessary switchbacks before you exit the trails - switchbacks should be reserved for steep hills, not flat trail. Enough bitching :) ...the mountain bike folks have in all honesty built an incredible single track trail and I am grateful for all their hard work. There's just something about the trail that gives me problems in the 100. Luckily I perked up as usual about a mile from the aid station knowing that family and friends were waiting for me - most importantly my pacer Kevin Martin was there.
If there is one person who could get me to the finish line it was Kevin. He is the most optimistic pleasant person to be around, not to mention he is one hell of an ultra runner. We ran 40 miles together at MMT and he didn't complain once until his toenail popped off at mile 101 - and I pushed him hard. I was excited that Kevin was there as my pacer. I didn't know how much I had in me but I knew he would not give up on me and would do everything in his power to keep me moving.
I'd also like to give a shout out to Jay Smithberger who, after winning the 50 mile race, stuck around to cheer us all on at the turn around and stayed until we all finished. This is quite ironic because when Jay finished there was almost no one there to cheer him on. There wasn't even anyone from the race at the finish line to record his time. I think I had some karma on my side from MMT where Tanya had me washing peoples feet because my dogs were barking and Jay was there to help. I couldn't get anything to stick on my heel that was raw but Jay had some moleskin in his car. He ran to his car, ran back, taped up my foot and sent me on my way. I was happy to be off and running again.
Stay tuned for the final installment...