Thanks to Davy Crockett and Hudson for all they have done to make this insanity possible.
Opening thoughtsFunny thing. In my effort to run one crazy race in the middle of the Utah desert I have managed to run seven 50 plus mile races in two years. Not bad for an old body.
This years race for the Pony Express started last year when I decided that the most important thing I could do was to train 110% percent for the 2009 Pony Express race. I bought more shoes, paid foot doctors and fixed physical problems as they came about. In my training this year I did four 50 mile races with my best time of 9:30:37 and averaged about 400 miles of running per month.
However, life is always an unknown which is what makes it so much fun, well maybe. No matter how much we plan and train there is always something that can effect the end results. For me this effect was cleaning the gutters and roof on my house as well as dusty camping out near the Geo Beds.
Last Friday (friday before the race) I decided to clean my home's gutters and roof. This year the rodents have been everywhere and the roof had not been cleaned for a year in which time we had about sixty inches of rain. About 5 hours after the roof work on Friday I started to get sick. My body temp reached 103 and i had no energy at all. I did not fully recover until Thursday the day before the race.
Given I was feeling pretty good on Thursday and full of energy Hudson ( my super partner in this race) and I decided to give the run all we had. We moved our camp from the Dugway Geo Beds where we had stayed searching for magic rocks during the week out to Lookout Pass in preparation for Friday morning.
The run started very well. I had been given advice by many long term Ultra runners that the best thing to do was slow down; so i slowed way down. My average split time for 5 miles was 45 minutes during training. However, in order to reserve some energy I slowed to about a 12 minute mile.
By mile twenty my average split time for 5 miles was around 1 hour or in other words I was running around 5 miles per hour or a 10 hour 50 mile posting. At mile 20 i decided to try something different. My thought (a thought that had been with me for 4 months) was to stop and stretch, eat something and chill for 10 minutes. In all honesty it did nothing but make everything hurt worse.
Around mile 25 i started to notice some strange pain in my left hip but not all the time plus my left shoulder would hurt each time i moved my left arm. I had never felt this kind of pain before but decided the pain was the result of the shoes so i changed during my stop at mile 30 from my NB 875 shoes to my NB 757 road shoe. The 757 was my road training shoe and given the ground was as hard as a cement road with rocks on it I felt it might do something great for my body. It did. By mile 45 the pain in my hip was gone but the pain in my shoulder was very bad and getting worse.
Around mile 35 i notice a strange cough coming from no where. When I coughed it felt like i had the flu or some sort of common cold. No doubt my lungs had started to fill up with some fluid. I was not too concerned because it did not seem to have much of an impact on my performance.
Also around mile 35 if my memory recalls correctly I caught up with a fellow runner Pablo who I raced with last year. Pablo was hurting a bit so I got him up and going and we decided to work together and get the best time we could to the 50 mile mark.
An amazing friendship formed in our team effort to reach 50 miles. We pushed each others bodies and minds as well as talked about several complex subjects in a way that you would think we had started our own TED program in the middle of the Utah Desert:: It was a blast. Heck with the race we are having way to much fun teaching each other so much thought and idea.
As the darkness started to fall and time moved forward I started to notice that my lungs did not seem to want to work at all. If I breathed very deep at all a cough would develop so I just pushed on and payed more attention to Pablo and our discussion then the reality that I was running out of oxygen for my muscles and rest of my body.
Around mile 48 to 50 my brain started to fail. Not only was I bonking but worse I could not breath. I had a tough time breathing. In my bonk state looked out for Hudson who could not be seen so I just pushed forward with Pablo. At this point it was not me helping Pablo but Pablo helping me move to the 50 mile mark.
At mile 50 I turned around and started to head back. In my head the one thought that frustrated me the most was how I went from feeling very good a few miles back to not being able to breath or move forward without great pain and trouble.
Going back before the race the one comment I heard over and over again was mind control. This second 50 miles was a mind game. Given this information i figured that it must be my weak mind. I took my bonk killer drink and moved forward figuring maybe my problem was a weak mind and not failed lungs.
Around mile 52 i could no longer think clearly. Most important I could not tell if I was standing up or moving forward or sideways. According to Hudson I really walked about 55 miles because for a long time I justed walked in a big circle or went backwards or forwards on the trail making no real progress but eating up tons of time going no where.
After about an hour of this circle and miss guided walking I crashed to the ground only to be caught by Hudson who stopped the fall.
I hugged Hudson with all of my might and cried with great sorrow releasing a year of dreams and hopes in one big emotional drain. Where in the hell was the YouTube video for this moment?
Hudson moved me over to a chair. He worked with my legs and lungs trying to get my breathing improved. His effort and drive was amazing and may have saved my life. For two long hours in the dark Hudson did everything he knew how to do to get my lungs and rest of my body working again.
After 2 hours of this work I was able to move over to the driver side of his car and with great emotional pain get inside. My emotional pain came from knowing that the minute i stepped inside the car the race was really over.
My work shift back home starts at 2:30pm. Talk about the perfect runners shift. I get up every day and head out to Bent Creak National Forest and run some of the most beautiful single track in the world. While running i could see myself on the Pony Express trail pushing and moving forward.
My runs over the summer became super strong and my times went down to the 9 min. mile mark for most of my splits which for me was amazing time for my age and given my average run was 20 to 30 miles.
Stopping was not an option this year. As I said to Hudson during my walking around in a circle there is no way i am quiting this race. I must fall to the ground because my body has failed or i must keep trying. Try i did right to the very end.
My only doubt at this point is what would the body have done if after the 2 hours of rest I had started to run again? I know the answer. I could not breath during the drive back to the tent and most of the night. The entire breathing process was one of taking control. No longer was breathing a back ground brain function but a full on must pay attention function.
What went wrong with the Lungs? I have no idea. My guess is the camping out at the Geo Beds during the week when the wind was blowing up tons and tons of white powdered dust all of it ending in my lungs. I have also been told that my lungs may not adjust well to the dry air given I live in a very moist climate. Who knows. What i do know is i loved every intense painful moment. I will return some day to do the 50 mile run but will never return to do the 100 mile run. Pushing my body and mind that hard on the Pony Express 100 trail is way to selfish and crazy.
So on Wed of this week if all goes planned I will be on some wonderful single track running along the Smokey Mountain Parkway looking for black bears. Thanks to God who gave me such a wonderful body and a chance to be part of something so crazy, wild and fun.
Next Race you ask: The Freedom Park 24 hour New Years Eve run in North Carolina. I have not decided if it will be 12 or 24 hours. Wed of this week I will decide.
enjoy.. and happy trails..