Photos Added 2/19/09: CLICK HERE
It was one of those Ultra Travel days that one can not prepare for, no matter how one tries. After nearly twenty-four hours of airplanes, airports, and rental cars, I got to the motel room, beat and banged up, and seeing too many fingers in front of my face. I got into the room, collapsed on the bed, only to find Gideon’s bible. Gideon had checked out, he’d left it no doubt..........you’ve heard the tune..
I woke in the morning to find the weather was grand, the sky bright blue and as big as the state of Texas. It was as warm as it was when I was running the Falls, not three weeks ago in Manoa. So for me it cool; but for others it was a sauna, as they had just come from St. Paul, or Kansas. A day later I was up in the night, I put on a long sleeve HURT shirt, and the rest of my uniform and it did me just fine. But my support bags were packed with all kinds of cold and wet weather gear.
This race is a sprint over rolling dirt or sandy trails and twisty curvy forest paths, or down straight long rolling dirt roads and tracks. But don’t think it’s a lark, the paths are crisscrossed with roots, and the trees come alive in the night. I stumbled and fell. I whacked and bumped my shoes, and was left wondering if my right big toe nail will ever have time to re-grow. So if you come out this way, be fast but be wide-eyed for these rolling trails are deceptively technical.
I did the first 20 in 4:10, the second in 4:20, and the next 20 in just about 5:00. Hey I was thinking I’d be done before I started and headed out on loop four needing to pull in another low four. But you know me, I’m no speedster. Hell I can’t even run, and the heavy effort was far too soon for my temperament. But I was burning both ends, and pushing too soon, and I rolled into the turn with low four. But the Aid station stop had been a bit long, my feet were a mess and I had to change shoes, and my gut was a mess, and I’d forgotten my name. But I stumbled out in a haze, the coolness of the night pushing my pace, if only to warm up a bit.
I was charging into the last lap, looking at another low four to break the day, when a voice in my head said “Hey Brah, you goin kill yourself for sure.” Well I brushed it aside, and kept checking my pace, believing there was a Philosophers Stone in my shoes. But the guy was relentless, he was dogging me like the Fish, and so I had to ask myself what I was doing. Well you all know I‘ve written about being real stupid; of forgetting that running is not just for right now. There are runs tomorrow, and next month and next year, and brother you can be real dumb and end up missing them all by trying too hard for a goal. This was no HURT I told myself, and I could crawl to the finish and still have a time that was near my PR. I finally admitted that the window had shut, and less than a day was out of my league. I dropped back on the pace; I took stock of my body and listened to the guy in the back of my brain.
But 85 miles of running too hard is not just something you can slow down and forget. It is like drinking or smoking for too many years, and then stopping and thinking ‘Well I’m alright now.’ I was still half-believing I was what I am not, and I was pushing for a finish with a twenty-four in it. And then with less than ten to jog, my body gave out and I found myself ‘All Right’. My left leg went ‘mmmmpough’ in a soft quiet way and my hamstring just transmuted into steal cable. I was suddenly limping. It was painful to stride. I was gimping along at a pitiful pace. There was no left side to me.
So, I thought to myself, you mouthed off to your friends about their fast paces, and now it has come to bite you in the ass. “Yeah, Yeah, asshole I’ll deal with that later. Right now I got an eight to complete.” I undid the string from my gator and wrapped it around my face cloth and tied it tight to my lower thigh. The pain ebbed a bit and I stumbled on, and into the last aid station. There I got a hold of a roll of duct tape in less than a minute or two had wrapped it around my left thigh and knee. “That’s going to hurt when you try and take it off!” said a volunteer. “Hell, sweet heart, no worse than it hurts right now. And I’m not thinking about quitting.”
I gimped on, the pain ebbing and flowing, my pace an inversion of the hamstring sensations. I actually passed some people, was passed by others, but kept pushing. I crossed the line at 26:28. Almost 2 hours faster than my previous PR, and likely me life long PR. I won’t go out after Twenty-four again.
This is a well run race. A fast race. It is a good one to consider for a first 100, or for a sub-twenty-four attempt. The race staff is wonderful. The support is very good, and the volunteers willing and helpful. I always felt at home. There were plenty of HURT alumni there. Mike Smith, Carl Gammon, Marty, Andy, were among the crowd I ran with. There were others in the fast gang who were there as well. I don’t know if there were any other HURT 09 finishers there. This is a Midwest annual event, the culminating run of a number of their series. There were over 200 Hundred Mile starters and as many 50 Milers. Lots of people. Lots of Texas good cheer and hospitality.
The terrain is rolling pine and deciduous forest, with the occasional palm tree. Lots of holly, and oak. It is pretty in a South Texas winter kind of way. The warm weather made it quite pleasant. But beware! Huntsville Texas can have temperature variations of over 50 degrees in a day. Wake up to sub 30 and see near eighty by afternoon. The storms can roll in fast and nasty.
I had lucked out, but I saw the medic to help
Unwind the roll of duct tape from my hamstring
The Nurse said Mikey looks like you met your match
But I said, babe its only a scratch
And I’ll be better, I’ll be better doc as soon as I am able
Then I fell back in my room
Only to find Gideon’s bible
Gideon checked out and he left it no doubt
To help with poor Mikey’s revival......