|Is it Chris....or Shannon ???|
|Gotta go ?|
Hellbent on adjusting my pace downward for the third loop, I set a goal of 3 hours. I even walked some of the downhill portions just to keep myself in check, and finished in about 3:01. Now, with only Loop 4 standing in the way of getting Rick out there, I began to tire. I walked a good portion of the beginning part of the loop, at least until the 6.25 mile mark where you turn toward the left. Nutritionally, things were not great. I had not kept up my normal calorie intake. I felt depleted. Yet, aided by a really cool aid station dude from Brooklyn who hooked me up with a cold beer, I still managed a 3:20 loop, during which I hit the 50-mile mark on my Garmin in about 8:56.
|Somewhere Out There|
Having Rick as a pacer is simply indescribable. He has a knack for knowing how to push without pushing too hard. He has this sneaky way of getting your mind to drift from its thoughts of pain and despair. We started Loop 5 knowing that we needed to work on nutrition. But we also started the loop behind the eight ball from a mental standpoint - life stresses of the last several months began pouring in. Then, it got worse - "oh shit!!!!" - I somehow missed a rock and hit it dead on with my left foot, causing me to stumble forward. I didn't fall, but two toes on my foot felt shooting pain, and then finally went simply numb. In typical Rick style, he asked not if I was o.k., but if this would prevent us from finishing. Hell no...it is what it is we said, and in that moment I forgot about the life stresses that had engulfed my mind to focus on the throbbing pain. It took us a little longer to finish this loop, but not much - about 3:39.
Loop 6 was equally as difficult as Loop 5. Looking back on the splits from the Garmin data (see link above), it seems as if we were consistently 19 minutes slower for each of Loops 4, 6 and 6. Rick was worried about the foot situation, so much so that he thought it better to walk all of the rocky sections, even the downhills. I complied for a while, but ultimately moved into a slow run on the rocks. We knew that finishing this loop would signal the beginning of the end of the race, and used that to our advantage.
The last portion of the race is a short, 9-mile loop that features an ascent to the Tonto Trail, followed by a nice 2.6 mile smooth, downhill section of trail. I love this part. Last year we cruised down it to insure a sub-23 hour finish. This year would be no different. Struggling, we hit the top where the Pemberton Trail meets the Tonto Trail, and turned to descend. We hammered it, moving at 8 minute pace for much of the 2.6 miles.
The finish was sweet. My 17th race of 100 or more miles - 14 of which have come in the last 3 years. Another successful run with Rick. Another chance to see a slew of amazing people test the limits of the human spirit. Simply an amazing time.
What to do next? Well, how about another 100 in 23 days - the Bartram 100 in Milledgeville, Georgia is next!