We are back, still alive although a bit more tired today than we were last Friday.
Our (Ken and I) trip began Friday afternoon in Totenham Ontario at 5:00 pm. I picked up Ken at the local grocery store and after a quick Tim Horton's stop we were on the 400 series of highways heading for Buffalo and eventually Florahome Florida. There isn't much to say about the drive except that after we drove for a couple of hours and stopped for gas just outside of St. Catherines we got lost getting back onto the highway heading for the bridge to the USA, pretty funny when you get lost in your own backyard. This set up what was truly a great ride down to Florida. I guess all you need to know is we made is safely and we were still friends when we got there :)
We drove all night long and took turns taking naps in a reclyined passanger seat and between songs and downloaded pod casts from Trail Runner Nation we managed to sleep 4 or 5 hours each, just enough to keep the car moving forward. We arrived at our motel in Florahome on Friday afternoon at 1:00 pm and after another short nap we afternoon attended the pre-race meeting, picked up the swag bag and then Ken got back into the car like a trooper and returned to Jacksonville to pick up Michelle at the airport.
Race morning: Up at 5:30 for the typical pre-race breakfast. I even took a Tim Horton's tea bag with me as to not mess up the usual Tim's large tea and a cinamon raisan bagel. Once breakfast was over and we found our way down County Road 100 to the race start line, 6:45 and I was ready to go.
Race start, 7:00 am. It was about 18 degrees at race start and the humidity was pretty high. Michelle and Ken got my drop bag ready for the far end of the course and with the threat of rain I was just hoping we'd get the first 10 or 12 miles in before the rain started. Luckily this was the case and as a matter of fact shortly after the race start the sky cleared, the temperature rose to about 28 degrees and the humidity remained at about 90 percent.
My first 50 miles went very well. I had a plan to get it done in or around 9:45 in order to keep my goal of finishing under 22 hours alive. I reached the 50 mile turn around in 9:35 and felt very good and truly ready to knock the socks of the course over the nexst 50 miles. More on the second half later.
As I ran along the straight out and back 12.5 mile loop I learned a lot of things about Ultra's in Florida, hopefully no one takes offence to this but here is what i discovered: for the most part anyone running in the southern states would rather put their head down and not say a word to you as they pass you going the other way. Of course there are a few exceptions to this rule but not many. I was some what dissapointed in the level of hospitality of the other runners during the event. I even have a funny story about one of the runners I came across at the 67.5 mile mark. It goes a bit like this:
It was night time by the time I reached the turn around for the third time. I had been following a head light from a distance for some time and although I was closing the gap it wasn't happening very quickly. Once I crossed a wood railway tressil approx. 1 mile from the turn around I decided to run as much as I could and attempt to catch the light ahead of me before the turn around. Looking for any small victory I thought this was a good goal and 200 yards over the next mile seemed attainable. I got a drink at the aid station and didn't stop knowing I'd be back at the aid station in 3 miles, so I set out after the head lighte ahead of me.
I met my goal and right at the turn around I caught up to the gentleman ( I use that term carefully). Having only gained 200 yards on this person over the last 8 or 9 miles I had no intent on passing or pushing forward, instead thinking this is someone I could run with until I meet Ken in just 12.5 more miles. After a quick introduction I found out his name was Mike and he was from the state of Indianapolis. I asked him how he was feeling and his reply wasn't unexpected, "feeling a little tired and sore and we have to do this one more f__ckin time". My reply was simple, "we can do this man!" Well imagine my surprise when his reply in a cold sharp voice was, "WHAT IS THIS WE SHIT?" I quickly rephrased my comment, "you can do it." After that I decided it was time to walk and I'd let Mike go on ahead of me, I guess I wasn't feeling the love.
Time for something else I've learned about Ultra's outside of Ontario. Don't count on food, they just may not have any. The aid station folks were ok, not bad but not great, the food selection however, a bit less than I had expected. There was a good supply of pretzels, chips, M&M's, salt tablets, Tylenol, oranges, and peanut butter and jamb sandwiches, however not much more than that. I guess I am used to some of our events around here where you can get a piece of pizza, slice of lasanga, chili etc. They gave out two gels at the race meeting but there were no gels on the tables at the aid stations and the water in Florida.....well it does have a lot of swamp land, need I say more?
Ok, back to the race, from mile 67.5 to 70 went pretty well for me, I was getting tired but still on pace to complete my race in just under 22 hours. Going into aid station no. 2 I had decided had a few minutes to sit down and rest before making my way back to the start finish and my last loop. What a great surprise, Ken had decided to meet me there and do the lasat 30 miles with me. This was a huge boost for me, I sat for about 2 minutes and I was ready to go. Soon after leaving the aid station I told Ken about the food and how hungry I was. He turned around and headed back to the aid station to tell Michelle to go back into town and get me pizza. By the time we returned to the start finish, Michelle had arrived with three pieces of pizza (not even after 75 miles do I like mushrooms and onions on my pizza). I ate one of the pieces, got some HEED and a salt pill at 11:30 at night and I was confident that 22 hours was within my reach.
The next 8 or 9 miles seemed to go as I would have expected, I ran a bit, I walked a bit, I was feeling tired but not overwhelmed, aid station no. 2 was behind us and all I had to do was make aid station no. 3, turn around and go back. Pretty Easy.....NOT. For the first time in my very short Ultra career, I hit the wall. Now I can finally say I know what Bonking is. It hit, it hit hard and it wasn't pretty. We passed the aid station and after eating the pizza, drinking the tomato soup, 2 packages of sport beans, a salt pill I was convinced that I could sleep while I walked and when I say walk, I mean one step frontwards and one step sideways then one step to correct the path I was on. I would say that from mile 9 to mile 10 probably took 1 hour. This is were a great pacer really helps. Ken turned to me and said, Scotty, if we go this slow breaking 24 hours will be in jepoardy. I'm not sure he could have been any more clear but I could take you back to the exact place he said that to me and I remember waking up and thinking that that is not an option. The light came back on and it was only 10 miles to the finish and I was making it in under 24 hours come hell or high water. Maybe a bad saying in the state of Florida.
Once I was a bit more awake I told Ken about our friend "WHAT IS THIS WE SHIT", that guy. Needless to say Ken nicknamed him Nintendo. We started running again and guess who the first person we caught on the way back in, Nintendo. That pass felt pretty good and I'm thinking this is were the second pack of sport beans kicked in. The last 10 miles went extremely well and we covered the last 4 miles in 50 minutes to get to the finish in 22 hours, 29 minutes and 30 seconds. A personal best by 47 minutes.
I now have 2 buckles in 2012, its a long way from the goal but it's one step at a time and I'm looking forward to New Jersey in March. Thanks again to both of you for reading this, makes me smile that someone actually take the time to complain about spelling, grammer and my mindless banter. Thank you for reading this.
More a bit later on our trip home, the weather we encountered and a few details about our shopping trip, my training and all other good things running.
Congratulations to my friends still keeping the Febuary Challenge alive and well, what a great inspiration. Keep up the good work.
12 in 12, 12 buckles, 1 goal.