Monday, April 24, 2006

Bull Run Run 50 Mile: Pain and Redemption in Virginia.

The best way to some up the Bull Run Run 50 Mile was one word: MUD. On second though, two words: rain and mud. While at the pasta dinner the night before, a storm front, which was moving across the entire south, started to come in to Virginia. It wasn’t long before those dark clouds turned into a full-blown thunderstorm! It rained all through the night. I felt bad for the few people who decided to camp out in a tent that night.

6:15am was the start. It was still very dark and things were pretty wet, but the rain had lightened up. I began to think maybe things are going to not be so bad today. I was wrong. By the time we reached the first aid station at mile 7, things began to turn towards the bad. Once leaving that aid station and working towards the first turn around, things got UGLY. The rain and people had turned the trail to a complete sloppy mess. Some parts we over the ankle. Not sliding all over the trail was nearly impossible,

Soon, it was mile 16. The first leg was over. However, the trail continued to get worse and worse. I stopped in and talked to my sister, who was crewing for us, for a bit. Refueled and off I went. I was still feeling pretty good, but the first 16 miles was rougher than I expected. I cruised along and the hills started getting bigger and steeper. About this time, the rain picked up again and the temperature dropped from the upper 50s to the low 40s.

Off in the distance, I heard a cannon fire. A few moments later, more and more cannons went off. I am sure this was planned for our benefit, but I never did hear who was firing. I have to tell you how eerie the explosions sounds in the early dreary morning rain. It was then I began to think about how it must have been like during the battle there. Here we are 150 years later, running for a good time, while the soldiers that were there would have been running for their lives. Carrying a very heavy gun and in some cases wounded or dieing.

Speaking of wounded, it wasn’t long, about mile 25 or so, things started to go wrong. My right quad began to feel tight. It wasn’t long before it began to cramp. I would get it feeling better, run for a bit, and it would cramp up again. No matter what I did, I could not keep the cramps away. Eventually, I made to some aid stations, which were close together. I was able to hydrate and eat a lot. It was there they had boiled chopped up potatoes on a plate of salt. I would dip the potato in the salt and eat. Now, that sounds gross, but let me tell you it was just what I needed. Those and Pringles! By mile 35, my leg was feeling great and I was feeling better, too. The bad miles were over with.

By mile 40, I felt even better. I figured a sub 10 hour finish was out, but I could still make it under 11. Which is what I needed for qualify for Western States. I really started to push it. I had never qualified for anything before! I was able to run the steep uphills and the downhills. Many people were walking by now so I began passing quite a few people. By the end, I lost track, but counted more than 20 people. Each one I shouted some encouragement.

The last mile seemed to go on forever. I never thought it would end. Keeping an eye on my watch, I was getting worried that the sub 11 hour was not going to be possible. With about a minute left, off in the distance I began to hear bagpipes. It was the finish! I did a full out sprint to the finish line. Final time: 10:59:49. 11 seconds to spare. Plenty of time!

I wanted to take this chance to thank everyone, my friends and family, who helped me get to the start line of the race. If it were not for them, I would have never gotten to the finish line. The past month has been a very difficult time for me. I didn’t think I would have been able to finish and almost called off the entire race. However, a lot of people wouldn’t let me do that. Especially, my sister and brother-in-law. Without them I could not have done what I did that day. Thank you for everything!

Next up…not sure. I will let you know!