"Im done" I said as I crossed the threshold at the barn for the 50th time.
Those were not the words I expected to utter and this isn't the blog entry I expected to write today.
The 2014 Nanny Goat 12/24/100 ultra two days ago was my 40th lifetime marathon+ race and also my first DNF, drop down, or whatever you may want to call it. It was a humbling experience. It was also no less rewarding than when I was fortunate enough to buckle in 2013.
goats in the pen
Semper Fi Fund (with Andrea post race)
The three of them crewed and paced me at the 2013 Nanny Goat and caught the bug. I am so proud of all of them for the training and dedication they put in to get ready for their individual 34 mile commitment. It had been many years since wifey's last marathon and her work ethic leading up to the event was unbelievable... In many ways her renewed interest in running has brought us closer together...
wifey powering through the barn
Team TBD raised over $1,100 for the Semper Fi Fund and completed the 100 miler under 20 hours. It was a fantastic effort and a joy to watch all three of them soaking in the ultra experience. Wifey is already talking about next year... oh boy, I don't know what I've created here :)
Team TBD 100 mile relay finishers!
This year's NG100 was another step in my growth as an ultra runner. Before the race, I made sure that it was known that this year was not a year about me or my run. But secretly, I thought that it would be very cool to get that black buckle. I am in the best physical shape of my life. I've put in more miles this year than ever and I am as "running fit" as I've ever been.
In faint memory I had forgotten the wise words of Katrina Judd (paraphrased) "you have to see if you REALLY want the buckle or you liked the idea of having the buckle." I was reminded this weekend that if you are not fully committed to do whatever it takes to finish the 100 miles, it isn't likely to happen. I can sit here today and tell you that I dropped because I didn't want to get injured for races that are coming up shortly. I can tell you that I had major stomach issues on race day. I can tell you I was hampered by blistered feet and on and on. But the bottom line and honest truth is I was not tough enough in that moment in time. I didn't have it.
I am disappointed but I don't regret the decision. For one, other than torn up feet, I feel fantastic two days after the race with next to no soreness. I ran 50 miles NSAIDs free! While I didn't finish, the DNF didn't knock my confidence. I know I am fit and ready to tackle similar or bigger challenges. I've now got renewed fire in the basement to redeem myself from my first DNF... and that's something that has been missing for a while. But, the biggest reason I do not regret the shorten race is I got a chance to give back to Nanny Goat and the running community the way that they had helped me last year.
After my decision to drop I showered and cleaned up. OF COURSE on my walk back to the barn I run into Andrea, Tony, Tracy, and Jean on the course. Having to fess up to my drop I was met with reactions ranging from disbelieve to disappointment to sympathy. After my walk of shame back to the barn I just wanted to hide and sleep. But the excitement and energy inside the barn makes it difficult for me to sulk in the corner. I ate, sat, and chatted a bit with my stall-mates. I was excited to see wifey surpass the marathon mark and decided to pace her 30-33 miles. I was surprised at how fresh my legs felt.
When they were done, the team packed up their belongings and left the race early in the morning. "Im going to stay to watch Jaeson's finish" I said. My friend Jaeson flew in from Atlanta for his first 100 miler. I met Jaeson a few years back and we've run a handful of marathons together. When he became ready for the 100 last year we got to talking about NG and he came out seeking his first buckle. This guy is one tough dude. He plugged away miles after mile. He'd stop in the stall for short breaks but was always upbeat and looked determined.
wifey, me and Jaeson pre-race
At this point I was exhausted. I calculated Jaeson's finish time and set my alarm for an hour nap so I would wake up when he would be at about 90 miles. I am not sure if I got any actual sleep. But I woke up with renewed energy and a new mission. I remember how I felt last year and the encouragement of the spectators and the support of pacers really helped me complete the race. So I decided that I would run, walk and chat with whoever was still grinding it out on the course in the last 4-5 hours of the race.
Right away I saw Tony at mile 89 and he was by himself and looked worn. He braved a smile as he entered the barn but I could tell he was struggling. Tony had paced me last year in my final 5K. I never forgot. I said, "lets go Tony, I've got you." I told him that he is a rock star and that I just wanted to bask in the glory of his finish.
Tony at mile 95
We walked for few miles and he went through the up-and-downs of what the final miles do mentally. I made sure he ate, drank, and paced his progress. I am so thrilled and honored to have been a part of Tony's redemption (third attempt at NG) race. Congrats on earning that baby blue buckle buddy.
tony at 99 around every one's favorite cone
The finish... look at the joy!
I had the pleasure of meeting Jose and pacing one of his final miles before his finish. Thanks you for sharing your Nanny journey with me and your insight about your WS finish. Epic stuff that is truly inspirational.
with Jose with just a few miles to go
There was still Jaeson working hard out there. I managed a few more miles with him and his friends who flew out from Atlanta to see his epic race. Again, I am honored to be a part of his journey.
Jaeson at mile 95
Jaeson and the entourage at mile 99
and the epic finish
As I look back at the 2014 NG, I think I walked away gaining more than I lost. I learned more about myself as ultras always tend to help one do. I also feel fulfilled in giving back in a small way to the community. All is not lost with a DNF. And I will be back. Perhaps, some day.
one race, one mile, one step at a time,