Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Race # 26 - 2012 UROC 100k

UROC 100k
7:15 AM
Wintergreen, VA
Time: 14:36:35
Place: 43/66 overall (including Elite field) -- 23/46 for non-Elite field
139 starters. 66 finishers. 52% drop rate.

 -- I had hit the lowest point of my running career. I had hit the highest point of my running career. And it all happened in a span of 14 hours, 36 minutes, and 35 seconds. This is my story of the 2012 UROC 100k. --

You’ll never know what you can accomplish until you try. Some people are afraid to take chances. Some are afraid they will fail, or it will hurt too bad, or they are just scared. I've always been the type of person that if I get something in my mind, and I want to do it, I give it 100% effort, no matter what it is. When I started running 2 ½ years ago, I never knew how far I could go. While I still don’t know, I sort of have an idea.

Last November, I clicked submit, and with that, I was signed up to run the Ultra Race of Champions (UROC) 100k. One hundred kilometers. Roughly 62.2 miles. This was, by far, the craziest thing I had ever contemplated doing. But you can do anything you set your mind to.

My wife, Summer, actually encouraged me to sign up for this race. After doing the sister 50k race in 2011, she was familiar with the area and the race directors, Gill and Francesca, put perfect crew directions for aid station to aid station on their website. This made it easy for her to keep up with me. I did warn her though, that you can’t just go out and run 100k. You have to train for it. And with a baby due in February, this would mean somehow getting in long runs on the weekends, likely on less sleep that usual, so it would be a learning experience all the way around.

After months of training, and fighting off a ‘slightly frayed’ meniscus during the late spring/early summer, September finally arrived. My final major training run consisted of 35 miles of running, walking, and hiking, covering over 7,200 feet of elevation gain, and 7,200 feet of descent. This turned out to be a big confidence boosting run as that was in the ball park of the same elevation for the race. But the race just had 27 more miles in it. When you’re running an ultramarathon, it’s going to hurt. Plain and simple. No matter how fast, or how slow you go, eventually, it will hurt. But you have to push forward. Grin and bear it. For the feeling of crossing that finish line is unlike any other feeling.

-- Pre-race --

We headed up to Wintergreen, Virginia the day before the race to see some of the elites, meet some old and new friends, and just take in the whole race experience. The ‘mandatory’ pre-race meeting brought some not so welcoming news. The race directors had spent a lot of time making a new trail that led from the resort to the third aid station. This new trail meant that the 3 mile steep downhill down Wintergreen Drive, and the even steeper one mile uphill (~15% grade) to Reed’s Gap aid station, would be cut out. Last year, those two parts sucked because A) they were at the beginning and B) they were at the end so you knew that’s how you’d finish. Unfortunately, due to construction on the Blue Ridge Parkway, they were unable to get permits for us to run that trail. This meant that the lovely trail that had just been made would now be replaced with the steep road section. Awesome.

The night before the race, there was a discussion panel where all of the elites were gathered to answer some questions. Hearing what some of them had to say really made me feel like I was not alone.

Max King, one of the most amazing mountain runners in the world, who had never done anything over a 50 miler, (and only done two of those), said he was scared to death. I could relate. Ellie Greenwood, who set the course record at Western States back in June, talked about how we sometimes have to take chances, especially in running. And if you never take chances, you’ll never know what you’re able to accomplish. If you set limits on yourself, that’s as far as you’ll make it.

-- Race Day --

After a normal night’s sleep, 5 am came and it was finally here. I had been counting the days for months. It was time to push my body further than it had ever been. These were uncharted waters I was entering, and only time would tell how I would fare. My goal was of course to finish, but I also wanted the buckle, which required a sub-17 hour finish. I had my virtual partner on my Garmin set for a 16:19 pace but vowed not to look at it until late in the race. I did not want to get caught up in watching the clock the entire time. My shoes for the day would be the Hoka Stinson B’s, a trail/road combo shoe that I loved. Socks were Darn Tough. Literally and figuratively. Made in the USA out of merino wool, lifetime guarantee, guaranteed not to give you blisters. I love these socks. 

Gemma decided she was going to wake up shortly after 5 too. I guess she wanted to be with me on my big day. So we turned on the TV while I got ready and found some old black and white Three Stooges to watch. In the episode, some or all of the Stooges got married and were driving with their ladies in a car but appeared to be lost. One asked the other where the sign said they were. He said ‘Goslow’. His lady informed him the sign actually said ‘Go Slow’. I chuckled a little and then realized it was probably meant for me to see that as some sort of subliminal message and another reminder to take it easy and Go Slow.

We headed down to the start/finish line.  On the way, there was a guy walking in the middle of the road, in dark clothing.  It was still dark out.  We barely saw him but thankfully the little reflective pieces on his clothes made him visible.  I stopped and he said:  "I go to race".  It was one of the elite runners who was from Brazil.  I had watched his pre-race interview the day before and knew he didn't speak much English.  I told him to hop in and we drove him to the start.

The elites had a 7 am start so we watched them take off and then it was time. The moment was here. I lined up in the back. I was in no hurry. It was going to be a long day. No need to get in a rush. I crossed the start line, saw Summer and our daughter, baby Gemma. I gave them both one last kiss and I was off on an adventure I never dreamed possible.

-- Miles 1-20 --

Abiding by the arguably number one rule in ultrarunning, I started out slow. I was in the back. I didn't care how far people got ahead of me. I was going to run my race. The first four miles were mostly downhill. Nice way to start, but we had to come back up that hill eventually. At the 5k mark, we came to a creek crossing. With rain the day and night before, rocks were slick so I made sure I stepped carefully. Unfortunately, the guy in front of me slipped and fell on his back. It looked like it hurt. I pulled him up and made sure he was alright before continuing. He said he was ok so I headed on my way eventually reaching the turnaround and headed back up the hill, walking. Something I would do a lot of that day.

I walked up the hill with one guy and he was wearing some Hokas.  We casually talked about how much we liked them and shared some of our experiences with them. We met up with one girl who was from the Bay area in California who was running her first 100k, and she already had dried blood running down her leg so she must have had a mishap early on. She would eventually drop down and do the 50k at the Slacks Trail overlook, where the 100k and 50k runner split off.

Eventually we made it to the first aid station and I downed a couple of gels and grabbed some more to take with me. I thought Summer would be meeting me here but there was no parking nearby so I didn't know where she was. I then walked up this steep hill that eventually took me to a residential area of the ski mountain. It was here that I found Summer and her parents who had come along to take care of baby Gemma while she crewed for me. And it was here that I saw the sweetest thing ever:

I headed up the hill continuing through the neighborhood of vacation homes, walking a lot. I was not planning to run any uphills, especially this early in the race. Miles were passing by, I was eating gels periodically. And eventually got to the next aid station. I got an oatmeal pie from Summer, filled my water, and headed on my way. I get about 100 feet down the trail and realized I had forgotten to replenish my gel stock. With the next aid station 4-5 miles ahead, I figured I had better go get a couple. So I went back and grabbed a few and continued on.

The next section led us down steps in between condos. At one part, instead of steps, there were rocks. So I carefully picked out where I’d step and did so. I then went to take my next step and my foot literally came out of my shoe. My shoe was stuck between the rocks. I had put some new ‘lock laces’ on my Hokas and the shoe got wedged so tight my foot came out. I literally had to jerk it hard to pull the shoe out of the rock jam. It was quite comical.

I headed back down through the main resort area and then hit the dreaded three mile road downhill. I ran this section, but took it conservatively, not trying to trash my quads so early. A few 50k runners passed me and said I looked good.  I just said I was taking it easy and there was only 50 miles left! I couldn't help but think what it would feel like later that night when I would be coming up that hill 59 miles into the race. I just hoped everything would go well throughout the day and I could experience that.

Once I reached the bottom of the resort road, I headed up the one mile ~15% grade hill to the Reed’s Gap aid station. I walked the entire way, ate some, stopped for a bathroom break once, and eventually got there. The sun was out at this point so I got some sunglasses from Summer, drank some Ensure, had a slice of turkey and some potatoes with salt and headed out the 5 mile stretch of the Blue Ridge Parkway. While this section was mostly runnable, I did take my time and walk the gentle inclines.

Eventually I got to the White Rock Gap aid station. This was by far the most spirited aid station out of all of them. The ladies here did a great job once again supporting us. I ate a little, drank more Ensure, topped off my bottles and left heading up the Slacks trail. Roughly 20 miles in, I felt great.

-- Miles 21-28 --

The next section was the Slacks trail which lead to the trail that took us to Bald Mountain. When studying the elevation profile for the race, this section did not stand out as being steep or anything. I really had no idea what I was in store for. The first mile or so was runnable but then the switchbacks came as we headed up. Walking this section, I had to go around some people as their walking speed was just a little slow for me. I kept hearing people say ‘almost there’ and ‘300 yards or so’. Lesson learned, don’t believe everything you hear. I didn't know if I’d ever get to the Slacks overlook parking lot. But I did, and Summer was there waiting for me.

That section had taken the wind out of my sails and I was quiet. She asked me what was wrong and while technically nothing was wrong, I could tell what direction I was headed. The split for the 50k and 100k race was here so at this point, I was along.

I left the Slacks overlook and headed up Bald Mountain. This is where it happened. I caught up to some people and we hiked together. I didn't really know how far it was to the Bald Mountain aid station. But we hiked. And hiked. And hiked. Up. Up. Up. Up. We could never get in a rhythm. It sucked. I was taking in gels, washing them down with water, and hiking. I thought we would never get to where we were going. Eventually, things leveled off and we hit a jeep road that was slightly downhill and runnable. This is where it started. My stomach. Everything I had taken in thus far, mostly liquids and gels, they were all forming one big slosh bucket. Liquid sloshing around in your stomach is not a good feeling.

Finally, we made it to the Bald Mountain aid station. The sun was out, and we were exposed on the top of this mountain. I saw Summer and I was still in the same state, only worse. The volunteers offered me some chicken noodle soup and I took some. That was stupid. Not only was it hot, I was hot, and the sun was hot. I burned my tongue on it a little and immediately threw it in the trash. I headed over to the car with Summer and felt it. The liquids were making a return. I threw up a couple of times and felt somewhat better.

Meanwhile, Max King comes rolling in leading the elites race. Yeah he’s at mile 48 and I’m at mile 28. He’s 20 miles ahead of me and only had a 15-minute head start. That’s why he’s a world-class mountain runner I guess.

-- Miles 29-40 --

I headed on my way as I was sort of glad to be back on some roads after that awful climb up Bald Mountain. Heading down the Blue Ridge Parkway to the Spy Run Gap unmanned aid station, I walked the gentle uphills and ran then downhills. I had to make a visit to the woods early on in this section, which seemed to complete the ‘cleansing’ process after what happened at the top of Bald Mountain. I then returned to the road and started feeling much better. Eventually hit a long gradual downhill that led to Spy Run Gap. On this road, I passed the majority of the remaining elites including Sage Canady, Jorge Maravilla, Ian Sharman, and Dave Mackey that I recall. Once I arrived at the water only aid station, Summer was there to greet me and a wonderful surprise, baby Gemma too!

By this point, I was feeling great. I hadn't eaten much since Bald Mountain but I decided that I was going to concentrate on more solid foods instead of gels in an effort to avoid the slosh bucket feeling like earlier. So I got a couple of honey buns from Summer and took off toward the Whetstone aid station.

I ran on a dirt road for a few miles and admired the scenery, farmlands and hills. Once I got to the end of this dirt road, it was back on the parkway for a few miles. It started with a long gradual uphill and I decided to power hike it and try to keep my pace around 15 minute miles. Once I got to the crest, it was a gradual downhill which I ran until I got to the Whetstone aid station.

I was in a groove at this point. I got two more honey buns and ate some other stuff at the aid station and headed on the longest stretch between aid stations of the entire race. The ‘Dragon’s Back’ trail runs along the ridge of a mountain and we were doing four miles out and four miles back. Eight miles round trip but the majority of it was runnable. I started passing people on this section and since I was past the halfway point, and I was feeling good, I decided to ride the wave as long as I could and take advantage. I was not being conservative at this point but I knew eventually the feeling would fade which is why I kept going the way I did.

The last few miles of the Dragon’s back got me thinking. When I got to the aid station, I’d be at 40 miles with roughly 22 to go. The way I thought about this race was once I get to the second half, something drastic would have to go wrong for me to drop as I’m on the ‘downhill’ part of the race. Plus, with 22 miles left, I thought about how many 20 milers I had run and just said ‘it’s only 20 miles’. I made it to the aid station, got a couple more honey buns and set out to the finish. This race was, after the beginning 12 miles, almost one big out and back as we would return the way we came. So I got back out on the parkway, and headed toward Spy Run Gap.

-- Miles 41-43 --

The first part of this parkway was slightly uphill so I alternated running and walking and eventually made it to the long downhill that led back to the gravel road. I ran this whole section and tried to eat. After the slosh bucket earlier in the race, I had limited the amount of gels and liquids I had consumed because I didn't want to have another bout of that again. By this point, fatigue was setting in. This was the uncharted waters for me.  I had never ran this far.  Each mile was a new personal best. The longest race I’d ever done was Triple Lakes 40 miler last October. So my body as expected was starting to tell me it was tired. But using one of the many mantras I had in my head, I kept repeating ‘tired is not an excuse’. So I kept moving.

-- Mile 44 --

Once I got to the gravel road that led to Spy Run Gap, I was cruising along and suddenly this feeling came over me. I had never felt this way before. I didn't know what was going on. It was as if gravity had taken hold of my body and was pulling me in the direction I was running. Almost like I was running downhill. But when I looked ahead, my vision could not determine whether the road in front of me was downhill or not. I kept looking behind me to see if that direction was uphill. I couldn't tell. I knew there were no steep sections on this road but I was just looking for something I could tell if I was going downhill or not, because it surely felt like it.

I didn’t know what was going on. It was almost scary but I did not want to panic. I got to thinking and although it was not noticeably hot out, the sun had been shining on me for the last 14 miles and I had just ran through the hottest part of the day (hot being a relative term as the highs for the day were 70-75). I started thinking about my electrolytes. Since I had not been eating gels like I was earlier in the race, my electrolyte levels may have gotten out of whack. While I was carrying double handhelds, one with water and another with Accelerade, my fear of slosh bucket had kept me from drinking on a regular basis. So I started drinking the Accelerade in hopes that it would get me out of this funk. Either it did or enough time passed and the feeling went away. I was back to feeling normal, albeit still with the fatigued feeling but again, that was no excuse. I knew when I signed up for this that it was going to hurt. There’s no way around it. Grin and bear it.

-- Miles 45-48 --

I made it to the unmanned Spy Run Gap aid station and Summer was there waiting. The water coolers were out of water and Summer informed me she had given water out of our cooler to some people that I had ran with earlier. I made it a point to her before the race about the culture of us ultrarunners and how kind everyone is. So if anyone ever needed anything that we had, to help them out, and she did just that. I’m sure those folks were grateful since it was about 3-4 miles back to the Bald Mountain aid station.

Summer asked how I was feeling and I told her I was ok, but just feeling a little tired. She told me tired was not an excuse and the also had poster board signs on the windshield of the car saying the same things. A lot of people saw those signs when they got to that point as well and I think it provided some extra motivation for them too. I can’t say enough about Summer and how wonderful she is and how much I appreciated her being there for me the entire day. I am so lucky.

I left Spy Run Gap and it was back on the parkway for a long gradual uphill followed by some flat and gradual downhill road running. Again, I walked the ups and ran the flats and downs. On this section, I saw two guys way ahead of me but never gained any ground on them, not that I was trying to anyway. The clouds began rolling in and flashbacks from the fog filled 50k from last year started. You could see the fog rolling in just ahead of me, which only meant one thing: darkness would arrive sooner.

I soon arrived at the Bald Mountain aid station for the second time and the two guys who were previously in front of me were there eating some food. Summer was hungry so I got her some chicken noodle soup since the weather was cooling off.  I drank some ensure, and put on some arm warmers and my headlamp as I knew the next trail section would be done in the dark soon enough. I grabbed a handful of gummy bears and headed on my way with the two other gentlemen.

-- Miles 49-54 --

The three of us walked and talked for a few minutes.  They soon stopped for a bathroom break but I kept going. Being on the trail, with tree cover, it was getting dark fast. I tried to keep moving at a good pace to get down the mountain to the White Rock Gap aid station as quickly as possible. I had not done much night time trail running in training so this was another learning experience. I learned that trail running in the dark slows you down. There’s no way around that. Especially when it gets really technical, which this trail had plenty of rocky sections.

As the last moments of daylight faded away, I soon saw someone ahead who called out to me. It was a volunteer whom I had seen earlier in the day at the Slacks trail overlook. He was a sweeper who was going to follow me to the overlook and said he would top off my water bottles. I said that wouldn't be necessary as my wife would likely be waiting for me and she could do it since this wasn't an aid station at all.

He continued to talk to me. I didn't like that. I was in a groove, all by myself. I was doing just fine, concentrating on the trail, in the dark, with my headlamp. He starts telling me how he’s a marathoner and he wanted to volunteer to help these crazy people who run amazing amounts of mileage. He then tells me he holds some record for an indoor marathon done on a 200 meter track while wearing a kilt. It was at this point I really wanted to tell him he’s stupid and to quit talking to me because I really want to just run. Then it happened.

I came to a fork in the trail. Course markers were orange flags all day. They even put out little orange glow sticks as it got dark. But once I got to this fork, there was a trail that led in the direction I was heading, but it also went behind me to the right up the hill. There were quite a few orange flags here. I turned to look at the trail behind me from where I just came. I saw no orange flags. I didn't know how I had missed a turn. Or did I miss a turn? I don’t know because kilt boy was back there blabbing his darn mouth. So at this point I’m kind of mad. I asked him what I was supposed to do. He ran up the hill to see where it led. He yelled to me to keep going in the direction I was headed. So I did.

I thought he would catch up with me. But he never came. I got to thinking just exactly what happened. It dawned on me probably a half mile down the trail that the hill he ran up led to the parking lot at the Slacks overlook. I was really mad then because I thought Summer was waiting for me up there. And I have no way to get in touch with her. She’s going to wait for me and I’ll never show. Then she’ll get worried that I've been eaten by a bear or something. I didn't know what to do. I didn't want to turn around and back track another mile or so up to the parking lot. So I just kept going and prayed that she would be waiting for me at White Rock Gap.

Then things got worse. As I was going down this trail, I never got to the numerous switchbacks that I had gone up earlier in the race. None of the trail looked familiar, especially since it was dark. The switchbacks just never came! But I was on a trail with course markers and glow sticks. I knew I was on some sort of right track and I would eventually come out somewhere. But where? Eventually I see reflections from my headlamp ahead. It was two other runners. Only one had a headlamp. The other was limping and said he was in some pain. They were mad too. Apparently kilt boy had told them it was only two miles to the aid station but they had been further than that. I told them my story and we were all one pissed off trio of runners.

We were all walking together at this point. Since they only had a small headlamp with not a lot of light between the two of them, I decided not to run ahead and leave them in the dark. I love my headlamp (Petzl Myo RXP). As we walked, my brain was processing the course. I got to thinking about the course map and remembered there was one section that we didn't duplicate. It branched off and circled around to return to the White Rock aid station a different way. About the time I realized where we were, I heard a cow bell and yelling. Finally. We had made it back to the best aid station. And even better, Summer was there waiting for me. Baby Gemma too! I came out of those woods expressing my anger about everything and those who were there probably thought I was the biggest butt face but I didn't care. I was mad earlier. I told them what happened, but then I dropped it. I drank and ate some, and knew I was on the home stretch. Only 8 miles to go.

-- Miles 55-58 --

The next 4-5 miles were back on the parkway. It was dark, cloudy, and the full moon I had looked forward to for months was rising as I could see it through the trees. That would be the only time I’d see it as it soon vanished behind the clouds. Temperatures began to drop and it was getting hard to run. My quads were very sore. I had been doing mental math since I started down Bald Mountain and the closer I got to the finish, the more I thought about not just a sub-17 hour finish, or sub-16, but a sub-15 hour finish! I knew the last three-mile uphill could possibly take an hour if I walked 20-minute miles. So doing the math, if I could just average 15-minute miles up to that point, I could pull it off.

When I left White Rock Gap aid station, there was one headlamp shining behind me. I didn't know who it was but assumed it was the two guys who I shared the trail with earlier when we were all mad at kilt boy. I tried not to make it obvious when I looked over my shoulder to see if the light was gaining ground on me, although it was pretty pointless. I know it’s a race and everything, but when you’re out there as long as we were, who cares whether you finish in 24th or 23rd place? But still, it is a race, and you always want to do the best you can. So I was doing my best to make sure I did not get passed.

I alternated running and walking. It was so dark and I could not tell if the parkway section I was on was uphill or downhill. There were no steep sections, but the gradual hills I remembered from earlier in the day were indistinguishable. Then it happened. Mile 55, I started getting that ‘gravity pulling me’ sensation as I was going down the road. Not knowing if it was downhill or uphill, my body was going through the same thing that happened at mile 44. Since I knew what helped that time, I started drinking my Accelerade more and more to get electrolytes back in me. Again, it only lasted for a mile.

Cars were passing by, some of them with people shouting encouragement out of the window at me when I was running. Alternating walking and running was best as my legs were really sore at this point and the best way to keep my pace below 15 minute miles.

Eventually I made it to the Reed’s Gap aid station. Earlier in the day this spot was filled with people, volunteers, and lots of life. Now it was dark, cold, beginning to sprinkle rain, and there were only two volunteers here. Summer was there to greet me again but I opted for no refills and just drank some Ensure. I thanked the volunteers for being there in such conditions, and left for the finish.

-- Miles 59-62 --

I knew the next mile was going to suck. Big time. One mile, down about a 15% grade hill, on some really sore legs. I didn't even know if I could run this section. But I tried. It hurt to run. So I did some sort of fast walk/slow run/shuffle your feet maneuver most of the way down. I was looking up in the air at the top of the mountain and I could see lights shining from condos way up in the sky. I knew that’s where I had to go, and I had roughly 70 minutes to get there.

Once I reached the bottom of Wintergreen Drive, the rain was slowly picking up. I started walking up the hill. There was no one behind me, and as far as I knew, no one in front of me as I hadn't seen anyone in a while. So I walked. Cars were passing by in both directions and I’m sure they thought I was some sort of idiot for walking up this 3 mile hill in the rain.

I reached a point on the road, maybe with a mile and a half to go, and my headlamp shining ahead showed another runner. He was walking up the hill, and I decided to pounce. I started to run, or whatever you want to call it. Granted it was slow, but it was getting me closer to the finish faster. The closer I got to the top of this hill, the harder it started to rain, and the colder it got.

I eventually became even with the other runner and as I got next to him I could tell he was limping. I told him good job, just as I had done most everyone throughout the day, and I kept running. In a not-from-around-here accent, he said something to the point of “I try to run to” and he began running. It didn’t last long and he continued walking. I was inching closer to the top, and it started feeling like it was beginning to level off a little, or so that’s how it felt to me, even though it was clearly still a hill. I ran until I finally reached the road that led down to the finish line.

After 3 miles of uphill, the finish was a ¼ mile downhill. As I continued to run, this time going down, a new sensation came over my legs. While the first few steps were the same agonizing pain as the last 10 miles, it suddenly eased off. My stride lengthened and I was sprinting! Or so it felt that way. As I ran down the road, I could hear people at the finish line start to clap. Then I heard my wonderful wife yell my name and I immediately got choked up and almost cried. The cheers were coming in full force from the dozen or so people still there. I rounded the last turn and headed through the chute finishing as strong as I could.

I did it. I had just run 100 kilometers.

I had hit the lowest point of my running career. I had hit the highest point of my running career. And it all happened in a span of 14 hours, 36 minutes, and 35 seconds.

I couldn't believe I was done. All the training runs, all the sleep that was sacrificed on Saturday mornings, all the hill repeats, all the runs in the 100 degree heat of the summer, it had all paid off. I completed something that I never knew possible. In my opinion, I was officially an ultrarunner.

I was awarded my finisher medal, and most importantly, the sub-17 hour buckle.

Summer and her parents, once again, were there to greet me. Baby Gemma even came out and slept in the stroller to wait for me. I was so lucky to have such a wonderful wife who supported me the entire way. Not just on race day, but every day in the months leading up to the race. She has always been supportive of me and I thank God every day for bringing the two of us together. I couldn't have done it without her. Thank you, Summer.

And to her parents who gave up their weekend to hang out with Baby Gemma while I ran up and down mountains in Virginia, I couldn't have done it without them. Thank you, Robin and Perry.

Now it’s time for a few weeks off before hitting another training block for the Weymouth Woods 100k in January, which will be my first attempt at qualifying for Western States 100!  Hey, one can dream, right?

Garmin Data:

UROC Elite Panel

Garmin elevation profile of the race

Start/Finish line

Actually got my name on this race bib!

Hanging out at dinner the night before.

Gemma likes my visor.

Race day morning with my wonderful family.

Seeing this sign at the aid stations was great!

Throwing up at the top of Bald Mountain.  Didn't really get to 'enjoy' the view.

That's how I felt afterwards. First time sitting down in over 15 hours.

But I was all smiles!

Got my buckle!

The guy in the green is who I passed on the last climb. The other two and I all finished within one minute of each other.


The hardware!

I knew Gemma would like the buckle.