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Jacksonville, FL, United States
In Life as well as in running the secret is Pace.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Jetty 2 Jetty 35 miler

Pre Race:

Logistics… looked to be possibly the toughest part of this race. The RD stressed that runners should have a crew…. Well… I’m kind of a loner… and I don’t like asking for help. The race was point to point so I had no other choice there… I needed a ride or 2…

My supplies for the race.

I had my daughter take me to the start… she was not overjoyed at getting up early on a Saturday… but agreeable enough. On the way to the start we stopped… near what would be the 12 mile mark and I dropped a bottle of water.

The race started at 0830 so at 0815 I had Masey take my picture… then she gave me kiss on the cheek… and I walked off into the foggy rainy morning to start.

And yes… it was raining steadily at the start. The RD gave some very simple instructions:

“run north until you see a yellow flag approximately 2.5 miles away… then turn around and then keep the waves to your left until you see a red flag at the Jetties in Vilano Beach”

I had another bottle that I dropped at the start and planned to pick up on the way back by. Otherwise I had approximately 4 watered down gels in a flask, a flask of water, and a single gel packet. Yep that’s right… 5 gels for 6 plus hours and 48 oz of water.

The out and back

The out and back could have been called the Sandpiper 5 miler. Since we started at high tide… finding firm sand to run on was a tad difficult. We mostly ran just at the edge of the waves and yo-yoed with the waves like the bird… I chatted with an old acquaintance, Loretta, who I used to run with 10 years ago… nice to catch up and gather some intel from her since she had done the race 4 or 5 times and won the women’s division the year before.

Although I would have liked to stay and finishing with them would have been a-ok with me… After a few miles of chatting I decided that I would pick it up a little… and get some serenity and put time in the bank…. My plan being that if I fell into difficulty, or otherwise slowed down (which I fully expected), her little group would pick me up and I could hang on with them.

Not even half way

So that’s just what I did… I hung off the front of her group for the next dozen or so miles… at one point, about mile 8 or 9 with the fog so thick I could so no one ahead of or behind me… I did a quick pit stop… and by the time I started again… there was Loretta’s pack… 4 or 5 strong emerging from the mist.

So I trudged on along. I think that the teen miles were the hardest… I was tired… and yet not even half way…. No one ahead… the ghostly looking pack behind… rain… grey…

I adopted a mantra that would serve me well all day:

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” - Theodore Roosevelt

Endorphins and “Apache”

The state park at Micklers landing was the half-way point… and for some reason I expected some sort of aid station there… the RD was there… writing down numbers and times but… nothing else. I asked if they had any gels… and some nice lady… part of someone else’s crew handed me one… it was like a gold nugget to me at this point.

I left them behind and was soon lost in the mist and fog again… the scene was somewhat surreal… ocean, waves, beach, sky, mist… like a painting on the wall of a study in some murder mystery movie or slightly out of focus photo.

I’d had this drab sameness for miles… and hours… then the endorphins kicked in… I picked up my pace… sang at the top of my lungs… lyrics that were swallowed up by the roar of the ocean and the pitter patter of the rain… heard by no one but me… but I was having a blast all of a sudden. I spied a lone figure ahead. Within a mile I had caught and passed someone for the first time in the race. Soon thereafter the Sugar Hill Gang came on my iPod… “Apache” I knew every word… and proved it by listening to it 3x in a row…. And rapping along.

Post Marathon Blues and bonk

Not too long after the Apache raid I caught and passed two more runners. A guy, who I found out is an Army Ranger, and a girl… the guy was having ITB trouble. They stayed within sight until the next checkpoint which was just after the marathon point. I stopped there and begged some water from the dude taking splits and soon thereafter the girl re-passed me.

I followed her… and kept her in sight for a few miles but the wheels were coming off. 10s in the early 20s had given way to 10:40s in the mid 20s which turned into 12s by the early 30s. I walked a couple of times for a few steps just to rearrange my junk in my pockets but I knew that if I walked… 12s would be 15s immediately so on I trudged. At mile 32 I ate the last bit of gel I had left… followed by my last swig of water. I had rationed out my meager supplies the best I could and said aloud “well, no more logistics to plan for now… just finish you idiot”

So that’s just what I did… Roosevelt’s words in my head and more than once on my lips.

My guess at a finish time was 6.5 hours… and I’d come in a little ahead of schedule

When the finish line came into view… I was happy, yes… relived, not so much… I was hoping that my kid was there to meet me…

Post Race

My biggest fear for this race was not finishing the race… but… instead in my 16 year old daughter finding me at the finish. I had programmed my GPS to get her close… and shown her a map… satellite photos.. street views… of exactly where I would be. I guess I should have printed all this stuff out…

The first words I spoke upon finishing were “can I borrow a cell phone?”

I was going to call my daughter and tell her *not* to drive on the beach as I had instructed her to do… but instead… wait for me to walk up to the road… with all the rain… the sand was a bit sticky and I did not want to get stuck. When I got her on the phone I asked… “Were are you”

She replied “on the beach… and I think we are stuck”

I said “What beach?”

She said “I don’t know”

Now this is where I almost lost it…. I’m tired.. and cold… and cranky… bonking… and now my 16 year old…. And my Suburban (2 Wheel Drive BTW) is stuck on a beach… and not on the same beach I’m on…

I managed to take a few deep breaths and not bite my kid’s head off….

Long story a bit less long… a race volunteer drove me around until we found her… and my Suburban… up to its running boards in the sand…

We dug for a while… and a few minutes later a nice gentleman in a 4WD pulled us out.


All in all a good experience for my 1st Ultra… The weather, while it was dreary, was really perfect for running. I dressed right for the weather and race. My nutrition and hydration plans need some work… and I need to learn to give more explicit directions to my teenagers…

I have not been near as sore from this effort as I have from marathons I have done in the past but I have been really tired… I guess I had some blistering issues on my left heel as well.


Big Daddy Diesel said...

Congrats on the race, now take some time and recover, maybe tell the kids to wash the car ;-)

Kathy said...

Congrats! I am SURE I would not have even attempted such a race. I do recall a time following you on the Jax Marathon route, handing you dry socks, dry shoes and nutrition. Should've asked for help....and, I'm old, so I wouldn't have gotten stuck in the sand! : )

Shelley said...

Wow, simply amazing, huge congrats to you!

Lesser is More said...

Congrats on finishing the race. I assume that sock now goes into the "Hall of Fame" of retired running socks...hope the heel is doing better than the sock!