After eating a lot on Friday night we settled in and studied the elevation profile for Lookout Mountain's Race.
When I woke up Saturday morning... I was pretty nervous. I had never been on these particular trails and 22 miles on unknown trails with that elevation profile... scared me.
I fueled up. I ate a banana, an orange, half an apple and half a bagel before we left the hotel. I also packed salt tabs on myself along with an energy bar (just in case) and some shotblox. There were only going to be 3 aid stations and we were going to have to go 6.5 miles at the end of the race with no aid stations.
When we got to lookout mountain we picked up our bibs (you have to get your bibs every morning to make sure they knew who was out on the course) and I hopped in the long porta potty line. At first I noticed that there was just one porta potty and I just figured there were more somewhere else, but I was talking to someone in line, so I just stayed there...
Until I glanced at the porta potty and notice it had a sign on it that said.. POOP ONLY.
Umm... what? Turns out... the porta potties didn't get delivered, so this lone porta potty was all there was.. and it was designated as a poop only one. Yeah.. so I hopped out of line and did my business in the woods. Twice. Do you know how long it's been since I took a crap in the woods?? I mean, even when I'm camping I find a back woods bathroom. Sheesh.
Another thing I forgot to mention in the last race report... ummm... the EYE CANDY at these races. Hellllloooo trail runners. I always forget that trail races are like the mecca for my type of guys... thin, lean, but super muscular guys... usually some facial hair (or a lot, if you're lucky and you're into the grizzly adams look)... I mean.. Yowza! Just picture a whole bunch of these guys....
Why, hello, Dreamboat.
Tony Krupicka (aka my soulmate) photo most likely taken by
Rob O'Dea, but the website I stole it from didn't say... so...
Digressing...We lined up at the start and I found the guy who offered me the salt tabs the day before and introduced myself to him. We talked a little and I decided right then, that I was going to stick with him as much as possible that day. The best decision I made all day.
Notice the POOP ONLY porta potty...
We started off down a gravel/dirt road and all was well, I chatted with my running partner, Drew and before I knew it we were all clogged up and going up. We came to a cliff-side so steep that there were ROPES there for you to hold onto to climb up and down. Ummm... gulp. After we went up though.. we ran along a ridge for a good couple of miles, I was able to just kinda plod along and keep a decent 11:00 pace through this section. Wide trails... few rocks and roots... I did lose my running partner for a little bit here.. but I didn't worry too much about it.. I could still see him most of the time...
Then we started descending.. DOWN. Steeply down for a long time.. Hello, there quads. Finally we got to our first aid station.. which was... also where the start/finish line is. Uhhh.. yeah, not the most fun to have to LEAVE the the finish area again and go out for 17-18 more miles. Awesome.
The good news is that my running buddy and I got together again and we made our way to the next aid station, which included that part of the elevation map where it goes wayyy up to 2000 ft. This was a dirt road that went straight up. We hiked up and I could tell that my running buddy was a little disappointed in the time that it took us to get there.
On the descend down this mountain we chatted a lot.. I got to know a lot about his history, his family, how he'd ran 11 100 milers and this was his 3rd time tackling the 3 stages race. Oh yeah.. and did I forget to mention that he was the oldest runner? 63!!!! How awesome is that??
We were watching our watches and he had certain time goals that he wanted to meet at each aid station and we weren't likely going to hit the last one. He also prepared me that we would be running past the start/finish line AGAIN to the aid station and to be prepared for it to be HARD to keep going for another 6.5 miles when a lot of people were already finished!
I have no idea where or when this was taken.
I was doing well with the salt tabs, taking one or two every hour or so. So I was actually feeling really good and I was really enjoying this run. Sure, it was hot and my legs were tired... but the trails weren't technical and I had an inspiring running buddy with me.
When we stopped at the final aid station, I looked around a little for my friends as I munched on some fig newtons and filled up my water bottle... no such luck, but as I ran away and crossed the bridge, I heard the name of one of my friends being called out over the microphone as he finished! Yay! That would be me... in another 2 hours, I thought to myself.
6.5 miles is a long way on trails. And after that last aid station we had a good climb to endure. Although, surprisingly.. my running buddy and I ended up kinda shuffle jogging up a good portion of it. We hung with each other... wondering how far we had gone (garmins dont really work that accurately when you've got so much change in elevation). Once we got to the top of the ridge again, we picked it up and tried to make up some time. We were clocking sub 12:00s for a good bit of that ridge. And then we started to go down again... down the ropes...
Not me, obviously, but to give you an idea about the ropes...
We were speculating on how much we actually had to go.. when suddenly... like a mirage we came upon a huge creek crossing... to which my running buddy start hooting and hollering in excitement! I had no idea what his deal was until someone on the other side told us..."only a little more than a .25 of a mile to go!"
WTF????? Seriously???? I couldn't believe it! And I started hooting and hollering and stomping my way through the creek crossing, too!
The female overall winner making her way through the creek.
This put a little pep in our step and we started hurling ourselves down the road... and up ahead I saw two ladies standing on either side of the road... one of them yelled out.. DAD! and started running towards us... it was my running buddies daughter and wife who had driven up to surprise him at the finish! I almost started crying, myself! They ran with us, and as they talked I started to see the clock and the finish line and I noticed that I could possibly finish UNDER 5:00 hours (the cut off time was 6 hours) and so I kicked it up and ran as fast as I could at that moment and crossed the finish line right at 4:59!
I was ecstatic! I had ran so much faster than I had anticipated and though it was super tough, I had fun doing it! And suprisingly.. I actually felt like I could have kept going if I had to.
Running buddy and I hugged and thanked each other (he got me in with over an hour to spare and he got in with his best time for that stage, ever!) and we knew we'd see each other tomorrow... so I let him spend time with his wife and daughter...
Stage 2 was done and I was honestly feeling on top of the world. It was a grind... going up and down those hills... but I had done it and done it so well. Now, just one more day left... and only 20 miles and on my favorite mountain!
40 miles down...