After months of training it was Sept 1st, taper time and none too soon as a super tight hamstring was aggravating some of my tendons. Lots of stretching, icing, and rest helped and I was feeling better. I arrived at the hotel just outside Wrightwood Thursday afternoon and after a jog on the Angeles Crest trail I settled in to pack drop bags and prep for weigh in. Friday went smoothly and I met my parents to go over crewing and race plans. Then to bed early (930pm) for the 345am wakeup and the 5am start.
345am My phone alarm blared and I rolled out of bed, probably the best pre-race sleep Ive ever gotten. After a quick shower to wake up I quickly dressed and stuffed a banana and two poptarts into my stomach and drove up to Wrightwood. The town was a buzz as runners, crew, and viewers scurried around. Disturbed blaring in my ears, I went into my shell, mentally prepping myself for the long day ahead. After saying a last good bye to my parents I toed the line with the other 130 runners, everyone was bubbling over. Months and months of training had brought us here, a dirt lot in the center of Wrightwood, 100.5miles of trail stretched out before us, not everyone would make it, but that wouldnt dampen the spirit.
704am From Inspiration Pt the trail was great single track and I ran most of the slow descent to Vincent Gap. After grabbing my drop bag and some food it was time for the big climb up Mt Baden-Powell. Immediately the trail took off uphill through the trees, climbing, climbing, climbing. Thanks to my training the elevation did not bother me at all, and I made quick work to the summit in just over an hour. The trail then made a smooth rolling descent along the ridge on great single track, passing 3 more peaks before finally dropping into the Islip Saddle aid station. I had radioed ahead to my parents who had my hand bottle and food ready to go, I dropped my backpack, picked up my hand bottle, and ran through the aid station barely stopping. As I began the climb up toward Mt Williamson someone turned on the heat and the lack of shade was very noticeable. My pace slowed as my core heated up, but I was still doing alright. The run down into Eagles Roost was slow and steady, and the aid station sure was a sweet site.
132pm I sat in the shade drinking cold GU2O and eating pretzels. As nice as this was it was time to get moving, I grabbed a new gel flask, my pack/bottle filled with ice cold liquid, packed my hat with ice and took off down the trail toward 3 Points. This section flew by as I made the big descent down into the valley on a dirt road that paralleled the highway. Though the temperature was peaking, 86F, I was moving well downhill and the ice was finally cooling me. I pulled into 3 Points and quickly reloaded my supplies for the next two aid stations, as Mt Hilyer was not crew accessible. I felt revitalized and maintained a steady jog as the trail slowly descended on good single track down to Sulphur Springs. I alternated jogging and walking up the gentle hill toward Mt Hilyer. I passed by several chalk smiley faces on the road, its amazing how such a simple gesture can make you smile. I pulled in to the minimal Mt Hilyer aid station, grabbed some snacks and took off downhill toward Chilao where my resupply and pacer were waiting. This 4miles of downhill was much tougher than expected as the trail was rocky and just when you were getting into a downhill groove, back up the trail went. I rolled in to Chilao to the cheers of my parents, friend Toby, and pacer Chris.
855pm This was one of those quick times, and I was soon seated at the Newcombs Saddle aid station all alone. I sat down to have a snack when I heard Cindys(Chriss wife) voice behind me, huh? I turned around to a 5ft projection screen with a live feed from Chantry Flat(mm75), they had video cameras and microphones at both aid stations, How Cool! Chris and I said farewell to Cindy and told her wed see her soon. From Newcombs Saddle the trail dropped down on good single track into Santa Anita Canyon, the canyon walls framing the lights of the city below. As we neared Chantry Flats the lights and sounds of the crowd above us reeled us in.
1044pm My parents, Toby(next pacer), and Chriss wife Cindy were waiting for us and welcomed us with open arms to Chantry Flats, our final crew aid station of the race. One final goodbye to my parents and Chris, with a special thank you for their support. Now it was Tobys turn to take me home, 25miles to go, with two big hills in the way. The trail began climbing uphill immediately, 3000ft of uphill to Mt Wilson Rd. As we climbed my legs began to tire and my left hip flexor, which had been compensating for my sore hamstring, began to spazzum uncontrollably. I had to stop numerous times to stretch my hip and hamstring out, this would alleviate the pain for a while, spazzum, stretch, hike and repeat. When we finally hit the Mt Wilson Toll Rd I was relieved, as the flat and downhill did not bother my hip. We cruised down the road and into the Idle Hour aid station, the lights were getting closer. And none too soon as my flashlights batteries were dying(old ones were accidentally placed inside).
We picked up the pace and rounded a corner on Lincoln to the sight of the grassy fields of Loma Alta park. Toby dropped off and I ran in the final 200yards alone, crossing the finish line in 25:49:18 in 22nd place. In the early morning light only a handful of spectators were present, most importantly my parents and Toby, all of whom had shared this journey with me in different capacities. I was tired, but happy, as it had been a wonderful race and a great day in the mountains. For me this race was not just about the competition or pushing me limits, it was about proving to myself that I could do this. It was about redemption for mistakes made at Leadville and Spring Desert, all those times in my life where I wasnt good enough, strong enough or tall enough. When youre running 100miles in the mountains its just you and the trail, what everyone else does is irrelevant, all that matters is what your mind and legs say you can do. As I sit here today, beaten and sore I know nothing is impossible.
A special thanks to my parents Martha and Kerwin for doing such an amazing job crewing me so selflessly throughout the day, to my pacers Chris and Toby for keeping me company and pushing me along, and to all my training friends in Colorado for sharing this journey with me. To many more great days in the mountains and testing the true limits of our being.
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