Finally, people started lining up at 4:55 and at 4:59 Gordy Ainsleigh stepped up to the microphone and said, "You are about....to enter...the Holy Grail...of trail ultrarunning." With that, we counted down the last 10 seconds the gun went off and the blob of 400-some runners made their way forward.
The four mile up to the top of the first mountain was great! Snow all around and when we got to the top someone had carried a gong up there and was smashing the thing like crazy. It was very loud and added a sense of excitement to start off the day. As we crossed the top I looked back over all of Squaw Vally, the surrounding mountains, and Lake Tahoe in the distance. The sun was illuminating everything in an orangish glow and it looked like a postcard. It almost made me want to stay at the top and hang there for awhile, then again, it was cold an I had another 95 or so miles to go.
Up until almost the 13 mile mark we were in snow and crossing streams and bigger streams. Keeping dry feet was not an option. But then again, if I wanted a nice comfortable day, I probably wouldn't have entered a hundred miler.
The majority of the day was spent monitoring my nutritional needs and staying conservative in my pace. I wanted to break 24. That's all.
At mile 80 I sat down and felt terrible. The climbs were tough, it downhilla had been tough, I was blistered and felt beaten. I knew I would keep going but just needed a minute to myself. So my dad helped me change my socks for the third time and Keaton was there ready to roll and got me some crackers and cantaloupe, pretty much the only food I ate other than Gu. After about 5 minutes of sitting there my dad said I had 5 more minutes of sitting and then I had to get up. So, I went to sleep. The second I put my face on my hand I was out cold. I slept for 5 minutes while my feet air-dried. From there Keaton and I made our way toward the finishline - twenty miles away.
Having a familiar running buddy with me was priceless. Having him along to crack jokes made the last twenty fly by. The second to last aid station was "No hands bridge" and was mile 96 ish. We had 3.4 miles to the finish and was right on the line of whether I was going to make it under 23 hours. If I was, though, I'd have to pick up the pace in this last section.
Keaton pointed out that it was do-able and made me go for it. We ran a lot faster than what we had been doing. Up hills, down hills, steep hills and tiny hills, Keaton made me run them all. If he could tell I wasn't doing so well, he'd say, "Alright you've got one minute to walk then we're running again." In actuality though, I took him up on the offer once for the full minute he rationed me.
When we reached the last aid station I didn't stop running and just called out my number so I didn't have to stop, they cheered and it made me feel good and like I was doing something right. We hit the last little hill and then the last downhill that led me onto the final lap around the track at Placer High School in Auburn. From the last aid station I sprinted and for some reason went even faster once I hit the track. I've never been a fan of track workouts but that lap might have been my fastest yet. My time was 22:59 and some change in seconds.
I'm writing this after a full day of non-stop hassles from the airlines trying to get home in time for work tomorrow. But unfortunately, we're spending the night in the airport in New York, and I won't make it to work on Tuesday....technically today.
It wasn't a very restful weekend. By the time we get on the plane tomorrow I will have gotten 9 hours of sleep over 3 days but hey, I got a sweet belt buckle in the process.