I actually got a solid 6+ hours of sleep the night before at good friend Marc St. Angelo's house. He was kind enough to take me in the night before, which I greatly appreciated! I got to the Enchanted Forest park around 5:30 and spent some time getting my food and gear ready. We took a few pictures and headed to the start line. Everything was very casual, plenty of pictures being taken and getting to know some of the runners. 7am hit on the clock and we strolled off on our journey. I settled in with the famous Ray K and we ran chatting during the first lap. He dropped a few poems based on the songs I was listening to, very entertaining! He pulled off to pee at the end of lap 1 and I hooked up with another legend, Matt Mahoney. We ran lap 2 together and had a good laugh as we climbed the Florida famous Mt. Mahoney to an elevation of 14 feet! I really am not sure where Matt went but I noticed I was right behind Joe Ninke on lap 3 and somehow passed him as he was trying to fix his iPod. It was amazing to be announced as the New Leader when I came through the checkpoint. I knew it was early and didn't mean anything but I was soaking up the glory. I really want to be honest in that I in no way felt that I was going too fast. I may have been, but there was nothing I could do to slow down, I just felt so good. So I was announced as the leader each time I crossed over the next few laps and loved every moment of it.
I think my marathon time was somewhere around 4:30 and my 50 mile time was roughly 9:30. I was eating GU gels and Chomps for the first 20 miles and putting NUUN in my water every other lap or so. But then my stomach couldn't handle the GU anymore, which always happens after 20 miles. I carried a bag of Chomps for an entire lap and couldn't make myself open it. Toni started making me Turkey and Cheese sandwiches. I remember her asking if I wanted Swiss Cheese and I said "sure, it's holy, kinda like praying"! The very talented Krystal Martinez was very helpful all day as well. I guess I upset her by being to happy and never snapping at her. I gotta work harder on that next time! I also got into the potato chips and Christmas cookies that Marc's wife Kim and the kids made for us! I ate really good during the entire race. I was drinking a little Red Bull and Gatorade each time at the aid station.
I felt really good after lap 15 cause I knew I was over halfway in less than 10 hours. Lap 16 still felt ok but lap 17 was getting very painful. I am not exactly sure what happened but my feet just started to fall off. My upper legs were great and my calves were tight but manageable. My feet felt like they had been bashed with a hammer and then put in cement. I sat for about 20 min after lap 17. When I finally made myself get up, I walked the entire lap 18. I sat again for about 30 min and when I got up for lap 19, I knew I had to run a little more on that lap. I was able to jog as slow as my walk for about 30% of that lap. The rest was spent walking. When I got back to the tent, I pretty much knew that I was done. I felt that I could have tried to keep walking but I really did not want to do that for 34 more miles. My opinion back at mile 59 was that I was physically done and I wasn't sure how much the mental could take. I was running laps earlier in the race at 34 minutes each and my last two laps took over 3 hours total.
After lap 19, I changed into warm clothes and new socks and put my feet up. I ate and drank and got on the phone/texted a bunch. There were so many people pulling for me and I appreciate every single bit of encouragement that was sent my way. I was feeling pretty devastated when I texted the words "I can't do it" to a good friend. It hurt so much to have to do that knowing how much support they had given me throughout the day. Many people kept telling me to get back up and keep going but I just couldn't make my self go out there and Death March for 34 more miles.
I finished lap 19 around 10pm and I sat there and tried to get a nap in the van until around 2am. Nothing felt any better and that is when I hobbled my chip over to the timing tent to turn in my DNF and shake Mike Melton's hand, thanking him for the invitation. There were 45 starters with 23 finishers and I was 3 back among the non-finishers. I really hope I did enough to warrant an invitation to come back next year. There is no doubt in my mind that I will finish next year.
So up next is a very busy, action packed Spring! Ragnar Keys on Jan 9th will bring me 37 miles over 3 legs. The following weekend is the Croom Zoom 50k when I will aim to break 5 hours at the FU Mecca! Then on March 5th is the Manatee Track Club 50k at Oscar Scherer State Park. I volunteered there last year due to the broken foot and I had a blast. I will shoot for 4:30 that day. Mid-April is the Croom Fools 50M, going sub-9 there is very doable I believe. And then Memorial Day weekend is the Wickham Park 50M. I will only be doing the 50M because I have to get back for school on Tuesday. This should lay a very solid foundation so that, if everything falls into place, I can head up to Vermont in July for my 2nd attempt at the 100 Mile Finish! This all sounds like a pretty good plan that is gonna work out perfectly. I am already feeling fully recovered and can get some pretty good running done in the next few weeks!
Well, there you have it. That's my story and I'm sticking to it!