Every dog has its day, never judge a book by its cover, one tomato short of a good spagetti sauce, the Lookout Mtn 100k ultra-marathon seemed to be a day of cliches.
The preparation heading into this race, needless to say, was less than ideal. After battling back strep throat and pneumonia for two weeks, I came off two long, stressful exam/final weeks to arrive in Chattanooga Monday night. The following morning I started shadowing the peds oncology team at Erlanger Children's Hospital. It is a tremendous honor to work aside these brilliant doctors during break. I have learned more in four days than I would in an entire semester; however, being on my feet for twelve hours straight while trying to 'taper' for the 100k certainly did not help my pre race prep.
Two days before the race, Kristen came into town after finishing up her exams. The plan for the race was to lead the race from start to mile 44 where I was to meet Kristen and run the last twenty miles with her.
I awoke Saturday morning to cloudy skys. Stephanie and I drove out to the race start at Lula Lake. After some pre race preparations, I jogged down to the race start which was a mile away. I like ultra running simply because without a bike there are a lot less details to worry about. Just as the race started, the rain started to come down. Right off the gun I abandoned the pre race plan and jumped to the lead knowing that the first mile and half was on single track trails and that I did not want to get log jammed. I was officially soaking wet and cold after the first mile and half crossing a knee deep (ankle deep for most) creek and found myself in third place overall. I kept the first and second place runners in sight, sizing them up when they passed me. To be honest I was more concerned about the leader than the guy in second place. I figured the guy in second to be a recreational runner who more than likely did not know what he was getting himself into. The guy was dressed in a nike racing flats, a cotton t-shirt and basketball shorts for a 100k run in the rain! We three built a pretty good lead on the rest of the field and came into the first aid station at around mile six together. From there we shared the lead until the aid station at mile 14 where the nike flat guy and myself broke away from the other guy.
I knew the trail coming up and took the lead through mile 18 where I stopped to fuel up at an aid station. The nike free guy went past me. I knew the next ten miles were uphill so I figured that he would blow since he had not stopped for fuel. Once again we started to swap leads back and forth. By mile 26 though I had started to fade. My energy levels started to wane and I quickly became disoriented and hypothermic in the cold rain. It took me 2 hours to cover six miles. I was hallucinating and hearing sounds by the time I arrived at the mile 33 aid station. I figured myself for suffering from hyponutrimia since I had only been consuming water for the duration of the race so I asked for chicken broth. I staggered out of the aid station and headed for Lula Lake only to be corralled into a car and taken back to start line.
Lesion learned, never size up a fellow racer. As it turns out the guy in the racing flats had won numerous 100milers and had finished Badwater last year. Incredible! I would like to appologize to the front runner who crushed the feild in a cotton t-shirt, gym shorts and no nutrition. Guess there is an exception to every rule.
I will be taking about four or five days off before starting back to work for the upcoming '09 triathlon season. Merry Christmas!
Pictures coming soon...