Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Trials on the Trails


I listened to the voice recording of Vermont, and I have to figure out a way to post that, or file share or something. It tells an honest story. It is full of trials, but it does come to a happy finish.

The race wasn't just, Oh, he went out, he started too fast he took a few naps and he finished in 27 hours and 38 minutes.

There was more doubt and more quit in me than ever before. Guys, there was more doubt and more quit on that day than I thought there was in me. I always said, "I don't know if I'll finish, but I won't quit." Well, only 1/2 of that is true now, I just don't know.

I almost quit, not once but thrice. Sure, when I was running with Candi for 47 miles, I was fine, I was happy, and I was running well. Things started going poorly when she split off, but I figured they would get better after 70, I was wrong. They never did get better.

Here were the trouble spots:
At mile 70 I had been sitting on a rock on the side of the trail when one of the many filing past me asked, "Are you all right?" my reply, "I am sitting here hoping a Bear will come and eat me." I was serious. Death I figured was a graceful exit. Dying not only meant I didn't have to finish, it meant I didn't have to do this 3 more times!

Approaching mile 77 the West Winds aid station takes one to within 1/4 of a mile of the start finish, I was close, very close to just going to the start finish. If I could have figured out how to gracefully pull out of the Slam, I would have done it. Well, I realized I couldn't just quit, no story there. So, instead of making the left to the start finish I went right to the aid station.

At the aid station I sat in a chair with a blanket wrapped around me, wondering if it was worth it to try to get to Bills aid station at 88. I figured, if I don't have 5 hours from there, I may not be able to make it (I had abandoned my watch, it just made angry to be so far behind schedule.) Could it be possible for me to get timed out at a race that I've finished in less than 21 1/2 hours? Could I get beaten by the clock in a race I've been in the top 25 before? Yes, I decided it was possible. So, I sat in West Winds with a blanket over me drinking a little Coke, oh, eating was out of the question, my stomach was sour from the more than 20 Advil and Aleive combos I'd take to control the pain in my foot. I was in bad shape. If I feel asleep in that chair, the clock would get me and I'd get pulled, but isn't that the same as quitting? I mean I knew while I sat there I was in danger, so shouldn't I get up? Damn it! I did get up.

I was 1/4 mile down the road when I thought of going back.... I'm not going to make it, might as well go back, I mean I stopped and stood and contemplated, I almost went back.... well, maybe I'll catch a ride... From somewhere inside were the words don't quit. I kept going. I found a nice yard, I took a nap in the nice yard. I was so comfortable, some pain in the ass well meaning runner came along told me to get up we had less than 20 miles to go. Yeah, yeah, "I'm coming." It was just 2 or 3 minutes. I feel better, maybe I can finish.

Next hill, I can't do this. Screw it, I lie back down, this time I actually fall asleep, no runner wakes me up, a couple in a car. I wake up and see their back up lights on.
Mrs. Good Effingsamaratin asks, "You alright?"
"Yeah, just resting."
"Sure, you don't look so good."
"I'm fine."
"Would you tell me if you weren't"
"Probably not."
"That's what I thought, I could here it in your voice."
"No, I'm ok."
The Samaritans left, but not before Mrs. EffingSamaratin gave me an idea. "Hey maybe I'm not alright, no one can fault me if I get pulled for a medical reason. That's smart quitting if I'm in danger, that's not wimpy. Now, I just have to get pulled.

I'm coming up the hill to Bills aid station at 88 miles. 88 miles isn't 12 miles to go right now. It's I've gone 88 miles and I'm wrecked. It's not 12 miles, it's 4 hours of torture. It's maybe I have it in me, maybe I don't. As I walk the hill I'm acutely aware that my heart is pounding. Is it dangerously fast, it may be. I'm out of breath, is it because my heart isn't supplying enough blood to my body, could I be in danger of passing out in the middle of nowhere? I vow to get check nine ways to Sunday at the aid station AND go promptly to the doctor when I return for a battery of tests on this obvious heart condition.

At Bills, first they check weight, "175" Ok, won't get pulled there, that's just where I started the race (race scales are always heavy, except the first aid station, it's always low). I sit down, no one is going to take my blood pressure. What? How can I get pulled if they don't know about my heart condition.

"Pardon me, sir, could you take my blood pressure?"
"Sure, come over here."
"138 over 89 a little high, but not bad"
"And My pulse? My heart has been racing coming up the hills and I've been very tired."
"Pulse is 89, not bad considering that hill you just climbed."
"You sure, I don't feel so good, if it's dangerous?"
"Look, you've got 12 miles to go and six hours to do it, get back out there!"

Talk about wanting to quit. I actually made this doctor put a cuff on me and take my blood pressure. That is NOT a can do attitude! There's your Andyman some tough guy! And that "Doctor" putting me in harms way like that! Not only did he kick me out of Bills, but he shoed everyone out, "Come on people, you've got plenty of time left, get out there and finish." I put my watch away when Candi and I parted ways, I had no idea how much time was left. For the first time since mile 47 I checked. I had 6 hours left. Damn it! I knew that I could make it 2 miles an hour, even with my bad heart, so off I went.

For the rest of the journey, there were more naps, but only the one - two minute variety, most on the trail itself so I would get up when a runner came upon me. There was no more thought of quitting or getting pulled, because for the first time I knew I would make it.

I was right, I made it with 2 1/2 hours to spare. My worst race ever, but under tough circumstances.

For now, there are 24 of us left in the slam, another 6 - 10 will drop at Leadville if the statistics hold. I may be one of them, I don't know anymore. But I'm done with quitting. I won't let those thought come into my head again. I've invested a lot into this.

My thanks to that pain in the @ss doctor who didn't tell me what I wanted to hear. My thanks to each of you who kicked me off the trail when I was napping in your way.

I cannot promise you that I will finish, but I will do all I can.

Sorry for the honesty and lack of humor, it's a true story, and I'm not Chase, I'm not the Professor, I'm not always funny. I'm just a guy, I get scared, I hurt, and sometimes I just want to go home.

Oh yeah, tail of the scale 171 and I'm no longer worried about that. I did figure out it's what's in me that counts, not how much weight is on me.


Roger said...

Seems so unlikely that you could learn something new after a dozen hundred milers, but there it is...

If you were in a train wreck, I bet you would just look up from the dirt pile at the rescue crew and say, "64 miles to the hospital? Wow. Ok, no problem, I'll just walk. You'll need the space in the ambulance for these poor bastards with the Gasparilla Half-Marathon shirts on."

AndyMan said...

I was hoping for a train wreck on Sunday night! As for learning, I learned plenty, this crap is hard, and anyone that wants to stop at anytime, well, that's ok in my book. Even in Wisconisn, yes, it was disapointing to run a subpar time, but I knew I would finish. No big hills. I wasn't in pain, I was just puking. Like Richard Prior said, "What, it aint nothing but a little vomit." Here, I don't know, I just wanted relief. Relief from the lifestyle. Relief from the night. I didn't want to go to Leadville, or especially Wasatch, oh sure, if I make it to Arkansas.

But, I did overcome that negative stuff, and I reckon it'll play well in the book, kind of like Dean crawling at Robie Point at Western States. But this was Vermont, I was not hoping, but expecting to do well. Let's a little doubt creep in you know?

The Professor said...

Let's face reality there really such thing as a "sub-par" time in a hunnert? Has anyone ever said, "28 hours...well, you'll do better next time"? No. If they have run hunnerts before they say, "It was a brutal day and a relentless course". If they haven't run hunnerts before they just say, "I get tired driving that far!!"

Chase Squires said...

You'll excell at Leadville, you won't really feel like homemade crap until Twin Lakes, and heck, from there it's just two more mountains to go over ...

It's also a complete b*tch to get pulled or drop out anywhere along the course since much of it is remote, so it's easier to keep moving as long as they let you. Oh, but there are wild things in the woods, you lie down and take a nap out there, you're something's dinner!

See you in a few weeks!

superdave524 said...

I remember watching Chase's video a year or so ago. I remember him saying, "I want to die". I remember thinking, "Why would anyone do this?". You looked into the abyss. You really, really challenged yourself. I don't get why y'all do this, but whatever it is, it seems like you got more of it. There is no comfortable place worth being. You really, desperately, wanted to quit. You knew you could not do it. The demons absolutely hounded you. Hounded you. And you beat them.

Chase Squires said...

Release the Hounded!

Anonymous said...

I agree with SuperD. The fact that you had that much doubt and that much desire to quit only makes it that much more impressive that you finished. It's like what they say about bravery. You can't be brave without fear. In your case, without doubt or a desire to quit, anybody could do it. With that doubt and desire, most people stop. You didn't. I'm more impressed than ever.


AndyMan said...

Well said Gator Fan, but I'm going to apply that to Becky and Woody. They didn't finish the race last year, and they came back and did it again, and the conquered it. Now that impresses me!

Just me said...

But, Aman, the big difference here is that said runners did stop last year when they had doubt and were in despair. (Yes, they did come back this year to conquer what conquered them last year.) As for you - in the wee hours of the morning and in the dark of night through the fog, you pushed through the doubt and despair. That's the difference.

AndyMan said...

Just me, but I had the greatest friend in the world at the finish, what was I supposed to do? I had to get there for a hug! If only I had a pacer in Arkansas.....

superdave524 said...

You want a Pacer? Okay, but frankly, I think they're ugly.

Star said...

I too met the demons, and they are scary. The punched me in the gut twice and sat on my shoulder the rest of the time.

The important thing is that you knocked out the S. Every race will hold its own unique story for you Aman, and when you finish the Slam, we'll read about them all in your book.

I especially like picturing you laying in someone's yard...Armando and I laughed about that all week :)

AndyMan said...

Oh and Star, I also laid out in one of those mud and gravel driveways because there was no yard around. I wasn't worried about getting mashed by a car, hell I welcomed it! (plus there was a chain across the driveway)

Arlene said...

Did you ever look at your left wrist? And if many times? Obviously enough, you had 2 and 1/2 hours to spare!

AndyMan said...

Arelene, I can't tell you how many times I referred to my Don't Quit bracelet. I used it like never before. I honestly believe it made the difference. When what was in me wasn't enough, I used what was on me.

Everyone who brought a bracelet with them finished! Don't Quit, can't say it any better than that!

Star said...

But did you look at the *EX ADDICT bracelet???