Sunday, May 27, 2012

Nanny Goat 2012

Yeah, this photo just about sums it up.

I'm just going to cut to the chase. Nanny Goat 2012 did not go quite exactly the way I had planned. I came into this race gunning for that belt buckle. I gave it my best effort, but at the end of the day, my body and mind collapsed and I surrendered at mile 88. I just could not deliver the goods. The worst part was that I completely broke down and publicly unleashed a series of colossal midnight meltdowns so violently guttural and vociferous that it woke up the whole barn. This is something I am not proud of nor is it something want to be remembered by. Live and learn.

My original plan for Nanny Goat was to only hit the 100k. Earlier this year, I made the bold statement that I was going to get my 100 mile belt buckle by the end of this year. My first attempt at this would have been at Rocky Road back in February, but I dropped out due to inadequate training. Who am I kidding, I was way out of shape back then and knew I couldn't muster up a 50 miler, let alone double that distance. My plan was to earn that belt buckle at Across The Years on new year's eve, but my buddy Jonesy convinced me to go for it at Nanny Goat. I had lost about 20 pounds and my running was improving, so I figured I was ready enough. My confidence level certainly wasn't at 100%, and it didn't help knowing that some people within my running circle were taking bets to see where I would fail. Knowing this caused a lot of unneeded stress, especially because these were people whom I thought cared about me. In any case, I tried to keep out of all the drama and run my own race.

The irony behind all this is that I had no problem reaching that 100k mark. In fact, I ran strong up to the first 70 miles or so. Along the way, I earned a sub-6 marathon (only my 4th in 62 tries), a 2 hour PR on my 50k, and a whopping 10 hour PR on my 50 miler. I kept myself disciplined and limited my aid station stops to the bare minimum, but I also allowed myself to opportunity to socialize on the run. How could I not have fun at Nanny Goat? All my running buddies were out there running that one mile loop around the barn with me. Yeah, we're pretty insane.

Everyone is smiling! We should have taken an after shot after the 28th hour.
This is the first of many epic road trips with my buddy Jonesy.
And we're off! I sported my Flying Pigs cape.
I'll let you all caption this one. 
The cape came off after the marathon and I got serious! Ok, I'm still smiling. After this photo was taken, I got serious!

As the day went on, I kept looping that one mile dirt road around the barn. Mother Nature was much kinder to us this year as she didn't turn up the thermostat that much. Don't get me wrong, it did get warm, but nothing like the inferno from the previous year. As I plugged along, I felt good knowing that I was definitely on pace for a 28 hour finish. When I hit the 100k mark, my friend and fellow Marathon Maniac Louie Perez offered to pace me. Louie was supposed to pace our friend Elizabeth, but since she dropped at mile 34, he had time on his hands (and legs). I happily obliged, as I had officially reached unchartered territory and knew that having a pacer through the night would secure that belt buckle. 

And so the melt down begins.

As Louie and I ran through the night, my mind played tricks on me and I slowly unraveled. Sleep deprivation, exhaustion, and dehydration taunted my dejected psyche. Nothing made sense to me anymore and nothing mattered. I became the one that flew over the cuckoo's nest, but thankfully I had Louie to keep me in line. There really are guardian angels out there, and this guy is truly heaven sent. Louie wasn't just a pacer to me, he was a nurse, a coach, a psychiatrist, a chef, a dad, a brother, a care taker, and a friend. Melt down after melt down, Louie was there by my side, cranking out a 50k of his own in the wee hours of the mornings. 

As the sun came up and the clock continued to tick away, I knew my time was running out. I had to reach 86 miles by 24 hours in order to make the cut off for the 100 miler. I kept pushing hard, but dehydration and lack of nutrition got the best of me. I had to pull over every 5 minutes to vomit in the bushes. Louie held me up and pushed me along, but I was too much to handle. At that point, my buddy Jonesy saw my deteriorating state and stepped in to assist my pacer. Together, these two got me to that cut off time with 5 minutes to spare. 

It wasn't pretty, but I hit 86 miles in 24 hours, and was given an additional four hours to compete 12 little miles. I can easily run a 3 hour half marathon, but after 24 hours and no sleep, my mind, body, and soul just couldn't fathom getting to that finish line. As the thought of that belt buckle slipping away from me became a reality, the break downs got more intense. Louie and Jonesy kept me in the game for then next two miles but I knew that just could not put one foot in front of the other any longer. I thanked Jonesy for sacrificing his sub-24 hundred miler and told him to finish his race. Louie escorted me to that finish line. 

As I approached the barn, my heart sank and my trembling legs lost control. I fell to the ground and released every emotion within my soul in the rawest and most honest form possible. The race director and two fellow Marathon Maniacs came running out of the barn to pick me up. I knew then that it was game over, and nothing mattered anymore. 

At that moment, seconds before surrendering at mile 88, all I wanted to do was crawl under a rock and die. The agony of defeat pumped through every vein in my beat up body. I let it all out. The race director knelt down to console me as I clutched onto his leg and buried my face in his knee. I threw a tantrum the size of the state of Texas. I cried hard, screaming that I wanted that belt buckle and that I worked so hard. He told me over and over that I was a strong runner and that I would get my belt buckle sooner than I think. He also reiterated that only a few people made the cut off and that I had a lot to be proud of. Obviously, I could not believe any of it and all I wanted to do was sulk. The race director and my fellow Marathon Maniacs picked me up and walked me to that finish line. 

No belt buckle.

Ultra events are a physical and emotional roller coaster. I learned quite a bit from my first 100 miler attempt. Key take aways include always hydrating even when I don't think I need to, getting consistent nutrition throughout the event, having a kick butt pacer, and controlling my emotions. I may not have gone home with a belt buckle, but I have a lot to be proud of. I completed a whopping total 88 miles and learned a great deal about myself in the process. As I went through all this, another fellow runner captured it all on film. At first I hated seeing this clip, but it has really grown on me. I'm totally ok with it now because I fought tooth and nail and gave it everything I got. I know what I need to do to get that elusive belt buckle. What an incredible Nanny Goat weekend. 

On a final note, you know who your true friends are when they experience your absolute worst yet they still come back to you. Special shout out to Louie and Jonesy for putting up with every insane melt down that I unleashed during this Nanny Goat torture. These two guys are amazing. I vomited on both of them multiple times. I yelled at them. I cried and complained. I pretty much made their lives miserable, yet they still stuck with it and took care of me. Without Jonesy and Louie, I do not believe I would have made it to 88. THANK YOU, guys. You mean the world to me.

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