No sooner did I write a facebook post about starting my "taper" when, the next morning I awoke with a throat the color of a hummingbird feeder only much less pleasant. I figured it would go away, it didn't. Now it felt like hummingbirds were angrily pecking at my uvula. On the Thursday before the Saturday race I got the great idea of visiting my doctor after 4 solid days of wincing when drinking water. Oh, sure, I still kept running because I was simultaneously tapering for Whiteriver while training for Cascade Crest 100. I told the doctor I wanted to run WR but didn't want the infection to get into my sinuses or ears or in anyway threaten my CCC race. He said, "Yes your throat is beet red!" Did a strep test (negative) and gave me a Rx for anti biotics which I could have saved him his degree debt and written myself. Two hours later I was on the blahblahblahacillin. Friday night I was at the race check in chatting it up with friends from near and far including David Horton, Gary Gellin, the McCoubreys, "Flying"Allen Skytta, Joe Creighton, and many others. Camped at Buckcreek in the manvan.
The race: My expectations were slim. I was sickish. I decided I wanted into the top 10 and top 3 masters. I also decided that if I felt anything amiss, I would drop as to not threaten CCC in a month. I thought, "I'll see how the first half goes, then either race or run the second depending." I lie to myself all the time. I snuck up to the line for the start and we were off at a fast 50k pace, everyone chasing Uli and glory. I was at the start of the second wave of heros not feeling good. I climbed up to Ranger cabin with Chase Mueller, Dan Gallant, Jon Robinson and a few others in tow. I felt fine but tenative. Along the ridge to Corral pass I got to see Uli and the front pack coming back at me, then Glenn Takiyama and his camera and smile, then finally Eric Sachs at the aid station. I downed some pbj and headed back out. I caught a guy on the snow section and as he went down step by step I quickly skied past him and continued until I caught up with Fleetfeet Seattle teammate Jon Robinson. We had a nice time descending to buck creek. Into the aid station I felt fine, I grabbed a pbj and a cup of coke, got my filled bottles, went up the trail a bit and puked my guts out. WTF! I've never lost it in any running event. Ever! Now here I was like a frat boy on St. Patricks day. I didn't finish my cup of coke. I wandered up the trail and reevaluated. Should I drop? My car is just over there. What would I do with the rest of the day if I stopped now? Then I decided to continue, "People puke all the time in 100 milers, I'll just see what happens if I go on." I figured I could drop anytime, anywhere. I also decided if a tree fell near me, that would be the third sign I should stop. No trees fell, I continued on. I got passed by a guy with wing tattoos. I stumbled up fawn ridge, I started to pass people who looked worse than me. I got excited, I looked up and saw Jon. I caught up with Jon, we passed more people. I caught "wingy". I looked up and saw the unmistakable socks of William Emerson who owns this course as a master. I've never beaten William and was surprised to see him. I followed him up to Suntop. By this point I was eating only watermelon and water. I was scared of everything else and it was hot out. I chomped 2-3 watermelon wedges and headed down the fireroad feeling pretty spunky. I had William in my sights. I gained on him, I caught up with him, then Tatwings passed us both. I chased Tatty down the road with William behind me, I lost both of them around opposing corners, glad to now be in 2nd masters. I came around a corner and Mr.Tats was pulling up his shorts next to a tree while murmmering, "nearly shit myself." I passed him and we motored into the Skookum Flats aid station at about the same time. I had a full bottle still and needed to only wolf down two chunks of watermelon and I was off. I had legs. I still had legs. The energy I'd been holding onto the whole race was now at my disposal along Skookum Flats (Which, for the uninitiated, are not flat at all but undulating). I pushed it and felt good. I knew the race was only another 6ish miles and I had 2nd masters in the bag as long as I didn't explode or expire. I blasted that trail and pushed hard to the finish. My finish time was 7:45 and change, two minutes slower than my course record but good enough this year for 6th place overall and 2nd masters. I was elated.
Post race party was awesome as usual. The Globespun Gourmet burritos my company provided for finish line food went over great and people were talking about how tasty they were. It is always fun to watch people finish and cheer friends on or console those who DNFed. The BBQ was tasty and I won a pair of sunglasses from Scott Sports for my finish.
Lessons learned: It's OK to run when you're sick. Puking isn't the end of the world or your race. Watermelon works as good as food and GU. See you next year Rio Blanco.