There is no glory waiting out there for me. My thoughts as I turned off the alarm at 4 something in the AM on Saturday. I could hear the wind whipping a heavy rain against the windows. Downstairs the coffee maker was percolating as I climbed into my pile of running clothes as quietly as I could. My back froze as I tried to get my Drymax socks on, Damn it! Breathe man breathe. The tweak in my back slowly let go and I continued. No glory out there. The rain erased any thoughts of piecing together a costume.
Black shadows of human shape gathered around the fire as it bent left then right making a bright spot in an inky ravine. I pinned on my number and tried in vain to identify who I knew under their hooded rain coats. The dark would dissipate and return again in the length of this 12 hour race. Glory be damned, we started running. By the end of the first 1.95 mile lap I was soaked to the marrow. I had gone out fast in an attempt to build some body heat, and now realized I would have to stay fast or slow down and let the cold creep in. I stayed fast, the rain kept pace, the blackness slowly leaked West leaving a beautiful, sodden single track of mud and stairs in its place. I ran.
The pace was fast. My aid station wagon was stocked with chocolate croissants, muffins, chicken broth, S.caps, Dookie Wads and, like my shoes, 2 gallons of water. Wherein last year I managed to stop every other lap, this year I found excuses to stop almost every lap. The wet was taking its toll on both my time and my nutrition as I was having difficulty trying to keep fed inbetween loops. I started to wane in the rain. My spirits were raised greatly when I found Shawna Tompkins and ran a few loops with her. When she slowed to run with some other friends, I was back to being alone with the trail and the sound of the incessant rain on leaves, which started to drive me nuts. I grabbed my ipod and tried to sedate with podcasts, it didn't work, I was depleted and bonking, I walked the steeps.
Kevin Douglas was runner up last year and was back for more this year. I was ahead of him. If he passed me I would have an excuse to quit. No glory at Carkeek but still, you can't quit if you are leading. So I didn't. I ran/walked a loop with Matt Hagen, one of my favorite people in the running world, the company was great but my head was spinning. I decided to aim for a 50 mile day(26 loops) and call it good. Sam Thompson who co directs the race with Brock also owns a mobile food truck call Seattle Biscuit Co. Race entry includes one biscuit sandwich from the truck. I ordered on loop 19 for pickup at the end of loop 20. I finished the loop, got my "Che" Biscuit (eggs, ham, pickle and maybe cheese) and sat to eat. Kevin was just leaving as he'd taken off a loop to eat. I ate hearty and it was delicious. Betsy Rodgers who was marking loops on the big board asked if I was done and I said yes to the biscuit and no to ending the race. My buddy Jim Norton had shown up early to run some loops with me. I roused my creaky bones off the wet cement and we headed slowly into the woods. The biscuit kicked in and I started to feel strong again, we ran a good clip over the well trod mud for three loops when I stopped at my car to refuel. Nothing looked good. As a matter of fact it all looked bad, really bad, I ran down an enbankment to a fence and started chundering like a bad prom date. Jim came up behind me and said, "well I guess we're done huh?". I said, "No. Now I feel better and I'm pissed off." A cup of chicken broth later we were back on the trail. I felt like I was starting over anew.
The clock wended it's way down to a few hours left and on we ran. Jim stuck with me, my lovely wife Jane came and visited inbetween soccer duties and brought crackers and a handheld of hot chocolate (perhaps the best thing ever) I kept at it. Kevin wouldn't quit. I wouldn't quit. Jim wouldn't quit. The loops kept coming, the clock kept running, the night crept in dark and wet until it simply ended. 30 loops. 58ish miles, 13,000ft of climb and descend. I won, Kevin finished a loop behind me, third a loop behind him. Jim stayed with me for 10 loops which was the difference between winning and going crazy from the rain. There is no glory at Carkeek 12 hour but the personal demons I faced this day and my own struggles and perseverence made me really proud of this finish.