Drove to Albion the afternoon before and went straight to packet pick-up. They let me get Shawn and Alex's as well so that made it nice. Went to the hotel ate my Jimmy Johns turkey sandwich and chilled while I waited for the boys to get there. Once they arrived they unpacked all their clothes they brought trying to decide what to wear, I was dying cause there were at least 10 different tops, pants, several shorts, long sleeves- enough for a couple weeks of runs! Knew it would be chilly start but would warm up fast as the sun was suppose to come out and temps expected in the high 40's! I first was gonna wear a short sleeve then just a long sleeve but when I got outside the wind was kinda chilly so I opted for short sleeve with my waffle warm jacket and lightweight buff. Ran into a bunch of marathon maniacs before the start and met some folks in live person that I had only met online thru facebook and beginnertriathlete.com. Porta potty lines were long and not sure if thats why the race started about 10 min late but we didnt get off till about 8:20. Shawn, Alex and I started together and Shawn dropped us before we hit mile one and I thought Alex was right with me but got ahead of him around mile 2 I think.
The trails had some snow on much of them and I knew the second loop was gonna be a mud fest! I never really worry about time but for some reason I wanted to see if I could PR here and beat last years time. For some reason I thought I was 7:03 last year so my mind kept telling me I wanted to be under 7:00 hours. The first loop was uneventful, I took my jacket off by mile 4 or 5 and it was a little chilly when the winds blew but really felt good! I met a couple new runners and had to cross a creek which was comical, I am terrible at creek crossing and am so cautious and I really didnt wanna just go thru it since it was just lap one and kinda cold, I see 3 large rocks to hop on and a small branch crossing to the left of it so I bend down almost crawling across while I am holding this small branch and carefully stepping on each rock, once I got across those that I held back started cheering for me! A few came upon me a few moments later patting me on the back saying you made it!!! There was a photographer there so if that picture does justice to my fear I will add it to this recap when I find it. During the first loop I refilled my water bottle at each aid station and grabbed some pretzels or something quick and tried to not hang out too long, only had a couple potty stops throughout the entire course. Around mile 10 or so of the first loop my mind was already playing with me and just bored so I did turn my iphone on airplane mode and turned on the itunes to allow some music to play out loud while I had it in my hand held. I kept playing over in my head that I didnt feel like running anymore...then I would tell myself you didnt drive 5 plus hours to DNF and its your last event of the year and you dont ever DNF so whats wrong with you! I also would analyze if I would DNF then I wouldnt be celebrating my 50th "official" marathon/ultra at New Orleans with some friends. I say official due to the BoB 50 not giving me credit for 50 miles as they dont allow you to drop from what you sign up for, even if requested weeks in advance, and the MOX 12 Hour didnt give us a finish time since we didnt stay on the course for the entire 12 hours....even though we had no intentions of staying on the course for 12 hours we were looking for a 50K training day and dont think we could crawl 31 miles in 12 hours! But enough of that sour spot....so that what I mean when I say "official" those events that post finish times and results to the public are considered official. Once I made the loop I felt a little refreshed, my iphone battery was getting low since I had forgotten my charger and I did decide to put on my new Jaybird and pull out my nano. Typically I dont like earphones in both my ears on a run as I like to hear people coming on me and the sounds of the outdoors but I needed something to keep my mind occupied besides the voices that stay in my head....I knew they would keep me company after the run while I had the long drive home. Things did get pretty muddy by lap 2 but it was fun, a couple slips with no falls and no slip that caused the body to stretch in ways it is not suppose to. I started chatting with a young girl who was doing her first 50K, she had done 2 marathons previously and had only been running about a year and was nice to chat with, we were following a group of 2 guy and there were 3 girls behind them and they turned wrong, I could tell something wasnt right when we went over a bridge as it didnt look familiar and there wasnt enough foot prints for this to be the correct trail, they realize about the same time and hollowed back if we see any pink ribbons, I started jogging back and saw where we went off and yelled back at them - yes we missed the hill! So up we go, I had gotten ahead of the gal I was chatting with as we had to back track some and then my mind was still wondering if I could beat last years time. I dont recall what mile it was but I saw a friend of mine in front of me and I couldnt figure out how he got there, I had passed him right from the start of the race and never once saw him come by me on the first loop? This was his 3rd year in a row for this event also and he lives close enough by so he knows the course. I approached him and asked where the heck did you pass me?? I would think I would notice those bright orange compression socks coming by plus we woulda spoke, he kinda just shook his head but this still was playing in my head thinking I was crazy- as I passed again and could tell he was struggling I looked back and said Surely this isnt your first lap is it and he did answer no. That played in my head the rest of the run on and off as I thought I lost it? I put my jaybirds back on and cranked the tunes up, looking at my watch trying to analyze if I was gonna beat my time from last year which I thought was 7:03- (but afterwards I found it was 6:55!!!) When I got to the aid station where you get to ring the bell for good service I actually decided I would grab half of a hamburger, I was hungry and the cliff shots were too sweet and the pretzels and goldfish were not cutting it, I put some ketchup and mustard on it and folded the piece of bread over and off I went while eating my burger, rang the bell and down the hill I went. Things got muddier and slipperier and a couple times I would try to jump into more leaves and grab tree to tree going downhill to try not fall and bust my ass. I made it!! With about 4 miles to go I was out of water and the unmanned aid station had some coolers there but they were drained...I knew I had a couple more miles till the last aid station and it was only about a mile from the finish so I started then playing the number games in my head as to what pace I would need to go to finish in under 7 hours. My watch was set up for overall pace not mile pace so I had no idea what my current pace was. My toe had a little blister and foot was hurting but anymore I look at it and tell myself I've felt better and I've felt worse- keep moving! My knee didnt give me any issues at all! I got to that last aid station and remembered they had the potatoes there the first time around to dip in salt but I didnt wanna waste the time, I wanted to beat last years finish!! I knew i need some water so I had my top opened and grabbed a cup and dumped it in while a volunteer dumped another and I said thats plenty to get me thru the finish. At this point we are close to the lake again and there is a small single track below the road and it is uneven and very very slippery and muddy, I had to take my time but stayed focused and ran thru as fast as I could, I saw Shawn at his car waiting and I said hey and slowed for a short second and said Im moving fast I think I can beat last years finish time, Im not sure where Alex is but I lost him only a couple miles into the run. I came towards the finish shoot and the clock read 6:48!!! Holy shit you did it! At that time I thought it was a 15 min PR but later found last years results and was only a 7 min PR....hey a PR is a PR!!! I got my medal and asked a guy to take my photo, didnt stay for the soup as I wanted to find the showers and start heading home so I wouldnt be much later then 10pm. Got to the car and told Shawn bye and apologized for not sticking around to see Alex finish but we had no idea where he was and I had an extra 100 miles to drive then they. Found the shower and was a little cold but felt good to get the mud and sweat off me before heading home. I had a super day and was glad I didnt bail-I actually had told Shawn and Alex on Friday that I may not drive over and do it, but I also knew if I didnt there was no way I woulda got the training miles in on my own at home. I am still very disappointed in my friend who told me later that he thinks he got off course at mile 11 (lap one) when he stepped off to go the bathroom in the woods and people were coming both directions-my mind cant help but say you had a garmin there were mile markers everywhere why didnt you turn around when you realized it, this is the 3rd year in a row for doing this course how could you get confused? and then I ask since you knew the first time around where you missed it which is the 3 mile loop why didnt you take that loop twice on your second lap to make it up? Instead you take a finish medal and accept and post your time?? Lost some respect for a fellow runner today- we run for ourselves so I thought...why would you say you finish something that you clearly didnt finish? I doubt our tombstones will read here lies such and such who completed blank amount of marathons/ultras in their lifetime.