Sunday, December 22, 2013

JFK 50 Miler 11/23/13

 Drove over to Maryland on Friday morning, arrive to packet pick up a little after 3:00 and got to run into my friend and legends of JFK and other events Irish Joe Cleary, Paul Grassie and Steve Bozeman-these are a few of the folks I met last year that made me wanna come back again this year. My friend Kelly Bruno who I met at Umstead was coming for JFK as well as Shawn and Alex. We were all sharing a room and after the race Paul and Joe were hosting a party, this was going to be both their 20th finish and Steve's 26th! I was also looking forward to seeing my friend Shaunte that I met last year and she was going to be volunteering. she came over once the boys had arrived and helped up get one car at the finish line so we could drive one to the start and not have to deal with the shuttle afterwards and the 4 of us went to dinner.  Paul, Joe, Steve, Alex, Shawn and myself were all taking the 2 hour early start as well as some other friends I met last year and at a few other events throughout the year. Kelly is speedy and was fine with the normal 7am start. Kelly is also a single leg amputee and just amazing yet so humble. I will put a spoiler in now and say she finished in like 9:09!! Also is the first single leg amputee to have done the JFK 50 miler!  We had to wake early and tried to be quit as to not wake Kelly, we had to be at the gym by 4:20. I was so worried about Shawn and Alex forgetting stuff that yes I walked off without my bag! I did message Kelly when I thought she would be waking and she had it at the finish for me. We arrived at the gym for the pre race meeting and there I saw a couple other friends I had met before and a few others I had only met on Facebook. Its almost a mile walk to the start in downtown and off we headed.
The race started and it has some good climbs in the beginning and I wanted to save my energy as well as allow Alex to save energy cause I really wanted him to finish this event!! We told Shawn to go ahead and see what he could do as we both could feel his antsiness as we walked the hills, plus his damn garmin was gonna beep every mile and there was no way I wanted to hear that!! I dont even wear a garmin to JFK cause I dont wannt know where I am or how many miles are left, I just ask at the check in stations if I am on time and how much ahead of the check point schedule am I. Alex and I and a new girl we met on the trail stayed together, Im not an expert on the trail but I had been on it last year and knew for the novice runner the biggest trick is to get off the trail unharmed.
 I was a little slower on the trail this year then last but still when I got off I had a good hour in the bank and was ahead of schedule, now it was 26.5 miles on the boring C&O Canal all flat and this is where you can actually bank a little more mileage. I could tell at the first aid station coming off the AT check point Alex was struggling, that trail just sucks the life out of you, constant concentration on every step of the way. I yelled and said grab your shit and eat it on the way, keep moving. He hung with me for awhile and I tried to keep his pace a nice slog job and could tell he was wanting some walk breaks so we would pick out some trees, or bridge or rock or something and make it there to start a walk break for a few. A couple times he started to slag back but he was always in view. I ran into a gal and we got talking about last year, come to find out she was with me on the trail with King Jordan had taken his big spill and ended up with stitches in the head and was unable to finish since it was so bad, I told her after that and seeing Paul have a first aid kit to help him I decided I would run with a first aid kit this year. She pointed that he was just ahead of us and I thought it looked like him and all of a sudden he tripped on a root and down he went, this was on the tow path too! Darn. We ran to his aid I immediately pulled out the first aid kit and others came up to help and asked to get in my bag and I said please do, he had some bleeding from his head and his hand was really gashed with blood going everywhere, he legs were getting covered from his hand dripping and I was getting covered trying to help. He is deaf so can't hear but can speak well since he lost his hearing at age 21. Others were trying to talk to him as they didnt know him and he was upset and even said darn it I made it off the trail without falling this year and here I fall on the straight tow path. He then told the others Im deaf so I started to sign to him, I only remember the ABCs but that helped a lot. We got his head taped up and his hand wrapped tight with gauze and I kept telling him to keep it up in the air to get the blood to stop, his friend Steve said he would stick with him till they got to the next station and there were some medic there, Alex also caught up with us here and helped out for a few and off we went.  At the next station I had to climb a hill to the porta johns and headed up and on my way out told them to watch for him as he would need cleaned up, the volunteers poured some water on my arms and hands to get the blood off me. Alex was coming thru here also as I was heading out and I thought he was just behind me most of the time but he fell way back. I really wanted to stay with him but the time to help King Jordan now was eating away at my time for myself to finish too and I couldnt risk not finishing. I wouldnt trade staying with them on the AT or stopping to help King Jordan for any time on the clock! Later I found out they patched him up at the aid station, the medics wanted him to quit but the RD knew him as he also had about 20 finishes and he knew if he would be in jeopardy. He FINISHED!!!! Afterwards he did go to the hospital and required 10 stitches in his hand....this is why I run folks!!! 70 years old finishing the JFK 50 falling with 30 miles left to go while needing 10 stitches in his hand...and Im gonna complain about my knee issues, or my foot or my hamstring?????? Each aid station I was still ahead of schedule by about 45 minutes, not the 90 i was hoping for but at least I had no doubt that I would finish. It is always a pleasant site to get off that towpath but then you hit road and a nice big climb directly off then some rollers for the next 8.5 miles. Joe was just ahead of me and I came upon him and he knew he was gonna finish but was having some issues and just wanted to take his time. I wanted to check on Alex and he wasnt answering his phone nor was Shawn, I finally got ahold of Shawn as I thought he was prolly finished but he advised me he still have about 3 miles to go and I think I had about 6. He then told me Alex was pulled at mile 38. I was really bummed and pissed at the same time cause I had him time in the bank and really wished he woulda dug deep and kept his eye on the cut off times at each station to know whether he had to just suck it up and jog or walk super fast to get there.  That is one thing about the towpath if you start walking it can make it hard to jump in and jog again, it kinda can suck it out of you and you get lost since it all looks the same.  I was told that last year, Joe said to me, dont catch yourself walking too long because those cutoffs will get shorted and you think you have time and bam it catches you.
 I finished much slower then I had hoped but again I wouldnt trade any time in the world for stopping to help a friend and knowing that stopping and helping and having the first aid I brought in fact is the reason he got to finish makes me feel great!! He woulda lost way too much blood if we were not there with aid right away. I also have no regrets for going a little slower on the AT, it was great spending that time with Alex and our new friend Robin. After the run Kelly had been done for hours, I got something to eat and then realize I totally left my car key in the boys car at the starting line that morning we all had to hope on the shuttle to go back to the start, Kelly was having some blur vision and the Doc there advised her not to drive and her car was at the start so Alex drove them back to the hotel and they got cleaned up while Shawn and I headed back to the finish now to get my car and then return to the hotel. DUH Once we got cleaned up I opened some wine they had a beer and here comes Shaunte, Paul and Joe were ready for the party and we all headed down to their room. Was a total blast, so fun listening to everyones running stories and personal stories. Then next morning Kelly had to head out early and Joe, Paul, Alex, Shawn, Shaunte and I met at the Denny's as this it an annual ritual for breakfast. Next year I wont be able to do JFK again as I have some other events at the same time and sure will miss that JFK Family but hope to see Joe, Paul and Shaunte other places next year!

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