When it comes to race reports; I’m not the greatest writer simply because my mind is focused on the run itself and not so much about the memorable moments along the run. I’m focusing on one foot in front of the other over and over again. If you’re looking for a bunch of pictures from the run, unfortunately you’ll be a bit disappointed. Again, I tend to focus on the run and forget about the other aspects like taking pictures. Something I know I should try to work on.
Our morning started out with all of us meeting at In Focus Church in Evans, GA. to gather the crew, ensure we all have the supplies needed, and to pile into two vehicles to make the roughly two hour trip to Hart State Park in Hartwell, GA. Once we arrived at the park, everyone took a moment to take in what we were about to embark on. We prepped our gear, applied sunscreen, used the bathroom (several times), took pictures, posted to social media, said a prayer of safety and made our way towards Augusta. I said the first to ask “Are we there yet?” within the first few hundred feet just for fun. Shortly after, I was already stopping because, apparently I didn’t learn how to tie my shoes properly as a child.
The first 3 miles were spent trying to level our pace out and find a comfortable groove. Thankful for the cloud cover at this point; but we knew it would be getting warm quickly once the clouds burnt off. Our goal was to run a 11:30-12:00 minute pace and take short quick breaks throughout. My personal hydration plan was to down a 16 oz bottle of Gatorade every hour and adding additional carbs every hour and a half. The first 10 miles was nice and easy and we were slightly ahead of pace. SWEET!
Once we got out of the city limits we started to encounter some of the hills we knew we would be running/walking. At this point; the sun finally burned off all the clouds and we were under the direct sunlight with a few passing clouds. The temps were rising pretty quickly at this point. The three of us were still going strong and holding our own. Around mile 16 and then again at mile 18 on some of the longer hill climbs towards Elberton, I started feeling the affects of the heat and started cramping up. We get to the town of Elberton and stop at the Walgreens to rehydrate and I go into the store to try to get rid of the stomach cramping that I’ve got going on (Do I really need to paint this picture?). I catch back up to the runners and stick with Matt. Matt is showing signs of some slight pain with a hitch in his stride. His hip and left groin is hurting him bad. Steve is still going strong; actually leaving us far behind. Matt and I make the decision to hop in the car and catch up to Steve. We catch up and eventually hop back out and run with him for a while.
Around mile 25, I’m really cramping up and stop on the side of the road and essentially lay out in the fresh cut grass. My crew stops with me to ensure that I’m alright. I get up. I change shirts, visor, socks, shoes. I feel better. I grab a lo-carb Monster out of the cooler, fill my water bottle with Gatorade and take off…slowly. I’m sipping the Monster and chasing it with the Gatorade. I eventually decide to just pour my Monster in my Gatorade. On a side note, not sure if it was because I was just that thursty or not but Lemon Lime Gatorade and lo-carb Monster mixes fairly well together. I finish the bottle off in about 30 minutes. My crew calls ahead, the other two runners are about a half mile ahead of me. They gave me the option to hop in and catch up… I decide to keep running thinking that I will catch up when they stop. Right around the 26.5 mile point, my cramping gets so severe that I’m on the side of the road hunched over in pain. My body is locking up and at the same time I’m dry heaving. Talk about painful. One of my crew members is an EMT and suggests that I get in the car to cool off and ride ahead. I listen…
While in the car, I feel like I’m about to explode and I tell them to ride ahead and find a gas station that mat have a restroom to use. We past Steve running strong; we let the other crew car know that we are driving ahead to find a gas station. We get to the gas station right at the mile 30 marker. I jump out and rush tot he restroom…nothing. I can’t do anything. I come back out the the car. We make the decision to stay here and wait for the others to meet up to us. We pull over the the side of the lot and I grab a beach towel out of the car and lay it on the ground. I’m starting to lock up everywhere, hips, knees, quads, back, everywhere. I lay on the towel for what seems like forever and eventually the cramping goes away and I feel like I need to attempt to use the restroom again. I go and the only thing I can manage is number 1. I come back out and I see Steve run by and the crew car trailing behind him. I catch up to him and run with him for about 4 miles before my quads lock up.
At this point, I’ve realized that if I want to be able to continue to run and finish at the 5k Saturday morning, I needed to plan a new running strategy. I decided the best way to handle this would be to run with Steve for a few miles and then ride for a few miles. I usually cycled between 2 miles runing with 2 miles riding. We are nearing the 38 mile mark and the time frame that the 5-6 om crew would be joining us. We cross the first of many bridges over the J. Strom Thurmond Reservoir and the replacement crew is on the other side waiting for us.
The next few miles were fun with the fresh crew keeping us entertained with lines from comedians and TV shows. Once the sun started to go down, the temps started to cool off. What a relief. Somewhere around 9 pm, the group is running along shortly after one of the crew members said a prayer for everyone when we heard horses in the field to the right of us. We all turn our heads to the right and shine our headlamps on the horses running towards the fence line to greet us. Once all of the horse made it to the fence line, they turned and ran the fence line with us. Not ahead of us, but with us. What an amazing sight to see. I only wish it was bright enough to have recorded some video of this.
The crew arrives in Lincolnton right around 11 pm and Steve was met by a large crowd of supporters who drove to us to to cheer him/us on. Steve being the machine that he is kept right on running. I was in the car at this point so we stayed back to chat for a few minutes with everyone. Sundy Goodnight from SCTNow was there and she led us in an awesome prayer that even had one of the local Lincolnton residents join in with us.
The trip from Lincolnton to the Columbia County line was fairly uneventful with me doing my ride/run cycle. While I was in the car, we ended up having to advance one of the crew members forward to find a restroom facility and then again to find some medicine for upset stomach. Each time we drove back to Steve’s location and I ran with him for a while. The second time, we come back and Steve has made it to the Lincoln County/Columbia County line. The next crew arrives and relives the second crew. The road/bridge in this section is fairly narrow so Steve, Will, and I get out to run the bridge and make the cars go ahead since this section was an issue last year. Since I had a flashing headlamp and a reflective vest I ran in front so the cars could notice me in hopes they would slow down and move over. All of the cars that passed us did. Thankfully. While on the bridge, I happened to look up and saw millions of stars in the sky. Three times as many stars as I have ever seen. I was in awe. Knowing that each star was placed in it’s exact spot for a reason. We make it across the bridge and I decide to rest the legs some more. We are still about 45 minutes ahead of schedule.
About an hour later, my brother in law, who has been with me from the very beginning starts to show signs of fatigue. I make the decision to drive him home and come back. While on my way back to crew, my stomach finally decides that it wants to cooperate and I rush to find a restroom. At this point, knowing how far ahead of schedule Steve was and the time I knew he should be arriving at In Focus church within 30 minutes. My buddy Brannon arrives to run the last leg with us. We chat for a few minutes prior to Steve’s arrival. Still determined to finish together, I stop at the church and wait for him there. The church is 12 miles from the finish. I calculate that if I finished from there I would have well over a 100k in and that I was happy with that effort. I grab my phone and post a few tweets and a Facebook status. Man the response I received was exactly what I needed to finish strong.
Steve arrives at the church after having a rough time on the hills leading into Evans still determined as ever to finish. We get to downtown Augusta just in time to see the 5k start. We see Miguel blazing his way as the leader. The entire group decides to just walk the course. We cheer on the runners at the same time they are cheering us on. Whatever pain I was feeling was gone at this point, my spirits were lifted. We get close to the finishing time and make our way to the finish line. Amidst cheers and applause we run to the finish line together as a team. I spot my beautiful wife waiting for me just past the finish line. I give her the biggest, sweatiest hug I can. The group comes back together to finish with a group prayer before we head to the finishing ceremonies.
In hindsight, I know now that the cramping issues were due to dehydration and that my one 16 oz bottle per hour plan didn’t work because of the heat, lack of shade, and the blacktop reflecting the heat right back onto me. I was so wound up that I slept for about an hour and a half when I got home, watched the South Carolina/Mizzou game and stayed awake until about 8 pm. I was awake by 8 am Sunday morning and to my surprise; my legs felt okay. Slight soreness but manageable and able to walk without having to stop regularly. I went to church and came home and then the tiredness hit me. I slept for about 5 hours that afternoon. Lessons learned for the next attempt. Maybe next time we will find a route that has some shade and a few less hills…
I’m truly thankful for every person that volunteered their time to be a part of the 24-hour run that we completed. We could not have done it without each and every one of them.
On to the next challenge…
Oh, I might want to add the pictures. All photos except for finish line photos are from my Kodak Playsport camera. The finish line photos are courtesy of my wife.