April 5, 2011
Smart: The New Tough
This time, I was smart.
In each of my other 10 Umstead 100 finishes, I've had to be a lot tougher than this time because I haven't ever been as close to being as smart as I was this time.
Bob Ring and I basically did 4 minutes run/2 minutes walk for the first five of the 12.5-mile loops. Yeah. FIVE of them. That's the first 62.5 miles. Patience is good, especially when you've been there/done that/own the sweet, embroidered-with-your-name 1,000-Mile Club hat (!!!), you aren't too bothered what time you run and your main goal is to finish without suffering like a dawg. So we did the first FIVE laps in 3:00 each. There was a fair amount of messing-around time in there -- clothes change here, yak session there -- but, again, we had more or less turned this Umstead into a Three Days at the Fair learning lab from the get-go, so messing-around time worked. Lap 6 was slower because Ring sprung a slow leak that eventually resulted in a general blow-out to his right ITB. I hung with him through half of Loop 6, then bolted when he said he was gonna re-assess and that he didn't want to be my anchor. (He dropped at the end of this loop).
About two minutes after he cut me loose, this really cool thing happened. Along comes my boy Bill Burns, on his final lap, with a pacer and really down in the dumps after having gone for a sub-18 and having blown to bits. Burns says, "Kevin, this is Bill Gentry. He'll be good for a few laughs. Gentry, I can't talk, so you'll have to cover for both of us." Me? Talk? Hahahahah! Stealing a line from frequent training partner and ref buddy Mike Carpenter, I tell Kevin, "Oh, dude, are you in luck. My guys at home say I'm better than AM talk radio once I get going."
So back to life I come and BAM, before I know it, Burnsie is running faster than I can keep up with. Hah! We ran a lot of what Ring and I call The Back Nine (everything after the No. 2 fully manned and stocked Aid Station), including running almost the entire final 2 miles to his finish!!! Complete awesomeness! 19:15 or something. Of course I'm thinking, "Holy sheep-dip, it's gonna be hard to explain having done this if I blow a gasket but, what the hell, why else am I on Planet Earth if not for times like these, right?"
Well, Lap 7, I kinda did turn crater into a verb a little. Exhibit A: I freakin' fell asleep while stopping to pee ... standing UP, I fell asleep. OK. Time for a nap. After a 30-min. siesta at Aid Station 2 on Lap 7, I'm ready. It's 35F and I'm shivering so badly when I get going again that I have to start running after 200 yards of hiking cuz I have a little freak-out moment when I dump the hot chocolate I'm trying to drink all over myself, but it's OK. It didn't burn (much), and I realized it in time to suck some of it off the front of the blue zip-up fleece. Hey, L.L. Bean makes good stuff. You probably couldn't suck dumped hot chocolate off some cut-rate fleece, ya know? Anyway, a few minutes go by, I get back up to shuffle speed and it's all good again.
Kick out the rest of Lap 7 right at the 24-hour mark, so that means that I have done 87.5 miles in a comfy 24 hours (with a :30 nap and probably 5 other 10- to 15-minute stops, so I'm pretty MAJORLY psyched about Three Days at the Fair now!!!) ... especially if I can push this final Lap 8. Grab the iPod, snag some chicken broth, down a hot chocolate (heckuva lot easier to hit the mouth while sitting in a chair and not shivering), wait for the sun to come up enough that I don't need the hand-held flashlight, hit ... the ... gas.
Now it's ON, baby! Both earbuds in, sound turned up high, time to crank the run-3-songs, walk-1-song routine. (Hey, I runwalk on every run, so I like variety.) Do this for the first 3 miles -- with a quick stop to yak with Pete Lefferts who goes on to record his record-tying 13th Umstead 100 finish (Pete, you're one of my faves!) -- and then I manage to find another gear. Now it's 3 songs run, 1 walk and even a bit of 100-steps-run, 100-steps-walk on the uphills, too. No that-long hills at Umstead, but after 90-couple miles, it's all relative, right?
Outcome: I split Lap 8 in 2:50, easily my fastest of the day. And that includes a 3-minute break right at the end to blab with my friend Brenda from Virginia Beach who had been pacing earlier and has come back out to cheer the weary. Hey, more important to hear about her training and how excited she is about being in the Badwater 135 field than it is to push the final half-mile and still miss cracking 27 hours.
Aftermath: I crushed a huge omelet right away, then Ring came by from the hotel to scoop me up and home we came. Monday: Very little muscle soreness. No more than after a typical Sunday long run. Tuesday: none. at. all.
So, Umstead No. 11 Finish, I was smart. Stuff happened. I fixed it. Fun was had. Stories were told. Friends were seen. Hugs were exchanged. New friends were made. I finished in one piece, and I finished laughing.
Smart. My new tough.