Captain Grose's Marathon pages

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RUNNING THE WILD WILD WEST TRAIL MARATHON

 

 
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The collection of people that run marathons are, should I say, not the healthiest looking people you have ever seen. Do not get me wrong, they are probably in the better health than 90% of the world, but what I said was they do not LOOK like healthy people.

Looking around at the starting line, I realized that I never wanted to do this a lot. If this is what it made you look like, no thanks.

The people were nice enough but they had a weird gate to them. They walked a bit strange and they had skinny, wiry legs with stomachs that were too flat and hips that looked over-developed. Their skin resembled leather pulled tight over bony appendages and their faces were masks of pain and wrinkles.

The most disturbing example was when I saw a woman from behind and she had slender, muscular legs. Her hair was in a French braid and she looked attractive from behind. As I noticed this, she turned around and I was shocked to see that she had the face of Mother Teresa. Ahhhhh, where is the mental soap?

This was the crowd we were a part of. Many older people that you just knew were going to blow you away. But, again, the look of these people was that of long endurance. I was just in it for the finish line. These people, God bless them, were in it for whatever serenity it provided them internally. Because externally, ugh.

There was no use jostling our way to the front. It seemed silly to try. So we waited nervously, just wanting the whole thing to start. There were several hundred people and about half of them were not even doing the full marathon. This was also the start line for the 10 K.

The starting pistol went off and we started running with the crowd, jostling for a comfortable space to settle into an easy pace. Originally, we had agreed to stay together but that did not end up being the way to go. Most of the time we stayed in pairs, with Gary and I as partners and the Majors bolting ahead.

It did not take long before we met our first obstacle. The trail started uphill and got worse after that. Pretty soon everyone was walking as we realized that we had many miles ahead of uphill as we trudged up the mountain.

Every 3 miles there was a water/food station. At least that is what they advertised. Some of them were a little shorter, some a bit longer. But God bless those people who were out there manning these points because what they very soon became were goals to reach. We went from point to point, stopping at each one. Whoever was in the lead would wait there until the others caught up. Then we would gorge ourselves with water and food.

It was a tricky little dance we danced at these points because our bodies were screaming for nourishment but one did not want to carry around a bowling ball in his gut while running. They had so many different items that you would not think about if you never ran one of these before. Stuff like cookies and M&Ms for the sugar. Pretzels and nuts for the salt. Aspirin and Vaseline for the obvious. They had it all and we were very thankful. Mostly, I downed about two oranges, sliced up, at every point. In fact, I ate more chow during this run than I usually take in two normal days!!

As a sidebar to this story, Gary and I came up to one stop about halfway through to find Major Patch alone. We asked where Brent was and he pointed at the Winnebago which served as the water/food point. They had come up to this point and Brent had a bowel emergency. He had asked the kind elderly couple to use their facility. And use it he did! We all chuckled at the thought that Brent was just destroying the place in there and would get done and run away. To add insult to injury, he took a large wad of toilet paper with him for his next excursion off the beaten path. I bet those old people still talk about the hairless young man who nuked their small bathroom.

Up the mountain, down the mountain we went. Then through the only flat part, the 7 mile straightaway pictured in the background image of these pages. By then, the Majors had run ahead and were beating us handedly after every way point. But it did not matter, as long as me and Gary stuck together.

The miles went by and we slungshot from point to point. As the day wore on, it started getting tougher and tougher. But at no point did I ever think that I was not going to make it. The only question was in what time and in what condition. Gary seemed to struggle a bit but I knew him. If they would have to drag my bloody corpse off the trail before I quit, I knew that Gary had ten times more will than me. I knew he would make it and as long as I stuck with him, I would make it too.

Toward the end, it was getting rough. The heat had kicked up and the miles seemed to get longer and longer. Gary was really hurting and we were alternating running, getting ahead, and catching up to each other. At about mile 20, Gary’s legs started to cramp. The problem was that if I slowed down, I would start to break down, too. One time when I did, my quads started cramping and I knew that was bad news. So I kept ahead of him a little but did not want to abandon him.

We kept going and I remember hitting the 23 mile mark and saying to Gary that all we had left was a PFT. The last part of a marathon is always the worst. You cannot give up or slack off even though that is what your body is telling you.

About another mile down the road, I saw Major Patch whom I had not seen in awhile. I had my headphones on (a necessary distraction that I got no small amount of harassment from the others about. They called it “rude.) and as I was running up to him, I could see that he was saying something.

At this point, I made two bad assumptions. First, I thought that the Majors had finished and were coming back for their buddies. Second, I thought that the Major was indicating to me that he would finish the run with Gary and I could run ahead, knowing that the last two miles was a mental battle best fought alone.

I shot ahead and picked up the pace to get this over with. My competitiveness got the better of me and I started reeling people in and passing them. Now as far as running etiquette goes, this is not the most polite thing to do. To be behind someone else for 25 miles and then pass them in a flurry at the end really tends to piss people off. But, like I said, I had to get all of this over with, and fast.

I was running hard. The pain was all over my body like an electrical field. I was not going that fast but I was putting out everything I had left. I went through an area marked by shallow gullies that killed momentum. I would accelerate up the hills for the sole reason that I knew those behind me would walk up them. That is how I could stay ahead.

That last mile was excruciating. It was uphill in dirt and I was almost blinded by pain and fatigue. I had passed Major Patch who was with Gary so I thought that Brent was at the end of the race waiting for us with camera in hand. I was not going to let him get a shot of me walking across the finish line! But it hurt so bad to run.

I see the finish line and amble toward it the best I could. I came running in and heard the announcer call out “ 6 hours, 3 minutes.” For the last 3 miles I was really trying to break that 6 hour mark but at the end, it really did not matter. I was done and I had succeeded.

There is an unwritten rule of leadership in the Marine Corps that is the cousin of the rule “You do not leave dead or wounded on the battlefield.” When you finish a run, you go back to those behind you and help them run in. I have always adhered to this courtesy but my first thought at this moment was “Hell, no.” I did not think I could run again in my life. There has to be limits and surely this qualified.

The very next thought I had was “Where was Brent?” He was nowhere in sight. It was at this point that it hit me. Oh my God, they had not finished yet and I had bolted ahead. I felt about an inch tall because I had abandoned my brothers. Despite my pain and fatigue, I had to go back and started walking back. I was going to run in with them as a small payback for my unintentional indiscretion.

When I found them, they were less than half a mile back. But I only saw Major Patch and I told him that I would run in with Gary as he continued on. He told me that he was looking for some medical personell because there was someone back there that was loosing his weak grip on reality.

What the Hell happened to Brent?

What happened was that Brent had the exact opposite problem than I had. He could not STOP himself from having to go to the bathroom. He stopped something like seven times to relieve himself and his last pitstop was an extended version behind some rocks that cost him quite a bit of time. When I saw Major Patch on the road earlier, what I thought was him telling me that he would run with Gary was actually him telling me that Brent was behind the rocks unloading. If I would have known that, I would have slowed down and ran with Gary the rest of the way in.

I ran into Brent not far back and we came in together. It was a shame that he was so far ahead the entire race to end up coming in as the last Horsemen. He should have come in first because he was consistently ahead of us the entire race.

The three of us went back again to get Gary whose legs were cramping. But just like I figured, he was not even close to giving up. We all trudged along giving him encouragement and in the end, we all crossed the finish line together, not caring what our individual times were. We had come in together and that was all that counted.



The stories:
The Explanation
The Training
The Shopping
The Trip
Forsaken
The Run
Evacuate
 

How it all started...

2000 Wild Wild West Trail Marathon
2001 Wild Wild West Trail Marathon
2002 Big Sur International Marathon
2002 Wild Wild West Trail Marathon
2002 Bishop 50-mile Ultra-Marathon

Email -- jdgrose115@polyglut.net
Web -- http://members.tripod.com/~jdgrose115/

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