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THE 2001 WILD WILD WEST TRAIL MARATHON

 

 
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RACE DAY



Like all the races of this kind, the night’s sleep before a marathon can be adequately described as “crap.”  I can never seem to get to bed on time nor am I very ready to wake up ridiculously early. The night before had been relaxing enough but the pre-race jitters just get the best of me. That, and I’m always stuck in a room with a rather large, bald, mean-looking SOB named Gary Bash. (I think I’m more of a nuisance than vice versa, just ask my wife).

So up in the wee hours of the morning (much “wee-er” than necessary thanks to Phil Patch who insists that timeliness means hours, not minutes before a race) and I was once again dressing for a most arduous even known as the 2001 Wild Wild West Marathon.

We fumbled around in the dark since the sun hadn’t even bothered to pop up yet, and made our way over to PJ’s, the local café that’s connected to the Dow Villa. We nodded at he only other people there who likely remembered the FDR years, and took our usual seats. There’s nothing like filling your tummy with slop from a greasy spoon prior to running 26.2 miles on a trail. Ah, heck, let’s just chase it down with a diuretic like coffee just to make it interesting!!!

My goal for this year was to finish in a better time than last. Posting a 6:03 in 2000, it seemed reasonable to shoot for breaking the 6 hour mark. My training had been better this year (I actually tried this year!) and I was feeling good. I even had a grudging nod from my bowels when they at least let a representative portion of my meals escape during the pre-race squad/prayer session. I liken this to letting the women and children go from a hostage situation but rest assured, the men were still being held captive.

It didn’t take long to become independent. I think we all broke apart within the first mile and only caught glimpses of each other. I stayed with Gary long enough to get some pics but soon, the solitary run won over.

I ran past the usual milestones and it gave me little bursts of pleasure to run across familiar territory. But without much of a plan, I started out too fast and the heat started to get to me. I began plying “reel in the fish” by setting goals on distant runners and trying to catch them. This worked for a long time and I felt like I was making good time, slowing down long enough to catch my breath and talk to people I caught up to.

There was one guy who bothered me though. He was an older man with a beard and looked a little hyped up, likely from too many power gels. He kept yammering at me and when I told him what I was doing, he gave me the good ol’ free advice (kind of in a demeaning way) that I shouldn’t do that but try to keep a pace. I thought to myself “If I could keep a pace, I wouldn’t have to hopscotch from one person to the next!” I was rather glad when he sped ahead and I hoped I would pass him up, at a high rate of speed, later. (You may be able to decode my use of foreboding at this point.)

The year before, I had hit mile 22 feeling bad but snapped out of it by mile 24. During the last couple of miles, I found some crazy strength and let it all hang out, passing dozens of people in the process. I kind of depended on that same push for this year’s race and thought that if I could make up some time, it would be the difference in a PR and, well, 6+ hours of running like a fool.

But there were bad times in Jasonville. At about mile 20 things started to really suck. I felt dizzy and the 90+ degree heat wasn’t helping. My legs were cramping relentlessly and my declining math skills were telling me that I wasn’t going to make the time I wanted. I walked with a lady who cheered me on but it was no use. I felt like crap and had 6.2 miles to go.

Stumbling along, I managed to get a pace going here and there. When I hit the 24 mile mark, I insanely expected the power burst I’d experienced last year. When I reached down to flip that switch, I got that sound of a sputtering car in the cartoons, followed by the sound of a starter when the battery was dead. Sorry but I was walking the rest of the way. I had a sentiment for my aspiration to break the 6 hour mark and it had something to do with the French variant of intercourse. This same sentiment came to mind when the echoes of advice from Charlie Manson a ways back started uncloaking into reality.

I watched as my watch ticked past my previous year’s time. My legs were now a snake’s den and my energy level was in the negatives somewhere. I very unceremoniously trotted across the finish line at a heart-breaking 6:14 to the sporadic and pathetic cheers of the few people still around. Needless to say, I was not too happy but I kept myself from verbalizing my feelings, again, something akin to the French sentiment. If Manson was still around, I would have given him a vicious beating, well, maybe a good smack. OK, at least a hard stare and a few demeaning thoughts about his family!

I learned that Phil had blazed in at 5:02 which, by his standards, upset him that he didn’t get under that 5 hour mark. By my standards, he can kiss my white, hairy ass. Brent came in at 5:46 which marked almost a half hour off his previous year. It’s amazing what NOT stopping every couple of miles at the end of the race to launch mud will do to a running score. But Gary was still out there and we waited. He had finished with Brent the year before so he, like me, would not enjoy a faster race score this year.

It seems he, too, had cramping troubles along the way and came across the line at 7:03. This tells you something about our personalities since he was as cheerful as ever while I, well, was not so cheerful.

While waiting for Gary, I had found it very much a necessity to sit down and lean against a wooden sign about .2 miles from the finish, where we had parked. When it came time to escort Gary to finish line, well, I was in no shape to participate. I don’t think gunfire nor a naked supermodel could have gotten me on my feet at that point so they left me where I laid and retrieved the Bashman. By the time they got back, I was dozing and they had to help me up. I stood there, only able to balance myself on completely dead legs, and opened the beer they handed me for the picture of the four Horsemen. I was physically and mentally crushed, I was pissed, and I was feeling like I needed a tampon. All in all, not the best race but the best was yet to come.


The drive to the race
Night before the race
The race
Vegas trip

The Pictures

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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