What an afternoon and evening . . . and morning!
Last week, Elaine Weisner asked me what had been my hardest race. And I couldn't come up with a good, single race that was the hardest race for me. Oh what a difference a week makes! Now I have a single answer . . . Boogie 2009 is the hardest race I've erer had . . .
. . . by far! None of my other races thru the years have even been close! Not Capon Valley 50k. Not Sweaty Butt 50k. Not God's Country Marathon (by a long shot!). Not Ridge Runner Marathon. Not my 50 miler. This race - the 2009 Boogie marathon - for me was the race from hell and my hardest finish by far! Not even close!
I have to say that the Boogie Races (Marathon and 50 mile) are the coolest races ever. Super hard for a road race even with the best of conditions. But at Boogie its never the "best of conditions" . . . EVER. First, the race is run in mid June in southeastern North Carolina. No matter what, you're talking hot and humid! Plus, there is the thing about hills. Not mountains, but many, many hills . . . steep hills! I really don't know how race director Doug "Boogieman" Dawkins has developed a course that starts and finishes at the same place and is 80% uphill! Only in Ellerbe, NC!
As I drove to Ellerbe Saturday afternoon it was hot. As I passed the bank the sign said the temperate was 94*. Great! Just what I needed! Picked up my race number and had a chance to "catch up" with a number of my Mangum Track Club friends. Several were running and a bunch were volunteering.
As the clock neared 6 PM, Doug Dawkins gave his usual pre-race briefing. Among other things he warned everyone every single person who has DNFed these races has said they went out too fast at first. His advice was to go super slow the first loop at least. Doug also warns everyone about snakes . . . especially rattle snakes! But no snakes for me in two years. By the way, the thermometer at the start of the race said 92*. Great!
The Boogie has a crazy start! A black powder rifle starts the race. The 50 milers head one direction and the marathoners head the other! Marathoners go .1 mile, turn around and then chase the 50 milers.
The first section is a six mile loop . . . up and down and up and down and . . . well you get the picture! About 3/4 of the way my fluid belt / camera carrier broke! That's not something you have a spare for! So I carried it and dropped it off in my car as I finished the loop and picked up a plastic Gatorade bottle to carry the rest of the race. Ugh! I tried to go easy following Doug's suggestion and thought I had, but as I passed race headquarters I noticed my Garmin said I had averaged a 11:00 minute pace. Way too fast for me on that course in this heat and humidity. I would pay for that mistake.
The next section is a 1 1/2 mile run down Bethel hill, continue another 1/2 mile, turn around and climb the hill back to the race headquarters. No houses, no interesting anything on this section, but it is very neat at the bottom . . . the first six miles had 5 homes, but all this section had was a boat ramp! Sun was still out and there was little shade.
When I passed race headquarters I knew I was in real trouble. I felt then like I normally feel after 20-22 miles! And I had 16 miles to go! (Do the six mile loop again, the down and back section and then finish with the six mile loop one more time.)
On the 6 mile loop my second equipment failure occurred! My I-pod controls quit working! Now that sucks! As I passed my car, I dropped off my I-pod and picked up my headlight. I was dying! I really thought about quitting right there! 10 more miles to go and I was walking sooooo much and running sooooo little! I hurt everywhere.
In spite of my pain, I enjoyed the out and back loop for the last time! Listening to the whippoorwills, owls, crickets and frogs while watching the stars. Very cool! I found I really hated the headlights most folks were using as they spoiled the dark peacefulness. I only turned mine on when a car came by, so they could see me. I enjoyed the section but I was the walking dead. I even thought a little about cheating and not going all the way to the turnaround. No one would ever have known . . . except me! No way I would do that, but that tells you what my mental and physical condition was!
Passing race headquarters for the last time I REALLY wanted to quit! But I've never DNFed before and I knew had no serious problems . . . I was just simply totally spent! TOTALLY! So I forced myself on.
I kept trying to at least run the downhills and I sort of managed at least some of the downhills. But I was walking . . . a lot and not walking fast!! Lot's of people passing me and everyone is always so encouraging. Marathoners and ultra marathoners as a special breed. They all have had bad days and know what they feel like. The guy that ended up in second place for the 50 miler actually slowed down and walked with me for about 100 feet . . . trying to encourage me! How cool is that!
In typical Boogie fashion, the finish is a final 1/2 mile or so uphill to the finish line. Never, ever have I been so glad to get to the finish! 6 hours and 50 minutes. Well over a hour longer than my race last weekend! Oh well . . . I DID FINISH! Temperature at finish was 77*.
This time, I hung around the finish line, ate a hot dog (The Bethel Hill Church ladies fix hamburgers and hot dogs for runners and volunteers!) and waited for the winner of the 50 mil race to finish. And when he did he seemed fresh as a daisy! Damn him! (By the way he was a really nice guy. I talked with him both before the start and after he finished.)
So, the 2009 Boogie marathon is over and I'm damn glad it is. I guess the good thing is I didn't quit . . . in spite of how bad I wanted to. Lot's of excuses have gone through my head as I try to figure out what happened and why I bonked sooo bad (see my previous post to see a few!) Everyone needs to try this race. A definite "must do" if you like to challenge yourself. If you don't - stay home. For me, I'll be there next year to "take my beatin' like a man!"
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