Somewhere around 30 miles into the Vermont 100 I was running with and enjoying the company of a fifty-five-year-old woman, Sue from New Jersey. We were both behind schedule and not feeling we would make it in under 24 hours. But why, I asked. My energy was good, I was well hydrated, I was keeping up with my electrolytes, I had no foot issues and no chafing, my stomach felt great. She hit the nail on the head, saying "we expect to be able to run like we used to without training like we used to." How true.
After letting go of any time goals the miles became a lot more fun. I didn't care who was ahead of me and who was behind me. I took in the scenary. I talked to people on the trail. I talked to volunteers and spectators along the way. At the crew stations I took my time to get what I needed and check in with Kevin. I actually started feeling better and better as I went. I left Margaritaville and started up the long steep climb. I was feeling great and passing runner after runner. Then we came to a slight downhill. I took a few running steps and both quads literally froze up on me. I've heard people talk about this happening from running too hard on the downhills, but never experienced it myself before.
Eventually I staggered/tip-toed/shuffled into Brownsville, at around the 65 mile point. I plunked down into a chair and told the aid station workers, "My quads are shot. I think I have to stop." A British woman held her beer out to me and said, "A few sips of bitters will cure you." I didn't take her up on it. I sat and thought for a while. It was only 5 more miles to Ten Bear, where Kevin and Bob N. were waiting for me. Might as well shuffle on in that far. I checked and saw I still had a light in my pack. It was still early, but I could barely walk so I knew it would take a while. I thanked the kind volunteers and told them I could make it to Ten Bear. They looked doubtful, but cheered me on.
Baby step after baby step I traveled on. People I had passed earlier started streaming by, then people I had never seen all day started passing. They all slowed down for a few steps to make sure I was going to be OK. There came a point where I just didn't think I would be able to keep walking, it hurt too bad. I found a little clearing on the side of the trail and was trying to figure out how to lower myself into a sitting position, when I heard a vehicle coming up the trail. Very unlikely, as this was a washed out ATV trail, but there it was, a pick up truck! It was manned by two young guys, one driving and one standing in the back hanging glow sticks. I really didn't even have to ask, they just pulled up beside me and the driver pushed open the passenger side door. The kid in the back asked if I needed help getting in. I declined and somehow slithered onto the seat. The driver explained that they normally used an ATV for this section, but it had broken down. This was followed by a wild ride through the woods and gravel roads, 50 miles per hour for 200 - 400 yards, skid to a stop, guy in the back yells, "all set" and on to the next likely branch. We bottomed out a few times, I think we got a little air coming off rocks a couple of times, but we made it back to Ten Bear in one piece.
We found someone else for Bob to pace. I'm glad he got a chance to run! Kevin and I hung out at Ten Bear for a while. I couldn't get out of the chair if I wanted to, so it was good to just sit for a while. Then we went back to the tents and slept a while. We watched some of the late finishers come in and attended the Brunch. I didn't feel bad or sad or disappointed. I had fun and learned something from the experience. So that's it for hundred milers for me. I don't and won't train like I need to, so I have no right trying to run them. I think I would like to go back and run the 100K next year, or just volunteer or pace. I love the event and don't want to miss it.
http://www.circumburke.org/ I think Kevin is going to enter the mountain bike division. It should be fun!