Joey Anderson's MMT Report
Thursday, May 12 2005 @ 04:20 AM PDT
Contributed by: mday
I guess I should begin by explaining the shirt I wore for this race. Shortly after pacing my new friend Anita Fromm at Umstead last month, I received an e-mail from her thanking me for running through the night with her. During that time we had discussed my plans for running at MMT so she also asked how my training was going and said she was sure I would do great. I replied that was feeling very good and confident that I would finish. I had a plan to run easily for the first half and then I would have plenty of time to get to the finish if I just kept moving. And besides, I was too dumb to quit. Anita liked that and asked if I would mind if she used that slogan for herself and crew at this September's Wasatch Front 100. Of course I consented and soon after I received the shirt in the mail as a "Thank You ,Good Luck" gift.
So Sat May 6th at 4:55am I am standing at the start line in the cold pre-dawn prepared to step off into the unknown. I have never seen any of the course but not having what it would take to finish this demanding event was never a thought that occurred to me. I was very confident and mentally prepared for whatever the course might throw at me.
At exactly 5am we were off and running the 1st 2.4 miles of pavement to the first trailhead. I made sure I started easily and not get caught up in the excitement. I ran with the Pero's for a while but soon let them go knowing they would finish well ahead of me if things went well for them.
Soon enough we reached the 1st trail still in darkness. It was mostly runnable at first but then began the long slow climb to the top of the ridge. Before long it became light enough for me to turn off my flashlight. As I reached the summit the sun was peeking over the next Mt to the east. I felt so Blessed to be where I was, doing the thing I love on such a glorious morning that I had to let out a shout of Joy!
The next few miles were along the ridgeline with beautiful views to each side, then down the mt to the next aid station. This pattern would be repeated over and over throughout the next 30+ hours. Just as I reached the top I caught up with my friend Scott Brockmeier, but only because he has been out with an injury for over 2 months. It was nice to be able to share a good part of the day with him. We were close to each other all the way to Short Mt.
The first 30 miles were pretty uneventful. I was feeling great and running well. As a child I lived on the edge of the woods and spent countless hours running through the forest playing games with my friends. We would run with wild abandon cross country where there were no trails, chasing one another until we dropped exhausted, only to get up and start over. This along with years of camping in the Boy Scouts is where I learned to love nature and developed some skill at running over rough terrain. It served me well on this difficult course. Many people would pass me on the steep climbs, but no one near me all through the first half could stay with me on the downhills or technical flat sections.
I left station 5, 24.7 miles into the race feeling great. I soon caught up with Scott again. Just in front of him were John Prohira and a woman I didn't know. I had met John Friday evening. I am a big fan of his writing and was glad to finally get a chance to meet him. We were on a very runnable section and I was feeling so strong that I was about to pass them but decided it would be better to relax and not push the pace since this was the longest segment at 8.9 miles. Soon another man came up behind us and we all 5 ran together for about 2 hours.
My decision not to push the pace proved to be a smart one. For the first time I felt my energy waning and my legs were feeling tired. This worried me a little knowing I was only 1/3rd through the race but I didn't let it bother me too much because I knew I would probably feel better later in the race like I normally do. I told the guy behind me to go ahead, that I was going to back off the pace a little with about 1/2 mile to go to the next aid.
Finally after 2.5 hours I came into Camp Roosevelt. I sat down for the 1st time and ate some beans and rice while I talked to Bill Gentry. After 10 minutes I was off and running. I began to feel better again. I was strugging on the climbs a little now, but recovered and ran strong the rest of the time.
I finally arrived at the Gap Creek aid station and sat down to eat a grilled cheese sandwich while I rummaged through my drop bag. My sweet friend Caroline who was there crewing for the visiting Korean runner came and sat next to me and asked how I was doing . I told her I was running well and still had legs but my stomach was starting to feel queezy and I wasn't feeling like eating or drinking anything. She took off down the road running to her car yelling for her husband Walker to bring me some crystallized ginger to try . She gave me a handful and a hug as I headed up the trail. The ginger tasted like crap and set my mouth on fire but within a few minutes my stomach felt fine and I had no more stomach problems from that point on.
I ran the next 8 miles feeling great again and passed a dozen people it seemed. I had hoped to reach the Visitors center at 48.2 miles in 13 hours. I was amazed to pulled in at 13:02. While I sat and ate some turkey and cheese sandwich, the wonderful Vickie Kendall made sure I had everything I needed and checked to make sure I had a light before heading out since it would be dark before I would come off the next Mt.
The next climb up Bird Knob was steep and rocky but I reached the top before I expected and once there I did some of my best running of the day. After reaching the a.s. at the top, I ate some pasta in chicken broth and then hurried off, hoping to get back down the steepest rockiest part before nightfall.
I felt fantastic and really enjoyed the next couple of miles but then we were hit by a surprise shower. It rained just enough to get me wet and cold and make the rocks slippery right as I reached the steepest part. After a few slips and near falls I finally reached the smoother, runnable portion of the trail, just as it got too dark to run without a light.
I was flying through this section and feeling very exited when a dumb mistake nearly ruined my whole race.I was carrying a cheap flashlight thinking it would get me too my drop bag back at Gap creek where I had my headlamp waiting. But now here I was with about 7 miles and 2 hours to get there and after only 30 minutes my cheap light is going dim on me.
My relationship with God plays a very important part in my life and this night He answered my prayers. I came quickly up on two men I had never met. They commented that I was sure moving well at this point. I told them yes I was feeling great but I was afraid my light would fail me. Without a word, one reached into his beltpack and handed me a flashlight and told me to go ahead and have a good run. I thanked him profusley as I bounded off down the trail with joy in my heart. I remembered to ask his name so I could leave the light with the volunteers at Gap Creek. Thanks again Mike Smith. Ultrarunners are incredible people. I love this sport.
I was soon at a.s. 10 at 58.1 miles and sat down for some soup. Ever since I left a.s. 8, soup was the only thing that appealed to me. I headed out toward the next climb around 9:30 pm and shortly after is when my first real problem began. I got the hic-cups and they were to haunt me for the rest of the race.
After 10 or 15 minutes they would go away only to return a few minutes later. At first they were just annoying but after a few hours they were really bothering me. My throat, neck and chest were becoming tired and sore from the constant spasms. Nothing I tried would make them go away until hours later as I was climbing Short Mt. I sat down on a rock( there were plenty to choose from) lowered my head closed my eyes and began taking long slow relaxing breaths. That did the trick, but within 10 to 15 minutes they always came back. So for the rest of the race that was the pattern. Hic-cup until I couldn't stand it anymore, then sit down until they went a way. It was frustrating watching so many go past me that I had passed earlier, especially since otherwise I was feeling so good.
Anyway, as I was coming off Short Mt. I made a mistake that became big problem #2. I was impatient with all the walking through the rock and time wasted trying to deal with the hic-cups, so I made the mistake of trying to run across Short Mt's infamous rocks in the middle of the night.
Ouch! I rolled my right ankle. Fortunatly I was able to walk it off but from that point on, around the 72 mile mark I had to be extra cautious. I could only run on the smoother sections of the trail and there are not too many miles that fit that description on this course.
This again became very frustrating for me. I still had plenty of energy, my legs felt good and I was reduced to mostly walking and dealing with the STUPID HIC-CUPS THAT WERE DRIVING ME CRAZY!!!!
But I knew there was no quit in me and I would be happy now just to make it to the end in one piece before the cut-off time.
The next 15 miles were pretty uneventful. I ran when I could, walked when I had to and stopped every 10 to 15 minutes to deal with the hic-cups. It was uplifting to watch the 2nd sunrise of the race and even with the problems I was still happy to be where I was. Quittting never crossed my mind and I pressed on marking the miles behind me.
One benefit of not being able to run as much was that now I felt stronger on the climbs. The last several climbs were actually easier for me than many had been between 25 and 75 miles.
I finally came into Powell's Fort a.s.about 10:45 Sunday morning. I was thrilled to see they had breakfast ready. By now I was ready for some real food so I spent about 10 minutes scarfing down some sausage, eggs and french toast. Oh, it was wonderful! I felt like staying for 2nd's when offered by James but I told them all I had some place I needed to be further up the trail.
It was really getting hot now and the sun was bearing down. I was getting very thirsty and couldn't seem to ever get rid of the feeling but I never felt any bad effects like I was having dehydraton problems.
The next segment to a.s. 16, Elizabeth furnace is a long 7.5 miles with a steep rocky 0.8 mile climb in the middle. I didn't have any problem going up but going down the other side was tough. My quads were sore, my ankle was hurting from continuing to keep turning it so instead of being able to fly down a mostly runnable 3.9 mile downhill section I was forced to mostly walk slowly and carefully down. I was even passed by a woman out walking her dog in the last mile down the hill. That made me feel real good about the situation. Of course I hic-cupped for her as she went by.
I could finally see the a.s which was located under a shelter along a small river. Oh, I was so tempted to walk in and lie down in that cold water and soothe my tired, hot aching body, but I was too close to the end now.
All I ate here were a couple of small pieces of watermelon and drank a cup of coke. I told them thank you, wish I could stay but I had to go pick up a buckle waiting for me on the other side of the Mt. Just as I was about to leave, my friend Bill Squier from Raleigh came in. I was happy to see him because I had last passed him back at the visitors center 48 miles ago. I was afraid as slow as I had been since mile 72 that if he didn't catch me he would 't make the cut-off.
I headed up the final segment , a 2.8 mile climb over the mt and then a 2.2 mile drop to the finish. I had no problem with the climb but as soon as I got to the top I sat down to once again get rid of the hic-cups that still plagued me. Bill caught up with me just as I was getting up so I told him "Come on and lets finish this thing together Bill." He told me to go ahead, that I was moving faster than him and he was having major blister problems and couldn't run down the hill. I said no problem, we have about 2 hours to make it before the cut-off so we can just walk it in together if we have to.
About a mile from the finish I was surprised to see Dave Bursler walking up the trail, clean and dressed after finsihing many hours before. I guess he just couldn't get enough of the course. I had been looking forward to meeting Dave since I had noticed his name on the entrants list. Some of his recent post on the ultra-list dealing with some personal issues had touched a chord in me. Since Feb, I have been dealing with some emotional issues that I had buried deeply for over a decade and I felt it was important to introduce myself to him at the dinner Friday evening.
Finally after what seemed like the longest 2.2 miles of my life the finish area came into site .Bill and I sucked it up and "pretended" to run for the camera's and cheers of our adoring fans where we were greeted by Stan and many friends and helpers.
Even with the problems, I was very happy with my weekend and proud to be Too Dumb To Quit. The shirt was very popular with a lot of runners, crews and volunteers throughout the day judging from the many comments it drew. Now the slogan passes to Anita as she prepares for Wasatch where I know she will do great.