This was my "recovery" week and I didn't need to do anything crazy, running-wise or other, so I agreed to help out at Watershed Preserve 12 hour run, at least for half a day. Too many other obligations pulled at me to stay all day, though I would have loved to! So for handing out goody bags and generally helping Chris check in runners, I got to do three loops on the course and socialize with the other runners. It was a good thing I didn't plan to run further than that, since we were invited to Vashon Island Friday night for dinner and too much wine! But I digress.....
I was up early Saturday morning and at the race start before six, where Chris was already setting up a check-in spot. A couple runners had been checked in so I high-tailed it to get oriented. Along with a goody bag (which I stuffed on the spot) there was a sort of grab bag of various stuff that I sent people to sort through and pick out what they wanted, as well as a bag of Linda Ripley's hand crocheted hats. The hats weren't really needed that day, but one could take one and fantasize about cooler weather. There were a bunch of old watches that were really popular for some reason. I guess runners love watches!
After the runners were checked in and eventually sent off by Tom, I got myself ready to go out. I started out on the trail about a half hour after the start and enjoyed the beauty and peace of a very well groomed trail all by myself. The run was a 5.4 mile loop; it wasn't long before the lead runners started passing me. One fellow did a double take when he passed me - I think he must have thought I was in the lead. Hah! The trail was totally runnable, even most of the hills, and the heat hadn't gotten too bad yet. There were a lot of bugs and I must have swallowed a pound of them. Every time one flew in my throat, I chased it down with water and called it calories. Yum! There was a little loop before the end that was really enjoyable as well, and my only complaint was my second toe that usually gives me trouble. I had forgotten to tape it - it sticks way out past the others and gets pretty beat up. So after taping it, I went back out for another loop.
At the aid station (my car) it was so hot I was pouring sweat - literally! But when I went back into the woods, it cooled way down. I made the switch to S! Caps recently and the increased sodium made all the difference in the world! Second loop was much easier too since I was now in familiar territory. I also started seeing more people. When I came into the aid station, I hadn't decided on a third loop; technically I was going for 10-13 miles. But Tom said I was at 10.5 miles, and should make it an even number. I didn't know if a horrible fate would befall me, so I went out for a third loop, lest I should be struck down. Shortly after starting I came upon Barefoot Jon, who was walking and running. I decided since I wasn't "supposed" to be doing this loop, I would hang back and walk with him a while. We even got Mike Sharkey to take a photo of us (with Jon's camera - my battery died), and after a little more socializing, I went on ahead. Jon had told me to watch for David who was attempting the whole 12 hours in order to make Marathon Maniac. Soon I caught up to him, and was ready for another break. He was walking so we walked together and had a really nice chat. Soon I was ready to run again and took off.
The rest of the run I saw various folks I knew and enjoyed the beautiful woods. In the last little 0.75 mile loop, King Arthur zoomed past me. For a few seconds, I pretended I was a fast runner, and was able to hang on. He tried to shake me and eventually did, but I felt a twinge of guilt since he was in it for the 12 hours, and I was on my last loop. In the aid station I poked him and said "I almost got you!" but he was too hot and tired to respond. If I were in his shoes, I would have dumped my drink on me. He got me back later, squirting me with a hose as I walked by. Tom informed me that I was at 16.2, and should try to make it more even, like a whole number, no tenths. I took my chances with fate and called it quits.
After I cooled down, I got in my lawn chair and iced my knee, which isn't getting any worse. Still is talking a bit though, so I'm keeping an eye on it. Tim decided to call it quits after four loops, and found a nice spot in the shade to sit in while he waited for Paul to finish. I pulled up my chair next to his and we provided a cheering section for the runners coming into and leaving the aid station. I gave him an empty gatorade bottle to fix up with a nice pale ale, and we shared it while watching the runners come and go. Paul came in and left once, and then we were sure he would be done. We even bet on it. We watched run in from that loop and kept an eye on him as he handed his water bottles to be filled again. That got us up out of our chairs for a reality check. I told him he looked tired and ought to drop. Truth is, he looked like he got more energy with each loop! I just wanted my dollar. He said he had at least two loops left in him and bounced off down the trail. Tim gave up waiting and I gave him a ride to his car.
I was really sapped when I got home. I can only imagine (and barely at that) how the runners who kept going must have felt. My beer glass is raised to all those who took it on, and even higher to all those who persevered. All I can say is "Damn y'all!!!"