It would be a much longer list of the things that I did not do in preparing for Stone Cat than the Things I did. Not that I planned it that way or just blew things off, quite the contrary I had a great and well thought out plan, I just didn't accomplish the execution of it.
Like my training for the Pineland Challenge 50k, I planned on at least 4 or 5 runs in the area of 4 plus hours with the addition of a couple 30 mile runs within the final 2 months before Stone Cat. These runs combined with a good base would surely catapult me into a very agreeable time in the 50 miler. On top of that I figured on a few more tempo and speed runs to help me run a little faster mile pace that would also allow me to make adjustments, not knowing the terrain of this race or ever running this distance.
By the time I signed up, I knew the 50 miler was out of the question so I chose the marathon instead. Even with the step down to the marathon, my training was way off track and probably someone in their right mind would have skipped it altogether. I rationalized that I would find a way to get in the runs I needed, but as the weeks ticked by, the longs runs just didn't come and neither did the weekly miles.
I could sit here and list all the great excuses I had but actually they are still just excuses......so I decided to run regardless of my condition and see what happened. The closer the date came, the more I worried about actually finishing the marathon. Two weeks ago I ran one of my longest runs of only 5 trail miles, which felt great until the next day ( I hobbled around lame as hell), then It dawned on me that if 5 miles caused lameness then 26.2 might be a problem.
So.....day of the race comes and I get there late because I couldn't find my Nathan vest which I was certain I put in my bag. In this vest was all the gear and food I needed for this race...all prepacked and ready for me, except the bladder which was in my son's fridge (of course the bladder isn't much good without the vest) Oh well, I will just have to depend on the aid stations and hope I can get what I need from them.
We drove up to the school right at 6:00 and as I started sprinting down the drive, my son yells out that I might want to put on my trails shoes......oh great, I run back and as I am rushing to change, I rip the holes on my bid so I now have to mount it upside down.
In the process of testing my headlamp, I realize that two of the LEDs are not working and I have to depend on just one to light my way. I begin to wonder if the world is trying to tell me to give up and go home. Ok, no big deal, it is going to be light in an hour so I will just follow someone if I can't see well enough.
Lucky for me the start was about fifteen minutes late and though it was quite cold, the first 1.2 mile loop around the school was just perfect to warm me up and allow me to acclimate to the darkness before having to negotiate the trail.
At this point, I really had no battle plan but I did have the trail monsters cheering me on, my son supporting me and the desire to finish at all costs. From the first step in the darkness, there was no quit in me. I decided to run when I felt good at what ever pace that may be and the rest of the time just keep moving forward toward the finish.
In my mind I calculated that if I kept moving and my leg muscles didn't lock right up from the lack of training, I should be able to finish in 6:30-6:45 or so. The first lap (13.7 miles) went really well and I came into the start/finish area at about 3:05 with trail monsters galore cheering me on. This got me pretty excited as I was more than half way. At the same time I was realistic and knew the next 12 miles were going to be much tougher.
I have to say, the aid stations were perfectly placed and stocked so well that I didn't really miss the vest or it's contents. my son joined me for the second half which was a great help and probably the biggest reason I kept moving forward.
I was some happy to see the finish line and somehow managed a little bit of a kick at the end. I definitely earned the jacket and at the same time proved to myself that I have what it takes to move the body when it seems so physically impossible.
I did much better than I planned with 6:11 at the finish line. I am fairly satisfied with this race but still have that 50 miler lingering in my head .........maybe it will be a 2012 goal now.