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KEYS100 - 100 Mile - Run

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Key Largo, Florida
United States
UltraSports LLC.
Total Time = 27h 41m 38s
Overall Rank = 59/251
Age Group = 50-54
Age Group Rank = 4/19
Pre-race routine:

Eat some. Drink some. Chill out.
Event warmup:

  • 27h 41m 38s
  • 100 miles
  • 16m 37s  min/mile

I’m not even sure what to call this. Maybe it’s just an accounting of 7 months of my life. Maybe it’s a cautionary tale on “don’t do that”. I think I need more time to let this sink in. It seems that every day, I dig a inch deeper and find another layer to this that I wasn’t expecting. It’s like an archeological dig into your soul. Maybe that was the goal all along, just not the one I was expecting or had set my sights on back in October.
(6.5 months until race)
I was standing in my front yard, a week before Halloween, heading out to the mailbox. I hadn’t closed the front door to the house completely, and when I looked back, it stood wide open, with my nuts of a great dane, Finnegan, staring back at me. He had that look in his eye that said FREEDOM! In less than a second, I yelled, Nooooooooooooo, twisted my body around to run towards the door, and apparently torked my left knee so bad that I screamed like a 6 year old girl getting stung by a bee.
The next day, my ortho doc assured me that by all indications, I had torn my meniscus, and we would be in surgery in a couple of days. First he would schedule an MRI, just to confirm the tear(s) so he would have a better idea of what needed to be done once he had shoved some probes and devices into my swollen knee.
The next day I lay in the tube, having giant magnets pound and click as they took pictures of the inside of my body. My ears were plugged with the complimentary earbuds, and then a headset placed over them. Peering beneath the skin was a noisy business, so precautions had to be taken against hearing loss. No sense in creating a new problem by fixing another one. These were smart people.
The next day, I hobbled back into the ortho’s office for the MRI results. No meniscus tear. Well, not exactly. I had several meniscus “frays”, and a good deal of osteoarthritis, but there was nothing to be fixed from a surgery. Pain meds, time, rest and physical therapy were my marching orders. Time was a luxury that I was running out of though.
Properly training to run 100 miles takes time. Most plans give you 20 to 24 weeks, but most of these assume that you’ve already trained to some fairly high mileage just to be able to start the program. When I twisted my knee, I was weeks ahead of any training schedule out there. I wanted this training to be my best ever, and up to “the incident”, I felt I was on track for the best several months of my life. My speed, which had been elusive over the last couple of years, was coming back in spades. I felt good enough to be talking about one more Boston Qualification. My long runs seemed effortless. Everything was finally coming together, and then in one single moment, it all went instantly away. We’ve seen these stories countless times on television, and this time, I was the star of the show. Crap. I had 29 weeks until the race. Time to recalculate.
I was limping so badly, and the pain was so bad, it was a chore to keep my spirits up. Every hour of every day, I felt like I had a clock ticking over my shoulder, reminding me that I was losing fitness and my absolute “start” date for training was only a few weeks away.
Went to my first physical therapy session. I’m usually pretty skeptical of these places, but this time, the guy actually seemed to want to get me to my goal, so he gave me some good exercises to do, and showed me some places I was kind of weak and needed to work on. It was probably the light bulb I needed to start strengthening some muscles I had been neglecting for to long.
The next day I went to the gym and tried to use the elliptical machine. Pain. Pain. Pain. I gritted my teeth and did my best, but only managed to make it 30 minutes. I limped away to see what tomorrow would bring.
The next day I tried the pool. Typically (yes, it happens that often), when I injure myself and can’t run, I head to the pool for some deep water running. I strap a belt around my waist, get in some deep water, and simulate running. Science says that if you do this often, and with some intensity, you won’t lose any of the fitness that you have gained up to the point you begin this regiment. What science DON’T tell you is this is boring to the intensity of infinity. Even with some well-positioned music in your ears, it’s some mind-numbing stuff. But I was motivated. This HAD to get done. 30 minutes later, I gingerly extracted myself from the pool and tried the elliptical for 30 more minutes. It wasn’t running, but it wasn’t the couch either.
By November 6th, I started walking fast on the treadmill, then used the stair climber and elliptical again. For 8 more days, I kept this routine, until finally, I decided to see what would happen if I ran. Failure. I limped/ran for 2 miles before the knee finally hurt so bad, I was drenched in sweat from the pain. Tick. Tick. Tick.
Over the next week, I keep trying to run. I had a old knee brace that stapped my together pretty solidly, so I pulled it back out and began using it for my runs, and even walking. The pain didn’t seem to be going away, so I called the doc and asked for a cortisone shot. Running just wasn’t working. I was limping so badly that it was starting to cause my opposite hip and back to hurt. I felt like I was losing this battle. I took another week off from running and tried walking and the stair mill.
By November 23rd I tried a 9 mile run, and even though I was limping through most of it, I felt encouraged that I was able to go that far, but the next day I gave it another shot, and couldn’t even make it a quarter mile the pain was so intense. This was a fucking roller coaster! Three days later I got my Cortisone injection. Hopefully, this would fix me
Nothing. The shot had absolutely zero effect on me. I called them up and they told me to wait another 3 days for the shot to take effect. 3 days. 3 Days.
That Friday, I ran 7 miles with my group. A normal person would probably point out that maybe I should have been running 1 or 2 miles, but now I was losing time and was getting behind schedule. It was either plow full steam ahead, eat as many pain pills as my liver would allow, and limp forward, or just stop completely and get off this train. I shoveled more coal into the engine and hit the whistle. It wasn’t pretty.
December came in and I wasn’t hitting my mileage. I sat down and reworked my running calendar to take me down to the bare minimum of miles I could train and still finish this thing. Before the injury, I was well beyond my mileage and hoped to step up my game with a more aggressive schedule. Now I was dumbing it down to “first timer” mode. Whatever. Just get it done.
I started ramping up my “walk” routine every week. Part of my strategy for the race was to train to walk. These 100 mile races had many walk miles built in, and I was a terrible walker. It hurt muscles that I rarely used and I was slow. I decided that I needed to actually TRAIN to walk, so every week I added some time and distance, and walking actually felt good, or at least less bad. It was all relative.
It’s easy to tell you I limped and was in pain when I ran, but it really fucking hurt. My poor friends, especially Jon and Karen had to witness this on a weekly basis. They would find me in the gym on the treadmill, prior to our strength workouts, gritting my teeth, sweating in pain, and sometimes yelling at the world, as I tried to limp/run. I was a mess, but they listened to me bitch, literally moan and complain for months on end. Maybe they were used to it by now, as they had crewed me on several previous runs. Friends are good. Slowly, like a glacier, I improved and backslide and improved again. It seemed the pain was subsiding by the smallest degrees possible, and I was able to grit through longer miles, as time went by.
By mid-December I had to either push the button and actually sign up for this race, or not. It would eventually fill up, and hotel rooms would disappear, so I had to pony up the cash or throw in the towel. Well, you know what happened. I pulled out the ole credit card and hoped I could pull this off.
I was getting discouraged with the limping and pain. I called the doctor and asked if I could get the Euflexxa shot series, since the cortisone was having no effect. SURE! They said. So after some antics on how you have to order and use this stuff, I got my first of 3 shots. They are NOT as much fun as you are probably thinking they are. The start on the opposite side of your knee with a ridiculously long needle, go under your knee cap and inject a rather thick solution in the meniscus area. I was told this could take a few weeks, up to a few months until the full effects were felt. Unfortunately, it was all I had, so I just had to go with it. The race wasn’t for almost 5 months, so even if took the entire time to help, I’d still come out ahead. Right? Over the next couple of weeks, I finished the series of shots. Zero relieve so far, but we knew that going in.
January and February in the Cincinnati area isn’t a treat. Cold, ice, snow, and wind. Not a runners paradise, and getting up earlier and earlier on dark cold mornings, strapping on a knee brace, and increasing your mileage each week isn’t a glamorous as it sounds. It was painful. It was lonely sometimes, and you begin to question your life. Really. Why the hell would someone put themselves through this? That question rattles around in your head more times than you’d like to admit, but finding the answer is probably why I’m here. I need this. All of it. The pain. The dark lonely mornings. All of it.
But there’s the other part. My group of friends that help me through bad times, and help me celebrate the good ones. They are always there. Our Friday gang is relentless in their dedication to laugh and joke and do whatever it takes through blowing snow, freezing rain and icy bridges to help each other put one foot in front of the other. To tackle whatever demons we each have that makes us gather to endure it all. Yes, there are way more good days than bad, but it’s those days that challenge your sanity that seem to draw us closer together. These are special people and I love them.
So on this went. Friday was long and Saturday was twice as far. My Saturday “long distance” buddies were invaluable. Slowly building our way up to 30 miles, adding one extra mile every week, was a mountain to tackle. The cast of characters who would join were mostly the same handful, but one friend, Steve G. decided to try the entire program with me, despite never having run further than a marathon, and having no intentions of doing a ultramarathon. He saddled up with me, and joined me every Saturday, no matter what. It was a herculean task, and I appreciated his company more than I have words to express it by. Steve is also a gifted storyteller, so I could just chime in with an occasional “yup” or “wow” and he’d be off for another hour of filling in the miles. He was like my own personal POD CAST. My other friends, who were training for their own races, would pop in and out of the Saturday runs as well, and we turned these into elaborate journeys. We would visit parts unknown, get lost, stop at donut shops and even breweries. Pictures were taken, laughs were shared, and we helped each other in all the ways people need helping. When you spend 5, 6 or 7 hours with people, you share a lot of life with them, so while we thought we were training for a race or a event, we were doing a bit more for our souls as well. You thought this was just some race report…...didn’t you?
Feburary was just a slow progression of more miles and slightly less pain. I was now up to 23 miles for my long run, so I was hopeful. However, every step I took, whether walking or running, felt as if my knee might buckle. Over the last couple of months, I was hitting the leg machines hard, trying to increase strength in every muscle possible, hoping to take up for whatever was going on inside my knee. The doctor assured me that the pain and weakness was caused by the arthritis, but I just couldn’t believe that one day in October I had no arthritis pain, and the next day, after the twist, it did hurt. It really didn’t matter in the end. It hurt and I was doing everything I knew off to help it, short of not running of course. What a odd decision to have to make. Not run, not feel pain but be unhappy, or run, feel pain, and be less unhappy. What would a therapist say I wonder?
March brought a few changes. I started using the sauna and steam room at the gym for heat training. One of the toughest parts of the Keys100 race is the heat and humidity. It’s probably responsible for more DNFs (did not finish) than any other factor for that particular race. Having trained mostly through the winter, I wasn’t very acclimated to those conditions. Other than wearing 3 extra layers of clothing every run, that was my best alternative. Also, Steve G. started joining me for my Sunday walks. We would meet in Newport and do a tour of OTR (Over the Rhine). We’d explore and investigate all kinds of crazy places around town. It turned out to be the funnest part of the training that I did. I tried to keep the pace the same as if I could walk the entire 100 miles under 24 hours, which is a 14:21 minute mile, in case you were wondering.
The beginning of April brought a big development. I was running on the treadmill and the brace was digging into my calf. There are some metal rods built into the sides that are supposed to give you knee stability, but on this day, they were hurting more than helping. I stopped the treadmill, took off the brace, and tested the wheels. It felt better to run without it than with it, but I still had a somewhat “unstable” feeling to my knee, as if it might buckle if I wasn’t very very careful. I couldn’t just “zone out” now. I had to think about every single step. It was mentally exhausting, but it was just par for this course. That was my last day with the brace, that truthfully, I don’t think it could have held up much longer. I probably put its design through much more than it was meant for.
Also, the knee pain went down to nearly nothing, or at least on most days. It would jump up and bite me now and then, but most days I felt much better. However, the stability portion was still there, although I could tell that all of the weight lifting was making a noticeable difference. This wasn’t the training that I had wanted, but life gives you what you need, not what you want, and if you remember that, the frustration level stays in a much more tolerable range.
The first few weeks of April were the hardest, but that was the icing on the cake, and soon the taper began. Due to a much reduced alcohol intake for the last few weeks, I had dropped about 5 pounds, so I felt light and ready. I just followed my schedule and began the 3 weeks of slowly reduced milage. That’s a tricky time for runners. You go from a huge amount of your waking hours dedicated to training, to nearly zero hours in few weeks before the race. Not filling in those hours with eating is a challenge, and even if you don’t give in, you still feel like you’re losing fitness and gaining weight. The reality that you have to keep reminding yourself of is that your body won’t lose fitness during that short period of time, and is actually repairing itself and preparing to run 100 miles.
Usually, you have to do a good deal of prep with your crew to make sure everyone is on the same page, and all of the details are covered. Jon and Karen had been doing this with me for so long, we pretty much had this down pat. We had discussed some minor adjustments to the routine to keep me cool and to make my “transitions” faster so I might get a sub-24 hour time for this race, but for the most part, we had done this dance enough that we knew the steps. All we needed was the lift at the end of Dirty Dancing to finish this thing off. That was up to me though.
I went down on Thursday, to try to acclimate a few days before the Saturday morning start. Every day my body could be in that environment, the better chances I would have of not bursting into flames during the race. I’d have gone down a week early, but really, time, money, family….you have to draw the line somewhere. My little adventures can get pretty costly, and going to paradise without your wife detracts from the adventure quite a bit.
I arrived in Ft. Lauderdale around noon, picked up my SUV, and headed directly to Walmart to pick up supplies. Coolers, food, drink, bottled water, yadda, yadda, yadda. These races are studies in logistics as well. You can tell the difference in people who are doing this for their first time, or second or 20th. Go to thin with supplies, then you blow up. Go overboard, and you have so much crap you never end up using, you can barely find what you’re looking for at 3am in a rainstorm. But if you can dial it in and take what you need, then you’re a pro. Jon and Karen are pros, and I don’t suck so bad myself. After a short video conference with Karen while pushing the cart down the aisles, it was time to head to Key Largo.
The Keys100 race runs from Key Largo, southwest on US-1, goes over several bridges, and ends on the beach in the last of the keys….KEY WEST. You run on sidewalks, bike paths, and the shoulder of the road. You see crabs, miniature deer, people fishing (a large shark someone caught), peacocks, and if you are the type who hallucinates with sleep deprivation, the occasional unicorn. You get to look at the ocean a good deal too, especially when you are crossing the bridges, of which there are many.
Jon and Karen arrived Friday, so I trucked back up to Ft. Lauderdale and picked them up at the airport. Once back in the Key Largo area, we had a great breakfast/lunch and then hit the hotel to get them settled and pick up my race number at the expo. Ultra expos are not marathon expos. They are usually pretty stripped down and small. This one takes place next to the pool, under some tiki overhangs and a couple of pop up tents. There was also a meeting that is highly encouraged, but once they kicked out all of the crew for overcrowding, we all left. If there was new information that was different than previous races, I’d find out.
We went back to the room and repacked my bags so Karen knew exactly what was where and how to get to it. My “race” bag was stocked, packed and ready to rock. The back of the car was also organized so they could easily find stuff. You wanted to know where everything was before you went to look for it. Eventually, after stopping over and over, you knew the back of the SUV better than your own house. If all went well, it would work like a pit crew at a fuel stop at the Daytona 500. Unfortunately, sometimes the wheels just fell off and you had to reach into your many bag of tricks to get the car back out there. The odds were barely 50/50 that you’d reach the end of this race, so your mojo better be tuned in tight.
We created a “text group” on our phones and coordinated a group dinner. Jon found a place that seemed to serve every type of food possible, so we headed over to Alfredo’s Cookhouse. Four runners and 9 crew members, we had a few tables to push together, but we all fit in and had a great dinner, filled with a few beverages and loads of laughs! What a great group of friends! We called it a night, took a group picture, and headed back to the hotel to try to close our eyes.
As we went to bed that night, the singer at the pool strummed his guitar, and you’d hear the occasional scream, but by 9pm, we lucked out and everyone quieted down. My race wave would be at 6:25am, so I wanted to be awake by 4:30 to shower, eat, dress, go to the bathroom several times, and chill. Rushing on race morning is a bad idea.
Oh, I forgot to mention that 3 days before I left for Florida, I was attempting to open a box with a box-cutter. Just as I was making the last cut, the knife hit a staple, slipped away from the box, and went deep into the back of my right hand, only stopping when it hit a bone. Great. Just fucking great! After a lovely trip to Urgent Care and 4 stitches, I had to come up with a plan to deal with not getting my hand wet during the race. Just another piece of a puzzle to figure out.
Race morning I woke up and had a shower, rubber dish glove over my hand. A bagel, some Boost and a coffee later, it was time to chill between nervous bathroom breaks. When my body knows a race is about to start, it feels the need to use the bathroom about every 12 minutes, regardless of how little there is to come out. Today was no different. Just know where the bathrooms are….or at least a place to turn into a bathroom. I’m not shy or picky, as poor Jon and Karen would be reminded later on.
The race start is immediately next door in the parking lot a shopping strip. We headed out about 5:50 so we could watch the first of our tri-state running pals for his 6am start. Groups would start every 5 minutes, starting at 6, until they finished at about 6:45.
At 6:25 it was my turn. All of those months and miles and heartaches and stories….it all came down to here and now. And with the countdown complete, 3….2…..1…..GO...Off I went.
My plan was simple. Run the first 6 miles before the sun came up and tried to toast me, then run one mile and walk one minute, for as long as I could make that last. The plan fell apart immediately. After about 4 miles, I noticed that the miles were going by way to fast. My Garmin Forerunner 935 was clocking me in at splits in the 6s and 7s. There was no way in hell I was going that fast. I was doing 9s at the very best, and high ones at that. When I hit the 6 mile mark on my watch, I began my walk/run stradegy, but looked up to discover the road mile marker across the street said I had only run 4 miles. Opps! Is the Garmin wrong, or is the mile marker wrong. Sadly, it was the Garmin. Quick decision, how do I adjust? I’d try to use the roadside mile markers for my run/walk intervals, and if I missed one or was unable to find it, I’d go by the seat of my pants. Just as long as I ran more than I walked, a sub-24 was a easy target to hit. However, I was pissed that my high tech Garmin had gone bonkers and could no longer calculate a mile. The further I went, the worse it got until I only looked at the milage to get a good laugh.
Jon and Karen met me early for a BONUS stop before 10 miles, and that was fine by me. I showed them my Garmin problem, and got a good laugh together. Unknowingly, I was bashing Garmin for the next 90 miles, but in the end I discovered it was my fault all along. There are different settings for satellite reception, and although I picked the one that would help my battery last over 24 hours, I also picked the one that was least reliable and shut itself off a great deal of the time, relying only on its internal accelerameter, which is obviously not very accurate. Sorry Garmin for using your name in vain for some many hours.
When we started doing our actual exchanges, it went perfectly. Shirts flew on or off if necessary. I had 2 separate water back packs that we would exchange quickly. The entire exchanges were done while I was walking. They would meet me several yards before their car, and walk with me until I had everything I needed. I had figured out that actually stopping was eating up way to much time during a race, so doing it all on the move was more efficient. After the first few stops, we all agreed that this was working better than imagined, and I was way ahead of my times. I wasn’t pushing my pace, but after the sun came up I could tell my heart rate was a bit elevated and my breathing was fast, but unless I was standing still, there wasn really nothing I could do to change that, so it just became my new normal.
Unfortunately, when I get that hot during a race, my appetite drops to zero. I had planned for that during this race by using INFINITE to drink. If I kept my fluids coming in, it would normally supply the carbs, liquids and sodium for the entire race. Part of the plan to keep me cool and drinking plenty was to cram as much ice into the packs bladder and fill the rest wtih my Infinite mixture. We even added a extra scoop of the mix per gallon jug, but as time went on I could tell the packs were getting more and more watered down. It was the ice. It was keeping me cool, but it was watering down the concentration of my drink each time just a little more. It would be something to rethink next time, but for now, I tried to supplement with GU and potato chips. Unfortunately, it was an incredible chore to eat even one GU per hour or eat any amount of chips. My stomach just wanted no part of food. Blood wanted to go other places than to help digest anything I ate, so if I tried to eat, I felt nauseated and if I drank to much, it was having a hard time passing through.
I kept drinking as much as I could tolerate, and Karen kept making sure I was putting at least one GU down between pack swaps (She would count them). At mile 53ish, at the beginning of the 7 mile bridge, Jon joined me. I was looking forward to his company, but felt concerned for Karen. We could tell immediately that the super fast exchanges were going to suffer. Crewing like that required 2 people, and now one of them were running with me. However, by this point, I had so much time in the bank, there was plenty of time to slow the role now and then. Over the next 20 plus miles, I slowed down quite a bit, but was still able to put in some good run miles. I was still even putting time in the bank, but at a greatly reduced rate, but during the the night, the wheels fell off, which is very atypical for me.
I was feeling beat, like SLEEPY beat, and knew if I could pull off just one REM session during a 10 minute nap, that would likely carry me through several more hours. I let Jon and Karen know that was my plan, and Jon called ahead to let Karen know to have the car ready. When we saw Karen, I just popped in the back seat and put my head on the chair in front of me, trying to relax and drift off as quickly as possible. I was out within minutes and sure enough, I was so tired, I went quickly into a dream. With seconds before 10 minutes were up (Karen had me on a timer) I woke up and opened the door. My internal clock was working perfectly and it was time to hit the road.
Unfortunately, it was also about the same time that my hip flexors had decided to call it quits. Jon and I walked for a bit to get the stiffness out, but when it came time to run, the flexors called UNCLE. They were toasted. Of all of the leg exercise I had been doing over the last several months, I had done nothing for my hip flexors. I had neglected this piece of the puzzle, and it was time to pay up. We walked. Walking was fine, even though I looked like a 80 year old man doing it, I was making forward progress at a decent speed. But I had over a marathon left. I did the math, and decided that I would make the cut off. I’d ever probably beat my last time that I had here 4 years ago, but the sub-24 would slowly slip away. There was no reason to quit. No reason to complain or be upset. People were dropping like flies from this race, and I was still moving forward somehow. That was good enough. I felt sorry for Jon. I don’t think he knew he was signing up to walk over a marathon. That is a great deal of time to walk. Sometimes it’s not the distance that gets you, it’s the time it takes to do it. What I really didn’t look forward to was the sun, and it’s crazy heat, once again. Going sub-24 had meant finishing in the dark. Going beyond that meant starting the entire ice, staying cool routine, which was also going to be hard on Karen. Again. Like this wasn’t hard enough already.
On we walked. Key after Key. Bridge after bridge. Looking for Karens green light ahead to signal a stop. Staggering to the back of the SUV and getting our supplies. Heading back OUT THERE. It really starts being like Groundhog Day to some degree, and any little thing to break it up is welcomed. A rooster at a exchange where a real bathroom existed at 4am. Miniature deer running next to us. Bolts of lightning in the ocean, hoping they didn’t come ashore.
Then with about 12 miles left, Jon’s walking days came to an end. People think you can walk forever, but give it a try to see how wrong you are. A few years ago, I was pacing Mel, and we did several miles of walking. I had never trained to walk, and eventually, my knee decided it was toasted. Thankfully,her husband was crewing and I drove while he was able to do some of the ending miles with her. Jon’s knee did the same trick. Karen was already in her run (walk) gear and traded positions and off we went. Jon looked in sorry shape as we left him the first time, and we were both concerned for him, but Jon’s a trooper in tight spots, and I knew he’d be fine. Eventually.
I’d be remiss if I left out my pee stops. No matter how much or how little I drank, I had to pee every mile or less. This started happening during the night, and for the most part, we always seemed to be by ourselves, so I would send my crew mate a few feet ahead while I watered the ground or trees next to the path. Eventually, the sun came up, but my bladder didn’t care. Fortunately, all I had to do was time the cars passing, since we weren't’ running into many runners by this point, but I left a trail for over 20 miles that any tracker dog could find me by. Sorry Florida Keys, but when ya gotta go……
Also during the night, the top of my right foot started to hurt, and eventually became so painful that the pain went all the way through to my arch on the bottom. I kept loosening my shoe strings, thinking that my foot was swelling and my shoe was becoming to tight. Karen didn’t like my efforts and at one point completely retied my laces, but the pain never went away. It didnt’ stop my forward movement, but it didn’t help things either. After the race, Jon took a look at my swollen foot and determined that I probably had a stress fracture (he’s a doctor by the way). When I got home and saw my own doctor a few days later, she confirmed the stress fracture theory. Lovely.
Eventually, the ole faithful sun did make it’s return, and so did the baking heat. Every 10 minutes seemed hotter than the last. Karen actually tried to walk behind me so her shadow would cover me! If I saw a telephone pole shadow on the path, I’d bee line for it, and walk it’s length until it ran out, and then head for the next one. Goodbye tangents. Jon kept meeting us at all different distances, and none seemed to short. Staying cool and hydrated was our concern now. The mile markers slowly clicked down. Half a marathon. 10 miles. Single digits. Then we started looking for that last bridge that would take us into Key Largo. That’s usually a magical place where no matter how much you hurt, you know you can crawl your ass to the finish line if absolutely necessary. When you cross that bridge, you have 3.9 miles to go, but I’m here to tell you, that’s a long ass 3.9.
By that time, I wanted Karen and I to try to enjoy as much of this as we could. I was hurting, but I knew we had a lot of beautiful stuff to look at these last few miles. Palm trees, ocean, and people passing you on the sidewalk congratulating you and wishing you well. Every year it was the same, no matter if I ran it or crewed. People on Key West, homeless people, or people driving by, or on their bikes, would wish you the best as you slowly made your way to Higgs beach and the Finish Link. I ran off the road 2 more times during that last part to pee in the bushes, trying not to get hit by the 4 lanes of traffic. Jon had met us one last time, and then he was off to the finish line.
We turned back into town, made another turn, and was on the last street that lead to the finish. HOLY CRAP, it was hard to believe that this thing was actually nearly over. No more forward movement. No more water stops or crazy heat. I’d get to sit my ass down. Karen took out her phone to record my last few bits of the race. Looking back at it now, I look terrible. I was a bit hunched over, moving way slower than I felt at the time, but I was happy. Why does putting myself through so much abuse make me happy? Maybe some questions are better left unanswered.
I made that last little turn to the left, and there was the ole blue inflatable FINISH arch. No matter the pain, I was going to run my sorry ass across that line, so with about 15 feet to go, I ran. My body tried to shut that shit down right away, but I pushed the pain back just enough to get a step across that line, and the journey was over. Done.
Finishing these races always seems surreal. So much went into getting to this one single spot on planet earth, and now there was nothing. It was all behind me. The injury. The shots and rehab and brace and limping and doctors and lonely mornings and hours training and talking and planning and money and just everything…...was over. It’s easy to see how and why some people just collapse or break into tears just one step over that finish line. Done.
I took the pictures, and hugged my crew and sat my ass down under the tent. I drank some beers and ate a hot dog and soaked in the scenes playing out around me. Two of my other friends finished shortly after I did. Jeff looked like a superstar. This was Paul’s first 100, of which he endured some tough times, but he was able to earn his belt buckle, and that was a cool thing to see, as tired as I was.
This one took a toll. Why? I don’t know. But it’s going to take me some weeks or months to recover. Was it worth it? I had to wait almost 2 weeks to write this, because I had to do a little soul searching. Yes, it was worth it. For now. I’ll tone this down for a couple of years and put my energy into getting stronger where I’m weak. I need to get other things taken care of to. But I have some unfinished business, and I just can’t leave it hanging out there. That’s not me.

What would you do differently?:

Strengthen HIP FLEXORS.
Post race
Warm down:

Sit in chair. Drink beer.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Hip Flexors.

Event comments:

I thought I'd be over the LEARNING CURVE on running by now, but there always seems to be another piece of the puzzle that needs to be punched in. I'll keep plugging away. Great race. Awesome venue.

Last updated: 2019-05-28 12:00 AM
27:41:38 | 100 miles | 16m 37s  min/mile
Age Group: 4/19
Overall: 59/251
Performance: Average
Course: Start at Key Largo, run south until you get to finish line at Key West.
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Average
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 5

2019-05-28 9:16 AM

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Extreme Veteran
Latonia, Kentucky (near Cincinnati)
Subject: KEYS100 - 100 Mile
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