Coming out of the turnaround were the special needs bags. We had run past on the way in. Volunteers had announced our bib numbers as we passed so they had our bags ready for us as we returned. This stop was fairly straightforward. I ignored the Gatorade and Nut Roll. I swapped out my sunglasses for regular glasses (blind as a bat without glasses and I don’t do contacts). Finally, I grabbed my headlamp. Dusk was already upon us and the trails would not be well lit.
I left special needs and I started to run. My goal on the first lap was to run as much of it as possible and to build up a buffer. I wanted to be in a position to walk the whole second loop if I had to. Mission accomplished. My quick mental math allowed me to walk at a 20 minute/mile pace safely (actually, all I needed was a 21:30/mile pace). However, I was feeling good. Real good. I had legs and they wanted to run. Worked for me. The deeper I could get into the run, the safer I would be. So, I kept the same strategy…walk the hills and the aid stations, run the rest, and enjoy the final lap as much as possible!
I reached the first aid station, and they were just starting to serve chicken broth. I took a tentative sip. It was good. Real good! I quickly downed the rest of the cup, expecting a stomach revolt. It never came. This was a game changer! I now had an easy to consume source of fluids and electrolytes…and it tasted great after all the Gatorade! I was double fisting the stuff at later aid stations!
The night went on, and miles slowly racked up. I kept to my pace and my plan. My buffer kept growing. By mile 19, my legs were starting to tire, and I was getting weak again. I had reached the unpaved trails and it was hard to see my footing even with the headlamp. I made the strategic decision to walk to rest of the way. I had plenty of time now…a 30+ minute/mile pace would secure the finish line for me, and that is all that mattered at that point. I tried to keep a fairly brisk walking pace, and I quickly started to notice that everyone around me was walking too. I made some friends during that final stretch, and time crawled by. With the decision to walk came improved strength. My stomach and legs were feeling fine. I tried briefly to run again at mile 21. After less then a quarter mile later, I stopped, realizing that it was a mistake. I quickly felt worse and more unsteady. The last thing I needed was to roll my ankle. It was time to play defense.
I got back to State Street and the party was still on. The Capitol was ahead of me again, for the last time. As I was walking around it, I bumped into a FB friend. We compared stories during the last few hundred yards. We could see the finish line and parted ways. We were at the finishers chute and would each make this final part of our journey alone. I made the final turn, and headed down the chute…