The race this year again featured two participants, five human assistants and onlookers and one dog. We arrived at the trail head parking lot late morning on Friday, September fifteenth, and Dana, Larry C., Tana (the Golden Retriever), Jenny and Melissa took off up the trail. It was their job to place themselves along the route up to the summit gully to make sure all bodies were hauled off the mountain after the race. Dale was the official timekeeper, and hiked around closer to the start/finish line so he could be sure to be there at the appropriate times.
It was a perfect day to run, with occasional sun and moderate temperatures. While we were waiting for the race to begin, Taylor and I chatted by the car. I showed him a little tube of "Power Gel" that I intended to take along and gulp along the way. Each packet contains 1.4 ounces of concentrated nutrients (110 calories) and 50 mg of caffeine. Not wanting Taylor to be able to use this as an excuse - "... if ONLY I had possessed a tube of gel like you had I could have crushed you, old man..." ;-) - I offered him some for the run too. Forty minutes later Taylor and I sprinted away from the "water faucet" starting line and the race was begun!
This year I was quite uncertain as to our relative fitness levels. I pushed hard on the first mile to see how he took it and he was inches behind me the whole way. The second mile I turned up the pace more and he was still (literally) treading on my heels every step. Near the two mile mark we passed Dana and kept on truckin'. We were going at a pace I knew I could not sustain: way faster than "personal best" time. The third mile was the same. I kept looking back to see how he was doing. He didn't look that great but he JUST KEPT COMING. I knew I was heading for a blowout but I was committed by now to a strategy of "using him up" since he obviously intended to try to keep up with me no matter what. The only question was: Who would burn out first?
Around 3.5 miles we passed Larry C. and Melissa and Tana and at this point I sucked down some gel and turned up the pace as fast as I could possibly go in one final effort to lose him. He was like some mutant freak monster miming my moves, a shadow thing, inches from my back, unbreakable, unstoppable. When I looked back I thought I saw a red glow emanating from the depths of his eye sockets. There was only one question in my mind: Hell Spawn or Terminator?
We caught Jenny at the end of the summit plateau by the summit gulley and he was still there. I scrambled up the gulley and HE WAS STILL THERE. When I got to the summit HE! WAS!! STILL!!! THERE!!!!
I slapped the summit around 5 seconds ahead of him.
I headed down instantly because I knew I would be faster going down in the gully and I could pick up a few hundred feet of separation there. After that I would just have to see how much gas was left in the tank. I had gotten to the top way faster than I ever had before, yet I knew I was not in the condition I was in last November when I set my personal best time. There would be a price to pay on the way down. When I passed Larry C., who by that time had made it to the plateau, he offered a liter of gatorade but I turned it down and kept on going. Even though I couldn't see him I could feel the hot breath of Taylor on the back of my neck. I still sometimes have dreams about this and wake up with a start, I stifle a scream, where am I? I use a night light now. I believe I will need therapy.
In retrospect I should have taken the fluids because shortly after tipping off the summit plateau I started to slow way down and cramp a bit. The chickens were coming home to roost. My concentration, vital to moving fast on rough terrain, was just not there. I gave back all the "extra" time on the first 2 miles down and about 1.5 miles from the bottom took a "rolling" fall that caused me to slow my pace even more.
I crossed the finish line at 1:56:45, probably 5 minutes off the pace I could have turned in had I taken a more measured pace to the summit.
As Dana and Dale and I waited at the finish line, however, a more serious drama was unfolding up the mountain. The "Death March" to the summit had taken more from Taylor than I had suspected based on his appearance at the summit. My fears that he would appear behind me as I hobbled down the hill and sprint past for the victory were unwarranted.
Taylor started seriously cramping up after he gulped a couple of goo packs and guzzled a liter of gatorade. Evidently, somewhere part way down the mountain he was on his hands and knees on the trail "oozing goo" from one orifice or another. From that point on he was staggering down the trail, bouncing from tree to tree like a spewing pin ball in an endless arcade game, and arrived semiconscious and raving something about "poisoning me with that sickening goo" and "chemical warfare."
Poor boy. Better luck next year.
After the race we all went to Issaquah and had lunch (except for Tana.) There was some discussion about whether it was socially correct to bring me into the restaurant because they all agreed that I smelled really bad. However the staff did not seem to mind and a good time was had by all including, it seemed, Taylor who by then had recovered somewhat.
Be sure to visit the race page for 2001:
The Race 2001 Page!
Bye till next year! ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-)
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