Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Hom100 Race Report

On any other day, writing up a report on my latest race would be a piece of cake. I am amazed, humbled and euphoric all at the same time. It's probably best just to start at the beginning...

9 am to Noon

Not knowing who was going to show up at the start was a real problem for me. I'm a control-freak so to have a (seemingly) disorganized start to kick-off our day of fund-raising awesomeness was difficult for me. Without much fanfare however, multiple neighbors, friends and family gathered in front of the Hom house right about 9 am and just like that...we were off.

Caught up in the excitement of it all or just trying to get one lap done before the heat kicked in, I sped off leaving most of the pedestrians (and Tony) behind. It wasn't long before I caught up with Jodi and Tony and swooped in to give him a hug to kick off this inaugural event.

As you can imagine, the temperatures for the day were already in the mid-80's and expected to hit 100 later in the day. My biggest concern was just staying hydrated and keeping the mood light and fun.

Noon to 6 pm

I was making pretty good time up until the noon hour - knocking out almost 20 miles. I wasn't trying to bank time or even break any records, I was just trying to get in some miles before I exploded from the rising temperatures! I could clearly tell that as each mile passed, the heat was taking its toll.

A strange thing started to happen around 2 pm though...more people started showing up! Better yet, people I didn't even know. It's certainly one thing to be supported by your friends but to have the support of people who made time on their holiday weekend to come out and run with a complete stranger for a complete stranger, still has me shaking my head. Better yet, during the hottest part of the day. Who does that?! These people do.
(L to R) Marc, Karen, Darrel, me, Shauna and Julie Anne
It seemed like someone new was joining us each lap to show their support for the event and Tony. It certainly made the hottest hours of the day fly by. Before I knew it, the shadows were growing longer and we could feel the temperatures drop (even if it was to 95F).

Approximate distance = 44 miles

6 pm to midnight

Friends, runners and neighbors continued to stop by the aid station around dinner time. I was just happy to see that even as the temperatures dropped, their enthusiasm and excitement did not falter. If it had, there were a couple times when I might just stayed sitting in the comfy chairs. Several of the guys who ran in the morning actually came back for more miles...awesome!

Aside from general fatigue, there was no much bothering me. My belly was good. My mind was clear (enough to do simple math anyway!). Unfortunately, my social skills had started to fade by 9 pm and I was not very chatty given the overwhelming fatigue I was starting to feel.


Yet, more folks continued to show up to either run or help at the aid station.

Thanks to the Grady family (Sarah, Greg and Reagan), we had a good hour or so filled with country, blue-grass, Zumba and other assorted Barbie songs that kept us going for at least a couple laps...well, we did our best to outrun it anyway!

Approximate distance = 64 miles

Midnight to 6 am

Night miles are the hardest. The miles go slowly and time physically slows down (well, it feels that way anyway!). Again, thank goodness for some real troopers who decided that running with me was a better idea than sleeping.

Greg, Jamil and Steve made sure I kept going through the wee hours of the night and gave me the encouragement to fight through my mental and physical blocks. I had resolved to NOT look at my Garmin GPS watch through the night because I was afraid it would remind me of how slow (it felt) the miles were going. They are experienced pacers and simply kept nudging me on with chit-chat, good stories and words of encouragement.

Aside from the police officer visiting us at about 3 am (just to make sure things were going OK), there literally wasn't much excitement. There were no wild animal sightings yet I can assure you that my grunts, aches and groans may have sounded like wild animals during the night...the pain of 20+ hours of running had started to manifest itself into primal caveman-like noises.

6 am to finish

At some point during that midnight to 6 am period, I had made my peace with simply running the 24 hours and being satisfied with whatever the mileage turned out to be. I knew it would be 90-something miles...surely a great effort by most standards right?

Despite several other friends showing up to run with me, I was finding it difficult to muster any sort of conversation or will-power to keep going. Given the aches and pains I had in my shoulders and back, the pinching in my knees and the literally numbness on the bottom of my right foot, I was begging the minutes to go faster so that my watch would turn over to 9 am so I could be done.

Friends, family and the Hom's had gathered at the aid station at about 8:30 am. I had sent a message to my wife indicating this would be my last lap before the 24-hour cut-off. They were clearly very excited for me and handed out words of encouragement to help me get past the pain and mental anguish.

As we came around on that 'last lap', my wife asked what my total mileage was.

"94", I said.

"What!? You can't be done", she replied. "It's the Hom 100!"

I scowled and tempered the obscenities because of the proximity of my children. I DID MY 24 HOURS!

"I'm done" I told her.
Literally, the agony of  'de-feet' at mile 95

But like a small flicker of a flame that grows when you fan it, everyone else rallied behind her idea. Clearly, they had not read the fine print on the website!

"We'll go with you. It's only a couple more loops." they said.

A couple more loops of pure torture I retorted. (Like they made me sign up for this event or something)

Thank goodness my wife knows me better than I know myself and was there to give me a final nudge. With the troops rallied (almost a dozen strong), we started walking around the loop again.

I'll be honest - I still wasn't happy with her or my so-called friends who were making me finish all 100 miles. I grunted. I groaned. I belly-ached that my feet hurt (which they did). But sure enough, they drug me through another lap around the neighborhood.

With 4 miles to go, they continued to encourage me but I was in too much pain to continue walking. There is a saying in the ultra-running community that "if it hurts to walk and it hurts to run, then you might as well run"

So I did.

We knocked off another loop as the temperatures started to rise. I really wanted to be done. The direct sun was starting to reactivate my freshly baked arms from the previous day and I stopped at the aid station to fill my bottle with ice water. I even made a special detour just to walk through some sprinklers...

As we started the "official" last loop, my wife stopped and gave me a kiss. She pulled her sunglasses down, exposing the tears welling up in her eyes.

"Do it for Tony", was all she said.

Instantly, nothing else mattered. The pain, selfishness and hardship I'd endured for the last 25 hours melted away the second my wife reminded me why I was out there. And it was exactly what I needed...

Have you ever tried to run while crying? It's difficult to see where you're going when you mix tears with a days worth of perspiration and grime that's caked on your hands. Another reason pacers are great to have around :)

The last loop was monumental. Euphoric and joyous despite having to run a little extra ('the loop' was not exactly 2 miles). What's an extra half mile after 99 anyway?

The final 100 yards was full of clapping, pictures and congratulations from friends, family and neighbors. I savored the thrill of completing 100.1 miles just long enough to see Tony in his wheelchair, grinning from ear-to-ear. I walked over and gave that dude a hug.

He is the man, not me.

Now, I'm not going to lie - aside from Tony, the only other thing going through my mind was sitting down and putting my feet in a big bucket of ice. As you can see, I did enjoy that a little bit :)

And I'm not sure why, but when it was time to head home, no one wanted to give me a ride home. I might have perspired a little bit but did I really smell that bad?!

If you any interest at all, the route, times and mileage are captured below. A full set of pictures can be found here. Again, special thanks to Fulton Homes and Cadence Running Company for all their support and generosity.

God willing, we'll do it again next year.


Debbie Zelley from NJ said...

What a great story and a great friend you are. I am in awe of you and everyone who participated. God Bless! Debbie from NJ :-)

Erik Homan said...

Amazing! Inspirational!

Vikas said...

Truly inspiring event and cause. When I saw you Sunday morning running, I did not even realize that you were running for hom100. Salute to you and your friendship.