A Return to A Race for the Ages
September 1-3, 2018
The Long and Winding Road
My return to A Race for the Ages, or as we like to call it, ARFTA, took a few detours along the way. First there was the Pinhoti 100, in 2017. I along with a handful of runners mistook a sign pointing to the starting line. It was meant for the buses bringing people to the start. Runners in their cars were to take another road to the start. Needless to say, I started the race late, went out too fast, and crashed 30 miles into the race.
Fast forward to this year. I had trained for the Lake Martin 100. 30 miles into that race, the heat of the day caused me to have terrible nausea and I threw up several times on my way to a 50 mile medal.
My redemption race was going to be ARFTA. A lovely race held at Fred Deadman Park, in Manchester, Tennessee. Now, for those not familiar with this race, it's a little different. You are given an hour for every year of your life. I ran the inaugural ARFTA in 2015, when I was 48, so I had 48 hours to run the race. That year I was coming off my best 100 mile effort at the Graveyard 100. So, I was still in decent shape and managed to rack up 120 miles. This year with 51 hours to work with, I was hoping to go beyond 120 miles. However, nagging knee issues impacted my training and I managed to get in 104 miles.
(Finishing another one mile loop at ARFTA)
Now, if 104 miles over 51 hours doesn't really sound too hard, you're right. I've often said, ARFTA is probably the easiest way to earn a 100 mile buckle. ARFTA is as much of an event as it is a race. Every 6 hours, you have the opportunity to sit down and have breakfast, lunch and dinner with your fellow runners. The event was catered by Cracker Barrel. So, the food was delicious. Also, my friends Ryan Harbaugh and David Holliday were at the race and we had a chance to catch up.
Lindsey "Slim" Shady Hardesty and Mica Aguilar came up on Sunday to provide a little encouragement and tough love. (Shar, aren't you supposed to be running instead of sitting down? - Mica)
Along the way, I walked a bit with Ann Trason and heard about her idea of putting on a new timed event in and around Auburn, CA. She's thinking of a 6 day event. Karen Jackson and I walked a bit and she talked about getting to see her new grandson for the first time, after dropping her run at Vol State to see him.
So, you see, A Race for the Ages is a special kind of race. But don't get me wrong, 100 miles is a long way, no matter how you approach it.
(Ryan Harbaugh and I are tacking on a few more miles)
After the race, Rose and I were sitting on the floor inside of the community center waiting for the awards ceremony to start. After 3 days of Cracker Barrel food I was ready for something else. So, we had headed over to McDonald's to get a Fillet-O-Fish and a tropical Sprite. Now, I'm going to say this, in the words of Ringo Starr, with peace and love; their was a large lady sitting at a table directly in front of us eating copious amounts of Cracker Barrel food. She was not a runner or part of any crew, as far as I could tell. At this point, I really could have used a chair, but the place was packed, and she wasn't moving.
For whatever reason, my eyesight started to get a little blurry and I told Rose I was going to go outside to get some fresh air. Next thing I know, I'm laying on the floor with people gathered around, and putting ice on me. Someone called the EMT's and a circus of sorts ensued. I owe a debt of gratitude to the kind people who pitched in and helped to get my temperature in check. Although the nice EMT's were really wanting me to go the Hospital, I was totally fine after my "ice bath." Also, I was wearing an Alabama t-shirt, and I could hear the Tennessee ER doc coming out to tell Rose that I didn't make it. Why? What went wrong? Well, he was wearing an Alabama t-shirt, so..... Long story short, I was fine, despite wearing Alabama attire in the midst of Vol country.
On the drive to Huntsville, I played Back in Black by AC/DC because the long and winding road resulted in my fourth 100 mile buckle, and though it wasn't pretty, I felt like I was finally back.