Georgia Jewel 100 mile run
Karen is one of the nicest people I know … but in reality she is an evil temptress that lures runners into to the dark and foreboding trails of North Georgia. Karen takes great pleasure in breaking these poor hapless runners mentally and physically, but she takes more pleasure in greeting each and every runner at the finish line and congratulating them !!
4am found me standing in the dark anxiously waiting Karen to set me free … and then I was running into the darkness with a smile on my face. I had a solid game plan but I was nervous, not about the course, but about the recent sickness that I had acquired 2 days before. I had visited the hotel restroom and the port-o-jon just before the race began, but I kept telling myself that it was mind over matter. Focus on making it to the aid stations, stick to my nutrition, and watch my heart rate, the rest would fall into place … what could go wrong !!
The first 17 miles went great, I stayed in my heart rate, my stomach accepted all the food I put in it, and I was running strong. When I entered the Snake Creek aid station I was feeling great as I was greeted by my crew. Kena and Phil hooked me up with everything I needed, and in under a minute I was out of the aid station. About 2 miles down the trail my stomach started talking to me, it was time for a pit stop. I looked around for some trees with suitable leaves, but I was surrounded by pines and mountain laurels … I started to get nervous, but then I spotted the perfect tree. I grabbed a handful of leaves, disappeared into the forest for a bit, and returned to the trail smiling and feeling very satisfied. I had about 6 more miles to go before the next aid station, and I was feeling right as rain, little did I know this would be one of the high points of my race.
By the time I reached John’s Mountain aid station, I was feeling more dead than alive. I was regularly getting sick and had zero energy. I wasn’t ready to quit, but in the back of my mind I was trying to calculate how I could finish 79 more miles on zero calories. Phil and Kena filled me up and sent me on my way, but within 30 minutes everything was on the ground again. This would be the pattern all the way to the turn around point.
Chaffing, hurling, explosive diarrhea, and no energy was my world as I approached the turn around point. The power line section had tested me, but it did not break me … Kena’s voice telling me to run caused me to laugh out loud … but seeing that amazing chair almost broke me !! I was greeted with smiling faces and words of encouragement from Phil and Kena at the turn around point aid station. I choked down a MacDonald’s hamburger, minus the bun, some sun drop cola, ensure, and my orange drink. I next found myself smiling way more than I should have been as I wore a plastic glove and slathered some magic ointment on my chaffed no no parts 😉 After a shoe change I was as good as I was going to be so Kena lead me back on to course with a six-pack of nuggets and an ensure in hand.
We ran and walked and walked and ran and mostly walked for the next 19 miles. I was only able to eat half a chicken nugget and stomach a couple of bottles of ensure. The diarrhea had stopped but I still was occasionally getting sick, and my energy was long gone. I would have good moments where I would be plotting against Karen and scheming a way to talk Kena into finding me a piece of linoleum to lay on, and then I would have bad moments when I could barely put one foot in front of another. When Kena got me to the East Armuchee aid station I was having a bad moment, but after a few minutes I was back on trail with Phil heading into the darkness of the cool Pinhoti night.
Phil stuck with me and got me back to a good moment as we walked and walked and walked through the darkness. Phil somehow gave me the strength to make the 7 mile uphill section back to John’s Mountain aid station. Once again I was in bad shape when I arrived, but they got me up and moving and before I realized it Kena and I were at the bottom of John’s Mountain. Somewhere in our conversation avocados came up and that sounded good to me. At the next aid station I ate a whole avocado and some mashed potatoes, and they tasted great !! It was still a coin toss if they would stay down, but after a couple of miles I realized that they were … glory days !! Phil and I had made it to the 10 mile aid station where I ate another avocado and drank a coke. I felt as if I was over flowing with energy and thought about running, but soon realized that this was a bad idea.
After what seemed like hours we finally hit the road and the final 1.5 miles of the course. Phil had been serenading me with music off and on and when we hit the pavement he was playing “it was a good day” by ice cube. I soon saw Kena and Perry running up the road to meet us, the 4 of us ran the final bit of road together and were greeted by the cheers of our friends waiting at the finish line. Karen met me at the finish line with a smile on her face and a buckle in her hand. She gave me a hug, called me a teddy bear and asked what took me so long 😉
Even though I was the one to cross the finish line all the credit goes to Kena and Phil … they are the reason I was able to finish !!
I have never had to dig so deep or push so hard to finish a race before … nor have I ever had such a feeling of accomplishment.