Its funny to me to read the last blog i did which was http://www.robgoyen.com/2013/12/29/2-weeks-of-misery-and-finally-cracks-of-light/ as I talk about overcoming being in a rut for a few weeks and i remember finishing it mere hours before the race..
one thing i wanted to do coming into this race was not thing about anything else. i stayed up 2nights before this race doing odds and ends.. work stuff, forwarding emails, writing blogs.. i mean i even lauched my first race as an RD which is (http://www.brazosbendtrailraces.com) early just not to have it on my mind.. So the day/night before the race I did my errands. Went out to get skratch labs mix (which is the best thing ever), some THunderbird Energetica Bars and K TAPE in case i needed it.. Just did everything I could possibly think off.
So here is the story of the Snowdrop Foundation 55 Hour Race. You can also read Jose’s take on the race.. His blogs are more comically while are probably more sappy. http://findingjose.com/2014/01/03/snowdrop-55-hour-ultra-100-miles/
Going into this race my goal was to get to 100 miles no matter what. I needed a win and really felt like 2013 has been a year of some great racing early and alot of injuries. But I have the best coach in the world named Michele Yates that there is… I know your like Michele Yates 2013 Ultra Runner of the Year as your coach.. Yes I sold my kidney to pay for her fees. (thats a joke… you should contact her at www.dreamliverun.com if want to really have a running coach) she has been training me for a few months. It has been a lesson for me in quality over quantity… I havent run over 12 miles in 3 months despite pacing a 50k.. I havent done over 40 miles in any week in the past 3 months… So lets just say we were about to put this theory of Quality over Quantity to the test. I would like to also note that I ran EVERYDAY before this race… another thing that Michele has installed in the plan as well.
So the goal again.. Get to 100 miles…. For myself, for my God Son Kees Poole and for the HATR NATION.
We showed up on sunday at 10am and I was first to pick up my packet. Jose, Rachel and I met up and started to find a place to put our tent… We saw another friend Maryann there as well so we said hi and said some dirty jokes about tent poles etc..
So we got everything unloaded and picked out a great spot just about 30 yards away from the finish like in between to restrooms and close to the parking lot.. I always want to be near everything If I plan on running forever.. So we set up the $40 craigslist tent Jose picked up which slept 12…(no one slept at all in the tent) and we set up the HATR tent and got the gatorade 5 gal coolers and tables ready for Monday am.
We headed back to the house and my wife and I decided to grab some indian food. As we talked over the lunch I was still unsure how all this was going to turn out.. .55 hours… 100 miles… a .76 mile loop….
Monday morning we wake up and head out to snow drop right on time.. It is located at Sugarland Memorial Park and is about 30 min from the house. We get there with about an hour to spare and then I normally start to go crazy… So im finishing dressing up, i made sure all my food was on the table… As talked about with my coach our plan was to take in calories every 15 min at least.. I was okay with this and knew what I would do so I filled up a 5 gallon igloo with water and mixed in Skratch Labs Lemon.lime and raspberry as well. This would be my constant flow all day and I had a bottle filled on top.. I also had a case of Thunderbird Energetica Bars on tap as well for when i got hungry… So Jeremy Hanson was our crew chief and we went over everything and got ready. I also saw one of our buddies Chris who recently ran our race in december and won it so I was stoked he was there as well.
I remember then saying we had like 3 minutes to go so I headed to the starting line. I could feel the K Tape nicely on my hurt knee and got my Yurbuds ready to go… I had the Sansa Clip + on deck with 16 hour of music so I figured it was time to shine.. As they counted down I remember being off to the side out of sight of pictures and of starting upfront. As soon as we left I made a couple of moves and headed to the front as the pace I wanted to go out around 9 min miles. I wasnt going to wear a watch this race but just focus on one thing.. One loop, eat or drink.. Repeat…
As we headed the first loop I noticed the guy flying in front was as relayer and that there was a female ahead and then me.. I was like what the hell are you doing in the first mile in 3rd of a 55 hour race… And then i said something to myself that I think was funny at the time.. I said who fking cares.. Lets just go….. I spend the first 2 hours realizing that Chris was behind me and it was equally encouraging as it was eerie because I knew how fast he was and i didnt know if I could keep this pace up all day.. SO i remember few things other than running and starting to get doubty around 3 hour mark.. I was like man i feel tired, like my legs were getting a little tired. So i started a great game with my mind that worked and taught me a lot.. I said (to myself) lets run for 6 hours hard and then see where we are at… So that was the plan/goal.. Run for 6 hours. Nothing mattered… ALong the way i went from the Salomon Mantras to the Hoka Bondi B shoes. I kept on my trusty Injinji toes socks and kept rocking… I had put some K tape on my right big toe before the race since I have a wart/blister combo that Cactus Rose gave me my first 50 miler over a year ago.. Around mile 35 i think i felt it really acting up so I decided that I would see if my BFF Becky would take a look at this issue. Sure as shit when she took off the sock blister #1.. I have never had a blister… I was almost in shock… But i felt really good so I was like umm what do i do. .She was like I am going to take care of it. 5 minutes later I am back on the track. I talked with Maryann and she told me that you have to get the sting out of the way then you can run again. I was really feeling like HOLY SHIT this hurts and how the hell am i going another 70 miles… one loop later I was back in action. Jeremy was crew master making sure everything time i came in the bottle was full and asked if I needed anything. My thoughts were always to just stay on the track no matter what.. I had a deadly little plan laid out at this point. My legs had hurt enough at 35 miles that I knew i had overcome the pain issue. My legs HURT but I was okay with it,.. I was like i can run on these legs ALL DAY like this… So i would just run a full loop and then step of the course about 5 feet grab calories and then step back on and walk about maybe 20 feet where there were 3 cones.. The last cone meant run.. So it became the plan.. As I reached the 8 hour mark in my journey I think i remember feeling great. I have a loss of time at this point in my story as I dont remember order but there where a bunch of HATRs that showed up that day. Everytime i saw them I was so happy to see them and they all said I looked good as well. Well i felt FANTASTIC honestly and was just putting feet down and running. Around 8 hours i think i was around 35-40 miles i then put out my next goal.. Run for 10 hours. I thought I have a great chance to get to the 50 miler mark by then.. SO off i went down the trail… I remember realizing that I was in the top 5 at this point and i was happy with that.
50 mile PR
Round and Round we went. I could see Chris and Jose as well. I was semi competitive at this point always wanting to try and lap Jose every 4-5 laps as a way to push myself around another lap.. As we headed into the 10 hour mark Jeremy told me I was around 45 miles or so as I was excited to get near 50.. (later timing with errors says i finished the 50 in like 9 hours but for the sake of the story and probably the truth well keep going)… My previous PR was 13:17 at Cactus Rose last november so even not running hard I knew I could beat it good. Some other HATRs showed up to lend support and super speedy Juan said he would come on with me on my 50 miler PR lap we laughed and i finished it at our calculations at 11:19 which wasnt bad for a almost 2 hour PR and with not running hard too much i was happy. Since this was a 55 hour race the game plan was always up in the air. I thought we would just run right through, I thought about trying to actually win this thing and stay on my feet.. or maybe event just trying to stay up all 55 hours to run. I mean i have never done one so I wouldnt know haha. But after 50 miles i continued to run.. Jose told me when he got to 50 he was going to go home shower, take a nap, grab clothes and come back out… I was okay with that until mile 54… It was a mile that i didnt like. I wasnt having fun and I wasnt tired but I was bored with the running. I had decided to either nap or go home.. We both decided to sleep day one and come back 7am for day 2. We ran hard day one getting at least 50 miles. Jerms could get some sleep and Rachel as well. We said good bye to friends and headed home… I checked my phone for about 2 seconds made a post and headed home with wife in tow. She agreed to wash all my clothes and dry them and I would just shower and sleep. I found 2 more blisters and popped them, taped them and got into bed. Luckily our adjustable bed I could put my feet up in and get some rest… Let me tell you something… 7 hours of sleep didnt feel like 2… And it hurt to move my legs too much.. It was very uncomfortable and i questioned this as soon as I woke up.
Day 2 begins as we wake up right at 5:30.. I am cranky. I grab some soy mile for my Vega Sports Protein drinks every 5 hours and hobble to get everything back into the car and get out the door. Rachel is telling me that life is okay and she starts to eat cereal about 2 min after we are supposed to be leaving which was 6am… I am frustrated already we are late, i need to be on the track and I want the FKING BUCKLE… thats what my mind is telling me… As we FINALLY get into the car I am all business. I really feel out of body starting now till the end of the race. Like I am narrating this adventure but its not really me. I feel very robotic, determined… I can tell you I havent felt this way in a long time… We jump out the car I see Jose is there. I slap on the Desitin for the chub rub, change clothes and my salomon jackets on.. Strap on the Hokas with 4 blisters and some injinjis and see Jose walking up.. its 7:02 am and its time to grind. I look at the phone to see im in 8th or so maybe 10th. But I dont care. I am about to run this mfker in the ground and get my medal… The competitor in me says ” Go run rob people are walking and you can run this whole thing again…” We start to headed out and knock our mileage again.. I tell Jeremy dont tell me anything about mileage at all. I really dont care where I am at as I need to just get in loops. Head down, same game plan. Lap, eat. repeat…. I find myself seeing alot of people though as the sun arises that are trotting so I talking to few people and saying hello. I remember maybe around 65 miles that i ran by a man and I said great job man… he responds with Your a FKING machine man…. I remember smiling and thinking what is our plan today stupid…
The fear for me is that at some point my legs would stop running. Meaning that I would HAVE to walk… I didnt want to at all but I just KNEW it was going to happen.. So as I told my wife to come back at 4 pm at the aid station i though just run till 1pm Rob… So there is the goal 1pm just keep running.. SHortly after my feet go to the shitter again. I head back over to see Becky as she gets her kit our and starts to go to work. Poking, draining, taping.. what a woman.. She kept my feet in good shape all day and I appreciate her willingness to just keep helping me no matter what… Kevin Kline saw my feet as I pointed out these great Purple glitter nails I got donw for snowdrop haha. He says you okay.. I tell him ill finish in sandals if i need to but im gonna finish… Honestly I have no idea why I am so confident about this.. (again out of body person) So i think by now its around 11:30 by now. I call my wife and I tell her my feet are really messed up. I asked her to if she will come back at 1:30 earlier than 4 and bring the coffee and some flips flops because I might have to walk this thing in. The next few hours my goal is to see my wife at 1:30 as nothing else matter. It is a short goal and I like it. Along the way on the trails I am enjoying the company of the others.
Snowdrop is about running for Pediatric Cancer and we are all out there to help those kids. So I got a good change to talk to Tony C (TEAM RWB) on some future projects together with the Brazos Bend Race and Team RWB.. I also got to meet Robert K. We shared some great stories back and forth as he told me about his journey to get to snowdrop. As we ran around I ran with Jose and the HATR NATION showed up in force. We had member after member show up and it was so encouraging. Many brought food or coffee or both. SOme of them brought their kids and I stole their kids goldfish and pretzels. As The next few hours passed I kept thinking to myself how the F are you still running Rob.. Like where is this coming from and when are you going to stop.. (again out of body thinking).. I remember saying i dont care keep moving… Around 1:30 and no sign of Rachel as she wasnt there yeat. I kept running now new goal run till Rachel was there with coffee and shoes. About 2 Becky had to leave and another blister struck on the right picky toe.. Jeremy grabbed her box I self drained and wrapped it up. I got back on the track and had the probably 30 minutes of doom between 2-2:30,… I waited for Jose to start another loop and we walked together. I need to get the sting out of this one and we just chatted it up.. He was doing he normal bushwhacker arm swing to move and i was trying to just begin to run again. I was telling him that my feet were a mess, that it was stingy and i was afraid i was about to lose my running gear. I tihnk after about 5 minutes he was like hey man stop being so negative just fking run. Be happy man. I told him thanks and started running again… As i started to run my out of body mind day got into my head. I began to thinkg what if i have to walk,,, i dont want to walk.. and just some really flat, excuses. I couldnt figure out why I had started getting emotional. Right at 2:34 i remember on my watch my wife showed up. I said come on babe and took a swig of coffee and started to walk away. As soon as I did as I asked if my wife would walk a lap with me… I told her that my feet were a mess but i was okay..
As soon as I did the emotions just started pouring out of me… We talked about our God Son Kees, how every step was in his honor and that I would finish for him. We cried alot, talked a little and got around that lap… When we finished the lap i went back to out of body mode and began to hunt on the course… It was time to fly… I Kept my head down and started moving again. Fk these feet, im not stopping running at all. Im going to run every fking lap from here till 100 miles and Im a machine at this point… I remember little as the laps just kept pealing off. I felt great and at some point while walking away i heard Jeremy say 78 miles. I stopped him said is that me he said no… I said for real tell me.. He said yes. I hugged him thanked him for crewing me and realized i am 22 miles away from 100 miler… Back to the track same game plan… Again I have time to chat with everybody. There is a famous Mark Twain saying that Ultrarunners use is “The best way to cheer yourself is to try to cheer someone else up.” So thats what I did. Just cheered other people on as I ran by and kept running. Along the way friends showed up and we ran together a lap or so and just chatted it up. Jose was moving good and I knew it wouldnt be too long. Around the 5 o clock hour I asked Kevin Kline where i was. I had heard that a couple of people had finished and I knew that based on what i was running I had to be around the top 5 or so.. This is where the story gets crazy.
He tells me that he will check and come back after another loop. I hear that our friend she has one more lap left as well. I come in and Kevin tells me that I have 2 laps left… I say there is no way as Jeremy has me about 7 miles out… I tell him that Im not sure if this is right but I will take 5 more laps.. Just then I head out and Robert tells me he has 3 more laps.. When i talk to Tony he says well i cant have that many more… As I come in on lap 4 left, tony is announces he has had 4 and then says he will run 5 and robert now has 3 laps i think… So after 96 miles we are all there.. I pick up a friend and run a lap with my wife as well as we get closer. I hear over the speaker that Robert is on his bell lap one more to do.. I come in right after him and I have 2 to finish…. Robert yells to me as I start running that I might need to carry him on my back.. I tell him if thats what it takes well get him there. He is moving good i think with family with him. I am running with a friend and we are moving good….. As I hit the finish line Kevin starts to say 2 more then I hold my 1 finger up and he SAYS one more lap… As I grab something to drink i see everyone start to get up and head to the finish… I look in the tent and grab my HATR shirt to wear to the finish..
One more lap…. .76 miles between me and the buckle.. Unreal that I am still running at mile 100.. And feel wonderful honestly…. About 1/2 track I hear them announce Roberts name as he comes in… I take a moment to just gather myself. I am in no rush to sprint and run up into Roberts party…. I take my time as people tell me great job and speak to all those who i see… As i round the corner I can hear Kevin start to say my name… As I approach the line a man infront steps off the trail and shakes my hand (thank you for the gesture)… I hear Kevin yell Trail Runner Rob just finished his 100 miler Snowdrop Race…. I remember shaking someones hand after i finish and heading straight to my wife… She was taking video and I remember kissing her and hugging her.. I remember hugging all my crew friends and family… Kevin and Trish told me great job and they gave a medal over my head and told me that tony was coming in… I just kind of stood there unaware of what was going on… I think in this time Jose showed up…. I remember hugging him and starting to cry again. I can remember telling him thank you so much and that I cant believe we finally did it. Jose was the person who told me 5 years ago to change my life, I in turn persuaded him to run ultras. We have finished our first 50 milers, 50ks and now 100 milers together at the same races. I tell him I am so thankful and we are gonna get it…
As Tony comes in everyone congratulates him and we get a chance to head to the banner to take some photos.. I felt like i was in the red carpet as Kevin and I took pictures together amid the 10 phones, cameras going off. I would be horrible on the red carpet.. As we finish up I take Kevins ear and tell him our story quickly. I sobbingly tell him how grateful I am for what Snowdrop is doing and how much I will always support the cause. We share a moment together as Pediatric Cancer is his passion for giving back as well.
As the race is over for me I decided to head home, shower eat and come back for Jose ( a common theme for us haha_…) Once back Jeremy and Jose are saying that they are going to post the times/laps around 8pm and Jose thinks he is close… I walk around saying hi and hear the update is out… I am at 95 miles…. and Jose is at 90… I was like oh shit he is going to be pissed off… He thought he was closer than that… As he flies into rage mode I head back up to the maid station. Kevin tells me that there might be some timing errors and they will manually check the laps etc and make corrections. I tell him I wanted to make sure since mine says 95 and not 100.. He ensures me that I did the 100 miles… I have an uneasy feeling about this and head back to camp. As Jose flies around the track like pissed off Usain Boly jeremy is with him..
About 4 laps in he says something to me at the table.. He says your really ran 95 miles Rob…. i told you…. I am not caught in a pickle.. I played by the rules, ran what I was told and was ensured that my 95 would be 100. So now honestly I am PISSED OFF… Im about to get angry at Jeremy and really blow my lid.. As i stop and think for a few seconds I just stand up.. My wife knows that I am really upset and she heads to the car to take box in.. I am in pants, FLIP FLOPS and toes socks.. FUCK IT i say i can fix this.. I need 6.5 loops to make sure I get this 100 no matter what.. So there I go walking along the dusty trail alone… I dont care at this point and I realize my pace isnt too bad… As i get lap 1 done Rachel is like what are you doing.. I tell her listen Im not going to let this affect a great day for us, Jose or the team.. I can fix this my walking the damn mileage and making sure it is right. This isnt about ego, pride or anything else. As i walk the milage i get to about 5 loops when Jeremy and Jose get to me. .I tell them great job and i see them running off to the bell lap… I end at 5 loops and walk a little to get to 5.5 before heading up to the finish… Jose comes around the corner looking like a bushwacker with a limp…. He comes in strong and does a little dance and lets it all out…..
I was so proud of him and what he did. He fought hard all day long as everyone did to get his buckle. As we sat and talked he was going to get warmed up.. In Jeremys humor he asks me if Im going to go finish my 100.. So i ask Rachel if she wants to go.. About 1/3 of the around New Years Hits Midnight. We see the fireworks everywhere and even share the moment with a passing team of 2 trying to get their 100. We finish the look and start to pack up and leave…
I wake up on Wednesday to see the great posts and reactions from everyone who finished. I was so proud to see Snowdrop run to TCH that day and to see the videos and comments about everyone. You make a lot of great friends on runs and I really enjoyed the chance to meet all these great and wonderful people. As my wife and I had dinner with Kees parents I was able to give them the medal around my neck from the race. They told me they were going to enter next year and that filled my heart with joy…
Snowdrop was the greatest race of my life.. All of my training and hard work let me enjoy the race and run from beginning to end. I had the honor of running for the Poole family and for Kees Poole. Thank you to all my supporters Skratch Labs, Thunderbird Energetica, Salomon, Suunto, VEGA for making great products that help get athletes to the finish line. Thanks to my coach Michele Yates for giving me a plan. Thanks to Becky S for keeping my feet from causing me to quit. Thanks again to Snowdrop Kevin, Trish, RD Patty and all the volunteers and supporters. Thanks to my friends who i met along the way and will stay in touch with. Thanks to my HATR family for showing up like no one elses business. I love our CLUB and am so appreciative of each and every one of you. Thanks to Hansome Hanson for best crew manager of the century. To jose for being my constant source of laughter and hate..jk… and my wife who is so proud of what i have become and i wouldnt be here today without her.
So that snowdrop alot of crying (which I knew). alot of pain (which I figured) and alot of joy ( which i hoped)…
I wouldnt have traded any of it for the world. What a great few days and I cant wait for 2014 to do run for Snowdrop and Kees again.