On the way to the coast, with a stop at UW to visit Aidan and his girl friend Natalie, I could feel myself getting more nervous. Why? It wasn't like I was going to win this thing and I was pretty sure I would finish under the allotted eight hours. I expected Sarah to beat me. She has been faster than me lately. I guess I was anticipating that it was going to be hard, and it was.
Once we got onto the interurban trail, into the trees, everything warmed up. After six miles there was a fast turn into a heavily wooded area. The first series of a long climbs started. Luckily, I had surrounded myself with people who walked up steep hills. Good idea. I started looking forward to hills just so I could walk instead of run. Some were so steep that we basically crawled up them. In my backpack I had my two bottles of water, one with electrolytes, some gels and protein bars, a change of socks and a shell. It was an extra 10 pounds I probably didn't need. Never touched a gel. At one point I was going downhill, fairly fast, still well under control, and I hit one of the early patches of mud which slid me toward a precipice. My feet took hold right before the plunge. At that point I was grateful that I was also packing a lighter, a survival blanket, a knife and a cell phone.
This first mud patch was a small harbinger of an overarching theme for the run.
There was a trail that went atop a crest. It was foggy and dark with some wind. I had to really watch my footing. Coming down off of this crest, I picked up speed, made a turn, slid out on mud and fell on my side. I heard others gasp. The fall was a cheap chiropractic treatment and I felt more limber than before. Later in the race, Sarah and I both heard a blood-curdling scream. It turns out a runner fractured her ankle and had to be carried out. Her two requests from her rescuers? A down jacket and a helicopter!