We have a plan. Coffee always makes me think better. The sun is down and light is growing dimmer by the minute. Jason has been out running more than 12 hours. It’s his longest run ever by time.
We estimate that by 10:00 PM he will complete this lap. At this 60 mile mark I will join him. We’ll be in for a long dark night. But, I hope he keeps me sane through it all.
60 miles – success! Jason has now run further than he ever has in his life.
So, Jason how do you feel? “Oh, my feet hurt pretty bad. Otherwise, my stomach aches a bit. I think I might have slipped a bit on nutrition this last lap.” (He actually hadn’t. He actually consumed more of his Perpetuum-water mixture than in the first laps.)
Jason arrives and has remained coherent. Before we begin he is off to the medical tent for foot attention. Both feet get help – lots of help. You’d be amazed what they do with duct tape nowadays. No really! They duct tape over lanced, drained and betadined wounds.
It was 35 minutes before we hit the trail. We would take this one step at a time and one aid station at a time. We were not thinking about 40 miles left. After getting warmed up, Jason actually fell into a nice jog-walk pattern. Headlamps were heading out and back passing and being passed by them. At least we had company.
We chatted most of the next leg. He listened to his iPod in one ear. We walked uphills and jogged the rest. We switched to just water for a bit to give his stomach a rest. We stop at the aid station – 63.1 miles. He has now run 13.1 miles (a half marathon) beyond his longest run ever. And he’s done it at the same pace as his 50 miler.
So, Jason how do you feel? “I don’t know if I can do it. The pain is just so deep.”
It wasn’t his feet, though they hurt. It wasn’t his worrisome foot injury – that was OK. No, this was that deep torturous pain from 15 hours of running. It hurt all over. No injury.
We discuss the options. Go on – but the next aid station is in no man’s land and would necessitate coming back regardless. Rest longer and see if he can get it together to proceed. Or, drop – call it a day – the longest running day of his life.
I outline his accomplishments for the day and the pros and cons of continuing or DNFing. He asks if he will regret not continuing. I am honest and tell him that any competitive athlete will always have at least some part of him that wonders what if. But, that is different than deep regret. There can be no regrets in his big victories today. He made it through all the training and personal life stresses to the starting line. He just ran further than ever before. And After sitting, drinking and discussing – Jason looks at me and says, “I’m done.”
With that, I turn in his number to the aid station. He finishes his day with two major victories and a lot of lessons learned.
Well done Jason. By the way, you just ran twice as far as I’ve ever run at one time in my 40 years of running and racing! Very well done!