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Not again!

August 7, 2013 - John Stack
The Ironman is over for 2013. Every year, there are new stories to tell. When I did Ironman in 2005, I finished the last couple miles significantly different than my friends Wes, Colleen and Loring. The last 2 miles up and down Olympic Drive? I was beat. I did see my sister Jenn* at the corner, but I could hardly talk, let alone smile or alter my course. Not so my friends. Wes Wilson (he the ADE cover model prior to the race) was in his 4th race. I saw him just before he turned up Olympic drive. I was on the opposite side of Main Street, but he still ran over and talked and was talking more about calling me an “Ultra-man” as Phil Gallo and I participated in an ultramarathon the previous day. And he’s 2 miles from the finish. Phil met up with me at the finish, just as you get into the oval. Again Wes stops and high fives and such. He didn’t see Phil, as Phil was taking a picture. He yells after Wes as he leaves. Wes slows down, stops, runs back and gives Phil a big hug for being there. Again, as for me, I probably couldn’t have stopped my forward momentum at that point.

Colleen and “Mr 6er” Loring Porter. 3 weeks prior, I saw these two at a mini-tri. I gave my raffle ticket to Colleen as I had to leave (and I never win). I rode a lap of the IM course with them later that week, and they told me I won a hat and to get it sometime. I had totally forgot. Not these two nuts. I see Colleen turning onto Mirror Lake Drive and I’m yelling encouragement to her. She comes over and gives me a hug, and tells me then “You have to come over and get that hat you won”. That was her thought, 2 miles from finishing her first Ironman. 20 minutes later, Loring comes running by. I don’t think he recognized me with a cap on and such (and the condition he was in). I tried to yell that his wife was actually just then turning onto the oval but I think I confused him. On his way back, I was in front of The Pub and Brew and took off my hat so Loring might recognize me. I yell encouragement to him. What does he say back? He points to his hat and says “This is that hat you won and we have to get it to you!” . Yup. 1 minute from finishing his first Ironman and he tells me this. What a trio of friends I have.

But, this blog is not about conquering. As I stated above, Phil and I participated in The Wakely Dam Ultra the day before. Its 55K on a trail that starts at Wakely Dam and there are no crossroads or anything between you and Piseco airport. We like to say 3 ways out 1. Finish. 2. Turn back. 3. Rangers Evac you out. I found a fourth way.

Last year, it took about 9 hours, and other than small spots, I was running with someone most of the time. People would slow down and I would catch them, or I would walk and be caught. Ironically, quite a social race for 66 people in the woods for 9 hours. Well, at about mile 6 or 7, an hour or so in, a guy I was running with (Patrick) stopped to get water. I said I’d see him soon. I didn’t see another runner for 7 hours. No one caught up, and no one slowed down to run with me. At the 7 hour point, I saw an…illusion. A trailhead with cars. My GPS told me I had only run 25 miles, and I was 2 hours early. At first, I dreamed my GPS was totally wrong, and I was running extremely faster than I expected, ignoring the fact the trailhead looked nothing like it should. Common sense took over, and I saw a map showing I missed a turn 4 miles back. Arghhh. I wasn’t going back. I wasn’t running an extra 2 or 3 hours. I also figured, I must be near a highway, and probably not too far from finish. Boy was I wrong.

I ran down a road for a mile or 2. Then hit a T. HMMM. Against all rationale, I sent a text to my fiancé saying I was lost, and the name of the road I was on, so, if by the grace of God she got the message, at least she knew I hadn’t been eaten by bears (yet). I chose the road to the left. Ran a couple more miles. Finally, a guy drove by in his truck with his son. I told him I thought I was close to the huighway. He laughed and said we were still 7 mile sin on a dirt road. He offered to give me a ride, even to the finish (good guy. He’s the director of the Christian youth Camp Fowler in Speculator). We finally get on Rt 30. We drive a mile. Unbelievably, I see MY VAN on the side of the road. My fiancé had been drioving to finish, and had just got my text (30 minutes later, in the only cell service for 30 miles) an pulled over. Kathy was truly shocked when the truck backing up towards her had me hopping out!

So, to finish up, I had my second freaking DNF of the season of monster races I entered (I did finish Tinman, but not the 6er of course). So now, rather than ending my career from running that God forsaken Wakely Trail ever again, I am 10 times more committed to finishing with a fast time next year!!


Article Comments

Aug-12-13 9:32 PM

I would offer some advice to train on the "Race Day" course so you know the route. However, you sound like an athlete that 'Wants' to be an athlete, but is not, and simply trains to benefit from a personal level, and that's fine. Personally from my perspective, I gave up the FULL Ironman years ago, realizing my accomplishments in the mini's and the same in the 'Team' events. Failure is a relativity question, and the Ironman event is not where one tests' their first significant accomplishment, rather their FIRST of many goals toward a Dream! "The difference between a Goal and a Dream is a PLAN!!!"


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