|(Mt. Ranier - The backdrop to White River.)|
|(Getting the low-down on the route from Mr. Henshaw.)|
|(Time to square off.)|
At Corral Pass I had to take my longest break of the day to get composed, take rocks out of my shoes, fix a broken handheld water bottle, scarf some calories, and lose the last of my warm clothing (gloves). In all, I probably lost 6 minutes here. It was definitely a huge boost though seeing familiar faces, as always. At each aid station I had the pleasure and psychological boost of seeing Holly, Andy's parents (Cheryl and Todd), and his girlfriend Lizzie.
|(In a funk trying to get my bearings at Corral Pass.)|
Over the next 10 miles of mostly climbing, it got incredibly hot and exposed BUT I was determined to push through the pain and discomfort no matter what. By the end of the climb, I had vomitted several times (around the mile 32 aid station), felt like crap the whole time, and somehow managed to improve my position by 10 places!
After taking a second to appreciate the incredible views of Mt. Ranier from the Suntop Lookout aid station, I decided to let gravity help for a while and let the quads have their turn suffering. The next 6.5 miles are all downhill on a hard, steep, and dusty gravel road and aren't as enjoyable as one would imagine - even after 2 hours of climbing. Despite the pain in my legs and more stomach problems, I was able to cover this section in just under 43 minutes, and in doing so, I was in 6th place at the last aid station (mile 44).
While refueling to prepare for the last 7 miles of rolling, rocky, rooty terrain under a gigantic tree canopy alongside the White River, I was passed by one of the runners who I had overtaken just a few minutes prior. I left the aid station just a few seconds behind him, but pursuit was all for naught after I performed my best superman impression about a mile from the aid station. Toes were stubbed and screaming with pain, and my thumb rammed into a rock and split open under the nail. This pain and frustration took the fight out of me and I went into suffer mode for the next 5-6 miles, wishing for nothing else but for the pain to be over.
Finally, I rounded the last bend out of the trees and back toward the air strip and crossed the finish in 7:49 - good for 7th overall.
|(7th place. 7:49.49)|
|(Getting our post-race grub on.)|
|(Hey Brooks, which way to the Olympic Mountains?)|
|(We even found time to bag Rainier before catching our flight!)|