Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Have fun...You Freak!

These were the parting words of my loving wife at 5:10am as I headed off from the Iola trail head of the Prairie Spirit Trail for my 35 mile trek on July 12, 2012 (My 35th birthday). She would meet me in a couple hours at Colony with muffins, fruit, coffee, ice water, etc. I kissed her bye and jogged off into the darkness, waiting for the sun to rise. 

After a couple miles, the sun finally came up (which was a good thing, because the trail starts to get a little freaky in the dark sometimes, and I didn't have a flashlight with me).  I continued a pretty steady jog with occasional walk breaks, knowing I wasn't physically ready to "run" 35 miles at the time.  About 11 miles into my journey my wife and kids showed up at Colony.  She was running a little behind, but that was fine with me because I was ready for a little rest.

After a nice little breakfast, I headed off toward Welda.  By this time, the sun was getting hot, around 100 degrees I would say.  My faithful crew would drive up about a mile or so, and when I got there they would fill my water bottle if needed and soak a rag in ice cold water so I could put it around my neck.  It seemed to be getting hotter and hotter, and as the sun rose there seemed to be less and less shade.  For a while, I found myself jogging from one shaded area to the next and walking very slowly through the shaded area which provided a tiny bit of refuge from the heat.  Finally, I approached Welda and my oldest son got out and jogged with me for a few minutes till I got to the trail head where there were some well shaded picnic tables. Unfortunately, after Welda I made a very big mistake.

I wasn't very familiar with this part of the course. I had hiked it years ago, but couldn't remember it at all.  The biggest mistake was giving my wife my water bottle and  taking off without it.  At Welda, I had drank a couple cups of orange juice with ice, a bunch of water, and a fruit smoothie.  I couldn't think about having another drink, so I handed my wife my water bottle and said, "Just give it to me in a couple miles or so."  Well, as it turned out, there were no access roads that we could find for about 9 miles.  Worst of all, I felt like I was in a desert!  I've never been to Death Valley, but in my mind I was experiencing it at that moment. There seemed to be nothing but rocks and scorched prairie grass all around.  I could almost see the heat rising from the trail.  I tried to keep the rag over my head and neck to keep the sun from burning me, but presently it was providing very little comfort as it had become completely dry and hot.

Finally I got through and took a long break in Garnett.  That leg of the jog/hike was demoralizing to say the least, but after re-fueling and getting a rest, I was able to jog a bit more down the trail, through Garnett. Thinking I only had about 5 miles left, I gave it all I had left in me. Unfortunately, it turned out to be 4-5 miles farther than I had thought to the point where I would finally finish.  I was literally dragging my feet and nearly to a crawl by the time I got there. 

We think I might have actually went 40 miles, unless my calculations were way off earlier on the trail.  My family and I were famished, and the Dairy Queen in Garnett sounded like a wonderful place to go. I wanted to eat a burger, fries, and all that; but all that sounded good to me was a large, mint chocolate chip milkshake. It hit the spot and was about all I could stomach without getting sick.

Needless to say, it was a day or two before I started thinking of all the positives of having done this for my birthday.  Now, for some odd reason, I feel like I would like to do it again...maybe even 20 miles more.  I guess maybe the words of my wife, before taking off that morning, said it all, "Have freak!"

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