We met up with the CHUGs at Mamma Mia’s on Friday night as planned and had a delicious (and extremely abundant) meal with some of our favorite people. Despite the nerves I’m sure a few were feeling about the race the next day, the atmosphere was relaxed and fun. Just like the “Fat Bastard” character in Austin Powers, we got just a little more than we bargained for … only in our case, it was with the food portions. Ben ordered a small pizza and got a large, we all ordered garlic bread and got a loaf. After dinner we said our good-byes and headed to our respective hotels. We were bunking up with Brian and Kelly in Delafield. It was just a Holiday Inn but it felt much nicer – the staff was friendly, the building was nice, and the beds were comfy. While the girls readied things for the morning, Brian and I just lounged around laughing at the fact that the roles would be reversed in exactly one week when we would be preparing for Javelina while the girls took it easy – what fun! We called it a night pretty early.
Saturday morning started at 4AM and we were on the road by 5AM. It was misting but not raining and breezy but not windy – better than forecasted. It took us about 25 minutes to get to the start of the race at Ottawa Lake. When we pulled in, it was still pitch black with little spots of light where they had set up temporary lighting. We got Paige’s bag checked and located some of the other CHUGs. They had propane heaters set up and people were gathering near them to help fight off the chill of the morning. It was exciting to be there and I had the itch to race. We met up with Ben and Sarah – this would be her first 50 miler (she totally rocked it) and his first 50 miler after recovering from a broken toe (he rocked it too). One of Ben’s co-workers, Michael, was there to run his first 50 miler as well and his fiance Blair. My plan was to drive from AS to AS to crew for Paige. Blair was there to watch Michael but didn’t feel all that comfortable driving from place to place so she opted to ride along with me. I had some reservations because I didn’t want to be tied down but it worked out great. She got to see Michael at several spots along the course and I great company for the day.
Paige was having a good race and came through the first three aid stations in good form. By mile 20, she mentioned that it was lonely out there. Ed Kelly rolled in just as Paige was heading out, he had started the day feeling less than great and the fever he had in the night was playing out during the race. At mile 20, he decided that it wasn’t worth pushing it and pulled out; Blair and I took him back to his car. Anyone else, I would probably have pushed them to keep going but Ed is an accomplished dude and I trusted his judgement. I dropped Blair off at the 35 mile AS and then headed out to mile 28 to see Paige. I got there in time to see Ben and Sarah come through and Torey and Jim were there. They had driven up to cheer the CHUGs on and were making their rounds trying to see everyone. It had been a while since I’d seen them and it felt good to hang out for a while catching up. There was also a hilarious interaction with Jim and random runner (RR), both whom thought each other looked familiar. I won’t be able to describe it adequately but I was convinced that they did actually know each other and that this was just a hilarious little thing they did when they saw each other:
RR: “You look familiar.”
Jim: “Yeah, so do you.”
RR: “Do you run too?”
Jim: “Yeah, I run.”
RR: “Are you an elite or something?”
RR: “You from the East coast?”
Jim: “Nah, I’m from Chicago.”
It was hilarious. Come to find out, they really didn’t know each other but the interaction was just like a scene out of a movie where in the next scene, they would give each other a one-armed hug and start talking about how long it had been since they’d seen each other.
Somewhere shortly thereafter, I decided that I was going to run the last 15 miles with Paige if I could find someone to drive my truck back to the start. On the first try, Blair said she’d be happy to drive the truck back for me – bam, I was running. I changed clothes and waited for my girl to get there. Soon enough, she came rolling in and took one look at me in my shorts and said, “is this a joke?”. It was no joke. She was so excited to have the company and I was excited to be a part of her day. We got her things from the truck and sent Blair on her way so she could get back and see Michael finish; we headed out on the trail toward the finish. The afternoon had turned absolutely perfect – the morning had been cold and rainy but the sun had made its appearance in the afternoon and I was happy that I’d decided to run. The miles went by quickly and before long, we were within sight of the finish. Several CHUGs were there to greet us – it was a great way to end the run.
After chatting a bit and changing clothes, we were off to Eagle, WI for some dinner with Kelly, Brian, and Tony. We decided on the Coyote Canyon Grille and everyone was happy with their selection. The drive home felt long but was completely worth it once we had showered and were laying in our own bed with an alarm set for 10AM, just in case – a fun weekend to be sure. Congrats to all the CHUGS who ran but especially to Kelly, who ran her first 50K and to Sarah, who ran her first 50 miler!