I left at 6 AM and once again listen to for hours of podcasts from my iPod. However, this year I drove south with the aid of Bruce, the Garmen GPS that Josh and I bought ourselves for Christmas. last year I got a little lost and needed to call Josh to get assistance through Google maps so that I could find my way.
Bruce has been one of the best purchases I've ever been involved with. It made the drive very stress-free and really enjoyable. I rarely get or make the time to listen to podcasts, so four hours of Grammar Girl, the Get It Done Guy, and Modern Manners Guy was like a four-hour slice of heaven.
A week before the race I was a bit concerned that the weather was going to be as bad as it was last year. I wasn't looking forward to another day of running and standing around in cold, rain, and generally miserable conditions. I was quite happy that the forecast changed: when I arrived it was sunny and in the 50s. While there had been some serious rain at the beginning of the 150-mile race, the sun had dried up most of the mud, so that, for the most part, the run was on solid ground.
Last year I also made a promise to Ryan and that I would run with him anytime he ran 120 miles first. I made even better on that promise, as I ran with him after he ran only 110 miles. I ran the first half of the eleventh 10-mile lap. The terrain was just as I remembered it, complete with the creek and river crossings. At the halfway point, someone took my place and I took the truck back to the starting point.
Ryan's wife, Christina, their boys, and Christina's mother came during the afternoon, bringing hot chocolate with them. This was a big boost for Ryan -- he really enjoyed seeing them.
Later in the afternoon I ran the last half of the 14th lap. Randy ran in front, and I ran behind Ryan, being the voice and is ear. After the first couple of laps, Ryan always had someone running with him, to help motivate and keep him focused. We got back to the starting point not a moment too soon, as it was getting pretty dark by that time.
Dema ran the last lap with Ryan and, understandably, it was the slowest lap of the race for him. Even with this, however, Ryan set a record of having no lap of the race being more than 2 hours 45 minutes.
Christina arrived a while before the race ended, and Ryan finished his race in great style: through the dark we could see five bobbing lights heading toward the finish line -- four of the guys finish the race with him. Andy, the organizer, announced Ryan's finish and there was much applause and encouragement.
We took a few pictures, then I said my goodbyes and took off after 11 PM. Luckily, I had taken a short nap during the last half of the last lap, so I was awake enough for the ride home. And, while Bruce did an equally fantastic job on the ride down, I was a little tired and a bit absorbed with the New York Times fiction stories on my iPod, so that I missed the turn to 39 N. and instead headed toward Chicago. While I was frustrated with my mistake, I was very happy to have Bruce guiding my way. While he took me somewhere where I've never been before, and attempted to get me to do a U-turn where there was a median, he eventually got me back on the right road, adding only 15 minutes my trip. I was impressed.
I got home at about quarter after 3 AM on Sunday morning. My bed felt wonderful, and in the morning I discovered that even after not enough sleep my body felt okay, especially my left knee, which had hurt the most after running. I've been quite happy that I wasn't in as rough shape as I was last year. I hadn't been planning on running the Madison have marathon this year, but if my knee gets back to normal quickly I just may reconsider.
Ryan won the 150-mile race by more than six hours. Not only that, if he had stopped at 100 miles, he would have won that race by two hours. Big congratulations to Ryan!