|Me and Woody before the start of the Black Warrior 50K|
Next morning, the alarm goes off and Woody and I get ready to go and pack up our stuff. We grab some of the free hotel breakfast (I had some cereal and barely any of it), get the car and hit the road on the way to Brushy Lake National Park near Moulton, Alabama for the Black Warrior 50K. Within an hour, we were there picking up our numbers and going through the typical pre-race rituals.
My stomach was killing me and I was filling weak. I wanted to blame it on the previous night's dinner at Ruby Tuesday's (yeah, there's not much in Cullman, AL), but I knew I had caught something viral and it decided to rear its ugly head this weekend of all weekends.
Woody was looking sharp and he was doing a little sandbagging. "I don't know. I don't really feel fit for this race. I think I might just go out hard and see how it goes." Well, he would do alright in the end.
We headed to the start which was at on a concrete bridge that was where the park road asphalt ended and a gravel road started going up an incline. We were to head up the gravel road on that uphill.
|Phillip Parker near finish of the 1992 Western States 100|
I gave Woody a pat on the back as he headed for the front. Soon we were off and up the hill. Right away, I was feeling a rumbling in my stomach. I tried to ignore it and did a few surges up the hill just to test how I was feeling and it wasn't good. People around me were going through the normal shifting of position since we had more than two miles before hitting the actual single track trail.
I was really looking forward to this race. I'd run 50K's in Alabama before but this was a different part of the state. This park is known for its horse back riding trails with most of it single track and some double track. Past participants have always made mention of the mud and the many small creek crossings. There's rolling hills but no major climbs and not much as far as technical rooty or rocky terrain. I would later learn that the mud was pretty vicious. Woody apparently had one of his shoes sucked right off his foot. He noticed it about three strides later and had to go back and scoop his shoe out. Anyway, it sounded like a fun course that allowed for some speed.
As we neared the trail, I started to shake my head and I knew that if I continued I would be in trouble. Sure, I could pull off on the trail and take care of business, but dehydration was a concern. I toyed with the thought of changing to the 25K. Surely, I could run for a little over two hours and be OK. But somewhere on the third mile after only being on the actual trail for less than 10 minutes, I knew I had to call it a day. DNF. Yes, that's the dreaded "Did Not Finish", but in this case I thought it was "Do Nothing Foolish". I could continue, but this wasn't even challenging in that I'll-stick-it-out-even-if-my-collar-bone-is-broken kind of heroism. I stepped aside and let everyone behind me go by.
|Woody finishing strong!|
The 25K winner came in at a blazing 1:44 finishing time and he looked like he could have run another 25K. Turns out that was what he had initially planned to do, but he had run the Mercedes Marathon the week before and changed his mind after feeling out his legs on the course. Most of the rest of the 25K participants finished before the 50K winner showed at just under four hours. Amazing, I can't imagine running a 50K in less than four hours! Not long afterwards, local Alabama ultra-legend Dwayne Satterfield came in for second. Then third place came in. I had looked down for a moment when I heard, "Here comes another one!" I looked up and it was Woody coming around the bend towards the finish! Holy crap! I almost didn't get my camera up in time to snap a shot. He finished fourth in under 4:30. I was so happy for him. Very cool!
When Woody came in, we got him something to eat and then he cleaned up. He had a nasty blister that had rubbed raw on his achilles from his shoe. He picked up his tech finisher shirt and we said good-bye to a few people and headed out. Good day for Woody, not so hot day for me. Yeah, I DNF'd, but I did nothing foolish.