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Mount Hood 50

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Post  Mark B on Tue Jul 23, 2013 12:14 pm

@Glenn wrote:Wow!  Very impressive.  I was kind of waiting for the shocking twist where Mr. Western States ended up being a hallucination or something.  I guess I'll have to wait for the M. Night Shyamalan movie adaptation.

Hey, Glenn! Thanks. And oops! I guess I forget to mention that Mr. Western States peeled his face on at the end to reveal... What a Face
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Post  BCJ Trailrunner on Wed Jul 24, 2013 5:31 pm

I write this post from the perspective of an aid station worker who saw a small bit of this story unfold first-hand.

I really enjoyed reading your report, Mark.  The MH50 was my first experience working an aid station (I have been a sweeper and worked various other volunteer positions at other races) and it was great being on the other side of things and getting a chance to help the runners as countless volunteers have helped me in my races. 

It meant a lot to me to hear that I was able to have a positive impact on your race as a catalyst to you moving beyond the last aid station.  I could tell that you were at a low point when you came into Red Wolf at mile 44.7 and one of the sweepers, a friend of mine, said that you were dropping.  I've seen runners that are hurt and I've seen runners that are in over their head and shouldn't go further.  You didn't seem to be in either of these categories as it seemed to me you just were suffering from what many of us ultrarunners have suffered from many times...a tired body and mind that just doesn't want to go any further after a long day on the trails.  Now dropping from a race due to injury or lack of ability is disappointing, but it's something you can get over.  Dropping from a race because of a lack of will can haunt you for a long time and really screw with your head once your muscles are no longer sore and you don't remember just how bad you were feeling (it's funny how us ultrarunners will swear off racing long distances after every race and then go sign up for another one shortly thereafter).  When I sat down next to you and asked if you had run a 50 before and you told me that this was your first, I knew that getting 90% of the way there and then not seeing it through to the end wouldn't be easy to get over.  Had you told me that you had a dozen finishes on your resume and this was just another notch in your belt then I probably would have let you drop as you would have had more awareness for how you'd feel in the days following the race.  That not being the case, I was going to make it as difficult as possible to not keep going...even if it meant you were going to hate me Smile

After you begrudgingly hit your watch, stood up, and started down the final stretch of trail (I thought I heard you grumble something that I assumed was directed at me Laughing) I wanted to make sure we got packed up and back down to the finish line to see you come across.  I talked with your wife a bit and she was excited and anxious to see you come in.  It was obvious that she was very proud of what you were doing.  When you did come in the grin you saw on my face was big and genuine because I could see how much the experience meant to you and your family.  Shaking your hand and getting a big hug from your wife made me feel really good about being a bit of a jerk just a few miles earlier.  I was especially glad that you had come around to my way of thinking Wink

I had just been in a similar situation less than two weeks before where my dreams of a silver buckle at Western States were torn away from me when severe cramping in all the muscles of both legs at mile 46 (and giant blisters at mile 78) destroyed any chance I'd had at reaching a goal I had been working very hard toward.  I took a huge hit to my pride when I decided to push almost 20 more hours and finish just ahead of the cutoff...a situation that never never even entered my consciousness during months of intense training.  Not everything always works out as we planned it and all I kept thinking was "24 hours from now, will I wish I had pushed through the pain and crossed the finish line or will I be content with dropping out?  I can suffer through pain for 18, 15, 12, 8, 3 more hours and then it will be over and I'll be proud of what I did, even if it wasn't what I had set out to do."  When I pushed you to keep going, it was with that feeling fresh on my mind.

I am sincerely happy that you can now look back on this experience and be proud of it.  You did an amazing thing, Mark.  Running 50 miles in the mountains is something that very few people have the physical strength to do and even fewer have the mental toughness and will to push through the pain and fatigue to run across the finish line.

Mr. Western States

By the way, the bee thing was hilarious.  We had been swarmed by them for ten hours and hadn't had anything close to a sting.  Then, the last runner comes through and gets one right in the ribs.

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Post  mul21 on Wed Jul 24, 2013 5:37 pm

^^^^^^^^^This is why running is awesome!
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Post  Michele "1L" Keane on Wed Jul 24, 2013 5:40 pm

@mul21 wrote:^^^^^^^^^This is why running is awesome!

 +1  Thanks Mr. Western States.  You too are an inspiration.
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Post  Mark B on Wed Jul 24, 2013 6:03 pm

+1,000,000

I swear I did not expect the post immediately after my "face peeling" wisecrack to be from Mr. Western States himself.

Sometimes, things just work out the way they're supposed to. Again. Smile

Thanks for the great, thoughtful reply, Brian. It was my good fortune that you were there and decided to use a little tough love to help me get my brain back on the right track. Thank you.

I hope your next shot at WS goes better. You've accumulated plenty of karma points, and deserve it.
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Post  Julie on Wed Jul 24, 2013 8:03 pm

Very cool! Glad you were able to connect with Mr WS and share your gratitude. Now I hope your recovery is going OK.
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Post  Mark B on Wed Jul 24, 2013 8:55 pm

@Julie wrote:Very cool! Glad you were able to connect with Mr WS and share your gratitude. Now I hope your recovery is going OK.
Hi, Julie! It took a while to track him down, but it was definitely worth it. 

Recovery is going well. I have some lingering ankle soreness in one leg, but the rest of my body is itching to get out there. I'm getting a LOT of deferred chores taken care of this week. I hope to ease back into running over the next week before I do something really crazy, like clean the windows. Wink
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Post  mountandog on Fri Jul 26, 2013 1:34 pm

Mark,

I 'm speachless.  I'm in awe at your courage.  The report was awesome and I never expected to come accross Mr. Western States in the end of the thread.  A nice capstone.  Congratulations, congratulations and congratulations 1000 times over.  I will keep you in mind during those dark moments in my first 50 this November and use it for inspiration.

MD
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Mount Hood 50 - Page 3 Empty So glad you finished!

Post  nately on Fri Jul 26, 2013 2:41 pm

@Mark B wrote:***
I wasn’t sure what to expect at the aid station. A paramedic checked me out, couldn’t find any sign of a traumatic injury and said I otherwise seemed to be oriented and in pretty decent spirits, considering.
 
I asked the official how close I was to the cutoff for this station. She said the cutoff time was pretty much now, but that they’d let me go but probably pull me at Red Wolf Pass if the sweeper was having to pushing me forward the whole way.
 
When I went to finish fishing supplies out of my drop bag, I heard them talking about me.
 
“It’s almost like he WANTS to be pulled,” the race official said.
 
I pretended I didn’t hear it.
*** 

Mark, I was the paramedic at Warm Springs aid station (really just a volunteer first responder). I am so impressed!

This was my first time volunteering at an ultra. It pained me when my station captain asked me to check you out and let you know you were cutting it close. I was relieved that you were in good spirits and holding it together despite the ankle pain. I was thinking to myself, "You're physically fine, so get out of here before they say times up!"

That is so awesome that you kept going and made it to the finish. I was rooting for you.

I'm running my first marathon in a couple weeks at Forest Park. I'll be thinking of your perseverance when I'm struggling to finish my longest distance so far. Thanks for the inspiration and maybe I'll see you next year at Mt. Hood!

(I'm sure you know that the race organizers are responsible to make sure everyone's safe and to keep in mind the time of volunteers, etc. hence the cut off times and those nagging sweepers. It's the part of the job I hate. I wish I could have been in Mr. Western States' position. Thanks for being so cooperative and willing to accept their decision… but fighting for the finish until then. You're the kind of runner that makes volunteering at these races so rewarding.

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Post  Michele "1L" Keane on Fri Jul 26, 2013 3:53 pm

This thread makes my day every time I read it - so I keep reading it.
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Post  dot520 on Fri Jul 26, 2013 7:42 pm

I'm lovin' all the postscripts to the report with others checking in.  Lovin' it!!
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Post  Mark B on Fri Jul 26, 2013 10:08 pm

@mountandog wrote:Mark,

I 'm speachless.  I'm in awe at your courage.  The report was awesome and I never expected to come accross Mr. Western States in the end of the thread.  A nice capstone.  Congratulations, congratulations and congratulations 1000 times over.  I will keep you in mind during those dark moments in my first 50 this November and use it for inspiration.

MD

Thanks, Michael! If I learned anything out there, it was through experiencing just how amazing race volunteers can be. There is a depth of experience and understanding out there along the trail, and an eagerness to help you overcome the obstacles and reach your goals. Remember them more than me when you're out there breaking through barriers this fall. They'll have your back.
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Post  Mark B on Fri Jul 26, 2013 10:17 pm

@nately wrote:
@Mark B wrote:***
I wasn’t sure what to expect at the aid station. A paramedic checked me out, couldn’t find any sign of a traumatic injury and said I otherwise seemed to be oriented and in pretty decent spirits, considering.
 
I asked the official how close I was to the cutoff for this station. She said the cutoff time was pretty much now, but that they’d let me go but probably pull me at Red Wolf Pass if the sweeper was having to pushing me forward the whole way.
 
When I went to finish fishing supplies out of my drop bag, I heard them talking about me.
 
“It’s almost like he WANTS to be pulled,” the race official said.
 
I pretended I didn’t hear it.
*** 

Mark, I was the paramedic at Warm Springs aid station (really just a volunteer first responder). I am so impressed!

This was my first time volunteering at an ultra. It pained me when my station captain asked me to check you out and let you know you were cutting it close. I was relieved that you were in good spirits and holding it together despite the ankle pain. I was thinking to myself, "You're physically fine, so get out of here before they say times up!"

That is so awesome that you kept going and made it to the finish. I was rooting for you.

I'm running my first marathon in a couple weeks at Forest Park. I'll be thinking of your perseverance when I'm struggling to finish my longest distance so far. Thanks for the inspiration and maybe I'll see you next year at Mt. Hood!

(I'm sure you know that the race organizers are responsible to make sure everyone's safe and to keep in mind the time of volunteers, etc. hence the cut off times and those nagging sweepers. It's the part of the job I hate. I wish I could have been in Mr. Western States' position. Thanks for being so cooperative and willing to accept their decision… but fighting for the finish until then. You're the kind of runner that makes volunteering at these races so rewarding.

Hi, Nate! I'm so glad you posted. By the time I'd made it to Warm Springs, part of me was starting to worry that I was reducing my ankle bones to jagged, crunchy bits. Your exam helped me understand that wasn't the case, which made it possible for me to keep pressing on. So thank you!

Good luck out there in Forest Park. I did most of my long trail runs there as I got ready for Mount Hood. What a gorgeous place to run your first marathon!  I'm sure you're going to have a great time out there.

Thanks again for volunteering. You guys are the best.
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Post  Mark B on Fri Jul 26, 2013 10:19 pm

Michele \"1L" Keane wrote:This thread makes my day every time I read it - so I keep reading it.

Very Happy 

Thanks, Michele! I love how characters in my little story are popping in to offer their perspective. I never expected that.
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Post  Mark B on Fri Jul 26, 2013 10:20 pm

@dot520 wrote:I'm lovin' all the postscripts to the report with others checking in.  Lovin' it!!

I know, right? This report is taking on a life of its own. I like it.
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Post  Chris Coleman on Sat Jul 27, 2013 1:14 pm

This has to Thread of the Year. Wonderfully told story and lots of us inspired to keep going in some future race when we think we can't.
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Post  mountandog on Sat Jul 27, 2013 4:42 pm

@Chris Coleman wrote:This has to Thread of the Year. Wonderfully told story and lots of us inspired to keep going in some future race when we think we can't.

 +1
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Post  RobA on Mon Jul 29, 2013 10:13 am

Well done Mark, an inspiring and incredibly well written race report. Makes me want to do an ultra some day. Good job !!!
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Post  Mark B on Mon Jul 29, 2013 4:33 pm

@Chris Coleman wrote:This has to Thread of the Year. Wonderfully told story and lots of us inspired to keep going in some future race when we think we can't.

Thanks, Chris. It's funny, but I hadn't really thought that my story was particularly inspirational. I just tried to keep it honest.

I'm glad that it's being seen that way by some, though. If it helps somebody down the road, that's even better.

@mountandog wrote:
@Chris Coleman wrote:This has to Thread of the Year. Wonderfully told story and lots of us inspired to keep going in some future race when we think we can't.

 +1

Thanks, Michael.

@RobA wrote:Well done Mark, an inspiring and incredibly well written race report. Makes me want to do an ultra some day. Good job !!!

Thanks, Rob! And I think it's definitely worth of going on your bucket list. It's more possible than it might seem.
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Post  Mark B on Mon Jul 29, 2013 10:48 pm

One more item: A package arrived in the mail today from Charles Moman, my brother-in-arms when it comes to finishing DFL.

It was... this:

Mount Hood 50 - Page 3 99836411

Pretty great, isn't it? It cracks me up every time I look at it.  Smile

Thanks, Charles! You're the best.
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Post  Jim Lentz on Fri Aug 09, 2013 10:36 am

Great job Mark, and I love that trophy Charles sent you!

I had a similar experience to you at a tough 50 K trail race. I had completed 4 of 6 loops and my legs were so tired I could barely lift them. I had decided when I got to the start/finish of that loop I was done. Two things got me going for the last 2 loops. A friend had arrived to run with me and my wife gently pushed me a gave me a Goo with caffeine. I finished the last 2 loops OK and was glad for the little pushes from my wife and friend.

Way to go! When I read your story I really related to it because of what happened to me at that 50 K. I have DNFed a couple of 50 milers and wonder if I had gotten that little push then if I could have made it. Congratulations!
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Post  fostever on Fri Aug 09, 2013 12:34 pm

@Mark B wrote:One more item: A package arrived in the mail today from Charles Moman, my brother-in-arms when it comes to finishing DFL.

It was... this:

Mount Hood 50 - Page 3 99836411

Pretty great, isn't it? It cracks me up every time I look at it.  Smile

Thanks, Charles! You're the best.
 What! Is that a bobble head? If it ain't it should be! Too funny
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Post  Mark B on Fri Aug 09, 2013 1:01 pm

@Jim Lentz wrote:Great job Mark, and I love that trophy Charles sent you!

I had a similar experience to you at a tough 50 K trail race. I had completed 4 of 6 loops and my legs were so tired I could barely lift them. I had decided when I got to the start/finish of that loop I was done. Two things got me going for the last 2 loops. A friend had arrived to run with me and my wife gently pushed me a gave me a Goo with caffeine. I finished the last 2 loops OK and was glad for the little pushes from my wife and friend.

Way to go! When I read your story I really related to it because of what happened to me at that 50 K. I have DNFed a couple of 50 milers and wonder if I had gotten that little push then if I could have made it. Congratulations!
Thanks, Jim! Those little pushes can come in quite handy. I only hope that I can see the opportunity to pay it forward at some point.

@fostever wrote:
@Mark B wrote:One more item: A package arrived in the mail today from Charles Moman, my brother-in-arms when it comes to finishing DFL.

It was... this:

Mount Hood 50 - Page 3 99836411

Pretty great, isn't it? It cracks me up every time I look at it.  Smile

Thanks, Charles! You're the best.
 What! Is that a bobble head? If it ain't it should be! Too funny
Oh yeah, Steven. It's a bobble head. I have it proudly displayed, bobbling, on my mantle. Smile
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