As I sat down in the car after the North Face Endurance Challenge 50k last weekend, I pulled my shoes off, not knowing what ugliness I would find.  Surprisingly, everything appeared to be normal.  No black toenails, no blisters, no blood.  What a difference this was from last year when my feet were MANGLED after running this same race.    Ah, what a difference a year makes.

This year, as I toed up to the starting line with my good buddy Dave, I knew I wasn’t as prepared as I should be.   I’d really only been training for about 6 weeks and it really wasn’t enough time to get in shape for a race like this.  Still, I was even less prepared last year and I still managed to drag myself over the finish line.   I knew the last 8-10 miles was going to suck, but I was sure we could tough  it out.  Plus we’d be running in 70-80 degree temps, as opposed to the near 100 degree heat I suffered through last year.  How bad could it really be?
As it turned out, not that bad.  Things played out pretty much as I expected them to.  We ran pretty well for the first 18-20 miles or so, kept pumping fluids and fuel into our bodies, and took care not to push the pace too hard.  Our big mistake, and our only mistake really, was taking too long of a break at mile 19.  We both sat down for about 20 minutes and enjoyed some hot soup delivered courtesy of my lovely fiance.  This, turned out to not work out so well for us.  The soup, which I thought would give me a boost of energy ended up making us feel lethargic and gave me a cramp that lasted over an hour.  And our legs, from sitting too long, just felt completely dead.

But trying as the situation was, it really wasn’t that bad.  While we didn’t finish nearly as fast as we wanted, we still managed to stay hydrated, stay positive, and kept moving forward.   We gritted our teeth through the last 10 miles and tried to avoid moaning and groaning.  When either of us would start complaining, the other would step up and remind us both to push out the negative thoughts and concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other.  Complaining doesn’t get you there any faster.

And so we kept going.  I wish I could say there was a wall we hit, or a breaking point we reached that we had to fight our way through.  I wish I could tell you there was a moment when didn’t feel like we could make it but something happened to inspire us to finish with greatness, but there wasn’t.  No, it was just a few hours of slogging our way through the woods, going from aid station to aid station, creeping ever closer to the finish and the promise of what lay beyond; the beer garden!

And the finish line came soon enough.  We ran across, collected our finisher medals, and made our way toward the ultimate goal and what we determined had really kept us going for the past 2-3 hours; an ice cold glass of beer.  Man, was it good!

So that’s it. No great story of triumphing over insurmountable odds.  No harrowing tale of standing at the end of failure and fighting your way back to victory.  No, on this day it was just two buddies, toughing out miles together, pushing each other toward the finish on a beautiful Saturday afternoon in June.


Happy trails!