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Rocky Raccoon
February 1-2, 2003
By Bill Nictakis

Thanks to the great support from all of the NTTR members, I was able to stagger to the finish. A BIG THANKS to Joyce Prusaitis who kept me company for that last 6 hour stroll through Huntsville State Park.  If not for her, I would still be on that ugly"out n back"!  And our man Tom made sure I did not linger in the tent...and forced some of those energy drinks on me. It is incredible the stuff that you will eat during one of these adventures, isn;t it? And as usual, Scott and Kelly did more than expected with their grave yard shift at aid station 2/3....the notorious out and back! Letha, Antje, Mark, etc.......thanks for helping keep the morale up.  It is nice to hear that you look good at the end of 60 or 80 miles....even when you know it is a blatant lie, it at least gets you moving out of that tent!

This was a TOUGH race for me.  It is always a lousy feeling when you are 5 miles into a race and you are already noticing aches and pains.  You know it is going to be one of those days (and nights), so just keep moving forward and go loop to loop, station to station.  Bummed out though, because I had felt pretty good at Bandera a few week's earlier, and had put in some decent miles (for me) in the past 8 weeks or so.  First loop was o.k. , although my ankle was really sore... no reason, I did not sprain it or anything, but it was stiff and tight. I saw a blur a couple of times in loop 1 as Monica was cruising fast....against all advise...but she seemed really strong as she passed me on the out n backs. So much for Crull's advise about a 4:30 first loop! I was plodding...walking liberally up anything that seemed like an incline. I ran the last 5 miles or so with Paul, but figured pretty quickly that this was going to be a bad idea for me if I wanted to finish, and let him go early in loop 2. .

Second loop was more of the same.  Did not feel great.. ankle was sore, hamstrings tight, back stiff.....a great day! But I was cruising in decent shape and then WHAM!  Forgot to lift my feet and took a hard fall.  This was a great dive..I went flying and am sure I would have scored a 5.9 from the diving judges. The good news is that my ankle was no longer my big issue, but the bad news was that my fall was broken by my ribs hitting a root, and it hurt to breathe. But hey, the point is not to go fast, but to just go, so you don;t really need to breathe deeply. Finished loop 2, in decent time, 20 minutes slower than the first loop, but o.k. Got to the tent, Crull smeared some gunk on my ribs (now I know why the flies were following me!), had one of his energy drinks, and hit the trails for loop 3.

This was one of those when you think you are going pretty good, but aren't.  I swear my pace was the same....a slow trot for most of that loop...but that out and back most have stolen minutes..about 20.  Because this loop was 20 minutes slower than the second, which means 40 minutes slower than loop 1.  But o.k. I hoped I could maintain that trend.....4 hours loop 1, 4:20 loop 2, 4:40 loop 3....let's see....what will I do for loop 4?? I wish!

Started loop 4 o.k.  Slow trotting to aid station #2.  But there it was!!  That out n back killed me.  There must be a Bermuda Triangle or time warp in those woods, because I was in there forever.  I walked out of there, and unfortunately walked the rest of that loop. Ouch!  So much for my thinking of "adding 20 minutes to each loop". Try an hour and 20 minutes!!

Now for the last lap.  No donuts and coffee to tempt me to drop after 80 miles, as I had done a couple of years earlier. Tom fed me an energy drink, and volunteered to pace me, after just finishing a loop with Monica.  But Joyce and Joe won the honors.....Joe with Monica, and Joyce pushing me. We started off o.k. Maintained a trot for the first aid station, and into aid station #2 to say hi to Scott. (I think I was trotting, but I think Joyce was walking comfortably and having no issue keeping up with me). The last time through that lousy out n back...I hate that section....trying to power walk and pretending to trot when Joyce would ask "want to roll down this hill?" I felt sort of bad for Joyce. There she was drinking wine by the tent, nice and warm, and I stagger in and she gets volunteered to help pace. Now here she is in the woods.....walking. I wanted to run, but the legs/ankle/rib just were not in the mood. But I think we were walking pretty fast....at least that was what I was telling myself.

Anyway, we keep walking....I keep trying to trot, but even though I am dog tired, I know that my trot is really only a slow walking pace at best. We finally get to aid station #4...only 2.7 miles to go....thank God!.  Joyce pushes the power walking...."ready to try and roll down this hill?" "I'm ready to, but my legs are not."  We get to the last mile......smell the barn, and the legs finally do a decent imitation of a trot and we slowly trot on in.  Just under 25 1/2 hours...a couple hours slower than last year....but I finished...I conquered those demons, and that is what is really important!!

Thanks to everyone that helped.  We have all been there, but it really makes a big difference to have that emotional support!!

And, as Paul Harvey says, "Now for the rest of the story"

Finish the race, chill in the tent for a bit, and then limp to the car to head to the hotel for a shower and nap before heading back to Dallas. It is always fun to get out of the car after running an ultra and then sitting in a car for 3 hours, isnít it?  Had to use a can opener to get out of the thing, but managed to make it back. But my ankle was really sore and swollen, and my ribs hurt big time from that nasty fall.  A couple of Coors Lights, aspirin, and an early bed.

This morning was a bummer. My right ankle/foot was literally double the normal size, it hurt to raise my arms over my head or to cough.......a mess.  Had to get down the stairs on my butt.  Just got back from the doctor and am now the proud owner of a boot, and when the swelling goes down, a soft cast for a couple of weeks. Looks like the trail bit me pretty good, and have what seems to be a jammed joint, and probable ligament problems.  And, that root seems to have taken a crack at my rib (literally). So it looks like I will be doing the aid stations during the next couple of races, rather than running.  Heck, it is time for me to help everyone else the way people have helped me.

So Deborah, you asked what happened to me......now you know!!

See everyone on the trails!

Bill

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