Returning to Kiawah became necessary to complete the states this year after I’d signed up for but DNF’d a race called the Jones Gap Trail Run. I arrived and learned it had an 11 hour cutoff not because the race director was so generous but because the course was so technical. Because the previous year had been scratched due to hurricane activity, I had no results to gauge how long to allow for and I assumed a normal trail race time of 5 or 6 hours rather than 11. My late afternoon flight would be missed and to boot I’d fallen and slid my feet between some boulders in the first waterfall about 2 miles in. All signs pointed to “come back, moron.” So I would have to finish in South Carolina again, at Kiawah again. Not ideal but “not ideal” has been the theme for this year’s running.
I managed to arrive in Charleston at 9:30 so decided to book a room. The island was about an hour away and based on my last experience with Kiawah I knew you had a trade off between a cheap place to stay with a long commute, or an expensive place to stay and wake up at the start. Because saving 7 dollars is always more important that 4 hours of sleep, I was up at 3:30 to get myself to what I took to referring to as “the cranberry bog.” An open field that had been flooded by rains overnight where off-island participants parked and took the shuttle. As soon as I hopped out of the huge Dodge Ram that National had given me I was ankle deep in water. Socks are now sopping wet. Fun. Anyway, onto the shuttle bus to the resort to get my bib and shirt.
Before the start I met up with Ed, a Maniac from Austin, Gary, who’s 50th state I was able to attend earlier this year at Wineglass, Charlotte, everyone’s favorite costume runner, and Andy, who was celebrating his 4th round of the states and his birthday on the same day to name just a few.
The course is basically an endless series of loops and swirls all over the cookie cutter golf resort. Here some bike (or properly golf cart) path, there some road, but all of it looks the same. If you’ve seen a quarter mile of it you’ve seen it all. By 6 I was bored and lucky enough to chance into Andrew and Breanna from Texas. We spent until just after the half together chatting about all manner of things before the funky gait I’d adopted to compensate for some longstanding plantar fasciitis combined with wet socks to yield a blister under the ball of my foot so large I thought my sock had rolled under my toes. The result? My already slow pace was slowing due to more compensation. The last half of the race was going to be a even more unfortunate.
By mile 22 I’m juggling text messages from race wife Amy about showering in her place after the race and birthday boy Andy who wants to know what’s taking so long since I’m his ride. I tried to get them hooked up with one another but was unsuccessful so everyone had to wait on me. Joy. Have I ever mentioned how much it sucks to be the guy making everyone wait? Add to it, as usual, I’m a little emotional finishing a long-term goal and in a significant amount of pain and after the 14th “you’re going to finish” I’m ready to snap as a cyclist says “Run harder! That pain you feel is weakness leaving your body.”
I’m ashamed to say I told him to STFU. I get that I’m a mess from having crammed 53 successful BLTs and more than a few unsuccessful ones into a year. I get that this looks an awful lot like I have no idea what I’m doing, probably because in many ways I AM clueless, and I get that they mean well, but I hear it as a backhanded compliment to be told you’re “going to finish” and “Run Harder!” was the last straw. Sorry dude.
At any rate I finished in a bit over 5:10. It was a ramshackle finish for a ramshackle round of the states. Rather than feel any sense of accomplishment for this race or the other 49 I just felt shame and anger at myself. I was an unpleasant friend, swinging between anger and sadness before I finally leveled off. In the midst of everything I got lost trying to find where Amy was staying for a shower. Bridget, who lead the search party to find me, took me to the place on the island Kim, Amy, and she had rented after a very uncommon unsolicited Seth-hug and a bucketful of emotions.
I showered and after an equal dose of location confusion Bridget and Amy found Andy (did I mention the whole island is a maze?) and he was able to shower as well before we headed to the airport to catch our respective flights.
With the benefit of two nurses input about my plantar fasciitis I decided to scratch not only the Mississippi Gulf Coast race the next day as well as the 50k two weeks hence near mom’s place in favor of some rest and a doctor consult. Rest, hmm. Who knows, maybe it’ll be good for me. I’ve promptly planned out the 4th round. Fun Fact: In 1954 former Governor and Super Racist Strom Thurmond became the first US senator elected by write-in vote. He was the only Senator elected by write-in ballot until Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski did the same in 2010.