Cedar Island 40 Mile, Morehead City, North Carolina 1,1

Elevation: ~ Sea Level +     RESULTS
April 12, 2014 - When the opportunity clock sounded at 0345 I was lying awake in
my hotel debating as to whether to even start this race.  My whole body seemed to
ache from oral surgery I had had ten days before, and I had hardly slept with a
low grade fever.  To avoid jarring my jaw I hadn't been able to run much and wasn't
sure I would even be able to get very far.  So I rolled out of bed, followed my usual
pre-event ritual, and ignored a seemingly endless array of excuses.

I was looking forward to coming here.  Cedar Island was not one of my big target
events; it is flat and run on pavement, neither of which I spend much time 
dreaming about.  I have a history here, one that I had not revisited in forty years.
Emerald Isle and Morehead City were old haunts that I used to chase around in
my Firebird and bike.  Croatan National Forest was the scene of my first backpacking
experiences.  And Atlantic Beach is where I drowned in 1973.  At the time, I 
believed that I survived, but some people think I didn't.  What do you think??? 

Conditions were perfect for the 0500 start from the Train Depot in downtown
Morehead City.  A small group of about forty runners, their families, and support
and event personnel gathered in the parking lot under clear skies, 63 degrees,
and very little breeze.  Many people knew each other and the spirit was light.
When the time was right, after a quiet but moving anthem, we were started on
the sidewalk under very little pressure or expectation.  This is perhaps the most
enjoyable type of organized event for me - SMALL, with a feel of family, very much
a grassroots type of ordeal.  I was glad to be there.

I waited until last at the start to follow the others north on the sidewalk that
would lead through town.  Moving over into the street at the first opportunity I let
my legs find their own rhythm and proceded comfortably through the sleeping town,
getting an initial read on jaw pain, breathing, fatigue, etc.  All systems seemed
nominal.  I was good to go.

At this stage of the game, my sweet spot is at about 6 miles per hour or ten 
minute miles.  It didn't take me long to relax into that tempo as the route wound
out of town to the first aid station at 9 miles at an hour and a half, spot on.
Everything was good and I had plenty to distract me from any discomfort.

Running in the early morning hours is perhaps my favorite time of day.  Despite a
fair amount of early morning oncoming commuting traffic there were plenty of sights
and sounds and smells to entertain.  While you couldn't see them, you could smell
spring flowers - wisteria, even buttercups.  Song birds were singing, pushing back the
quiet along with a few crickets.  Temps were fairly consistent, with a few pockets of
colder air; for awhile I could see my breath.  Overall, it was refreshing, even exhilarating.

By 0645 the emerging sun lit up the horizon ahead of us.  The temporary plank
bridge at mile 12.5 was entirely lit up when I crossed at around 7 a.m.  Once there
was daylight there was a lot to look at, with homes and small businesses lining
much of the way, occasionally yielding to the natural brackish swamps that 
characterize these marshy barrier islands.

Despite a nature stop and slowing for conversation occasionally I maintained a
ten minute pace without strain through 27 miles, which I passed in 270 minutes.
On a good day I felt I could carry this through to the finish, but I felt tired, so
deliberately walked immediately after mile 27 and intermittently throughout
the balance of the event.  By 0930 temps were beginning to climb in full sunshine.
My feet are no longer the feet of a road runner, so the effect of the constant 
pounding was becoming evident.  My legs are a trail runner's legs.  While the
relatively unvaried tempo felt comfortable, it was not what I prepare for.  So,
without hesitation I backed off the constant moving tempo and decided to 
experiment the rest of the way.

On a good day I could conceivably carry through a flat course like this in something 
over seven hours.  My finish of 7:51:35 would indicate I gave away 45 minutes or 
so to walking.  The extra time saved my legs and feet from the abuse one
experiences in the closing stages of an all-out effort.  At this stage of the game,
with so many key events approaching, holding back was a prudent measure.

So what did I learn from the experience?  Most every runner experiences some
degree of gastro-intestinal distress when temps rise.  For me, fluids don't leave
the stomach as efficiently to reach the muscles.  The stomach fills as the rest
of the body becomes dehydrated.  Walking for brief times between runs enabled
my stomach to relax and let fluids pass, preventing cramping and keeping all
systems cooler.  It is a strategy I will employ henceforth in tougher, even hotter
events.  A good lesson learned.

The only nutrients I took in aside from water and Gatorade was about 1300 kcals of
caffe latte Perpetuem, all of which I consumed in the first 27 miles.  Thereafter, I
took in no kcals in any form.  The run/walk routine enabled my fat metabolism to
keep pace with my energy needs, apparently. While I had a pocket full of 
gels, I seemed to have enough energy to continue my ten minute tempo between
periodically walking.  Thus, another useful lesson that I can apply in upcoming
events... I don't need to eat as much as perhaps I have been in the later stages
of a race, totally relying upon my own fat metabolism to provide for me once I
reach that point of balance achieved with the walking.  All very interesting.

The later miles crossed large expanses of brackish marsh.  The long vistas were
very much reminiscent of running in Death Valley, even to the point of the illusion
of miraged aid stations!  I would pick a telephone pole or bush along the road as
my objective, then run to it before walking again, each time keeping close to a
ten minute tempo.  While the heat was becoming increasingly pervasive, it didn't
bother me as long as I stayed hydrated.  The frequent walking breaks enabled my feet
to remain comfortable, even cool, despite the rising temperature of the pavement.

The last 3.5-mile segment to the finish at the Cedar Island ferry was actually over
four miles, so it messed with my head a bit as I was anxious to finish.  Knowing
I was under eight hours I walked more than I needed to, giving up one place
in the rankings, but not worried about it.  As it was I crossed in seventh place,
sat down for some pleasant society in the shade, while watching the balance of the
field trickle in one at a time.

After catching a ride back to the start with some new friends I was feeling good,
with a lot left in the tank, and not very sore.  It was a good day, afterall.  The
endorphins held off any jaw pain until later and I finally got caught up with some
sleep, ready to go do it again.  RD Amy Albritton with the help of Brandon Wilson
made the day a success, regardless of outcomes.  My hat is off to both they and
their families and the volunteers that made all this possible.  I came away with a
smile, and would certainly enjoy the company of these good folks sometime again.