Cajun Coyote 100M, Ville Platte, Louisiana

Elevation Range: 40'-86'               Elevation Gain: 1236'
December 6, 2014 - If I waited to race until I felt ready I'd probably never race again.  The
true highlight of this running life is my daily jaunts through the woods or on the roads,
breathing in deeply the fresh air and sunshine of each delightful day. With the passing
of time one realizes just how precious each day is and how important it is to make the
right choices on how one spends his time.  My time is the true wealth of my life; unused
days are wealth that can never be recovered.  I could spend that wealth pursuing more
money, notoriety, or a variety of experiences, but I chose to spend it chasing dreams that
make me come alive.  Most of those dreams entail running or climbing in the mountains.
Someday, all too soon, when the body no longer responds to the call of dreams, I hope to
have an abundance of stories to recall to maintain my vibrancy, at least in memory.

The fires of my life have burned brightly, but the fuel is dwindling.  I aim to always be
able to go out the door for a run.  For as long as possible I hope to send in my entry for
challenging and exotic races that test my mettle and perseverence.  As long as I continue
to thrive on the anticipation of toeing the line, I'll chase my dreams on the trails.  So I
threw caution to the wind and cast my entry into this unique hundred miler with a catchy
name.  Running someplace new makes me feel like a kid.  I'd never run in the Louisiana
bayou country before, so was thrilled with the opportunity to run through cedar swamps
and the low country above the broad Mississippi delta, home to alligators, biting snakes,
and all manor of cajun critters.  Being winter I wouldn't have to contend with anything
that bit or stung, just the usual formidable terrain and two-legged competition.


Actually, I really wanted to finish a hundred miler yet this year... and I really wanted the
Coyote buckle.  Prepared as I could be, I headed out at the crack of dawn with a small
friendly field in 64-degree humid conditions.  For December, you can't beat a sixty-degree
start.  The running was easy as the field spread out quickly on the first go-round of the
mostly single-track twenty-mile loop through the swampy woods.  The rooty nature of 
the swamp didn't surprise me, but the inundating hills did.  Up and down and up and
down we curved left and right on the trail covered with fallen leaves.  The nature of
swamp trails dictates the use of many boardwalks, some of them quite long, to keep one's
feet dry.  It was really enjoyable to run here, but sweaty to an extreme.  After one lap
in 3 hours and 45 minutes my tech shirt was soaked.  Aiming for four hours, I was on
schedule for a good day, so took my time changing clothes and putting on a different
pair of trail shoes and dry socks.  Eating a Hammer gel every two miles and potato chips
for sodium, my energy level was good.  All systems go.

This is the first time in my long running history where I really screwed up, big time.  When
I got to my hotel the night before the race and went to get my bags from the trunk, I was
shocked to find I had left home without all my running attire and extra supplies in a drop
bag.  Fortunately, I had thrown four pairs of running shoes in the back seat.  Had it been
one of those nude races, I'd have been fine, but all of a sudden I had to find shorts, socks,
and shirts in the eleventh hour.  Between Goodwill, Target, and Walmart and four hours of
thinking about what I needed and shopping for it, I was set to run in all new stuff.  I even
had to buy a new fuel belt and head lamp.  All my logisitical preparation was sitting
ready, at home on the bed.  With a bit of improvisation I readied myself without missing
a beat.  Lesson learned.

After a fifteen-minute break after twenty miles I headed back out on the trail in the
warming sunshine, sans shirt.  Only in Florida and a couple times in Denver have I ever
been able to run bareback in December.  Very liberating.  It wasn't very long into my
second loop that my all-too-familiar nemesis dizziness revisited me on the trails.  Slowing
to accommodate, even stopping for a bit to find recovery, I quickly became discouraged
at my failing ability to continue.  My friend Mary thinks I have a reaction to some southern
mold at these warm winter events, as that is usually where this happens.  Give me cold
weather and I am fine.  Having been here all too often, I opted to stop at 24 miles rather
than be sick and potentially pass out mid run, as I have done before.  I'm experienced
enough to exercise discretion to avoid disaster.  It always makes for a whiny excuse, but 
it is prudent.

So, once again, I failed to deliver the goods on a hundred.  I made up my mind that, all
things considered, I will make no more hundred-mile attempts in my life.  My well is
far from dry, but there seems not to be enough reserve left to persevere through the
awesome stress of going this distance.  Except for three remaining ultras of 50M, 100K, 
and 68M yet this winter, which I have already paid for, I am resolved to continue chasing
the dream over the more amenable distance of 50K.  I now lean on the explanation that if
I can't get to happy hour afterwards, then the race is too long.  That's settled.  I yield
my place on the starting line to younger and more fleet of feet (and mind) than myself.

Bowing out, I was satisfied with the adventure and headed home. I still had a great day.
There is always the great people that you meet.  I live to fight another day - only no more
eight-rounders; two rounds will be enough for me.  That's my story, the thing that I came
for and the only thing I walk away with, and I'm sticking to it.