If you are friends with me on facebook, you’ve already seen most of these pictures and know how our weekend went. If not, allow me to demonstrate just how insanely crazy my husband is.
Justin and I are both runners. We love running and have been doing races together ever since I moved to Birmingham to be closer to him. However, about 3 years ago, Justin decided to try a different side of running. Trail running. Ever since he entered into this trail running world, he has never looked back and despises running on a street or sidewalk. Over the 3 year period, he has begun running more and more trail runs and increasing the length of his runs. He has done numerous 50k trail runs and has even done a handful of 40 and 50 milers. He discovered the Pinhoti 100 a couple of years ago, but decided to actually sign up for it this year. For a little over a year, he’s been training for the 100 mile race that went from Heflin, AL all the way to Sylacauga, AL through a series of trails, mainly the Pinhoti trail.
He trained for a year and the big race was last weekend. Let me give you a little background on how the race worked. It started at 6am Saturday morning and the cutoff time was 30 hours which was 11am Sunday morning (keep in mind that time changed during the night while the race was going on). Throughout the 100 miles there were 18 aid stations set up. At these aid stations, runners were provided refills of water, food, sport drinks, etc. Most runners would change socks or shoes or shirts or something like that. Runners had “crews” that followed them from aid station to aid station having everything ready for them so that their pit stop was of minimal time. Think of the pit stop for car races. Racecar drivers pull into their pit and their crew works as fast as possible to get everything needed for the car to go further. This is what these runners crews were in charge of. From mile 1-55, I was Justin's crew. I met him at every aid station and had everything ready for him that he would need. These aid stations were usually about 5 miles apart, so for me, it consisted of a lot of waiting for him to reach an aid station when he only stayed at the station for 30 seconds-2 minutes. Then I drove to the next aid station and waited for him to get there again. This is what I did from 4am to 8pm for him while he was running.
Starting at mile 40, runners were allowed “pacers”. What this means is that each runner was allowed to have a friend run the course with them to keep them going and encourage them. A lot of runners had a crew of 5-6 pacers so that no one pacer had to run for too long. My poor husband only had 2 pacers. I got Justin from mile 1-55, then our friend Rob took over so that I could go to a hotel and go to sleep. Rob ran with Justin from mile 55-68. At mile 68 (which was around 11pm) Justin was alone until he met my brother-in-law at mile 85 (around 4 am). Aeron ran with him from mile 85-100 where I was waiting at the finish line. I was wishing Justin had more pacers, but he seemed to do just fine with just the two. Here’s some pictures of the race:
The two pictures above were actually on Friday. Justin and I drove to each of the aid stations and plugged their locations into a GPS so that I could easily find them again once Justin was running and I was alone. The pictures were at aid station 7, my favorite. It was at Bald Rock at Mt. Cheaha and the leaves were GORGEOUS and so were the views. Cheaha is the highest point in Alabama so obviously the views showed it.
The finish line was at Sylacauga High School which was across the street from a recreation center. This center is where packet pickup for the race was and I wanted Justin to take a picture next to their sign that said “Welcome Pinhoti runners”.
We woke up around 4am and got ready to head to the start line. This picture was taken at 4:30am on the way out of our hotel. The start line was in the middle of NOWHERE! We had to drive down a one lane dirt path in the woods for about 9 miles to get there. I took the below picture on my way out of the woods after dropping Justin off. So scary! I thought for sure either Bigfoot or the Blair Witch was about to come get me!
I went to the hotel and took a shower and checked out while Justin was running. We decided I would meet him at aid station 2 because he didn’t think he would need anything at the first aid station. So after leaving the hotel I went to AS 2 and waited on his arrival. While there, I had my own little accomplishment! I finished the entire Old Testament. Scripture, footnotes, biographies…all of it. I read every word! Only took me 2 1/2 years to do it :)
The below pictures are of the kinds of food that was at most of the aid stations for the runners. You’ll notice it includes a TON of sugar. That’s what they needed for these long distance runs. Sugar and caffeine. Some of the aid stations had hot foods though. Hot dogs, ramen noodles, egg sandwiches, etc.
Below is of Justin as he was getting into AS 2 which was a little over 13 miles into the race (he’s the one in red):
He stopped for maybe 30 seconds at that aid station. The next one was 5 miles down the road at mile 18. So I packed up all the stuff I had into the car and drove to AS 3. I wasn’t expecting Justin to come as soon as he did. He had obviously picked up his pace and I am lucky I saw him in enough time to get my phone ready to take a picture!
He took a little longer of a break at this aid station because he changed his socks (he did this frequently so that his blisters would be minimal). Still, he was only at this aid station for about 3 minutes. I always popped open that chair at each station in case he wanted to sit down for a minute. Most of the time, unless he was changing shoes which required sitting down, he chose not to sit because he was afraid he wouldn’t get back up. I get that…I guess.
No crew was allowed at aid station 4 because of its remote location, so I had to go to AS 5 (mile 28). This was a gorgeous aid station. There was a lake next to it that was surrounded by trees and their beautiful fall leaves. This shows you how many people were at each aid station:
He got into AS 5 around 12:15pm. I was hoping he would eat at this station, but he didn’t. He rarely ate at all. I didn’t go to AS 6 because no crew was allowed there either. This provided me enough time to drive back to town to get lunch and then come back to meet him at AS 7 at Bald Rock.
Again, Justin is in the red shirt. Pretty scary that the trail was on rocks so close to the edge of a dropoff.
He stayed at this aid station a little bit longer than his normal 30 seconds-1 minute too. He changed shoes and decided to finally eat. He ate 1 hot dog and some noodles. At this point in the race, he was an entire hour ahead of where he thought he would be. He was doing excellent! It was 3:15pm at this point…he’d been going for over 9 hours. I don’t see how he does stuff like this! This station was at 41 miles.
AS 8 wasn’t too far away from 7. It was at 46 miles. He changed his shirt at the last aid station because his college team, Auburn, had a game that night and he wanted to be wearing his shirt (Auburn beat Arkansas that night).
AS 9 was another one I couldn’t go to, so I took that opportunity to go back to town to check into my hotel for the night and drop off my bags. I also ate dinner and met up with our friend Rob who was about to start running with Justin at AS 10.
The above picture was at AS 10 which was mile 55. This is where I said goodbye to Justin so that I could go back to my hotel and
sleep worry non-stop. I slept very very little. I was up every hour texting either Rob or Aeron (who was going to meet him at mile 85) or checking the live website that was showing when runners got into certain aid stations. The website wasn’t updating very quickly though. I remember waking up and seeing that he was at mile 76 around 1:20am, but I didn’t see anything after that. I kept my phone on through the night in case Justin needed me.
I woke up at 5am and took a shower. Justin called me FINALLY and said he was at mile 91. I started freaking out telling him to slow down because I still had to drive from Talladega to the finish line in Sylacauga. He assured me I had plenty of time. The entire race, Justin was completely fine. He looked great, was talking well and never seemed to hit “the wall” that runners hit when they just can’t go any further and need help. I could tell he had hit the wall when I talked to him that morning. He was freezing and exhausted and could barely talk. I did my best to encourage him and told him that I loved him and would see him at 100. I got off the phone and quickly got ready and left the hotel to head to the finish line.
Justin expected to finish at 9am, but ended up finishing at 8:25am. It took him 27 hours and 25 minutes to run 100.6 miles. I can’t begin to explain how proud I was to see him cross that line. I cried so hard. I’m tearing up right now thinking about it.
Love love LOVE this man. I don’t know anyone else that has the courage and dedication to run 100 miles. He is such an inspiration to me.
Proud finisher! He could barely move after he finished, which is completely understandable. He sat in the chair I brought for an hour or so. I left him so that I could take Aeron back to his car at mile 85. When I came back, he had managed to get up out of the chair, but as he says “I walked over to the grass in the field, but then I fell and was never able to get back up”. When I got back, I found him laying the grass.
Eventually he began to try to get up so he got on all fours (above right picture), but then he got stuck here too and couldn’t move. This was hilarious!
He had planned to take a shower at the rec center before heading home, but he wasn’t able to do it so we got in the car to drive back to Birmingham. He couldn’t bend his knees, so this is how he had to ride in the car:
He knew he needed a shower, so we had to do our best to make his shower as comfortable as possible. Hence:
He took a good 45 minutes shower just sitting there. He finally got out of the shower and I helped him get to the bed where he pretty much stayed until this morning. His feet look HORRIBLE. Blisters covering every inch of both feet. Shockingly, he seems ok this morning. He was able to bend his knees finally and he started walking around the house a little before 8am this morning. He definitely has a limp, but he is able to walk and he says he feels much better. I’m very thankful for that!
What blew both Justin and myself away was the support that came from facebook. We have a small group of family and friends that wanted me to keep them up to date with Justin’s progress and I didn’t always have time to call everyone that was interested, so I just put his progress on facebook. Those updates and pictures got a ridiculous amount of likes and comments. Everyone on my friends list was now following Justin’s race via my page. We both ended up getting a ton of friend requests of friends of friends that wanted to see the updates. People were commenting that they were enjoying following along with him…people that I barely know. The pictures and status’ I put up ended up getting hundreds of likes and comments and we were just in awe that anyone cared that much! I took advantage of it though…when I came back to the hotel Friday night, I put up a status asking everyone to either write on Justin’s wall, send him a message or text giving him encouragement for the part of the run that was in the middle of the night. Justin ended up turning his phone on during the stretch of run that he had to do by himself between midnight to 4am and his phone blew up with texts, voicemails, facebook posts, etc of everyone encouraging him. He said that helped him a lot! So if you were one of the ones that did that, THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart. You played a part in helping him finish this race!
So congratulations to my amazing husband who ran 100 miles this weekend. Kinda makes any run I do from here on out inconsequential!