Shortly after I DNF’d at the Germantown 50k in September, I started planning for a second attempt. My original thought was to find an easy, flat 50k sometime in 2022. I thought it would give me more time to train and help ensure a finish … but my wife immediately talked me out of it. Her thought was I needed to finish one as soon as possible. I had the training in and she knows me well enough to know the DNF would haunt me until I got it out of my system. So I began weighing my options for 50k …. and settled on the Fuzzy Fandango in the Mohican State Park near Perrysville, Ohio.
When I selected the Fuzzy Fandango, my nativity suggested it should be relatively flat. I’ve lived in Ohio my who life and know that the farther north you go, the flatter it is. Perrysville is about 2 hours north of where I live, but in this case, I couldn’t have been more wrong. The hills and climbs were pretty extreme for me. At nearly a vertical mile of climbing, it far surpassed the Germantown run I DNF’s at. The advantage, however, was that it was only two loops as opposed to the four loops at the Germantown. That meant I only had one real opportunity to drop at the midpoint. If I could pass that point without dropping, I had pretty good odds of completing the run. Stef went with me to fill my bottles and give me support at the end of the first loop … she also encouraged me to keep going at that point – and it worked.
Somewhere around 6 to 7 miles into the run, my left knee started hurting. I’m not sure what I did to it, but I was having some issues bending it, but it was manageable. So when I reached the midway point at 15 miles, I had that in the back of my mind, but with Stef’s encouragement, I was able to muscle through. The second 15 mile loop involved a lot of walking, some hamstring pain, and lots of prayer. I told God at one point that I didn’t know how He was going to get me through the second loop, but He pulled me through … and up all the climbs.
At 19 miles or so, I was seriously contemplating giving up. Thankfully, two runners caught up with me at that point and kept me company for several miles. It is amazing how much that helped take my mind off of the pain in my knee and my frozen fingers!
What I will remember most about Fuzzy Fandango is the kindness of the people who directed it. At 29 miles or so, runners had to ascend steps up the side of a dam. My hamstrings were basically shredded at this point and every stair step hurt. The race director, however, showed up at the top of the steps to check on me and give me encouragement. Meanwhile, one of the other directors, along with some runners, were keeping Stef company at the finish line and easing her concern for me. They gave her updates as to my progress and let her know I was still moving. When I finally hit the finish line, there were several people there to celebrate with me. The volunteers even managed to save me some chili to eat at the end of the run. I doubt I will ever enjoy a better finish line experience – even though I came in dead last.
I’m so glad I took a chance and signed up for this run. Next year, I think I will take another stab at Germantown and will surely revisit the Fuzzy Fandango for at least the 25k …. I can’t wait!