Two years in the making. It took two years to complete the Calico Racing Progressive Slam. Ironically, since starting the effort (for the second time) – Joyce, Calico Racing’s owner, sold a bunch of her races, and changed the Slam criteria. Knowing how important this effort was to me, she honored my Progressive Slam achievement with the hand painted Slam Plaque.
Now that the end has been told, how about a start at the beginning of my ET 51k effort?
We arrived at the Atomic Testing Museum as the crowd of anxious, and nervous runners lined up at each bus. Instructions were given for race distances per bus, and such. As we started to board, everybody started swapping stories, anxiety, hopes, and goals for the night’s run. Starting at midnight seemed to be a daunting feat for a number of the runners. They were worried about how they would hold up with such an out of the ordinary start time.
A little before midnight, the marathoners, and Ultra marathoners departed our buses at the “Black Mailbox”. Congregating, we admired the costumed runners, and stretched our legs before the (at least) 26.2 mile attempt began.
The clock struck 12, and Joyce let us loose!
Running along the Extraterrestrial Highway, I let the full moon illuminate the road before me, as lights just distract me from the run. The first 13.1 miles of the race were up a steady grade of a mountain climb. There were scattered clouds filling the night sky, not so many that the moon light was obstructed.
With a slight wind, the cool night air was refreshing, despite the task ahead of us. Approaching the top of the mountain, I knew I should be about to catch up to the half marathoners, as they started farther up the road, and half hour after us. My wife was almost at the peak as I caught up to her. We chatted for a moment, before I continued on at my pace.
This course is a tricky, and cruel one. We run past the finish line, past the marathon turn-around, and to the 51k turn-around up a second, steady, but smaller hill climb. Between the marathon and ultra turn-arounds, my calves were not happy, locking up, and very painful. Reaching the ultra turn-around, a running friend from the Village Runner Group was working the aid station, and gave me some insight into my placement in the race. Three potato chips were all I ate there, and that amount of sodium was what my legs called for.
Returning down the hill, as the sun began to light up the sky, my legs were back to *normal*. Picking off a few runners, both of the marathon and ultra distances, I tried to steadily pick up the pace. Making my turn onto the final stretch of the course, it felt amazing to finish the race, PR 50k/51k distance, and complete my Progressive Slam, all in one shot.
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