Monday, April 6, 2009

Kenny Wheeler - Terrapin Race Report

The Miracle Weekend

Kenny Wheeler

This weekend was full of miracles for me. I had been fighting an injury of my lower left leg ever since HL in February. It hurt so bad during and after that race that I took a week off. Then I resumed running, but the leg still hurt. I tried a long training run and it really hurt. I took another week off from running. I road my bike all that week, then I ran 4-5 miles a few times the week of Terrapin Mtn. It still hurt. I really didn’t think I was going to be able to run the race.

In the motel room Friday evening I talked to God and asked him to please let me run on Sat. without much pain. He said don’t worry about it; He would take care of it. I knew at that moment that it was going to be OK.

Saturday morning I woke up and watched the weather report while I was getting ready. I was very happy that it looked like the rain was going to hold off. It was supposed to be 60 degrees and cloudy. I got to the Sedalia Center and waited on my friend Mark. He got there and asked me how my leg felt. I told him what had happened the night before. That it was not going to be an issue.

Mark is lot faster than me, so he said he would stick with me till the first aid station, and then he was going to take off. Just as planed we ran to the first AS. I only slowed down long enough to grab a few pretzels and took off down the hill. I kept looking for Mark. I even stopped and turned around a few times to look for him. I was afraid he had gone the wrong way, or that I had gone the wrong way. Finally he pulled up beside me. I asked him “where have you been? Did you try to eat all the food at the AS?” He just laughed and said he would see me at the finish line.

I ran to the next AS without anybody to talk to. When I left, there was a girl ahead of me. A friend or family member was following her up the hill, they were rubbing icy-hot on her calves. I caught up to her right after that person turned to go back to the AS. I commented on how good the icy-hot smelled. We struck up a conversation and ran together for the next few miles. When we hit the single track I pulled ahead of her.

During the White Oak Loop I was slowly catching up to two girls. Way before I caught them I could here them shouting encouragement to the other runners as they were coming at us. Most runners say encouraging words to each other as they pass, but these girls had so much enthusiasm. Not silly enthusiasm either, it was genuine and sincere. It was very refreshing running with them for a while. I called them my cheerleaders. When we got to a hill I pulled away from them. Because I was a little quicker going up hill and they were a little quicker going down hill, I would see them many more times throughout the rest of the day. Somewhere in that loop the icy-hot girl caught up with the cheerleaders and they pretty much stayed together the rest of the day.

I got to Camping Gap AS for the final time. Since all the runners had been through this AS so many times there wasn’t a very big choice of food left. Well like Horton says “if you want a better selection of food, run faster”. So I grabbed several saltine crackers and started up the hill towards Terrapin Mountain. When you are going up a hill that rugged and steep I would advise you not to try and eat saltine crackers. I believe I sucked more into my lungs than made it to my stomach. That ridge just kept going up and up for what seemed like for ever. I had not seen a soul since leaving the AS. It was so foggy and the trail up there was so narrow and the trees and bushes were so close that it was actually a little spooky. All of a sudden I almost run into a women coming towards me, I am a little startled, I am even more startled when I realize my friend Mark is with her. At this point I am just devastated because I realize there must be a turn around out there somewhere on this horrible ridge and since Mark must be many miles ahead of me it must be a long way to the hole punch that I had heard about. I had only gone a few yards when I see this plastic thing tied to a rock. I punch my bib twice (just in case one set of holes magically disappear) It is funny how your brain works when you are tired. I am really confused. I am trying to figure out what is going on when I suddenly realize that I have caught up to Mark. I take off after them.

The three of us head off the ridge together. The women mentions something about Fat Mans Revenge. Then we come upon this hideous obstacle that completely blocks the trail, so you have no choice but to descend into it. We make it through both of the obstacles. I punch my bib twice (you can never be too careful). Sometime while we are descending the mountain my cheerleaders and icy-hot girl catch up to us. There are six of us running together now. We stay together for a long time. Then Mark says his legs are locking up because of the steep descent and the rocks. I know he is slowing a little, but when we get to the last AS he’s not with us. One of the girls said he was probably quite a ways back because he had started walking.

We grabbed some food and filled our water bottles and headed back up the hill. We had gone about 4/10 of a mile up the hill when we saw Mark. He did not look good. At this point my competitive spirit took over. I thought that I might finally out run Mark. I was filling pretty good, so I figured on pushing as hard as possible to the finish. I was pulling away from the 4 girls, but then I started to worry about Mark. I started praying. “Lord help him to finish”. I was praying hard, but not slowing down. I still thought it would be pretty cool to out run him.

I was coming upon the last creek crossing when I heard someone coming up behind me real fast. I was totally surprised when Mark went by me like I was standing still. As a matter of fact I was so shocked that I lost my footing and fell in the creek. Before the finish my cheerleaders and icy-hot girl passed me too.

Afterwards I asked Mark what happened. He said when he got to the last AS he leaned on the table for support and ate and drank a lot. His legs were just dead. Then he said it felt like something just started happening to his legs and he could fill the life pouring back into them and he just took off. I believe that was when God answered my prayer for Mark.

God loves us very much. So never under estimate the power of prayer.

Thank you Clark for organizing a fantastic race and thanks to all the volunteers.

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