My Palmetto 200 AAR

After being sick for nearly a month, going into my third Palmetto 200, I knew I wasn’t 100%.  I started off rocky and finished strong. Still, I was the weak link on my six-man team and I’m determined to never let that happen again. I can’t say I’m totally disappointed in my performance given how sick I’ve been, but I am pretty sad that I let my team down. 

If you’ve been reading my fitness updates and AARs, you know that this event caps off a few months of intense events.

October: Georgetown Half-Marathon

November: Savannah Rock and Roll Half-Marathon, Summerville Sweet Tea Half-Marathon

December: Kiawah Marathon

January: Charleston Maraton

February: GORUCK Light, GORUCK Heavy

March: Asheville Marathon, Palmetto 200

All that on top of a ton of Push work, opening a brewery and, oh, Elizabeth having Tennyson. It’s been absolute chaos, but I’ve managed to knock out a lot of awesome goals and now I’m taking a break from events to concentrate on training for my next goals (more on that later). I wish I could have capped off my string of events with a badass performance, but that just didn’t happen. I survived, so I’ll take it. 

This is my favorite event of the year. I love being in the van with my teammates, talking trash, pulling each other through dark times and celebrating the good results. This year was no different. My team was truly badass. 

Training: Nothing new here. I continued my normal routine of running three times a week (including one long run on the weekend), lifting, bootcamps and some yoga. My goal has been to always be ready to run a marathon.

My team: Stick Em, Old Flame, Pyle, Johnny 5, Floppy and Jingles (that’s me). Also major props to our badass driver, High Stick.

Palmetto 200: A 205-mile relay race from Columbia, SC to Charleston, SC.  Most teams are 12-man. We were on a six-man ultra marathon team, meaning we ran double the legs and double the miles. Do the math. That’s double badass.

My legs: 2, 6, 14, 20, 26, 32

I was the second of six runners. You’ll probably notice that my legs are off and I had leg six when I should have had leg eight. That’s because I had to ditch my teammates, get picked up and taken to Charleston for a meeting with the CEO of our largest client and then get taken back to the course.

Yes, you read that right. Somehow we pulled it off. That should be a blog all by itself. Remind me.

Leg 2: This was my third P200 and, in three races, this was my hardest leg. It was a 10.51-mile hilly hot mess and one of only a couple listed as very hard. I’ll venture to say that out of 36 legs, this was the hardest. I went out strong but the heat hit me hard by mile two. Then came the hills.  I was hoping for an 8-minute pace but was forced to slow down to 9 minutes because the congestion weighed heavy on my lungs. This leg also screwed me up mentally. Starting off bad never helps.

I cheated. I did. I admit it. I got a ride in a pickup truck for about .05 mile. A large and angry dog came after me. I yelled at it. I ran away from it. I even ran at it. The bastard kept coming. I flagged down a young redneck boy in a rusted pickup truck. He must have thought I was about to shoot him. 

Him: “What’s wrong?” 

Me: “This damn dog is coming after me.”

Him: ”Oh shit. Get in.”

Me: ”Thanks, man. Can you just drive me around that curb?”

Him. ”Yeah. What are you doing out there?”

Me: ”I’m running a relay from Columbia to Charleston.”

Him: ”Damn dude, are you sure you don’t want me to take you further?”

I later learned that Speedo, who was on the other Summerville ultra team and who was about five minutes ahead of me, kicked that dog in the face. Maybe that’s why he was so damn pissed.

Leg 6: Things didn’t get much better on my second leg, a 6.25-miler. Lots of hills. Even hotter temperature. And I got chicked. Chicked! I never get chicked. This chick was straight flying.

(Chicked: to be passed by a female)

I ran at about an 8:45 pace, well below my normal pace for this distance.

Leg 14: My worst leg of the event. You would think the break, the trip to Charleston, a strong lunch, seeing my family and a hot shower would have brought me back strong. It didn’t. If anything, it made it worse.  

I left the transition zone feeling great. I was back to old Jingles; the guy  who can knock out 5.33-milers with a sub-7:30 pace. And I was. Despite the heat, I was flying through Santee. I crossed over I-95 with my legs loose, my lungs finally feeling free and my head up high. Just one problem…

Steven: ”Hey Wesley, are you lost?”

I look over to see Steven Parish, who I knew from my previous church in Columbia, in a van with his teammates.

Me: ”No, I’m great.”

Steven: ”No man, you missed the turn a couple miles back.”

I hopped into the van and they took me back to the turn. My brain went to shit. I started thinking about the heat and my congestion. I started walking. I was feeling sorry for myself for the extra miles and the time I cost my team. Even without the 20ish minutes lost, I ran at a 9:02 pace. Pitiful. Straight-up pitiful.

Leg 20: Things started improving on my fourth leg. It was nearing midnight and the temperature was a little warm, but the sun wasn’t beating down.  It was 9.75 in the pitch black dark running along side the swamps of Santee. I could see about four feet in front of me thanks to my headlamp, but that was about it. Occasionally the blue lights of the police officers keeping the route safe would speed by. I didn’t see another soul the entire leg. I zoned out by listening to Bon Iver’s “Holocene” for nearly ten straight miles. I kept my head down and began feeling like the old Jingles again. I finished with an 8:15 pace.

Leg 26: My fifth leg was awesome. 3.76 miles in the pitch black night around 3:30 am along the rural streets of Huger, SC. I stopped for 10 seconds to take a picture showing we were closing in on Charleston. Aside from that, I ran my butt off and finished with a 7:50 pace.

Leg 32: The sun rose on what seemed like a short night. We were the third team through every checkpoint since we last saw the sun, which means we didn’t see another runner all night. My last run was just 2.95 miles across Sullivan’s Island. Knowing I didn’t have to save anything in the tank, I decided to go out and absolutely crush it. I did, with a pace of 7:32. Pyle wasn’t even ready for the handoff. He was still in the van. It felt good to have my mojo back. 

Nutrition: I ate healthy all night and fueled my body with organic energy goos, chia seeds, protein bars, avocados, one turkey sandwich and two peanut butter-covered bagels. I drank more water than I probably ever have in my life. I also took a good many salt pills, six ibuprofen and six DayQuil tablets.

Sleep: I got somewhere around two hours of sleep total. Sleeping in those vans is near impossible. 

Conclusion: This event is amazing. My teammates were complete badasses. Also a big shoutout to our driver, High Stick. We couldn’t have done it without his tireless help. Not only did he drive us, but he was also one badass pit crew member—always getting us what we needed both while we ran and while we rested. If you do this event on a six- man ultra team, get you a High Stick.

I started off very badly. After five weeks of being sick and stupidly running the Asheville Marathon with the flu, my body was telling me not to do this race. But I was on a six- man team. I had no choice but to show up and be the best teammate I could be. I cost us some time and I was the weak link, but I redeemed myself with a strong second half.

Next year’s goal is to put together a team that finishes in the top three. Write it down.