I don't really feel like writing a race report. Not just because I didn't have the race that I wanted to - but because me whining and complaining about my race is not worth it, instead it is rather futile and meaningless when it comes to the fate of my fellow runner.
I finished the race with a grumpy mindset - one that I carried for the final 3 hours after getting lost and finally finding my way back to the trail. I was a grump due to falling short of a time goal (5 1/2 hours) that in hindsight was easily attainable if I hadn't gone off trail - it also would have been in reach if I started out smarter, meaning further towards the front of the field instead of over 100 places deep for the first 8 to 10 miles. I finished the race feeling grumpy and yet not feeling sore or even very fatigued. So much so that I have run each of the days since (no more than 4 miles at a time).
I finished the race and within 2 minutes was thinking about trying to find and sign up for another 50K or even a 50 miler in the next month or 2 (I probably won't). I finished the race and I wanted to get out of Chattanooga and away from the race quickly so as to drive back to Nashville and hang out with my sister and her family. I didn't stick around to pick up an age group award - instead just drove the 2 1/2 hours in stinky, dirty, bloodied running clothes. I just wanted to get the race out of my mind. I did have a good visit with family for the next few days before flying back to Colorado on Monday night.
When I got home I checked my email - first, one with the final results: 5 hours, 35 minutes and change. 35th overall out of 323 finishers. 1st in my age group. I knew these things before I left the race on Saturday. I didn't know about what was in the next email.........
I never did meet Gary Jacks. I shared a trail with him on Saturday in Chattanooga Tennessee. Some time after I had finished my race and already left the area - tragically, Gary did not finish that race. He passed away while still out on the course.
I know now that I will not ever forget this race, and while I doubt I will do that race again, one thing I will do is forever to be grateful to finish a run, and I hope it will be every run - no matter how far, no matter how long, no matter how sore, or tired, or hurt. If I finish every run - I will try to remember Gary Jacks and remember that he didn't get to finish his last run.