That’s right…..100 miles — and no, not on a bike !!!!!!! Orange Park, Fl. 3/1/08
My plane landed in JacksonvilleAirport around 5pm on Friday February 29th. I got my rental car and made my way towards
Park where the race and my hotel were. Made a quick run to Publix to pick up some last minute food for the race and then grabbed some pasta for dinner. To the room and off to bed. Tomorrow is a long day !!
I couldn’t really sleep that well so I was up at 3:30 am pacing back in forth in my room. I began making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the race ( about 7 of them ). Got all my little snack goodies in my camelback backpack ,,, filled it with Gatorade and off to the race site.
Registration took 5 minutes and before you know it we were all lined up at 6am ready to rock and roll.. Now there were 3 different races that day- there was a 50 miler… a 100k ( 62.5 miles )which is what I originally went down there to do….. and then there was the 100 miler.. So here we are, its pitch black and your staring down this tree covered path. Most of the runners had either flash lights in their hands or they had on this flash light head gear – that almost looked like they were coal miners.. I had no light I was basically depending on the light from all the other runners… AND WERE OFF !!!
At about mile 2 or so I met up with this guy Joe form Chicago( he and his wife were doing the 50 mile run ) and we were running at the exact same pace… so we started talking and hit it off pretty well. Next thing you know we’re at mile 10 and we are still talking… So we decided to make sure to push each other and run the first 50 together. Which was a huge benefit for me…because running 50 miles all by yourself can be so so boring and that’s when you start asking your self questions like “ why am I doing this “?
Now somewhere around mile 40 or so, Joe and I kept joking around saying that I might as well just do the 100 today… whats the sense of me doing only 62.5 ???? Just do the other 38 miles and bang out the 100 today !!!! And as I said my plan was only to do the 100k ,,, but then I started really thinking about it… and I really did feel good at mile 40– so I decided when I got in at mile 50, I would make my decision for 62.5 or 100 miles.
We crossed the 50 mile mark around 11hrs and 10 minutes and Joe had completed his first 50 mile run….. and what a great time too. So I kinda took inventory of how I felt and realized today was my day… I GOTTA DO THE 100. So I grabbed Chris, the race director, and told him I’m Frank Cardia and that I was out for the 100k and put me down as a 100 miler. They explained to me that if I didn’t finish the 100 miles they wouldn’t give me a 100k belt buckle award but I would get a DNF ( did not finish ) because I was no longer a 100k runner but a 100 miler.. I said “ I understand” and filled my camelback with Gatorade and peanut butter and jelly and took off back to the run…
Mile 50 to 75 wasn’t actually as bad as I thought it would be.. It was the first time that I didn’t have anyone to talk to while running – but I did have the IPOD and that 25 miles seemed to fly by… I get into the mile 75 aid station at around 10:30pm – I have been running since 6am– that’s a looooooong day. But surprisingly I was still very optimistic about finishing the race within the 24 hrs they give you…
Now mile 75 to 87.5…… that was a bitch !!!!!!! You had to be at 87.5 by 2am or they would take you off the course.. Its about 1:13am and I was near mile 85– and I really started to go into a severe depression.. They had given me flashlight headgear that went dead on me… so here I am in the middle of the night, been running for nearly 20 hrs, my feet are bleeding from my toenails,,,and its pitch black out… My IPOD battery had died as well…I had thrown up 2X – Had Gatorade and peanut butter puke all over me…. NOT A GOOD MOMENT IN MY LIFE… So I had been speaking with friends and family members during the run all day, on my cell phone– I decided to call my buddy Matt.. He was still up and told me keep calling him, so I did… and he really got me through a run couple of minutes, cause I was convinced that I was never gonna make it to the 87.5 aid station by 2am… Got off the phone with Matt and began running again.. got there at 1:45am or so…
Mile 87.5 to 100 ……. I would be sitting here to long typing if I really tried to describe just exactly how brutal that12.5 miles could actually be… Every other runner had a pacer there with them ( basically a friend who will run with you in the early morning hours to keep you positive and motivated ) I had no intentions of running for 24hrs that day, so I did not bring a friend…. I WAS ALL ALONE !!!!…. But having that voice there while your running at 4am really really is a huge help… So I decided to do the next best thing and call my sister and brother in law.. They live in Las Vegas which luckily is 3 hrs behind us…. So I harassed them a bit at like 4am to hear some encouraging words…
I finally crossed the 100 mile mark at 23hrs and 22 minutes…. It was still completely pitch black out….. There was still peoples hanging out at the finish line… they all congratulated me and said they never thought I would finish in the allotted 24hrs… considering how 80% of people don’t complete their first 100 in the 24 hours.. so I was extremely happy and proud that I had finished – they gave me my belt buckle and I just fell to the floor… I literally couldn’t get up to get food or a drink – they had to come over and pretty much help me drink and take my shoes off.. I HAVE NEVER IN MY LIFE FELT THAT TYPE OF PAIN – THAT FELT SO GOOD !!!!
Made my way back to the hotel, it was about 6am… showered, packed my bag….hit Denny’s for a quick breakfast — and then off to the airport and back to NJ.. Looking forward to some real sleep.. That was the longest 24hrs of my life !!!!!!!!!
BUT I LIVE TO RACE ANOTHER DAY !!!!!!!!