Race Reviews

The North Face Challenge Marathon

Brian L. Stephanie M. Brodie W. and Me

So about two months ago I was messaging back and forth with Stephanie M. on dailymile.  We were thinking it would be fun to run a race together, Stephanie mentioned The North Face Challenge in DC.  I wrote her back and let her know that I was registered.  She said I was nuts and she registered too.  We were kinda nuts we only had about six weeks to get ready for a trail marathon.  If you know anything about road running vs trail running, you know trail running is harder.  I emailed Brodie and roped him into the madness too.  We are running enablers, its a good thing.

June 5th came fast and the next thing I know I am waking up at 5 a.m. getting my gear together and rushing out the door to go pick up Brodie.  I left something in the house so I ran back to the house, as I was running I stepped on the hose and slightly turned my left ankle (FORESHADOW ALERT).  I hopped back in the car and picked up Brodie stopped at Starbucks and got my pre-run ritual meal: tall coffee, slice of banana walnut bread, and a black cherry yogurt.  Brodie knew some back roads and we were to the shuttle bus before we knew it.  We met Linda on the bus and she hung out with us until the start of the race.

Stephanie pickin' up packets

Stephanie picked up my packet for me the night before so I was eagerly awaiting her arrival.  From a distance I saw her orange dailymile t-shirt.  We had a Hallmark moment as we opened arm hugged.  It was the first time we met, but just like when I met Steve S. and Andy O. it was like we already knew each other and were old friends.  It was hot out there and I was already sweating.  Another dailymiler Brian L. showed up too. Now we were all together, Brodie, Stephanie, Linda, Brian, and me all just waiting for the start of the race.  It came fast enough.

All five of us started the run together and the terrain was deceptively easy for the first couple of miles.  I came to run with Stephanie so I made sure I didn’t lose her in the crowd.  The trail got harder and hotter.  I was dripping with sweat, I couldn’t be any wetter.  Stephanie was wearing a little green sparkle skirt that made a lot of people smile and comment.  For most of the first 13.1 miles I kept hearing “I love your skirt” when I wasn’t hearing that I was hearing Stephanie cheering on other runners.  I found out that she was a cheerleader in high school and college.

Spotting Mark at the 1/2 way

Stephanie had planned on only running 13.1 miles of the event.  When we made it close to the half way point we spotted Jason P. from dailymile and then Stephanie’s husband Mark.  We said a quick hello and made it to the aid station where we filled up on water and nutrition.  Did I mention it was super hot and humid.  I went through 64 oz. of water in 13.1 miles.  We saw Greg S. from dailymile at the aid station, he was pacing a friend doing the 50 miles.  I said my goodbyes to Stephanie and got back on the trails.

I felt good at this point and started to pick up the pace.  It was fun I was passing a lot of people.  I knew I still had a long way to go so I tried to keep myself from getting carried away.  By the time I started to really feel the distance I was pretty over heated.  Having the Camelbak with 64 oz. of water turned out to be a life saver as I gulped enduralytes, Stinger gels, Clif Bloks and loads of water.  It was seven miles between the aid stations and in 90º weather and 90% humidity that would have been a long wait for water.

I started getting really fatigued around mile 17, maybe that is why on a steep downhill I wasn’t careful.  Next thing I knew my head hit the ground and I did a summersault.  I had turned that same left ankle as I had running back into the house.  I hit hard my upper arm is deeply bruised, my knees have small cuts and my wedding band cut into my hand and was bleeding.  I got up and knew I was screwed, it was tough to walk let alone run.  I was not going to DNF (did not finish) this race.  I started walking and started going to a dark place in my head.  I really started to beat myself up.  I thought I had lost it and was thinking I was weak.  At this point I was about 7-8 miles out, at the pace I was walking (about 18 minute miles) this could be awhile.  People I passed were starting to pass me, this SUCKED!  I needed to start running.  My first couple of tries were on the shorter side.  As I kept going the runs got longer.  I was bargaining with myself, thinking just run to that next uphill or run to the next spot of shade.  Every time I had to stop running I would start to beat myself up again.  I spotted a few other dailymile people on the trails, Brian F. and Matt the “No Meat Athlete” it lifted my spirit.  The last aid station had Coca-Cola it was cold and delicious and I drank a lot of it.  Coca-Cola fueled the last two miles I was done with this race and just bit down and ran as hard as I could.  I knew Brodie, Brian, and Stephanie would be waiting at the finish.  So would beer and ace bandages.  I was right about the beer, no luck on the ace bandage. Stephanie captured my finish on video.

TNF Finish from Thomas Neuberger on Vimeo.

Overall, even with the extreme heat, humidity, busted up ankle I had a great day.  I hung out with my dailymile friends, completed my 9th marathon, pretty good stuff.  Oh yeah did I mention I met Dean Karnazes?

Dean Karnazes & Me

I can’t express how much the site dailymile has improved my running experiences and my life.  If you are not on it you should be what are you waiting for?  Thanks again to Brodie and Stephanie without you it would not have been the same.  See you at the next adventure.  I forgot to mention this was Brodie’s last run before a hernia operation and he actually ran 30 miles.

Results: 27.8 miles 6:22:52 – 67th place overall, in my age group 18th place, out of men 45th Considering I did it with a bum ankle, not to shabby.  I will take it.   -Believe in the Run

Check out these shots of the ankle a day after the race:

Stephanie and Brodie

7 Comments

  1. Loved the race recap Thomas. Sounds like a text book DailyMile meet-up! Take care of that ankle and be proud of your achievement in the tough, tough conditions..

  2. Great review of the race Thomas. I'm telling you, you looked strong when I saw you in the last couple miles. I would have never known your ankle was messed up. Awesome job on finishing. Hope that ankle heals quickly!

  3. Thanks guys, I am learning a lot this year with some tough runs. I think it will all help when I make it to TransRockies in August. This and the HAT were both mental battles, so far I came out on top of both. The journey continues, I will have to dig deeper.

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