When a race goes wrong, I like to look at it as an opportunity for lessons to be learned. That being the case, there are a lot of lessons to be learned from the Cool Moon 50 because the train went off the tracks in the first 10 miles. What followed was an ugly struggle to the finish.

The course consists of two loops: one 14 miler, the other, 11 miles.

When the gun went off, I was in the front but truthfully, there were a handful of people in the entire race so this shouldn't come as a shocker.

Within the first few miles, a young bearded (!) fellow went off the front and I never saw him again.

Our group consisted of three or four, I never looked back to see but I did ask if anyone had a beard and they all claimed to be clean shaven. I had to ask, those bearded bastards are fast and I wanted to be sure I wasn't in over my head.

(bearded bastards everywhere...)

All kidding aside, the pace seemed very relaxed, I had plenty of gears and I walked the hills when it seemed like I was driving my heart rate up.

Maybe I still went out too hard? I don't know but our group spread out a little bit and I ran solo for quite some time.

As the miles ticked over, I felt like I was out on a training run. It was lonely and there wasn't an aid station in site. When I looked at map, it seemed like there were aid stations every few miles but on my first loop, I either missed them or they weren't setup yet.

If were counting mistakes, maybe I've made a few already but one of the biggest occurred around mile 9 when I missed my drop bag.

Looking at the map, there were two drop bag locations: at Start/Finish and out on the course at the Knickerbocker Aid Station. I chose the latter and what I expected was an Ironman-style drop bag location where idiot-sized signs with "Drop Bags" would be posted with people directing me to my bag.

(looking for these...)

Reality -- a tent at the side of the road masquerading as an aid station. And not only did I not get my drop bag which I needed, I blew past the aid station.

I had an empty bottle and a half full bottle. I didn't want to dilute my half full bottle and I didn't want to put anything in the empty bottle because I was looking for my drop bag.

I should have stopped and I should have put water in the bottle. Stupid.

My head is really fuzzy about the day and I don't know exactly what I was thinking. I seem to recall questioning whether or not it was an aid station because it was sort of off to the side of the road. I also recall thinking I might pull the plug on the day after getting through the first loop. Regardless, I needed the nutrition in my drop bags and I missed it.

When I wrapped up the first 14 miles, I didn't drop from the race. Instead, I stuffed my pockets full of gels in an attempt to come up with a backup nutrition plan and I began the 11 mile loop before I could talk myself out of it.

This appeared to be the easier of the two loops on paper but with an 8am race start, I began this loop around 10:30am and it was really, really hot. In fact, the entire course had sections where it just seemed hotter due to a lack of air flow or the heat radiating off the ground. The first time through this section seemed like a hotbox. I was really suffering, everything just seemed off and I just couldn't stop fixating on the negative. I knew where those negative thoughts were coming from but I just couldn't seem to get my nutrition back on track.

I barely remember this loop but as I went through the Knickerbocker aid station, STILL not realizing my drop bag was sitting right there, I grabbed more gels and water and I left.

With only two miles remaining in this loop, I considered the consequences of starting the second 14 mile loop. If I committed to another 14, I was in to the end and that would mean a whole lot of suffering. Best to get in and out of Start/Finish as quickly as possible, I thought.

After leaving Start/Finish, I considered whether I'd made the right choice. Suffering is fine but I was a little concerned about hurting myself.

It was obvious I was dehydrated -- dry mouth, lack of urination (I hadn't pee'd since the first hour) and my mental state was completely whacked out but what was troubling was the achiness in my kidneys. I knew that was a problem and I just kept saying in my head, 'don't hurt yourself'.

(after the fact but you can see how much salt I was losing...)

Around mile 29, I hit an aid station and I sat down. I stared at a sign pointing to a side trail leading back to Start/Finish. It was only 1.7 miles and it was really tempting.

As I sat there, a guy from the beginning of the day showed up. He was in a similar state and we just hung out there for a while.

I needed calories and I needed to hydrate. Nothing seemed all too appealing so I started downing Mountain Dew and Ginger Ale. Liquid, sugar, caffeine, how could this possibly go wrong? It seemed to do the trick and after what seemed like an eternity, we set off together in an attempt to help each other along.

Soon after we left, the mile ticked over and the pace was somewhere around a 30 minute mile. We sort of laughed about it and over the next 10ish miles we just struggled from aid station to aid station. We took a lot of long breaks and we clocked a lot of really slow miles.

I kept thinking -- maybe I should just crawl under a tree and hold out for sunset but that was just fantasizing and I wanted to keep moving.

As we entered the Knickerbocker aid station, my running buddy, aware of my drop bag fiasco, asked about the drop bags. The aid workers pointed them out and I got my nutrition. Unfortunately, it was far too late and the damage seemed irreversible.

It was obvious to the aid workers what was going on with me and they encouraged me to eat but nothing seemed appealing. It all just sounded so sugary sweet. Cookies, candy, sugary drinks, nutritional candy bars -- ugh!

I grabbed a few chips, I loaded my powder into my bottles and I sat there. I told my buddy to leave me. I bumped into him a few more times at the aid stations ahead but my pace slowed further and I never saw him again.

The last 11 miles were ok -- not great but better than the previous 14. The temperature was starting to cool a little and I was able to get in some calories. I definitely struggled with belly issues though. Nothing seemed appealing so I started nursing gels a little bit at a time.

It had been almost 9 hours since I last urinated. Absent was the kidney pain but after the Mountain Dew / Ginger Ale party at mile 29, I think I got things out of the danger zone. Somewhere around 42 miles, I stopped to pee and I celebrated the moment.

With 8 miles to go, I knew I could get it done. I broke it down into small chunks. I took it mile by mile, clocking the distance to the remaining aid station at mile 48. Somewhere in there, I bumped into 2nd place female and as we entered the final aid station, I decided to let her go ahead.

Honestly, we were seesawing and I didn't want to be the a-hole running her down at the finish. So I sat back for a few minutes, chatting with the aid workers, in order to give her a big enough head start.

Time was so irrelevant; I wasn't even paying attention until I noticed the sun was starting to set. Then it dawned on me -- I was near 12 hours because we were talking about it early in the day.

Looking down at my watch, I laughed at what I had just done -- 2nd place female would make it under 12 hours and I would not. It was of no concern and I really just wanted to get to the finish before the sun went down because I didn't have any lights.

Just prior to sunset, I popped out into the clearing near the finish, it was in sight and I could hear the cheers for the 2nd place female. I crossed seconds after her and I have no clue as to whether or not I officially made it under 12. Garmin says 11:39:31 which would make it the absolute slowest 50 miles I've ever run. Clearly, I'm doing it wrong. :)

Looking back over this very long race report, so much has been left out but let me leave you with something from the very beginning of the day, during the pre-race talk from the race director.

Blah, blah, blah, it's going to be hot, blah, blah, blah, rattlesnakes, blah, blah, blah, if you see a bear...


So apparently, there's this bear that hangs out in the area. He's used to seeing people and won't bother you but definitely don't bother the bear -- we were told.

Fortunately, I did not see the bear but it might have helped with that urination problem.

(my lucky socks...)

(brand new New Balance trail shoes that don't look so new...)

Thanks for reading...