Me (melting in the sun): "We're not the fucking Tarahumara Indians you know!" Andy (looks himself up and down): "Yup. Definitely white."
Andy's decision to drop at mile 32 was one of the wisest and most courageous choices he has made in his running career. This was a decision based on knowing himself, knowing the conditions, learning from past mistakes and having the balls to listen to his instincts despite the pressures surrounding him."C'mon, man. You can do it. Sit for a bit and get it together. Keep going." You know what? He did keep going. He was one of the few who went back out there for a second lap. But this was one of those times when respecting the elements and understanding one's limits were vital to self-preservation.
We learned during Rocky Raccoon that it is very easy to underestimate Mother Nature. It is also very easy to allow one's arrogance to override reason and sound judgment; that's how people end up dead. Andy has had some real shitty luck with races this year, starting with Rocky. First time it rained during Rocky in 17years. And not just rain but torrential downpour of 2 1/2 inches in one day. Mud wrestling would have been more appropriate. His recovery in the days and weeks after the race was challenging to say the least. He was not a happy person much less a happy runner.
And now, for whatever reason, fate saw to it to bring him to a crossroads again. With record high temperatures on the Western Slope during Desert Rats (Denver reached a record 92 degrees this week) he was faced with the decision: what do I do? 19 miles to go. What do you do? We both feel that he made the right decision. There is no doubt in our minds and hearts. And that's the thing, too, see... he wasn't having any fun out there. His heart wasn't in it. Why do it if your heart isn't in it and you don't feel that fire inside driving you? This is supposed to be fun! We joked around later that some asshole would probably say, "Fun? This isn't about fun!? You're not supposed to be having any fun."
Andy is one of the hardest working, most focused and determined athletes and individuals that I know. He also sets very high expectations for himself. I knew self-doubt would very quickly creep in and threaten to overwhelm him. But we talked through the decision. It's one of those where it's so easy to let your emotions take over rather than working through it rationally and with a greater perspective of what's really important. I'm really proud of him for using his head and saying, "this isn't working" and deciding to do something about it. I also believe in my heart that his hard work will eventually pay off. He's due.
We still had a friend, Ray, out on the course, so we packed everything up and drove to the next aid station to meet up with him at mile 44. One of those wonderful silver linings emerged: we got to spend the remainder of the afternoon together. This was significant since I was leaving for a week of work travel immediately after the weekend. We relaxed in the shade of the canopy, we talked, we laughed, we watched a few other runners pass through. One of the highlights for me was when one of the runners asked the aid station if they had any soda. Unfortunately, they did not. But it immediately occurred to me that we had leftover soda in our cooler and well, we could probably spare a few. I ran up to the runner at the aid station and asked him, "Mountain Dew or Coca-Cola?" The look on his face was priceless. He downed the coke at once. I gave the aid station a few extra bottles and happily returned to our little nest in the sand to wait for Ray. I've crewed three separate 100 mile races for Andy and I'll tell you what, the runners who came through that aid station at mile 44 had the same beaten down, exhausted, withered look as those slogging through the last 20 miles of a 100. There was no running. There was only walking or hiking as though they were ascending Hope Pass or something. It hurt to watch. All I could think was how grateful I was that Andy wasn't still out there. Smart man. Smart decision.