Thursday, December 31, 2009


As 2009 comes to a close, i think about all that i didn't accomplish from last year. Having fallen ridiculously short of my lofty goals of Buckling at 2 100 milers and setting PRs at others. It's kind of a downer, hell for the last decade I've been just getting by at races, never really setting goals and sticking with them. The old quote of, "the will to race means nothing without the will to train." I think I've lived that quote for long enough. With promises of buying a house and setting out on my own in early February for the first time in my life. I'll "have to face myself" is how it was described to me. And as terrifying as that is, I'm really looking forward to it. 2010 is going to be a make or break year. For too long have i just half-assed things. For too long have i just kinda let my natural athletic ability let me coast through sports. I feel like i was given an amazing gift and I'm just letting it go to waste.

Will i fall on my face? Oh sure, more times then I'm sure I'll be able to document. I want to be the person that can say, "yeah i DNF'd." Or "Yeah, I couldn't keep up." But i don't want it to be because i didn't try, I didn't train, or i didn't push through the lowest of lows to try to come out the other side.

With that being said, this blog will be my way of keeping myself accountable. If you read or follow this stupid thing, and start to see the posts getting to few and far between email me. If you stop seeing my weekly/monthly mileage number slow down or stop, email me and give me a stern talking to. Perhaps there's a good reason, or maybe i just need some words of encouragement to push me in the right direction.

Here's to an AMAZING 2010!

Monday, December 28, 2009

2010 Race Schedule

2010 Race Season

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

I got this from the Shamrock Marathon Newsletter. I'll be returning this year to battle Neptune again, but this was too good to not share with those who weren't on the email.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Twas the night before my Marathon, I was laying in bed,
Hoping at mile 20 my legs would not be dead.
My Brooks shoes were ready, sitting on my dry bag,
In hopes that they would carry me way ahead of the sag.
All my long runs are done; tempo and speed,
Had pasta for dinner to meet my carbo need.

I parked my car, my stomach was a mess,
No lines at the port a potties sure would be best.
The weather was cool not a cloud in sight,
Wind at my back will make my finish alright.

Leprechaun Bob said it is time to go,
Kept repeating to myself go out slow!
First few miles felt like a breeze,
No pain in my feet, shins or my knees

Settled in my pace, saw mile 4, 6 and 8,
when I get to mile 16 I hope I feel this great.
Halfway came and went, all still in tact,
Kept running strong and stayed with the pack.

Had Carb-boom number two to fuel me the way,
All the hard work is proving this could be my day.
Into Fort Story legs are starting to slow,
Dig deep now and pick up the flow.

I pass the lighthouse and beautiful Chesapeake Bay,
Thinking about what my coach would say.
Pass a water stop and open my stride,
Chaffing is minimal thanks to my Body Glide.

Made it to the Boardwalk, King Neptune in site,
Digging deep mentally with all my might.
Cross the finish line I see my friends, family too,
Time to grab a cold Yuengling and Warm Murphy's Irish Stew!

My Legs will be hurting from night until dawn
But I will never forget this day, SHAM ROCK ON!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

2009 Recap w/ Results

If you know me, you are well aware that it has been a rough year. After starting out the year behind schedule, missing the Snowshoe series and my first ultra, i was able to turn things around at the Peak Snowshoe race and go into Massanutten strong. Sadly, when i missed the cut off causing the DNF, the season declined. My training dropped to around 10 miles a week. When Rik and I came in as essentially the sweepers at Peak Ultra i figured my season was over before it had even started. He and I skipped the VT100 race all together for the first time in 14+/- years. August came and my personal life took a turn. I again became Loni's roommate as home life became destroyed. As a distraction, my focus turned to my first sports passion, and i picked hockey back up in a huge fashion after a several year hiatus, playing 3-4 nights a week. I credit playing hockey for the reason i finished my first VT50 10 years ago, and i can't help but credit it again for my finish at Pisgah and VT this September. October came and Leah & I crewed John across the state but i still couldn't find the spark to continue to train. Earlier in the year it appeared that Rik's passion for Ultra's seemed to fade and now it was my turn to feel that way. I picked up the book Born to Run as message boards and familiar racing links all started booming with Barefoot Running hype. I hoped that it would provide me with some motivation to get back into shape as my weight ballooned up to 175lbs (highest it's been in 6 years). Loni's 30 on 30 mile run motivated me to get back into the kick. Finally I'm back up to 15-20 miles a week, with some barefoot running mixed in for good measure. It's been a strange year of highs and lows, but i push on with a smile. As Sherpa would say, "Left, Right, Repeat." Thanks to everyone that shared miles and stories with me throughout the year. I can't wait to run with you again in 2010.

Notables of 2009:

-Trained more then any year before. (no idea on # of miles, i gave up documenting them at some point)

- I did more travel for races then any year prior. (VA - 2 times)

- I turned my lady friend from a "i don't run unless it's from police" to someone who had already planned on running a second race before she'd finished her first.

-I helped My “Ultra-girl" friend finish 2 more ultra's and run 30 miles on her birthday
-I crewed John across the State of NH (RANH)

-Ran my first Snowshoe Ultra

-Finished 13th place in the 2nd annual Western NH Trail Running Series
-Won the Xterra New England Trail Running Series (AGAIN!)
-Got to race by my father’s side 6 times

Season breakdown
1 Snowshoe Ultra
10 Trail Races
2 Sprint Triathlons
4 Ultra’s
10 Road Races

Feb 22, 2009 – Frozen Shamrock 3 Miler – 31:23.0

Mar 1, 2009 - Claddagh 4 Miler – 44:11.0

Mar 6-7, 2009 - Peak Snow 52.4 – 15:28:12.0

Mar 8, 2009 – Hynes Tavern 5 Miler – 53:15.7

Mar 21, 2009 – Shamrock 8k – 54:57.0

Mar 22, 2009 – Shamrock Marathon – 4:21:34 (PR)

Apr 26, 2009 - Muddy Moose 14 Miler - 2:37:03

May 15-16, 2009 - Massanutten 100 - 64.9 Miles - 21:24 - DNF

May 20, 2009 - Rock'n'Roll 5k - 22:21
June 6, 2009 - Peak Ultra 53 - 16:10
June 13, 2009 - Six in the Stix - 55:26 (PR)
June 27, 2009 - All Out Trail Run - 42:45.9

July 4, 2009 - Clarence Demar 5k -22:55

July 5, 2009 - The Great Race XXX Tri -2:20:36 (32:33, 1:03:26, 44:36)

July 11, 2009 - Frenzy in the Forest - 44:19

July 25, 2009 - Wicked Wildcat - 57:05

July 26, 2009 - Colchester Tri-Option Tri - 2:28:48 (54:19, 59:59, 34:30)

Aug 8, 2009 - Xterra Stoked - 1:16:27

Aug 13, 2009 - Cigna Coorporate 5k -22:09

Aug 30, 2009 - Race to the Top of VT - 54:59

Sept 12, 2009 - Farnum 5.5 - 50:57

Sept 13, 2009 - Pisgah 50k - 8:02:13

Sept 27, 2009 - Vermont 50 - 11:59:56

Oct 10, 2009 - A Pleasant Climb - 1:40:03

Oct 11, 2009 - Oktoberfest 3.4 -28:43.9

Nov 26, 2009 - Turkey Trot 5k - 35 +/-

Dec 13, 2009 - Beaver Brook 4.5k - 27 +/-

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

MS Greenway Thru-Hike Part 5

Day 5

Part 1 Here

Part 2 Here

Part 3 Here

Part 4 Here

Dustin has got the thurst for being home, he misses his house, his wife, his dog, a cold beer at a favorite bar. It's 630 and we're breaking camp. The earliest start we've had yet, our last and shortest day. We toss on our packs and wish our camp mates a good day and head down the trail, very happy that this will be the last day we have to wear these things.

After restocking our water at the same stream as the night before we spend the next few miles explaining to Loni the personalities that our packs too on. Dustin's pack cover transformed his pack into Donatello made it totally look like a turtle shell so his pack made 80s cartoon outlandish comments like, "narly view dude!" and "i make your shoulders feel bodacious!"

My pack however started out as a little person, as Bill Bryson explains in his book, A walk in the Woods. Well my cartoon-ish brain transformed this little guy from saying "up up" like a little kid wanting a piggy back ride to now 5 days later, he was Mugsy the short mobster guy from Bugs Bunny that had a mean streak and enjoyed making me suffer. "yeah see, i'm going to make your kidneys bleed see, yeahhhh." I think being alone in the woods for 5 days was starting to wear on us.

We make it to Lucia's look out by 8am. We're FLYING, but there really isn't much to look out on in this section so it's not too hard to blast through. After signing the log book and enjoying the view back to Monadnock over the wind farm we push on. Up and down along the ridge, occasionally checking the map and seeing how close to Lake Solitude we were getting. Some of the rocky descents brought light to why the couple had described going over this section so crazily the day before. Sure walking in the rivers that were once snowmobile trails sucked, but at least we weren't boulder-ing on this ridge line. The story in the log book where one guy had described, "Fred had almost fell to his death no less then 3 times today" make sense

When we reached Solitude the mosquito hmmm was the loudest we had ever heard so we moved quickly. After a short climb we stopped briefly for a snack/lunch at White Rock Ledge. We were treated to a view of the clouds coming up through the valley and across and up and over the lake. Dustin said he was getting cold and we knew we had 1 mile to the summit so we moved with haste. The trail ends out onto Sunapee's access road and we knew we were almost home. As we pushed up the last few stretches a family was walking down with two of the fattiest kids i've ever seen. They all give us strange looks as if we were rapists or pedophiles. Never a hello, or anything. It's as if 3 people with hiking gear were aliens to them.

A few more steps and we've made it, well kind of. Dustin and I high five one another while standing on the survey's pin at the peak of Sunapee. Man what a journey. The clouds are rolling in and the gondola is running so people are all over the place. It's mildly disappointing, after starting on top of Monadnock with true hikers we've reached the northern peak and are surrounded by fat yuppies that RODE to the top.

After looking for a few minutes we find the trail down from the summit. 2.4 more miles to the car! We're pumped. We laugh and joke and then we hear voices ahead. A couple of women are hiking up, one in flip flops. I shake my head, i mean, perhaps she was hardcore, but flip flops? seriously? on this muddy rocky trail? I'm sure she was part of the reason NH has changed it's laws so you have to pay for your own rescues.

Due to our quickened pace knowing the end was near Dustin had slipped a few times and repeatedly said, "the next time I'm going over, just you wait." But today, the hiking gods were on our side and he managed to save himself no less then 4 times on the decent. 10 minutes or so from the trail head we pass a pack of wanna-be hippy kids, one makes a sneering comment "huh, that's a lot of a gear." "yeah, five days worth." i snap back. You'd think being in the woods for 5 days with minimal human contact would give you greater patience for your fellow man, for me it has the oppostite effect. My third eye was too open, i saw these kids for what they were, they were hippies for the drugs, not because of the lifestyle or anything else. They just wanted to go smoke pot in the woods.

We reach the trail head and are overwhelmed by cars. The Sunapee Craftsman's fair was today. Cars filling the parking lots, and lining the access road, being shuttled from parking lots further away. Yes the craftsmans fair is a place where dopes PAY to look at overpriced shit that you don't realy need. How it was described for us by one of the 3 that shared our site the night prior. "It's a place where you get to pay to get to look at buying and overpriced set of wooden spoons." Ah yes, a rich mans craft fair. And boy was that parking lot packed full of douche bags. Good thing we are in a recession and people can't afford to eat or heat their homes. It took me all of 50 feet of walking through the parking lot looking at the dopey piles of humanity to turn to Dustin and say, "Hey, you want to turn around and go the other way?" His prompt response, "This sucks! Yeah, i'd rather be in the wood too dude." It was obvious his eye was too open as well.

We made it, we didn't just make it, we killed it. There was never a doubt we couldn't do it. It was just something that i hadn't ever thought i would actually do. It took us about a day back in the office to change our tune about the Long Trail. The doubts that we shared on being able to do a full 30 days in the woods, camping with our gear was gone. A bad day hiking in the woods away from the corporate world is a million times better then a good day in a cubicle dealing with these fake fraudulent human beings.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

MS Greenway Thru-Hike Part 4

Day 4

Part 1 Here

Part 2 Here

Part 3 Here

It took four mornings for us to finally be awoken by sunlight, but boy was it worth it. After getting through yesterday’s journey, it could have been simply overcast and cold and it would have been an improvement. We decide that we’ll break on top of Lovewell Mountain and lay out our gear there to dry out. After packing up our still mostly damp gear we stop into the General store yet again for supplies. With Dustin restocked with power bars and me with a couple of root beer sodas we set off down the road. While walking down the road a woman notices us hiking while painting her house. She says hello and asks us how we’re doing. Come to find out it’s Tom’s, who we met in Nelson, wife. And that he and his friend had just finished their journey the night before. She wishes us safe journey on the rest of our trip and we hike on, laughing about how small world that was. The road out of Washington was lined with beautiful homes and camps along Half moon pond and I make a promise that I’ll get back out here in my boat before snowfall.

We turn and head up the old logging road to Lovewell and an ATV guy comes past us with hardly a smile or wave. His social abilities, of course, leads to us saying how much of a douche that guy must be and we laugh about it for the next 10 minutes or so. That was of course, until he turned around and came back. This time stopping and asking us how the trail up over Lovewell was, and how he’d been meaning to hike it but is still recovering from an ankle sprain. Not exactly sure what his deal was the first time by, but he fixed it on his second pass, making Dustin and I think about how often we seem to jump to the worst possible scenario the quickest.

We make a quick hike to the summit of Lovewell and are rewarded with copious amount of sun and an amazing view. After we lay our gear out to dry and scarf down some food, I head over to the vista to see if I can make heads or tails over which way we are looking. I point out where Moose Lookout roughly is, along with the radio towers WAY off in the distance is Sunapee. As we chowed down lunch I saw the largest garden snake i’d ever seen. The thing had to have been 3 feet long, luckily it has as much interest in us as we had it in and it quickly slithered off into the rocks. The backside of Lovewell was a long long stretch of switchbacks. Which to be honest was a relief to me, but the couple coming the other way that we passed ½ way down felt otherwise.

After talking with them briefly I ask how yesterday was for them. The guy said, “it fucking sucked!” This was an exact duplicate of how Dustin had described it a few hours earlier so we got a good laugh out of that. We wish them luck on their journey before we push on and up towards the Max Isreal campsite. It’s not a bad little spot, a nice tent platform, good tree cover, but not so much that you wouldn’t get any sun. After a quick snack and signing the log book we pushed on down the trail to the road. This was great news, it was only 1pm and we were already more than half way to the site. At the bridge over the stream we see a family of mcganzers, the mother barking out orders to her ducklings while they bobbed around in the current. The old logging road climb up to the ridge was an arduous one. Stopping several times to catch our breath and drink some water, but not long enough to be devoured by the mosquitoes.

Once on the ridge it was rolling terrain through old pine forrest. The trial soften and spongy with layers and layers of needles. After where Running Bear trail ties into the Greenway the trail turned into a soupy mess. The previous days rain and the heavier traffic due to Pillsbury State park had done a number on this stretch and every few steps seemed to be in thick tiring mud. When we reached Moose lookout we both let out of a sigh of relief. It was the first day where weather-wise it had been dry all day.

We dump our gear and after consulting the trail guide find that there is a ice cold brook just ahead on the trail. The guide didn't lie, and we were rewarded with the cleanest, coldest water we've had over the course of the hike. After setting up camp we heard someone coming up the trail. Expecting Loni with a bottle of Jameson we were surprised to see 3 younger kids and a dog. Dustin and I exchange glances as we both notice they look relatively disappointed that we got to the shelter first, not that i blame them. As they set up camp one of the guys decides to give a go at lighting his circa 1940 camp stove which provides us with at least an hour of entertainment and a couple of small kerosene fires.

Shortly thereafter Loni arrived just in time to join Dustin and I for dinner. As the sun begins to set the almost full moon is rising in the east and we're lulled asleep to a wonderful whiskey lullaby.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

MS Greenway Thru-Hike Part 3

Day 3

Part 1 HERE

Part 2 HERE

Today was to be our hardest day, the longest day, a grand total of 13.7 miles, over the top of Pitcher, Hubbard, Jackson and Oak Hills. Our backs are already in rough shape as we groan about putting our packs on. Luckily for us it was nice and cool last night and the good nights rest was welcomed. We break camp at 830 and make it to center pond in a hurry to restock our water supplies. From here it’s a long road climb up and out of the ponds basin. At the top of the hill after confronting an old angry dog, we cut across a landowner’s property and slab Parker Hill. On the map at camp there was a marking showing a campsite somewhere in this area, but we never found it. Perhaps it’s a future construction site. This stretch of the trail was fantastic; Rolling single track, log bridges over mud pits and a wonderful brook waterfall.

It’s still early in the morning when we reach the South Pasture of Blueberries. The trail runs us straight through the overgrowth. Either this stretch of trail is rarely passed through, or there was a bypass that we had missed as we bushwhacked our way through the next ¼ mile while chomping down handfuls of blueberries. We reached the base of Pitcher Mountain around 11am. It was later then we had hoped for, and the drizzle was starting to settle in. In hopes to beat the rain and perhaps get a better idea of what was heading our way, we quickly signed into the log book and tried to get to the top as fast as possible. The view from the fire tower was just as un-promising as the view from the parking lot below. The grey clouds above turning darker as you looked towards the west. Dustin snapped a quick photo and sent it to his wife before we pushed on down the trail. The blueberries bushes, soaked by the drizzle doused us every time we brushed up against them. We found that as we came off of Pitcher we were already wet, and the rain had yet to start.

The woods started to rumble as the rain pours down. The leaves providing us shelter as we marched along the amazing single track between the peaks. We popped out onto the road and try to duck under a pine switch to consult the map. We decide we’re going the right way but it’s hard to tell. The rain is falling so hard now that we can only see about 30’ ahead of us. We finally decide to put on our rain gear, but it was too little, too late. The only thing the gear provided us at this point was a shield from the howling wind over the top of Hubbard. I’d stop from time to time to snag a handful of blueberries, but it was hardly what I had envisioned for the day. I was hoping to graze happily in the sun. Now we were hiking over these berry filled peaks in record time, just to return to the woods for some protection.

The long single track off of Hubbard Hill is now a stream, 8” deep in the middle so we dance from trail edge to trail edge to try to stay somewhat dry. I stop, look at Dustin, he looks at me. We both grumble and grunt at the situation, put our heads down and death march on. After the long silent climb up Jackson both notice the same thing. The comment “you know how good of a day it has been and is going to be when your trail blaze is 3 inches under water.”

What a joke, this is insane. The hardest day of the trip and we were going to spend 11 miles of it in torrential downfalls. I laugh like an idiot, give up, and just start splashing through the puddles. I’m already soaked, so I figured I might as well enjoy the ride. I try to snap a few more photos, but the camera gets soaked and then ruined.

After Jackson hill there is a long stretch of snowmobile trail, which wouldn’t have been so bad if it didn’t seem to be built in a stream bed. In sections where you could appreciate the natural beauty of the trail, you’d end up finding a sink hole that would swallow your shoe up to your mid calf. By the time we got to the next beaver pond section we had to wade about knee deep 20’ through the water until we got TO the bridge. We were both fried now, talking was at a bare minimum. I was starting to go hypothermic, this isn’t how today was supposed to go. We’d scarf down our food and push on verses stopping at our preplanned break spots. I finally had to sit down and clean out my shoes in front of the First advent church in Washington. A rock carved next to a trail beside the Church caught my eye. I sat in front of it and read while pulling out stone after stone from my shoes. It was called the Sabbath Trail.

The thought and message intregied me. While I’ve never been much for organized religion, feeling that more times then not, it’s just a way to control people, the logic carved onto that rock made sense to me. “…as you commune with him in natures cathedral” It was perfect. The thought of not just driving to church, to sitting there feeling guilty for an hour, and then cursing people out as you try to get out of the parking lot. The thought of actually going for a 1 mile walk in the woods and seeing God all around you, imagine if more people did that? Dustin laughed at my infatuation with the concept and it helped us march down the next 2 miles of road in a pretty timely manner. We both knew when we ducked back into the woods we’d climb over Oak hill and on the decent we’d be at the site. So when the trail turned back into the woods we were relieved. The rain was still falling steadily and we were cold, tired, and wanted to grab some real food from the Washington General store, which we knew closed at 6pm.

Loni had hiked this stretch of trail before and had given us a lot of good pointers, but when we asked her about Oak hill she kind of trailed off in her description. Well it became clear pretty quickly as the trail made a turn and started climbing at a rapid rate. Dustin started to fall behind and I just put my head down and marched on as if it was an ultra. I sat for him on the cairn at the top. When he caught up to me he said “screw calling this oak hill, this is nut hill.” Obviously the climb had been harder for him.

On the decent Dustin comments about how nice the stream sounds next to the trail. I quickly warn him that he shouldn’t say things like this. Twenty feet later, we find the once peaceful bubbling brook was now smack dab in the middle of our trail. Splashing along I can feel my toes going numb. We walk in the brook for a bit before having to cross it, it’s rushing pretty fast and about knee deep. I hand dustin one of my trekking poles and we each use one to get across safely. Oh no, we aren’t done yet, the trail crosses that bloody brook not two, not three, but FOUR times! Camp is a sight for sore eyes, we’re soaked entirely through, at least I was. I dump out the contents of my pack and find that my sleeping bag is pretty wet in the feet area. I can only sigh in disgust. Thankfully we made it into town with enough time to pick up two large pizzas and a 6 pack of beer. After getting back to camp and changing into dry clothes we proceed to consume almost ALL of both pizzas and 4 of the beers before passing out. Before we fall asleep, we are treated to a nice red sunset on the horizon as the last of the clouds just now are finally passing overhead.

Quotes of the Day:

“Camp is a place you come to lick your wounds”

“I havn’t been this wet in the shower”

"imagine hiking this for 30 days, you'd have a mushroom growing out of your ear!"

Friday, October 16, 2009

2005 Pisgah/VT50 - RR

I stumbled upon these old race reports on a long forgotten blog i used to have and figured they'd be perfect to add to my archives here.

2 Weekends, 2 Ultras:

Pisgah 50k:
My 4th year at Pisgah was a personal record setter for the 50k at 7:02 and change.
Stretching before the race, a familiar face approached me. It was Rob from Mass, a guy I ran pieces of the Jay Challenge Marathon with. We ran together for the first 3-4 miles. He said he was out just to coast, but he must have just felt right and took off. He turned me onto Stonecat, which is a 50 miler/marathon that’s down in Mass in November. Ironically, Gilly, a familiar face from the VT100/50 races comes flying by me at aid station 17. I decide he’s the first person I’ve seen in about 4 miles so I should try and keep up for awhile. I say the bonehead comment of the day of “hey is that a GAC shirt you have on?” We talked for a bit, he said he’s one of the guys that puts on Stone Cat and I should head down for the race. Later that night after coming home and looking up the Stone Cat race, come to find out….GAC stands for Gilly’s Athletic club. Boy did I feel like an ass hat when I read that.
Man I felt like hell though. Between the 5+ bee stings on the back of my neck and the 1 on my right bicep by mile 6 I was ready to call it quits right then and there. Thankfully I had my mp3 player for the time between mile 18 cresting Pisgah itself until the end of the race because I swear I saw maybe 2 people the whole time. It was a great day for a run with a nice bbq’d burger at the finish with my name on it.
Another race in the books.

One week later at my 6th tour of the VT50 I set yet another PR @ 6:49!. Talk about a cold start. I’m glad I hung that tarp between the trucks because the dew was so thick it was essentially misting. There is nothing like waking up at 4:45 am and getting dressed in 39* weather before running 31 miles. As the 650 bikers and the 200 runners all gather down at the starting line my pop and I have a cup of terrible coffee along with some month old doughnuts. The race starts and talk about a quick start, it was probably the quickest I’ve ever run the first section of the race. I’m running with Delbock and a guy I guess he works with that also did the Jay Challenge named Mike. Mike has a high tech watch that beeps after every mile so he keeps saying “hey only another 30 miles to go, only another 29 miles to go, etc.” After the first aid station you go into the first section of trail before the split. Delback, Mike, and My father are a good distance ahead at this point. I’m running with 4-5 local mother’s dubbed the “mom bombs” who are just out having a grand ol’ time. I actually leap frog with them until Mile 13 where we meet back in with the 50 miler crowd. At this point I just about don’t see ANY runners until the aid station 27(keep in mind that the VT50 bikers are flying by at a rate of 2-3 a minute, and I’m able to leap frog with many of them on the steep uphill single track sections). Between Aid station 21 and 27 I hear one biker ask another biker what time it was. He responded 1210. So that kept my mind busy for the next 3-4 miles trying to calculate how fast I’d need to go for the rest of the race to break 7 hours (which was my goal since the week prior I did 7:02). I came into the last aid station at 12:45 and I knew I could do the last 3 miles of the race in under an hour. So at the first downhill I take advantage of gravity and start running a little harder. The trail goes back up and my speed goes back down. It’s an up and down course for the last 2.5 of the last 3 miles. Then they send you across the slope and then straight down into the lodge area. Well about ¼ mile from the end or so I’m like….shit that’s another runner. Another 50-100 feet down the hill I’m like….shit I think that’s Mike. I turn on the jets and I can feel myself starting to catch him. We cross over the bridge about 200 yards from the finish and he’s probably still 50yards ahead of me. I yell down “I’m going to catch ya mike” and he turns once, doesn’t recognize me. Then he turns again about 10 feet later, and waves. Now I know he recognizes me and he doesn’t think I can catch him. The only thing that was running threw my mind was “That SOB doesn’t think I can catch him!” I start tearing down the hill now in the last 100 yard stretch. About I dunno, maybe 20 yards from the end he looks over his shoulder again and sees that I’m only 2-3 strides behind him and flying. He starts to sprint as well. I’m gritting my teeth because the 31 miles of trail have been pretty grueling on my body and I’ve decided screw it I’m running threw the pain. I can hear the crowd make the sound of WWOOOOAAAHHH (you know the same sound the crowd makes when they see someone is teetering on a cliff before they fall) I fly past him and beat him by 1/10 of a second. He goes….”you bastard! How the hell did you just do that?” I smirk and lay down for a minute. I guess no one told him the Charlie story from my first VT50. We shake hands and each go our own way. As I’m walking back up the hill I get tons of smiles and congrats from the crowd. Along with a few “did you catch him?” To which I said “hell ya I did” I picked up a few things that fell off in the sprint to the finish and then I sat with a shit eating grin for the next 4 hours waiting for my pop to finish.
He and Delback come in just under 11 hours. As they sit down and have some food I tell Dave to ask Mike how he did. My pop goes, “see I told you he’d catch him before the end.” I laugh and I said, “yeah maybe 2 feet before the end but that still counts right?” My dad goes, you didn’t do a Charlie did you? I plastered on the same shit eating grin and said yeah. My dad laughed and told the story from a few years before to Delback. I hope he passes it along to Mike so he doesn’t make that mistake again.

3 for 3 on ultra’s this summer. All flying solo, it’s been a strange adventure but I do believe I’m adding one more long race to my schedule. Stone Cat coming up in November. So stay tuned for that race’s review

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

RR: Vermont 50

Ah the Vermont 50, where to start. Saturday was classic pre-race routine. Pick up my race packet at noon, head over to Long Trail for a few drinks, then over to Harpoon for a few more. Then pick up a pair of meatball subs to share with my old man at our campsite. It’s a tradition that started 10 years ago and hopefully will continue for many more.

John, Sarah, Steve, Pete, Pete’s girlfriend/wife? and Gillian joined Leah my father and me around the fire and we shared our running tales. Talks of how the trails are going to be, think they’ll be bad? Will this be another 03? Hard telling at this point, the clouds had started to move in but after baking in the sun and drinking some of my favorite beers all day. I couldn’t have been happier to be out here. The wind started to pick up around midnight, and the rain started somewhere around 130, and when it rained, man did it come down. Hindsight being what it is, I should have purchased a larger tarp to go over the bed of the truck as Leah and I awoke at 430am to wet bottoms and tops to our sleeping bags. I caulked it up to typical pre-vt50 craziness, I told her it could have been worse, at least it was warm. One of the years I woke up with a heavy frost on my pillow.

With the standard pre-race meeting out of the way all we could do was watch the bikers zip out into the darkness and wait for our turn. As we were instructed to walk forward to the starting line Rik and I decided we were WAY to far forward in the pack and we milled our way quickly towards the back third as per usual. With a Ready, GO, we were off down the road and due to the change in the start; it was literally down the road. In the past there’d been the short climb at the start to spread the pack, this year, it was fast. And we knew we were going fast because we NEVER see the lead runner at the 2nd turn of the course. NEVER!

We settle into a grove and start running with a fella from New Jersey. Seems to be a veteran at these things, not much of a talker, but the small talk helped the miles melt away. At the first hill a young woman named Kim matches our pace. I soon learn this is her first 50 miler; she’s up from Atlanta with her “fast friend” who just last weekend had put in 140 miles in a 24 hour race. DEAR GOD! I exclaim I must be running WAY to fast if I’m keeping up with you guys. She laughs, but there was certainly a hint of truth there.

Rik and I cruise through the woods, and reminisce about how 2 years ago that woman had broken her hip in this location. What a way to start a race. With Kim and her friend long gone we match another runners pace and tag along. This too, is her first attempt at a 50 miler. Danielle from Montreal, Rik puts on his fatherly shoes and talks about how he got me into this and how you just need to “run aid station to aid station, it’s as simple as that.” And that she’ll be fine at the pace she’s going. I grin knowing that those little tips are what will keep you going when you go through the lows. How strange those words would ring true as the day unfolded.

I came into the School house a bit ahead of Rik and rebuilt a bit, wolfed down a boost, smiled for the camera and pushed on. Sara asked me if the trails were really as bad as 03, because I guess people were already bitching about it. I laughed and told her isn’t not even close. Rik and I have a strange relationship at these things. We run together, kind of, but there are stretches where one of us will get far out ahead of the other and this apparently was my turn to pull him along. I ran the next few miles alone, through the “fern gully” single track trails. I was has happy as could be, slipping and sliding, but enjoying the woods non-the-less. The long road stretch into Garvin always makes or breaks my day. I know I SHOULD be running aid to aid, but I’ve done this race long enough to know that if I can get into Garvin (approx 22 miles) feeling good, I’m gold.

My knee is starting to nag me from the early downhill pounding of the road. I take some Advil and slow my pace to where Rik catches me. We pass a handful of bikers that obviously have dropped and have just decided to ride back to the start. We see Nate as well who’s coming off an amazing finish two weeks prior at Pisgah but a nagging hip took him out of the game today. It’s odd, that one would drop, and then run/ride back to the start. Why not just keep going?? Then again, I’ve dropped 3 times at this race. Some day’s it’s just not in the cards.

A familiar face catches up to Rik and me on the climb up Garvin. Nick Palazzo, with two rookies in tow. He reminds us that this is the highest point on the course. Rik wisecracks, “So this must be where I get my runners high then eh?” To which the appropriate comment of “depends on what pills you’ve been taking.” The course over Garvin had changed quite a bit but I enjoyed the new single track they had added to the backside. I was feeling fine. Rik on the other hand, was fading, and fading fast. I catch up to another fella who I dubbed “peg leg guy” and if you were there and saw this guy. You’d know exactly who I’m talking about. Apparently he either cramped up, or had pulled something miles prior but was still moving forward, albeit more like a pirate.

It’s at this point on the course where you come out into this field with a grand fire place and a beautiful view overlooking blood hill and the rest of the course. I synched up my jacket and sat down in the chair (breaking rule 1 and the quote on my shirt) but I had gotten far enough ahead of Rik that I was a bit worried. Rik catches up about 7 minutes later and we settle in with a biker, whose bike broke at mile 12 and decided to run as far as he could without it. IN biking shoes (for those who’ve never worn clip-in bike shoes, they generally have the padding/flexibility of a ski boot). We commend him for his determination. It’s kind of inspiring, seeing that he's still out here when at this point I’d counted at least 30 bikers that had already dropped out. He keeps up with us for a bit, but his shoes have him fall behind in the next run able road stretch. Rik and I jogged together into the next aid station half way up the next climb. The veteran staffed station (the same crew that has been here or at Garvin for as long as I could remember). I get in and out as fast as I could and holler dad to get moving over my shoulder as I marched up the trail. 15 minutes go by, then 20 I, stop for a bit. Still no signs of Rik, I’d been walking stretches where I’d normally run in hopes that he’d catch up to me. Nothing. Now ordinarily I just run this race, without a care in the world, but the two rookie ladies that had come past me in the last stretch were talking about cut offs, if they’d make the next station. And it got me thinking, and a bit worried. After missing the cut off at MMT earlier in the year, you’d think it’d be something I’d keep on my radar. I look at my watch. I start doing math. If you are counting that’d be 3 ultra no-nos in a matter of miles.

We roll into Smoke Rise with 30 minutes to spare. “ONLY 30 MINUTES!” I exclaimed. I knew we were going slowly, but I’d never been this close to the cut off at only 28 miles. I ask about Dugdales and she tells me we’ve got an hour and 20 minutes to go 4.2 miles. Piece of cake I think, I plow down ¾ of a can of coke and stuff salty potatoes in my mouth and walk on, again, calling back to Rik. He’s already in a death march. It’s too early to be death marching. Not good. I call back words of encouragement but find myself putting a lot of distance between us. I sat on a rock and broke down the time/distance what we needed to cover.

"If it's going to be close, go ahead."
I can't leave him. I hope it's just a low and he'll put out of it in this next stretch. Perhaps the coke he had will kick in and he’ll bounce back. We get to the top of the muddy horse trail into Dugdale’s and Rik tells me that he's going to drop, and he'll see me next week. I feel a pit in my stomach knowing that not only am I now going to be on my own, that I won't even be able to share the finish with him. He gives me a hug and yells out "Now go...Go my son!!"

So I turn, and start to run, fighting back tears and know that it's going to be me verses the clock for the next 20 miles. I look at my watch; try to remember how much trail I still have in front of me, I look at my watch again. I’m running hard, sliding and smashing into the deep parts of the mud, which I had been avoiding prior. There was no longer time to fool around. This truly was, turning into a race from aid station to aid station. I pass 5 runners and 3 bikers before I get into Dugdale’s.

I quickly fill my water; get a thing of coke, stuff potatoes and gummy bears into my pockets. The aid station is filled with people I see Leah and give her the scoop on Rik. She’s ready to have me change my shoes as I asked, but there was no time. I got into Dugdales with 12 minutes to spare. I quickly grab a kiss and stuff another boost and two ice teas into my pockets and run off towards Blood Hill.

I catch the rookie and Penny on the next climb. I ask her how her foot is doing. She ran Pisgah with us a few weeks prior, with what I overheard, was a broken foot. Now she’s out here again. I tell her she’s crazy, but that’s just what makes us ultra-runners I suppose. We chat and I tell them how the next stretch over blood is my favorite of the course. It’s the winding single track. Which generally I enjoy. Today however I know I’ve got 45 minutes to go 3 miles. Sure 15 minute miles seems like a breeze, but 32 miles and 8 hours into a muddy wet course with heavy shoes and with the single track feeling like I was running on a slip and slide. I thought I was sunk. I quickly left penny and the other woman in the dust on the switchbacks. I catch John’s friend Gilly on the climb into Fallon’s. She wonders if we’ve made the cut off. I look at my watch. Did we make it? Did we not? I wasn’t sure

The volunteers were packing up the station. They take my number down. I ask, "Did we make it?"“OH YEAH YOU MADE IT”
I look at the cut off time hanging on the table, we had made it by 5 minutes.
After getting some warm soup I run off as fast as I could, passing 3 other runners who were still eating. I've got an hour and change to get 5 miles. This is going to be tough. My knee is throbbing still from the pavement from earlier. I yell out like I always do "16 miles to the LOOOOOVVVVE shack" as the trail turns and climbs next to the tin roofed shed. I see no one ahead or behind me for the next 4 miles. I wonder where everyone had gone. If the runners behind me had bailed because they knew they weren’t going to make it. I run, I run more than I ever had in this stretch. Wincing in pain, but knowing it HAD to be done. This couldn’t, no this wouldn’t be the year where a Robert wouldn’t finish either of the VT races. The trail pops out onto the road that Goodman’s is on and I looking at my watch and let out a sigh of relief. I knew I had made the cut off. I run anyway, setting goals of run to this tree and you can walk to the next pole. Then upon getting to the tree yelling at myself, "common, you can go to the pole instead!"

I see the guys from skipix parked in a field and I continue to run, then I yell over to them "thanks for being here, I wasn't going to run this stretch but I didn’t want to be walking in the photo!"

Goodman's is a hustle, two bikers still at the station and the reaper there looking at his watch. I had 14 minutes to the cut off. I quickly restock, ask how far and how much time do I have? I had to get to Johnson’s by 6pm.
The next stretch of trail is always a show, muddy, slippery, new single-track, rocks, switchbacks. I blast away, passing two bikers, and catching 4 more runners. One runner was another father/son pair. The son had just joined in and was pacing him home. He'd never done a 50, and when prompted the question of why, "I have no fucking clue!" The son was having a good time, saying how much fun he was having. I told him to just keep him moving and he’d be fine. Glancing at my watch, at that pace they wouldn't make the cut off. So I pushed ahead again. Catching two more runners. On the next climb I caught the "fast" friend from Atlanta. She told me of her 140 mile 24 hour run the weekend prior and how tough this terrain was. I kind of smiled. I was having a ball. I guess if you are from the south, and haven’t been running on what has been a muddy trailed filled season, this would be quite the shock to your system.

She and I leap frog for a bit before I even leave her in the dust. I pass the father of the father, daughter pair. "She's just ahead, but doing better than me'"
I catch the daughter soon thereafter and tell her that she’s doing great and her dad is right behind her. I then run with a PT from NYC and we discuss the cut off time and how we got into these things. This was her first 50 as well. She'd come over from the dark side of road running and marathons. She senses my urgency to get to Johnsons and takes off. Turning my pattern of simply passing people into a dog race, and now I’ve got a rabbit. She’s fast, REAL FAST, for 45 miles she’s setting an unbelievable pace. I force myself to run across the landscape, through the huge puddle, now finally soaking my feet thru which I’d done a great job keeping dry all day
Leah awaits me at the top of the driveway into Johnsons. I look at my watch. I don't know if I made it

“How much time?”
The reaper simply held up 3 fingers.

I laugh, yell out YEAH, and do a little dance. I grab more coke and Leah hands me a boost and kisses me,

I hike up through the field, seeing bikers and runners just ahead of me on the trail
I look at my watch, huh, if I had 3 minutes there, then that gives me 48 minutes to finish under 12 hours. I start doing the math again. I pass at least 10 more bikers in the next two miles, their components worthless at this point.

I give them words of encouragement, telling them they made it. They can't be pulled now. It’s just a death march. One guy thanks for me for the encouragement. I catch two more runners. 2 miles to go sign. I look at my watch, I still might be able to do it... running when I can, I settle in again with the NYC runner. She can't run the downs like I can. I'm a bandit with wreck less abandon. I want my sub 12 and her pace wasn't going to do it. 1.5 miles. Shit another climb. My legs twitching and on the verge of cramping. I think I’m hosed; I pound down Advil, two more salt tabs and choke down the boost on the climb. Turn the corner and slide-run the single track. Looking at my watch every 2 minutes, crap, I’ve got a chance but it's going to be a miracle. I catch another runner, and another, then Danielle on a slippery section. I yell hello and call out "guess whose back from the dead!!" she mutters something about the dark and the single track being tough. I agreed, it was getting very dark in the woods, but I didn't care.

I made the turn, I could hear the finish, and I’m running sideways across one of the slopes, slipping several times and catching myself with my hands. I look at my watch. Crap, I missed, it, I had to have missed it. I start hauling ass just in case; I slip and land on the ground so hard it breaks my water belt. I look at it for 5 seconds, stunned at how hard I hit the ground. Do I leave it? I don't have time for this crap.
“DAMN IT!” I yelled while picking up the pieces and tucking them under my arm. I'm too close to miss this because of this stupid pack. I scream down the hill, the new finish line had to backtrack climb a bit that slowed me down just enough to hear the b52s playing love shack on the stereo below. I bellow out...”TINNN ROOOOOFF,” and Leah yelled back from the final turn, “RUSTY!”

I turn the final corner and I run as hard as I’ve ever run at one of these events across the finish line. I wanted to slide in but was afraid of cramping up. Funny after seeing the photos and talking to John he had the same idea and actually did it. I am congratulated with a "great finish" I ask, what was my time what was my time?
“1206”, Loni says from the end of the shoot.

Leah snapped a picture of us at the finish line. I look kind of defeated because I was still under the impression I missed the 12 hour mark. Danielle and a pair of bikers came in before we left the shoot area. I thanked and congratulated her. I wonder how many of the other runners I had passed had missed the cut off at Johnsons.

Leah, as a rookie crew was EXACTLY what I needed. She force fed me everything I needed when I needed them. I found out two days later when the results were posted that I actually DID finish under 12 hours. I had beaten the reaper, he was right behind me. His scythe figuratively cutting off my water belt. I crossed the finish line in a what Rik would have describe as, the ‘last man standing’ with a finishing time 11:59:52.

What a day, what a story, I can’t wait for next September.