Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Concord Rock and Roll 5k

May 20, 2009

So I’m standing at the starting line of another 5k race. 3 days removed from the disappointment in VA I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had jogged ¼ of a mile to the starting line and my legs felt like lead. My old ex-ultra runner friend Rachel came down to keep me company at the start. There were 14 runners from my company here and another volleyball friend that would be here, but in the 3 blocks surrounding the start they had predicted 5-6k people so I knew they’d be no chance in seeing anyone. It was good to be able to catch up. And she actually said that perhaps someday she’d return to run the VT100 and then MMT100 with me. I’m going to have to hold her to that.

The national anthem faintly blared on the loud speaker which could hardly be heard over the crowd. I squeezed my way into the corral somewhere between 7-8 min mile pacers. I had joking told a friend that I was going to set a PR here after MMT and he had laughed at me and I wanted to beat most of my coworkers, one of whom said he was going to run sub 20 minutes, “no problem.”

The gun popped and the crowd surged forward, then stopped, then moved, then stopped. Ah the beauty of a large road race where they funnel you into a corral to make sure your chip starts and stops because tenths of a second win and lose these races. So foreign to me when generally it’s minutes and hours.

I spend the first “mile” blasting past people. Mile in quotes because I’m sure I ran 1.25 miles easy with the weaving in and out of idiot people that started too far ahead and burned out after a half a mile. It’s mildly frustrating to me that I have to start way back in the pack behind people that are no walking on the course in front of me. Seriously now, did you really have to be in front? Look at the size of you, you’re 250 easy! Exercise, that’s great, please do, I’ll help and encourage you. Clogging the race course, no, that’s a bad fat person and I should hit you with a KFC drumstick.

At mile one we’re greeted two “Born to Run” by Bruce Springsteen blaring from the stage which gives me a boost. I sing a few lyrics while passing more people and as we go in front of the old memorial hospital I’m treated to a blast of lilac sent. 7:40 the man yells with a stopwatch at the mile marker. I smile and push on, passing more and more people. I’m going to have to pick this up I think and make the next turn and pass a few dozen more people. I snag a water bottle from the water stop just before we get onto the Hospital campus and I ask the guy behind the table “where’s the beer?” he laughed and said, “that’s what I’d like to know too!” I laugh and pour half of the water on my head instantly dropping my temperature and causing me to speed up more.

“15:02” says the Mile two guy. Great, I’m making up time finally; my legs are coming to life. The next stage is as we exit the hospital campus and the band suuuccckkkkked. Well perhaps they weren’t bad, but seriously now. Singing a cover of the ever slow “Bridge over troubled waters” by Simon and Garfunckel may be a hit in a dive bar in Concord on a Friday night where people are crying in their beers. But at a road race trying to get people to make it up the hill? Not appropriate. So I belted out the chorus with her as loud as I could in a crying mocky
voice and ran up the hill as fast as I could to get away from that motivation killer group.

Another turn and into a neighborhood where there was an old couple, a woman standing beside a skinny man in a lawn chair drinking a miller light. I pointed and said, “Now you’ve got the right idea.” They both looked at me like I was speaking Japanese. I shook my head. What the hell is wrong with people? Why can’t you just joke and enjoy life. Oh well, another turn, the bluegrass band was at the same spot as always and I enjoyed the banjo for the few seconds that it was in earshot. Bluegrass music always gets me to run faster because it brings me back to my days of youth watching the Duke boys speed away from the Law back in Hazzard County.

The last turn and we head back towards the statehouse. There is one last rolling up and then down to the finish. A stupid DJ that thinks he’s on the nations number 1 top 40 hit station has set up shop at the top of the last hill. And is playing something awful that is causing the idiot high school kid in front of me to dance while running with his lady friend. I wasn’t sure which made me more upset, the fact that he was dancing to the music that made my ears want to bleed while running, the fact that he was running with an attractive girl, or the fact that both of them were still ahead of me. I take off the brakes and fly past them on the decent.

Final turn and I had put a little space between myself and the “kids” in the last two blocks but with two blocks to go they come screaming past me. He’s yelling at her to catch up and I yell to her, “Common, beat him!” I don’t know exactly where they finish because I felt a pack closing in on me and I put my head down and cranked out the last block without looking around. I managed to pass 4 more people before the finish while keeping the closing pack from catching me.

Final time - 22:21

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Muddy Moose 14 Miler

April 26, 2009

Dustin, Loni and I awake after watching another night of the Stanley cup playoffs down at my bar. A bit hung over I opt to make myself a couple of homemade egg McMuffin sandwiches. Dustin and Loni both go for the oatmeal and toast more stable in the belly option. The weather channel informs us that it’s going to be one of the hottest days so far in 09. Wonderful, while it beats the option of pouring rain (which it did the first two times I ran this), running in the heat was not my favorite thing. Especially after nursing back to back sunburns from the previous two days of running and working out in the sun.

Somewhere about 10 miles south of Wolfeboro my stomach starts to churn. I start to burp often and Loni and Dustin both gave a chuckle. Perhaps TWO of those sandwiches was a bad choice. When we arrive at the parking lot we see John, Sara and Steve, the three of whom I haven’t seen all together since the run across the state last fall.

In the Gym – Nate and his talk about how he’s going to run 2 before the race and 4 after wards. And how he’s already done two2 70 mile weeks leading up to this race, but was full of energy as usual. I'm able to catch up a bit with Julie and Brian chatting about the comedy show they went to last night still feeling the lack of sleep.

We head back to the car and i catch up with Dave Delbac and Mike Lecharitte running around thinking they are late. It's the first time i've seen Mike in awhile, July in 08 back at Jay perhaps? Dave kicked my ass at the snowshoe marathon two months prior. I was able to catch up with Steve my floor hockey team mate was here with his crew of runners, this will be the furthest he's ever raced. I've never felt like i've known so many people at the starting line before.

The race starts behind the dugout of the softball field on an access road that goes around the sport fields. As the largest crowd that i can recall steps to the line you can see the heat lines coming up from the asphalt ahead and behind.

With the ol' commands, ready, Go! we're off. Down the road for about a half a mile and then we turn onto the trails. I try to keep up with Delbac, Lecharitte, John, Adam and the rest of the guys are already long gone. Julie, Sara, Loni and Dustin all somewhere behind me. While I know this is supposed to be a “mud’ run I always tend to err on the side of caution during the first 2-5 miles. I like to keep my feet as unsaturated as possible until the turn around at which point I bomb through the puddles like a 4 year old. So because of the ginger around the mud pit running I fall way behind everyone else. I’m ok with that.

At the 2 mile mark I know there is a long maybe 1-1.5 mile road stretch that I might be able to make up some ground on. Sadly,my legs were like lead. My left calf threatening to cramp up every step, but I managed to push on and match Delbac’s pace until we got to the encarpement. Now my hiking muscles take over and I pull away. Down the backside of the stony cliff, I real in a few other runners in the sandy hillside. I stopped to offer a woman some Advil as she had rolled her ankle pretty badly a bit earlier on the trail. A familiar site, the first beaver pond crossing. The terrain much changed as the RD mentioned due to the hurricane that had torn the landscaping apart from last year. The Jeep aid station at the 5 mile mark. I restock my water bottles and press on. I’m slowly reeling in runners but occasionally glimpse at my watch and realize a PR here this year is far from possible. Feeling a bit bummed, I stop to pee, knowing seconds aren’t going to matter anymore.

Out on to the either way loop I see Nate screaming down the hill in front. Followed by Adam and John, then both Steve’s shortly thereafter. Bummer, guess I won’t be running with any of these guys today. At the top of the hill I had left Lecharitte behind and it was time to start having fun in the water. I choked down my last GU, chugged a huge amount of Gatorade from my water bottle and blasted straight through the beaver pond. The poor woman behind me made a “ungh” sound as she had been following me neatly hopping from dry spot to dry spot up until now.

The heat was starting to get to me on the next climb so I take a moment to dunk my head and my bandana into the bubbling brook that crossed at a culvert. Now that a PR is out of the question, along with reeling in any of my trail buds so I just hit cruise control and prepare to enjoy the ride.

Back at the Jeep I find the woman that I had helped had dropped when she made it there. I gave her my best and pushed on with topped off water. I was going through water at a surprisingly alarming rate. I believe I went through four or five 32oz water bottles total. Not a big deal I guess, but its cause of concern when I’ve got 5-8 miles between some stations at my longer runs.
As i return to the sand dune climb i yell to a volunteer dirrecting us in the right direction
“I’m going to go right through the middle!”
“it’s 2-3 feet deep!”
with one foot already in the water I gulp and yell back “ok you win this battle!” and opt for running on the stone wall.

I’ve been slowly getting closer to a perfectly tanned woman wearing yellow shorts for the previous few miles. She was my rabbit in the dog race so to speak. I’d catch her on the climbs but her long legged stride had me gasping for breath and falling behind on the roads and descents. Up over the Encarpment I was able to catch up to and pass another 5 people. Back on the road, another pack of 5-10 that I leap frogged with until returning to the final 2 miles of muddy bliss. I bombed through the center of each puddle. Aiming for the deepest spots in some. Laughing and giggling like a nutcase. Whatever, I was going to finish, might as well actually get muddy. I was able to pass another 3-4 runners as they were still trying to find the dry lines around while I plowed through the middle. At the last road crossing the guy that’s directed traffic here for the last 5 years that I’ve run it cheered and said “that’s how I like to see it!” as I two foot leaped into a huge puddle causing a huge splash to surround me.

I real in 2 other runners that look like they are struggling, and dunk my head again in another stream crossing. I must look like a nut, running through the middle of everything, but then stopping for 10 seconds to put my face/head and handkerchief into a cool stream.
At the last mud pit I pass another guy and settle in along two fellows wearing Pineland Farms shirts. We joke about how hot it was last year and how the gummy bears and twizzlers had melted into a gelatin pancake at the aid stations.

Back out on the road I know I had under 3 minutes left. I poured on the gas hoping that I could catch at least one more runner and to be sure that I wouldn’t be a runner that was from behind.

I jogged across the finish line feeling pretty accomplished. I had done it. I had survived hell week and I was feeling happy about what everyone had completed. John had killed the course fresh off a 100 miler two weeks prior, Adam seemed in good spirits, both Steve's were all smiles, Loni, Dustin, and Sara had had a ball. Julie had finished so long prior that she had already left. Sadly only Nate wasn’t all smiles. He had kind of come apart. Not sure if it was the heat or the fact that he was on his 3rd 70 mile week. I was pumped for Sarah who completed her first trail race. Who knows what's next, perhaps she'll be running with Loni before too long. After watching a few other runners finish we headed over to my car which had a cooler that had been stocked full of beers and enjoyed a post race beverage in the sun.Dustin enjoying a frosty beverage
Loni and I
Sherpa John and SaraNate and I post race discussing our performance

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

MMT 100

So I'm sitting here on a Tuesday night, 2 days post the MMT 100. I'd be lying to you if I said i wasn't entirely disappointed with my performance. Could it have been prophetic that Sherpa John told me at the Muddy Moose that i shouldn't run with Rik at Massanutten? Perhaps. There were several factors leading to my second failed attempt in as many tries at 100 miles. All of which i will hopefully cover in my upcoming race report.
Hey at least i got a f-ing rock!
The looks on our faces pre-race pretty much sum up the outcome.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Hell Week

After finding out I had been moved from the wait list to the entrants list of the Massanutten 100 Miler I had decided to follow John’s advice and have a hell week of my own. Here’s how it broke down

Monday April 20th – 10.1 Miles(87 laps) around the YMCA indoor track followed by an hour of hockey

Wednesday April 22nd – 11.34 Miles (3 laps) around Tower Hill Pond in Auburn

Friday, April 24th – I had basically had a mental breakdown at poor management at work earlier in the week that led me to no call/no show at the office. Instead when I awoke, I grabbed my water belt, my favorite pair of shoes and knocked out 28.38 miles on rolling pavement and dirt roads between here and Henniker.

Saturday April 25th – 6.44 miles doing my favorite emerald lake loop

Sunday April 26th – 14 Miles at the Muddy Moose Trail run

Total Mileage on the week – 70.3 miles

A personal best! The biggest test that I had passed was the 28 miler that is a personal longest training run. And the ability/desire to knock out the 3 back to back days and still have a respectable time at the Muddy Moose on Sunday in the heat. Now, tapering, if you can call it that, for the big test in VA in under two weeks.