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