We climb the hill up to Loni's place where she greats us with a smile. It's funny how just seeing one person raises the spirits. I turn to Grant and say, "well, bud, only 30 miles or so to go."
Bog road was busy as usual this time of day so we took turns running single file in the road side slush from the Friday storm that dumped a foot of snow in the area. We trot past Morse sporting goods. Grant introduces me to chocolate covered almonds (which were really good). As he pushes towards the VT50 this fall he's doing the smart thing and working out the nutrition aspect ahead of time. A novel idea, as a 11 year veteran of these things you'd think i'd have started doing something similar, naahhhh.
The sun is shining brightly and we go between being bundled up due to the tree cover and wind howling off of the Contoocook and sweating profusely in the blazing sun. Around mile 5 Grant says "huh, i forgot to lube." to which my brain clicked and i went "oh nuts, neither did I. Whelp, this is going ot end poorly."
Leah was waiting for us at the detour bridge over the Contoocook to snap a few photos. We're making pretty good time thus far, or at least it feels that way. We pass a big kid, a small kid, a dog and a pellet gun? We laugh about what we would have done if the dude actually had shot at us. Then we suspected the little tirants were probably shooting their dog. As we turn up 114 in downtown Henniker we're met with another oddity. A dude, urmmm lady? Holding an American flag with a masking tape peace symbol on it. No sign, no speech, just holding a flag. I found it odd that if you are motivated enough to stand on a corner that you'd say hello to two people running by.
As we run next to Blueberry Hill the sentiment between the two of us is "..this pavement is wearing on me." with a variety of expletive lead ups. I'm really feeling the 10 days of cold as between chatting, eating, and drinking water i go through fits of coughing and almost barfing. The lack of training really has got my Achilles tendon irritated. It's been half injured since hiking for 18 miles in my Columbia non hiking, non-active winter duck (shit-kicker) boots in Bear Brook.
We do a ton of walking/climbing as we get back into Emerald lake. The slight down grade next to the river you don't really notice until you go back on the other side and are confronted with a couple of ball breaker hills. I ask for the time, gasp and then start crunch numbers in my head based on how late it already was. My phone beeps as the rest of the gang trys to figure out where we are and how bloody far behind we already are.
It's at this point where Leah and Grant run ahead. They both need to use the restroom something fierce, and my chafe is killing me so i've slowed quite a bit. I say i'll catch them at the Mobil station and I did. As I walked into the lot Leah's coming out of the store as pale as a ghost and looking like she might throw up. Apparently there was an incident in the bathroom. And that the snowmobiler that used the room before Leah got there essentially "destroyed" it. By smell and physical debris. I could hardly contain my laughter. Last year a number 2 incident cost Sherpa his gloves. This year, it was the Mobil incident. It's good to see that the Hammy Slammy now has a running tradition. My chafe was now almost unbearable, but the downgrade through Henniker couldn't be wasted and i trotted ahead down the hill as Grant and Leah snack up.
We pause briefly at the infamous pizza sign and I pose "sherpa style" while Leah uses their restroom instead.
Loni messages that she's backtracking from the park n ride. After drinking 4 liters of water i finally pee for the first time. Which is a welcome relief. I'm starting to feel better aside from the nagging tendon and the super painful chafe. Things are looking up and i knew there was beer stashed in the snow in a couple of miles.
A couple of cookies and a half a beer later the pack that started out 29 miles before of Grant and I had grown to 6. Grant and I running with beers in hand. With Keith's maybe an 1/8th of a mile away we break into a full sprint. Why or how you ask? No idea, perhaps the sugar rush from the GUs and cookies or maybe the beers were finally taking effect.
Keith welcomed us into his toasty home with a birthday shot and beer. Knowing that this motivated feeling i had wasn't going to last I tried to get the group to get out of the door for the last 3/4 of a mile before sunset. Again, with a couple of us with beers in hand we were down the snow covered roads.
At the final turn i see Grant unloading the tires he had ordered for me and rolling them down the road toward me. I tell Loni to hold my beer and pick up the tire and run the last 300' with the tire on my head. Then, in an exhausted celebration. I climbed up onto my deck railing. Pounded the rest of my beer and did a celebratory flip into the 3+ feet of powder in the backyard.
Thanks everyone for coming out. It certainly was a birthday i won't forget.
Total Miles: 31.4 Miles - 8:05