Leah and I arrive in Pittsfield as we always do. A bit groggy from spending the night prior at our home away from home in Stockbridge at 'The Strong's' house. As per usual, amazing food, great wine, and a soak in the hot tub makes for a rough go when you're told you're going to run on snowshoes for a marathon the following day.
Oddly enough i feel more ready for this than i have in any years past. I haven't really run this race alone in years. I'd always had at least one or more teammates to keep me company on the trail. Rik and Steve had decided to start ahead of the pack with Delbac (who'd been going since noon the day prior) about an hour ahead of me. I was a bit bummed out, but i knew their pace would be much slower, so my goal now was to try to catch them. Mike warned me that the trails were a bit more narrow and that the pace was drastically slower than previous years thanks to his insider knowledge. Leah gave me a good luck kiss and took over role behind the volunteer table and I was off.
It was half way to the top at Cabin 2 that I looked ahead and saw too figures, just hanging out at the aid station. I laughed and thought, how could i have made up that much time so quickly? It didn't take too long to realize how i had. "I haven't run a step since Pisgah in September." I shook my head and corrected him saying, "well we did that turkey trot right?" Needless to say, running hadn't been on either of these guys radars, never mind 13.1 miles on snowshoes. After 1/8th of a mile Steve was keeping up with me, but Rik was falling way behind. Steven, a 16 year old coming off spring break grumbled, "this race was over before it started." Stating that he'd spent most of his vacation on the ski slopes and dominating his first person shooter from the warmth of the couch. While it was great to catch up, the now slower pace was starting to let my sweat freeze on my fleece. At the first 50' section that we could trot we did, with a dramatic (in hindsight, hilarious) side effect of once we stopped. As i turned back to see how much space i'd put between us I saw Steve cramp up and tipped over like he had just been tazed. I offered him some of my salt tabs only to find out that he can't take pills. Once Rik caught up, he helped him break the capsules in half and pour them into his mouth. While I don't recommend this behavior to anyone, it seemed to do the trick and we all marched on toward Cabin 1 at the summit. At the summit I yelled back, I've got to go, i'm freezing and took off down the trail.
It wasn't long before i started catching all of the fun runners at the bottom. Somehow i was passing them in leaps and bounds. I had managed to finished the second lap sub 2 hours again (1:59:03). The trouble this time is that the finish line was packed with one lap finishers. It was a mad house. I had Leah put in only half of the water because i wanted to get out of there and off i went. How big of a mistake this was...
I reached cabin 2 to find Thomas spooning out hot vegetable soup from a Gatorade jug. "Would you like some soup?" "BOY WOULD I!" I responded enthusiastically. This was just what the doctor ordered. I was in one hell of a slump. A typical lap 3 for me. The joy of the first two laps over, the knowledge of having to do this AGAIN still looming. With the warmth and food in my belly I make quick work to get to the top. I take a few big gulps of water and then hear the dreaded 'burble' of the camelbak. For those that own and use one, you know the sound i just described. The sound of, you have about two sips left before you run dry. I spend much of the remainder of this lap alone in the woods. Not even seeing any forms of life ahead or behind me on the trail. I was dehydrated, alone, hungry, just plain miserable. Even though i made it back in 2:14:22, the look on my face explains where i was mentally.
Leah takes charge of her crewing duty like the pro she is and restocks my pack while I change my snowshoe, socks, shoes, the works. I wolf down two large cups of the same veggie soup and Leah suits up to join me for her 'fun run' on my lap 4. She fills me in on her day of volunteering, I mumble some words about how nice the trails have been even though i'm still fighting out of my gloom and doom of lap 3.
Leah and I walked across the finish line in 8:41:57. A respectable time indeed. Had I not been foolish with my water, nutrition, and gear i think a sub 8 hour would have been achievable. The trail conditions were far better than they had been in the last few years. I'm already excited to return to Amee Farm in June for my tour in the nettles of Bloodroot.