The Tale of Two Races
With no expectations set forth by myself, I set off for the Lynn Woods Reservation at 4:00am on Sunday morning. All I wanted to do was get in a good long run of 62 miles and tried to lessen the gap of attaining 2,000 miles on the year. Running on a new trail system and meeting some new ultra runners were also a goal of mine for this race.
Upon arrival at 5:20am, I had noticed many had already gone out, leaving at 5:00am, in hopes of finishing before the 8:30pm cut-off. I slowly gathered and packed my gear, going with my Nathan hydration pack to start, some gels, S caps and my ipod (my secret weapon).
One of the RD's, Greg Esbitt showed up around 5:30 and we chatted about races we competed in and the goals for the day. At 6, he gave us a few encouraging words and we were off. Nate, a runner who I'd run with at MW100 for almost 40 miles, and I took the lead immediately heading into the dark carriage road entering LWR.
Darkness was still lingering and I decided to bring my headlamp for the first few miles. I only needed it for about 10 minutes before the sun poked through. We walked the steep uphills and ran the mild ones. The course had solid marking and no real issues in getting lost. However, Nate and I, upon chatting it up, ran by a turn and lost the lead to about 5 runners mid-way through the first 10 mile loop.
The 100k course consisted of two loops. A 10 mile loop containing single track and carriage road and a 5.5 mile loop with carriage road, single track and some powerline trail. All trails were in great shape with only one blow down to contend with. All 100k runners were to do 4 sets of loops, starting with the 10 miler, returning to the start, then heading out and doing the 5.5 miler.
Nate and I finished the first 10 mile loop in good time, quickly recorded our time on the chart, grabbed some grub and headed back out to complete the 5.5 mile loop. We talked about slowing down a bit and enjoying the run, knowing that we had many more miles to run. The terrain felt a bit more demanding on the 5.5 mile loop, with some rockier sections and some deep water crossings on the powerline sections (sounds familiar for anyone that runs with me on powerlines in my area!!). At the completion of the 5.5 mile loop we registered our time, grabbed some food and I headed back out solo. Nate wanted to take a seat and rest a bit.
So off I went on my second 10 mile loop. During this loop I started to pass some people that had started at 5am. In fact, many were just finishing their first 5.5 mile loop at the same time I was finishing mine. Maybe I should slow down? I felt good and the pace felt easy to me. So I continued plugging away and soon could not resisted the temptation of my ipod. I can count the times I've used the ipod on a run on one hand. I like to listen to my environment and music and running is new to me. I gives me a huge explosion of energy and I don't want it to become the norm. So I use it sparingly to say the least. The loop went by uneventfully and rather quickly.
The second 5.5 mile loop would give me 50k for the day and it did just that. I cruised through that loop with no issues, eating and drinking the whole way. Up to this point, I had only been drinking water, eating gels and S caps. I had taken some chocolate covered pretzels prior to every loop as well.
So 50k in the bag, and setting out for my third 10 mile loop, I had come to the conclusion that I needed a change. I took off my Nathan pack and grabbed my two hand helds. One with water and the other with blue Gatorade. This lessened my load overall but looking back, I have never tried listening to my ipod with my hand helds. I had always placed it in my waist pack or a back pocket in my shorts. I had neither and was unsure of what to do. Eventually, after trying it in the handheld pocket, in my side shorts pocket, cord hanging down the front of my shirt, back of my shirt, under my shirt, and basically choking me out at times, I finally settled with it in my shorts pocket while clipped to my shirt while under my shirt to prevent the cord from bouncing around...(you got all that?). This only took about 2 miles to figure out. I may want to work on this for next race...you think?
During this loop, for some reason, I just didn't feel like running anymore. My legs felt pretty tired and I wondered if the effects of the Ghost Train 100 were starting to hit me. I would have 40 miles completed which seemed like a good number of miles for the day. I figured I'd head home and get some much needed yard work done (I have a blanket of leaves covering my lawn, possibly two blankets!!) which I've neglected for a few weeks now. So upon completion of this lap, I sat down. I started talking to RD extraordinaire, Steve Latour, and we gabbed and ate the goodies on the aid table. Some cookies, a banana, a cinnamon roll and a coke and water mixture. Next thing you know, 30 minutes have gone by and I said, that's it I'm done and write "done" next to my name. We chatted some more and I kept thinking to myself, if someone comes and wants to go out for a 5.5 mile loop, I may join them....I want to be done, but I know my run is not over.
Now an hour goes by and Greg, the co-RD comes in with Jeff Lane the other RD. First off, awesome dudes and a cool race they put on. They spoke about going live with it next year, so I hoping they do, as it would be a big hit. They looked good but said their pace was slowing. These dudes have put some serious mile on the legs lately. Jeff finished second at the Ghost Train Ultra, then did 50 miles at Stonecat, then was running his 100k. Greg paced Jeff at Ghost Train for the last 40, did Stonecat (8:08!) and was running the 100k as well. Needless to say, these guys were animals! So off I headed with them on the 5.5 mile loop. I figured what the heck, why not. My wife and daughter had flown to DC for Thanksgiving, so I had no reason to rush home, and the leaves would still be there I guess...
After a few steps I worked out the kinks and warmed up. I actually brought a long sleeve, that I took off within a mile, and put my Nathan pack back on. Right after the kinks of sitting for an hour went away, it honestly felt like I hadn't run a mile the entire day. No joke. My legs felt fresh. Stomach fine. It was the weirdest/coolest thing. I thought, this won't last, its just my body fooling me somehow. The entire lap I was waiting to crash hard but it never came. We returned to the cars just as the sun was setting, refueled then headed back out for the 10 mile loop.
I wasn't really sure if I wanted to go. I know the pace would be slow and I was anxious to head home. Actually, I thought about turning around about a half mile into it. I knew I had to get up early (4:15am) for a 5:05am trail run that I organize with my high school students and it would already be tough running all these miles and still making it there and to work for that matter. Yet I headed out and had a blast. We saw numerous deer along the way, the Boston skyline lit up and the calmness of the night which I will always enjoy running in. Greg, who was also feeling pretty good at this point, ran hard with me up some of the steeper terrain and took in the views while we waited for Jeff. We made decent time, leaving at 5:45pm and arriving back at the cars by 7:15pm. At this point, I knew 57 miles was it for me. My legs felt amazing but it was just getting too late to continue. With an hour plus ride home, unpacking, packing for the next school day, run, and second job (landscaping), I would need all the minutes I could spare. So I bid the guys farewell and they headed off for the last 5.5 miles of the 100k. The only two finishers on the day.
Great race all around. Thanks a bunch to Jeff and Greg for putting on another ultra in the New England area with zero to minimal cost in sweet trail system. Also thanks to Steve Latour who gave me a book he wrote about the VT 100. Can't wait to dig in. My trusty Tecnica Diablo Max held up like the beasts they are. No blisters or hot spots the whole race. Drained well in the watery sections and provided plenty of cushion so I could run 5 miles the next morning (at 5:05am!!!) without any pain. Thanks Tecnica!