Well I started writing this about a week ago, and then again a couple of days before the race… without any success, due mainly to a chronic lack of focus, disguised as a lack of time. This lack of focus is all over my little life at the moment, a sort of scattered inability to get on top of stuff, I wrestle with it but come away just slightly less than satisfied, not beaten just not totally happy with the results. Ho Humm
As I type this I would love to share my album of the moment ……Analyse from the album “The Eraser” by Thom Yorke , so I just click the little itunes icon on my cool little blog software and it adds a link…. too cool.
Oh yeah the race….. So as I was going to say before I got sidetracked.
So my week building up the race was exactly the worst way to go about prepping for this type of event. Away from home, hotels, strange beds, minimal sleep, all the wrong foods, nothing in the way of taper/easy runs, 4 flights [gladly short ones] and the stress that comes with all this job related crap… ho humm. I tried to take the Friday off work but the phone just kept on ringing as I raced like a fiend to get my shit together and pack for 3 days camping…. I won’t combine this type of event with camping again….. just too too much to think about.
Got to the campsite at Mt Ascutney National Park around 6pm and had the tents up, a fire lit and a pretty good camp dinner on the table by 7:30…. We were all exhausted and turned in for the night at about 9pm. The rain started about 2 am and woke us all up again…. we all slept on & off until about 8.
Bacon & eggs …… the absolute best way to celebrate Rosh Hosannah. Matthew’s dad would be proud. The rain continued.
The rain kept up until about lunchtime. We went down to the Race start/Resort to pick up the race package which included another great Ibex beanie, a good looking T and my number. I got to chat a little with Mike the race director and also with the assistant director of the VT 100…. but we’ll talk about this another time. Lunch was had at Bellows Falls, quintessential Vermont…. I could so get into this lifestyle, I love these people. back to the tent, packed my drop bags and took a drive to the top of the mountain, a favorite launch for hang-glidders. We couldn’t see a thing for the mist. Tommy decided that this would be the absolute best spot to see just how fast he could get his bike to go. We followed down in the van, its a 3 mile winding road and he topped out at just a little under 60 km/hr…. the kid is fearless! he wiped out at the bottom doing about 40 when he tried to brake… He’s very proud of his banged up knee.
Race Day. Out of bed at 4:20, thankfully with no rain, just very very humid. Yuck! Went through all the usual rituals of coffee etc. Shared a little espresso with the lone camper next door, a runner that I ran with for a while last year. Mitchell, a new yorker…. I am becoming more and more aware that we are a very small sub-culture. Lots of familiar faces. Got the rest of the gang up at 5 and down to the line we went. Race meeting and check in at 5:45, bikes everywhere = heaven for Tommy, you can feel the adrenaline… very tangible. The bikes have a staggered start starting at 6 through 6:20. We got to go at 6:30. One last trip to the john, where I met up with Meredith a CR buddy from the “virtual” side of the sport.
The actual race was not really that eventful, and not nearly as exciting as last year’s adventure. I knew what was needed, had a good idea of pace and nutrition and was sure I had an OK finish in me. I was also aware of starting out feeling tired and I found the humidity just a little uncomfortable.
The first couple of aids stations came and went, I was feeling fairly loose, I kept an eye on my heart-rate which seemed high at around 150 even on the flats, I walked all the hills and tried to gain some pace on the down-hills [which is code for “i love to barrel down the hills as fast as I can] Aid station 3 is at about 12 miles, where I sucked down a chocolate ensure, changed my shirt to something cooler and was on my way pretty quickly.
I could try and be poetic about the Vermont scenery, but it just wouldn’t do it justice…. you gotta go.
I think it was just after aid station 4 that rain started, we’d be going for about 4 hours by now and the heavens just opened. Those huge rain drops that you only get in a thunderstorm, I enjoyed the freshness and having the salt from my sweat washed out of my eyes. It felt good. really good! What didn’t feel so good was an hour later when it was still coming down and the trails were turning to soup. By this time I had hooked up with “John the Shuffler” , the dude that put me straight at Jay when I could just about manage a brisk cramped walk….. we laughed and tried to pick up the pace imagining the wet t-shirts of some of the better looking fitter runners that had passed us. Aid station 7, 32 miles and a change of shoes socks a couple of snickers
…. and I was on my way. Albeit without John who I think didn’t bother to stop…. At this point I felt happy to have dry feet again and was back in a pair of old faithful Cascadias [not 100% sure about the new model, tendency towards blisters?] but this happiness sort of faded into a bit of a low patch which may have been low sugar or something, who knows. Anyway I was still moving along at a fair pain-free pace and enjoying the ride. At this point I’d been going for about 7.5 hours…. Aid station 8 was the turning point. I confess I slipped a couple of Advil, and decided that I was going to have to dig a little deeper if I wasn’t going to disappoint myself. 8 miles to go and I knew I still had a fair amount of energy left. The plan was to see if I could catch a couple of tired runners somewhere up ahead of me. The running became more and more fluid and i found myself laughing as I even ran a few of the up-hills. Anyway by the time I got the last aid station I had caught 12 runners that had passed me at some point, a very satisfying feeling. Three tiny miles to go and I was feeling better than I had for about 8 hours…. I had kissed goodbye to improving on last year long before I even started, but I finished stronger passing another 2 runners [who were actually running and looking quite strong] and then finally one more walker about 20 yards from the finish…. I probably looked totally demented but man did ever feel good!
I got a nice shiny medal, BBQ…… man the beer looked good Ho Humm. Got changed and was on my way home half an hour later.
The strangest part is the detachment from reality I get after one of these things….. it’s just so hard to get back into the reality of life. I just want to go run some more. Is it the weekend yet?