Sunday, November 8, 2009

(Didn't Run) Stonecat 50 (Un) Race Report

As will soon become obvious from the pictures here, last Saturday was a drop dead gorgeous day. Temps in the forties, sunny, not terribly windy (unless of course you're on the bow of a ship). Perfect conditions for not running 50 miles.

It is always hard to not start a race you have signed up for. Especially a race with a no-return entry fee policy (yes, I understand why they don't refund the money, but it's difficult to swallow nonetheless). You see, my foot is better. So much better. But not all the way better. After three or four hours running it starts to ache. Just a little. But enough to be worrisome. Enough for me to realize that running on it for nine or ten hours would not be such a great idea. Indeed, would probably have me back on the couch for another month or two of difficult rehabilitation.

No fun, right?

So I didn't run the Stone Cat 50. Stone Cat was my first 50 two years ago. I had a great time running it last year. And when I signed up this year, back in August, I was quite certain that my tendinitis would be resolved by November. NOVEMBER! It felt like a million years away.


Just for the sake of argument let's suppose that in some bizarro parallel universe I did run Stone Cat. Let's say my avatar ran Stone Cat while I went about my business all the livelong Saturday. Because somewhere in my soul, I did run Stone Cat. It was never far from my thoughts.

I started running at 5:30 Saturday morning at Bluff Point with Susan. This put me 45 minutes ahead of the Stone Cat start time 75 miles north in Ipswich, MA (the race started at 6:15). The trails at Bluff Point are very similar to the Stone Cat course: rolling fire roads and single track in new growth forest.

Stone Cat consists of four 12.5 mile loops. It usually takes me between 2 and 3 hours to run each loop. Susan and I ran for three hours. We had a great time. We talked, we laughed. Right smack at the three-hour mark my foot started to ache a little. And I was actually a teeny bit glad about that. Because it meant that I had made the right decision. Stone Cat would have wrecked my foot again.

So Susan and I looped back from our 3-hour run at 8:30, which is just about the time I would have been finishing the first loop of Stone Cat. So let's say with perfect confidence that I ran the first loop.

I then dashed home and in 45 minutes made 5 lunches and umpteen snacks, packed 3 changes of kid clothes, baked a batch of bring-em-with-ya chocolate chip cookies, and funneled everyone into the car for the hour drive to Point Judith to catch the Block Island Ferry. It was sort of a last minute decision earlier this week: Brian and I took the kids to Block Island for the day. This, my friends, is an ultra event all by itself!

By the time I would have finished Loop 2, we were on the boat.

Loop 2 was delightful. We go off the ferry and took a little hike to a nice picnic spot.

Loop 3 was fun, too. We walked around the beach, jumped on rocks, burrowed through secret tunnels in the dunes, and visited a crazy, random island zoo.

And then we had to make the decision that every single person running Stone Cat had to make: do we really want to head out for Loop 4, or do we call it a day. Here was our dilemma: we were all happy. We were having a nice day. We could take the 2:00 ferry back to the mainland while we were still ahead of the game.

Or we could risk another 3 hours on the island and take the 5:00 ferry. The very last ferry of the day.

We consulted maps.

We took stock of our supplies. We mentioned the fact that, after all, we were here on this island, we had come all this way, and so and why not finish out the day.


We decided to stay. And not only that, we set off along the road (at least a mile and a half) to the Southeast Lighthouse. It took us an hour to walk an mile and half. Reader, need I say more? You would not believe the whining and the moping that went on. How do people walk this slowly, I ask you? Three toes sloths were passing us on the street. Centuries came and went in that mile and a half.

But eventually we made it. And there was, thank goodness, stuff to look at and climb. A hearty snack and a nice sit set everyone back to rights. The last loop is always the hardest.

The walk back from the lighthouse to town went much better. We found an old dirt road that made a little shortcut. It was mostly downhill. And when we got close, we bought the kids a treat. Because nothing gets you to the end of an ultra like a little ice cream in the last mile (even if it IS 35 degrees outside).

And just as we came back into town, we could see the lights of the finish line glowing in the distance. We made it!

So good to finish. SO amazing to sit down in the warm ferry with a cup of hot cocoa knowing you have run a good race.


  1. You're right about it being a perfect day to run Stone Cat. It was my first 50. It looks and sounds like you had a great time with the family so you really didn't miss out on anything. :-)

  2. Congratulations on your first 50 finish, Dan! I was mighty proud of myself the first time I ran this....

  3. Pam, based on my day at Stone Cat, it sounds like you had the better of it. And surprise, we do learn (and retain) things as we gain experience (is that better than saying getting older?).

  4. Nice one! I think you made the right call. :)

  5. Pam,

    You just learned again that running isn't everything, and that this will make you appreciate the next ultra that much more!

    Think Umstead...

  6. Is that "Guy" in the pictures wearing YOUR Stone Cat jacket? Is that some kind of joke? Is he some kind of joker?

  7. I love Block Island! I missed my annual pilgrimage this year. Glad you had such a wonderful day. I'm recovering from some recent injuries too. It's much harder to get older. It's always such a pleasure to read your blog, Pam.


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