Sunday, June 6, 2010

Nipmuck Trail Marathon

After a week of fudging back and forth about whether or not to toe the line at Nipmuck this last Sunday (my left achilles had been yelping and squacking since Monday or Tuesday), I figured what the hell. You only go around once. And this was to be Nipmuck Dave's last race in 27 (29?) years of weird and wacky RDing. I figured I couldn't miss that.

Just before the race, in honor of his very last stint as Race Director, Dave stood up on a chair and did a little rap to that Michael Jackson tune Black or White.(Why did he choose this song? Why? Why? WHY???) If you have forgotten the tune to this little ditty, let me refresh your memory. The rap itself was kind of cute, complete with some wacky runner playing the Whoopie Cushion in the background.

Suffice it to say that I could not get that damn song out of my head for the duration of my five and a half hour run. I was pursued by Michael Jackson. My will was tested. My head damn near flew off my shoulders. Because I don't actually know any of the lyrics except "don't matter if you're black or white." Which in itself is a lovely sentiment (especially coming from a man who was an odd shade of gray). But to live with this stuck on a loop in your head for hour after hour..........well......enough said.

This race is divided into two out-and-back sections, one 12 miles and the other almost 15. The course is more than 26 miles, less than 27. The whole day, with the exception of that MJ song, went off without a hitch. My feet were fine, head was fine, everything was fine. This is a nice distance. Very do-able.

I ran with Grace, Davnet and Dav's husband, Paul for the first 6 miles. The field was smaller this year than in previous years, because Nipmuck Dave has become more selective about who he allows to run. And the weather did not look good: hot and humid with possible thunderstorms. We were out of the single-file crowd much sooner than the last time I ran Nipmuck two years ago.

We lost Davnet and Paul at the 6M turnaround. Grace and I chatted our way back to the start. We weren't running fast, just kind of chugging along, enjoying the day. The weather was heating up and the air felt incredibly heavy. No sense in going out too fast on a day like that.

Grace ran out of water a mile or so from the aid station back at the start, and my stomach was starting to head south. So that last mile of the first section was sort of grim and determined. There was no more chatting. Grace says she would have dropped right there at mile 12 if we hadn't been running together. I'm not so sure. Grace is tough. In her younger days, she used to finish this race in 4:15. That's moving!

I took an S cap at the aid station, which settled my stomach, and I vowed to keep taking 1 each hour for the rest of the day. All good. I refilled my Nathan backpack, but I rolled the bladder down the wrong way so it leaked all over my backside. Bleh. It took me a couple of stops and re-rolls to fix the problem. And then it didn't matter anymore, as I was soaked in sweat from head to toe anyway.

Grace and I around Mile 17. Photo taken by my old buddy, Chuck.

I like the second half of the course much better than the first. It's hillier, but much less rocky. There are no views on this course, but there are some pretty streams and rock formations, most of which are in the second half. I told Grace that the rest of the race was going to be a hill workout. We'd run up all the hills, no matter how steep. And we did. All the way to the turnaround at mile 20. And then Grace announced that she wasn't running any more hills.

Eventual First Woman Deb Livingston coming back as we are going out. She won handily despite stopping half way to nurse her baby!

Steps down to the 2nd turnaound point.

For the last 7 miles I was solo. I tried to pick up the pace, just to see how much I had left in my legs. I continued to run all the hills. I felt like I was flying. I passed quite a few people, tripped a bunch of times, and generally had a fabulous run.

As I crested the last hill, a mere 50 yards from the finish line, both calves and shins seized and cramped. It was excruciating. I must not have been taking in enough electrolytes after all. I seriously wondered if I was going to have to roll down the hill to the line. But the first few downhill steps relieved enough of the cramping that I was able to walk like Frankenstein over the line.


I finished in 5:35, which put me smack dab in the middle of the pack. My time 2 years ago was 5:15, but I was in better shape that year (I was training for VT), and the weather was not so oppressive.

I stayed and chatted with my old friends from Wapack, Al Cat and Jimmy C (the guys I kept mixing up that day). Grace finished soon after.

Grace finishing. Her feet were killing her.

Many thanks to Nipmuck Dave for putting on this event year after year. I have heard that the race will continue next year under the management of the Shenipsit Striders.

(Jim Campiformio holding court at the finish line.)