Actually, more like Traprock 52 or 53K, but who's counting? I ran a race!! Holy bejoly, I actually, for the first time since last October, ran a freaking race!! No injury, no issues, no problem.
I met Bob Buckingham in the New London Staples parking lot at 6:45, and we drove the hour or so to West Hartford/Blooomfield in Bob's truck. We have so few local ultras here in Connecticut, it was a joy to sleep until a normal hour and still make it to the starting line with time (actually very little time, but still) to spare.
Bob had hurt his back cutting down a tree earlier in the week, so he wasn't sure he'd be able to finish the race. But he assured me that he was "out for the day" and he'd wait for me if he had to drop out early.
The first 5 miles or so are brutal: constant steep ups and downs. There were no long climbs, but everything was quad-burningly steep. It was impossible to get into a good rhythm. I didn't bring my camera because rain was in the forecast, so unfortunately I don't have any photos to share. But picture stairs cut into rocks and rocky trails going strait up and straight down.
The second 5-6 miles were much more runnable. Longer, gentler ups and downs, with a 1.5 mile section on old, beaten-up pavement. I used the pavement section as a mini tempo run each time around (progressively less tempo-y with each loop). It felt good to stretch out my legs and move.
The first lap went well. I finished the first lap in just over 2 hours, and got to finally meet in person my longtime FB friend, Betsy Maniero. Betsy had just run the New Jersey 100 (the one I was supposed to run in March, but didn't because of my darn foot) in great time, and she was getting in her volunteer hours for VT 100 at the start/finish/turnaround aid station. Great seeing you there, Betsy!!
As I was heading back up the monstrous hill to start the second lap, I saw Bob limping back down. He was done. The pavement section killed his back.
Just after cresting the hill, I hit my toe and went down in a sea of rocks. My sainted Irish mother must have been praying for me, because I landed serpentine fashion in the dirt around the rocks and came up fine. I was constantly stubbing my toes after that, and my race motto became, "Stay on your f---ing feet." It worked.
The second lap was otherwise uneventful. My legs were tired. The first and second place finishers stormed past me like I was standing still. I saw Bob back at the start/finish/turnaround. I told him I could easily be talked into dropping and we could both go home. He said, "NO! Somebody has to finish this race!"
Thanks, Bob. You're a trooper.
So I ran the last lap. By the last aid station with 4 miles to go I felt like I was crawling along, depleted and slow. I mixed half, Coke, half water into my bottle and trotted off. This stuff, let me tell you, was like rocket fuel! I thought I'd be walking the last three miles, but I ran them faster than I ran anything all day.
Zoom, zoom, zoom and I was done. 6:50. Middle of the pack. Finis!
Many thanks to Steve Nelson, who chose to direct this race despite falling 100 feet and shattering his leg in a rock climbing accident last year. It takes a special kind of guts to direct a race when you yourself cannot run. It's a miracle he's alive, and I look forward to running this course with him someday.
I haven't been writing much in this blog because I've been busy with my other writing job. Feel free to catch up here.
Next up: Soapstone 14 Miler, May 15th.