Saturday, October 04, 2014

The Vermont 50

I distinctly recall looking at my watch at 7hrs and 30min into the race, around 12 miles to go. I simultaneously felt elation that I could really do this, and laughed in dismay (yes laughed) because I had ONLY 2 more hours of running to go! From a duration standpoint the heat (80s) had knocked the starch out of me by mile 26, so while the distance seemed reasonable the duration was agonizingly long. Thus the gameplan was: stare at my feet, don't do anything stupid, and just focus on intermediate goals; 40min to the next stop, 5 to the hour pop two salt capsules, top of the hour a gel packet, fluids every ten minutes, don't get ahead of yourself, etc... In the end it paid off. I hit the target I had set at mile 31.5, break 9:30 (the sub-10 was prerace...recalibrated based on in race performance). I also had a little mantra during that last 18.5miles; every step I take is further than I've ever gone. Really kept things in perspective. Hard to disrespect personal bests. Can't say I'm not the athlete I once was, because that athlete had NEVER done this.

Mile 18.2
Rather than a traditional race report, here's a random sampling of things that ran through my head during the event.
1) Wow, electrolyte pills really make a difference. For the first time in my life I hit them like a crack head hits the pipe. No cramps. Clear head. Made me wonder how my Ironman results might have improved had I gone a bit more all in on this. Ultimately they were at least important than the gels.
2) Sh-t these hills are steep.
Road section early around mile 15.

3) The playlist in my head...very eclectic. Everything from "Black Widow" to "It takes two". Classic rock to today's top 40, "Back in Black" to "Fancy". Don't judge.
4) Interesting who and what I thought about. Not too much day dreaming (good way to fall on your face), but definitely thought about some folks. Some of you reading this were on the list.
5) I thought about my oldest brother Dan a lot. He and I connected, perhaps for the first time in our lives, this past June. We bonded over an interest in Ultras. He's not a runner, but wants to become one. He's had a hard life but has kept going. Really an Ultra would be easy. I dedicated this run to him.
6) I face planted only once! I had just come through a long stretch of single-track and saw a road crossing. Relaxed and picked my head up about 10 seconds too soon. Stupid! (I yelled that out loud!)
7) The intricate web of hoses and black PVC for tapping maple trees was really cool. Must have taken a long time to set up.
Maple sugar production.
8) My legs hurt but I never "lost" them. I was running conservatively, waiting for the wheels to fall off, but they never did.
9) The energy was so supportive. You got the sense that almost everyone was there for a reason. Maybe not specifically for this race, but they started ultra running for a reason. That most if not all had a story, just as I have a story. The extraordinarily average guy from the last blog post was out there, but so was the machine v2.0. A new machine with compassion and emotion.
10) Not once did I think, even afterwards, that I'm never doing this again.
11) Somebody owns a really friggin' big dog. It was a dire wolf. It was part German Shepherd, part Black Bear. And it's running at me! I think I can make the woods before it crosses this field and I only need to be faster than the guy next to me! (As it turned out it was well trained. Hit the property line and just stared everyone down!)
12) Vermont in fall is gorgeous. Screw that "run your first 50 miler on a flat easy course." This was the perfect course in that it embodied why I wanted to run a trail ultra in the first place.
13) The logistics were easy. Show up. Put on shoes. Run. Yeah had to calculate some food needs, etc... but nowhere near as annoying and stressful as the logistics for an Ironman, and at the end of the day the satisfaction over the completion of the event was just as great. Don't ask which is harder. It's a stupid question.

and 14) My greatest motivation for racing/finishing with all limbs intact was being able to be a functional daddy...and can you blame me!