the long and short of it.. i got smoked in vermont yesterday. i ran a 7:41 for 7th place.
the course: 50 miles of dirt road and super smooth single track with 9,000 feet of totally runnable elevation gain. with the 50 mile mtn bike race starting earlier and over 400 runners (most ever) it was quite an energetic and exciting morning.. not to mention the longest bathroom line i've ever waited in pre-race.
sunday morning i woke up at 4:45am feeling better than the two previous days. i was still a bit congested but overall i was ok, not great, but ok. i headed over to the start from our campground and ran into matt estes (eventual race winner who probably set a new course record), who had just signed up the day before. if you don't know this dude.. he's super fast, doesn't race a lot but when he does he puts a hurt on course records. met him at hurt 100 in january when he beat karl meltzer and broke his course record.
the first mile had us running out of ascutney mtn resort down the road. a pack of us quickly pulled out front probably running sub 7s. i looked around and noticed a couple montrail jersey on guys i didn't know. i hung on to the back of this front group that included estes, they all knew each other and were kind of chatting. one of them introduced and it was leigh schmitt (i think), and todd walker was there as well. my heart rate was higher than i would have liked it. in a few miles the road pitched up and i quickly realized i was not going to be racing these guys. it was the last i saw of them, and it happened fast! the road started going up hill, and they were gone. i had nothing in my legs to chase, i was empty.
the terrain changed to some really nice single track and fun running. i tried to calm my mind about the 5 or 6 runners ahead of me already. i tried to push my pace, but didn't feel good all day. i came into aid station #3, mile 12.5, my sister was there with my bottles ready to go. my nephew was cheering for me and my mom said "you are 7 minutes back from the leaders... and i love you". this was awesome.. and gave me a huge boost.
right after that high left me my hernias started to hurt. i get some pretty bad hip pain when i run long and on this day i was getting sharp shooting pain in my right hip/glute early on. i let it scare me, and it got in my head. as i ran through the mile 26 aid station i was running scenarios of dropping. the main one that sounded reasonable was my hernias, my pain and how i didn't want to put myself in the recovery hole for a race and a day that was just not going right.
luckily however i was able to banish those thoughts. i reminded myself that i'm not quiting unless i'm truly going to do some sort of permanent damage or simply can't put one foot in front of the other. but what turned my attitude was a combination of things; my nephew jackson didn't come to watch his uncle matt quit a race because it wasn't going his way, my mother and sister had done so much for me already to quit now wouldn't be fair, and finally the knowledge that i would learn some valuable lessons through this struggle. it didn't hurt that i was on a sub 8hr pace, which in my opinion was still a respectable time for such a a tough course.
this course is amazingly beautiful! i was able to get lost in the fall new england foliage and just enjoy it. the race was really well done as well. the only complaint i have was the bikers. there was a 50 mile mtn bike race going on as well that started before our race. so i quickly caught up to mtn bikers and ran next to them for the entire day - this sucked. i would pass on all the uphills, they would pass on the downhills. also i think since they were back of the packers they didn't know how to, or that you are supposed to, communicate as you pass. i was scared out of my shorts a few times by bikers just blasting by me on the trail without any warning, almost taking me out... it was nerve racking. also if you advertise that you have gel at the aid stations... don't put the gel in little dixie cups! who does that? racers need to grab gels (in gel packets) and go. at the high point of the course there were 40-50 mtn bikers resting. i had to maneuver through them to the heed cooler as i was out of fuel. there, i waited in line to fill my bottle. i waited in line! that was a very frustrating time of the race for me. i only write this in hopes the race directors can figure out a way to improve it.
ok so i ran in at 7:41 down the grassy slopes of ascutney mtn resort with my family cheering for me as i crossed the finish line! that alone made this race special, because they have never been able to make it to a race before.. i'm just sad i couldn't have raced a bit better - next time.
october 12th i get surgery on both of my hernias. this involves putting a mesh screen over my abdominal to prevent my intestine from ever poking through again. sounds terrible... however the prospect of racing without this or any other pain or injury is so exciting to me i can't wait!
for now i recover on cape cod with the family.. mm fudge.