Oct 9, 2009

Race Report: VT 50K part 1


(if you can't see a video here, please click for the youtube version.)

I started writing this report the day after Vermont. Looking at it now, I'm am trashing that entire document and rewriting - it's amazing what a few days separation will accomplish. I also revised the video above, the current music is not the original music.

To say I didn't enjoy Vermont is an understatement. The entire last 9 miles was generally unpleasant, and I hated every inch of the last 3 miles. Never have I had a more intense "I just want this to be over" urge, and the conditions were not exactly helping me finish faster. I lost my mind out there, and I'm not trying to be dramatic. I really, literally, & completely lost my cool. I was actually angry at the trail and I didn't hide my emotions.

So. yeah. It wasn't pretty and I'm not proud to say that I finished. If I had it to do over again, I would have dropped with 3 miles to go.

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Bright and early saturday morning I was dropped off at Tony Portera's house, for together we'd be driving to Vermont and rooming there. After an uneventful and fast drive up on a beautiful day, we checked into the race and then into the hotel, sat back and watched some college football. Soon others arrived, and before long a large group of us, 7 or 8 strong, were eating dinner at an italian restaurant in Claremont, NH where I ordered a stromboli and got a bit more than I bargained for.


Monster Stromboli. I finished the thing, too.

It was not lost on anybody at all that, weather-wise, Saturday would have been the perfect day for Vermont. But we were running on Sunday. At some point that night the rain started and when the alarm went off we sheepishly peaked outside, hoping against hope that the torrential downpours at Virginia Tech we saw on TV football game earlier that afternoon hadn't made it up to New England, but of course they did. I was still optimistic about the day, reminding my friends of the Joe Bastardi quote, "enjoy the weather, it's the only weather you've got." Little did I know that, in our group I'd be the one enjoying the weather, or at least the mud that resulted from it, the least.

Since most everyone in my group was running the 50-miler, and since the 50-miler started over an hour earlier than the 50K start, we were there a couple of hours before my scheduled start and the race organizers were ok with me starting with them - I'd rather just get started rather than waiting around in the morning. There was a light mist/drizzle which would not only stop all day for periods of downright rain.

The first 3 miles of the course are mostly downhill, something that I kind of like about Vermont. It gives me a chance to warm up without really exerting myself, and since it's downhill, if I go a bit too fast it's not that big a deal. I wasn't going to fast, other than another 50K runner or two behind me, everyone went out faster, and I was all alone without a soul in sight within 2 miles. Soon we arrive at the first hill, a 1.5-mile continuous road climb, which I aggressively powerwalked, which I'd regret later. Halfway up this climb I spotted two runners ahead of me and that only increased my pace - I can't resist the opportunity to reel someone in if I have the chance.

Shortly after the first aid station we get on a trail and it becomes very steep for a short distance. This is where I finally caught a guy in red, who turned out to be my trail companion for about the next ten miles. Coming from Minnesota, His name was frank and he had run over 400 marathons, and was working on his fourth completion of the 50 states marathon club. What an interesting fellow. I didn't slow down my aggression on the uphills, however, and we'd go through a period where I'd lose him on the uphills only for him to catch me going down. We'd chat on the flats.

The 50K course splits off the 50-mile course before aid station two and once we got to the aid station at about mile 8, we were told we were the firs 50K runners to come through. We held this first place position up to about mile 10.5, and shortly after we rejoined the 50-mile course with a few of the faster mountain bikers, well ahead of all 50-mile runners.

please click here for part 2.


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