Milestones



This is the 2011 breakdown. 

No, I'm not referring to my hobbling along a dark and dusty road during the wee hours of New Year's Day in Westminster, MA to kickoff January (though true - and for the third time that morning)..... nor does it refer to my 'more vulnerable than usual' emotional state over the past few months (also true). 

I'm referring to my 2011 running plans!  Putting things into motion for this 'season' (airquotes) gave context to last year, and so this post has turned into a 2010 recap of sorts too. It's become clear why I didn't keep up with posting after about April -- last year was hugely rewarding and taxing... even before it was half over! I do believe I'm just now coming to appreciate the rewards for what they were/are -- but by about the time August hit, I had already realized the cost of the taxation.

I'd gotten into 50k shape by April for DRB, run a brutally-hot Seven Sisters in early May, then ground through back-to-back 50 milers at Pineland and Peak a month later. This was the plateau I'd set for myself, as the goal for getting into shape for running VT100... my first 100 mile race attempt.

If I wasn't already having enough fun, the USATF-NE mountain series had arrived :) I had my hard-earned mountain-goat bypass to Mt. Washington from racing in 2009, and my dad got his second bib in as many years.. so we got to run (half of) the race together. For reasons that escape even me on some days, I decided to then run back down (amidst the departing race traffic, and emerging bike traffic from Laconia NH's Bike Week... their annual Ride Up Mt. Washington after the road race make for the busiest day of the year on the auto road. I'll never do that again, but I did pick up a black HarleyD fingerless glove as a unique momento of my jaunt back down.. bitchin'. Once you get up on mountainsides in the Whites, it's hard to pass up the other races in the series... and so I ended up back at Cranmore (love!) and Loon (loathe!) the following weekends. This gave me exactly two weeks to taper into Vermont.

Michelle keeps me laughing through
the delirium of mile # oh-my-God @ VT100
The Boulevards of (potentially) Broken Dreams.... this is now how I now think of the dirt roads of the Green Mountain State... they are vicious, and understatedly-so. More than once, I've seen them dole out a Did Not have Fun result to an ultrarunner. Despite my lack of full confidence and training, I managed to win the day (and night, day).... because of some good planning, abit of luck, and a wonderful team effort.  I'm tremendously grateful to Bill Howard, my crew chief... and to first lieutenant Kim Koerner.. together they ran the ship with Naval efficiency.. I had fresh ice in 96° heat! 

Then you have my pacers. To Michelle and Emily, I want to thank each of you for pulling so hard... I know it wasn't easy, for lots of reasons :)


Finally, to others before and on that weekend who lent me support - my family, coworkers, Kate, Dan, Damon, SJ, Stas, Jen, Julie /the O'Mara's, Steve, Streph and others...Team Extreme, Trail Animals, TUGGERS... mille mille grazie.

Perhaps it was due to so much walking at Vermont, but the next weekend I was able to run a sub-5 hour time at Escarpment, which proved to be a good prep for going out to Utah for the final weekend of July. Speedgoat 50k @ Snowbird, Utah ... epic, fierce, gorgeous, and I finished. And I was spent... but didn't quite know it yet.

Looking back, this only became apparent about 3 weeks later, the night I drove up to Pinkham Notch on my own in mid-August - trying for a midnight start of the MMD 50k. I arrived in a state of discombobulation - after a long week/day of work, with barely enough gear and sleep to get going... and minutes to spare - then it hit me. What was I doing? Hadn't I had enough? I didn't have to do this...... I didn't have to continue pressure-testing my own expectations at any cost. 

Almost instantly, I started having a mental renaissance. That's when I started filming - this group of New England seasoned ultrarunners was almost ready to depart, so I captured what I could of the collective prayer - planning to capture much more the next day. THIS is how I would keep myself honest..... I would sit this one out. 


Soon after watching the runners fade into the cool still darkness of the Imp trail head entry off of Rt. 16, I'd fallen asleep in my tent -- a mind that had been racing for a really long time was finally being allowed to slow down.... content with the knowledge that I was Doing Nothing Fatal, and would still get to enjoy all that the weekend's environs and friends' had to offer - perhaps even more so than if I'd run. And so it was.

Summer transitioned into Autumn, and I did manage to retain/regain some motivation to run.... my first stint on a RTB team in September was a nice way to rejoin the road-running community after a long hiatus. After going back to Vermont50 at the end of September, I forced myself down to Bimbler's Bluff 50k in CT for my big October race - I didn't want to let the month go by without a solid outing before Stone Cat, but I also didn't want to make the trip that day. I remember it being very cold and grey, and I didn't run particularly well...but I had fun, and my recollection is brightened by the action-shot I snagged to anchor the Ultrarunning magazine race report months later. Imagine that :)

Stone Cat in November went to plan with my final 50 mile finish for the year, and with Jen getting her first 50 mile finish... gratifying to watch. And with December, I spent my final day of racing on familiar terrain back on the Skyline loop at the Fells. Always good times. And before I knew it, it was New Year's Eve :)

And, and, and.... see? It's so easy to just keep going. For those of you still reading, here's how things have/ are shaping up this year... in loose chrono order...

JANUARY
GAC Fat Ass - confectioners sugar snow was exceedingly frustrating last year; this time around, I made it twice as far... having a real blast with Bill and Michelle on the way to our 4 loop marathon :) 

FEBRUARY
Cape Cod Frozen Fat Ass 50k 2011 - My first 'all-sand' ultra... starkly beautiful running on the beach of the Cape, through actual dunes and remote outposts only accessible via Jeep roads. Loop 1 with the team was a bunch of fun, with a fair amount of energy. I spent Loop 2 with Steve trying not to slow him down, and keeping myself from talking too much... dual Fail. But with a final 4 miles on the beach into a solid 30+ MPH headwind, I finished invigorated for what this year has the prospect to be :)


MARCH
+ Peak Snowshoe Marathon - I can't even muster an explanation.   Happy Birthday to Emcat! and to me! 
+ Fells Spring Ultra - she'll aways be my first... 

APRIL
+ Blue Hills 10miler - a day out with friends, old and new! 
+ DRB50k - because I got a bib for Boston!
+ Boston marathon - because I got a bib for Boston! 
+ Poco Loco Boston - a podcast-related event along the Charles River near month end.. introvert gets extroverted. More to come :) 

MAY
+ Wapack 50miler - I've never done the full distance afforded by this race, and it's a good early season opportunity for some rugged miles nearby. As Bogie once asked me: "How do you know you can't do it?"   Indeed. 
+ Soapstone - I really enjoy this race.. I should go back this year; a good mid-month bridge


JUNE
+ Peak '50 or 54' miler - last year, I had an aid station volunteer tell me that the next aid station was "six or eight" miles from where we were... meaning on the *intended* route. For real?  Back for more this year... maybe I can finish before dark this time. 
Here's what I wrote with my data entry last year: VERMONT is for LOVERS ~ 
  • V+irtually always camping in a torrential thunderstorm.  
  • E+very race in this state is harder than the last. 
  • R+idiculous numbers of switchbacks. 
  • M+ud, mud, and more mud... 
  • O+h shit, is that a bear?!? a moose?!? 
  • N+o, phew...thank God... 
  • T+hese damn bugs!!
+ Mid month may take me to some of the mountain series.... 
+ End of month it's back to Pittsfield VT to support Michelle for the Peak Death Race. go-go hardcore superstah! It's going to be difficult making it to the Cranmore race on Sunday :)


JULY
+ maybe Loon 
+ maybe Blue Hills Skyline race 
+ Wakely Dam Ultra! - Super excited for this excursion 
+ Speedgoat 50k - registered, in planning mode! 


AUGUST .. we'll see.

With some luck, Speedgoat weekend will be the beginning of a week of vacation, exploring the intermountain west.  And with a likely 100 mile attempt in September, that seems like a good place to stop biting off.. maybe start chewing abit.  As it happens, I'm eating breakfast - then I'm off for some pre-dawn repeats on Beacon Hill. Us city folk have to make use of the terrain available to us..... and others do far more with far less. 

That's so true, it's not even funny.  This is the year I take nothing for granted.. no milestone, no relationship... not even for a moment.  Namasté.