I had one of those epiphany-type ideas earlier this week. Do you ever get those...? The idea that just jumps from your brain and you immediately embrace it as "Brilliant!" Well, my brilliant idea popped into my head while I was getting ready for a business trip to Montreal. I was driving up on Wednesday afternoon for a meeting on Thursday. The meeting was scheduled to get out by 3pm, and I would be happily on my way back through Vermont to arrive home by 9 or so. Hmmm, how was I going to get in a run on this trip? Duhhhh! I slapped myself....I'll be driving through the Woodstock, VT area around 6pm...plenty of time for a test run on the VT100 course. BRILLIANT!
I guessed that the meeting might not end by 3 as planned, and traffic might be an issue, etc. I was tired from the previous days run. I had no idea how to find the course, and I remembered very little of it. Dawn had given me a map from Google showing the aid station locations, and I had read a post recently on Sherpa John's cool blog indicating that a group had recently done the 10 Bear loop. It seemed like a good idea. So, if I could find my way to 10 Bear, memory might get me the rest of the way. I packed my new headlamp and Garmin Forerunner as I knew I would need them.
After a crazy morning which required me to drop of my car for some body work (damn deer), and run to work...I picked up a rental car and headed north. I told Dawn about my plan and she quickly emailed me the VT100 course map. Thanks Dawn!
OK, so after hours of driving and sitting in Montreal traffic for more hours and going to the wrong hotel, etc. , I pass out in my room. The next day, I am in a fog and wondering how I am going to survive the meeting. My body is tired from all the training, work, etc. I look at my running gear and think, "Why did I even bring this stuff?".
After surviving a day of meetings, I practically run to the car to get ahead of the Montreal Traffic Madness and get on the road. I drive like a crazy man..only stopping for a couple Clif bars and Powerade. After meandering through Woodstock, I jump on Rt. 106S and start looking for the Camp 10 Bear turnoff. Ten miles pass and there it was....it looked so much different without tents and people and cars everywhere. It was just so empty...like nothing special ever happened there. The memories were there though. I remember people cheering as I came into 10 Bear for the first time 2 years ago. I was hurting, but re-grouped with my crew. I weighed-in and then was off. I felt like I should have sprinted away, but just walked up that hill.
So, there I was...I wasn't sure which way the course went as I hadn't looked at the map Dawn sent. OK, I drove up to the T and tried figuring it out. After driving on the wrong road for a ways, I headed back. I asked one guy for course directions and he had no clue about the race. How could you not know about a 100 mile race that passes your front door every year?
So, I head back to 10 Bear, and pull up the map Dawn sent on my laptop while I changed into my running gear. I took a quick look and tried to commit it to memory (yeah, right). I put on the Garmin thinking this will at least get me home if I get lost. It talks back to me, "LOW BATTERY". Great! Well, at least I have my headlamp.
Off I go! I cruise up toward the T, and a couple walking along the road ask, "When's the big race?" YES! Finally, I am in the right Universe. As it turned out, the race was in exactly one month. I smiled and trotted on... turn left at the T and head down a bit, and then recognize the road...I'm back! I can feel it. I was running with the Scottish gent on this section. Cool!
I get down to the bridge and it's out. Yikes! I find a little foot bridge and sketch my way across. Take a right onto 106 and take the first right back onto gravel roads. I get to the end of the road and it's just driveways. Am I on the wrong road? I find a trail into the woods and see a pink marker...Hmm, could this be it? I go up a way and find a yellow plate on a tree...YES! The race markers...The trail seems quite overgrown, but I plug on. I see a few more yellow markers and am happy. The trail dumps out on a gravel road, and I follow it down to an intersection. I don't know which way to go, so try one road that leads to nowhere. I try another road that leads to barking dogs and a scary man that knows nothing about the VT100. By now, an hour has nearly passed, and I decide to retreat back to the T and try doing the course in reverse. I figure I can take the gravel road up to the top of Prospect Hill for some fun. Well, this didn't work too well either as I couldn't figure out which road was right. I ran up a couple hills and eventually onto a trail. It was dark by now and I was getting scared of the creatures in the woods. I figured something was about to jump on my 132 lbs. of weakling and have me for dinner. So, I high-tailed it back to the car. At the car, I wanted to get at least 2:30 on my feet, so tried heading back from 10 Bear to the earlier part of the course. I climbed another big hill and thought, "These hills sure seem a lot bigger than I remember". I headed back to the car with my tail between my legs and a better appreciation for the task ahead.
I was home shortly after midnight. Reflecting on the adventure, I was pleased that I made the effort to re-familiarize with part of the course. It was fun and brought back some memories. I wish I had printed a copy of the course map as it would have helped. My new headlamp works great (Thanks for the tip, Mark!), and I know I need to keep working the hills to get my quads ready. All in all, it was a successful endeavor! Total mileage was probably about 15ish, but it's just a guess. Gotta charge that Forerunner!
Looking forward to being back there in 4 weeks for the adventure of a lifetime! Cheers!