Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day Weekend

Last year, I ran the Pineland Farms 50 miler in New Gloucester, Maine, and had a great time. Dawn ran the 50K to make it her first ultra, so it was a big weekend for both of us. I think we had broken up a week prior to the race, so the weekend was a bit weird, but fun and we ended up not broken up at all.

This year, I have been determined to enjoy some climbing, and especially on this particular weekend where Carol Ann and Frank host the Ct. Climbers and Mountaineers at their home in North Conway, NH. Their place is within walking distance to the cliffs at Cathedral Ledges, and we all have a great time. I really wanted to go this year, since I had missed the big event last year while running up in Maine. There was one small issue though. Dawn was running the Pineland Farms 50 miler, and I wanted to be there to support her. She was there for me at the Vermont 100, and I wanted to be there to help her at her first 50 miler. Funny thing is that we are not technically together, so friends kept wondering why I was going up to the race since I was not running in it myself. Well, it's just what people do for eachother regardless of "relationship status". It's why we are here on this planet as far as I'm concerned.

Anywhoo! It all worked out in the end. Our corporation gave us a Furlough Day on Friday, so Chris and I headed north on Thursday evening to get some jamming in on Friday. Cathedral Ledges is a big Granite face with many splitter vertical cracks for hand jamming and finger locks. I'm not the most experienced crack climber, so it always takes me a little while to get used to this type of climbing. After working about 12 hours everyday for the past week, I was completely stressed and wiped out. I needed a break. Chris, Paul G., and I headed to the crag, and I was happy to follow (vs. lead) on the first climb. Paul G. lead us up Toe Crack, and I was a bit wigged out by it since it was supposed to be a fairly easy climb. I decided to lead a face climb called "Still in Saigon" next, and took a small fall at the first bolt. I'm blaming the sunscreen on my hands, but who knows lately. Anyway, I managed to lead the rest of the climb without incident, and then Paul took over for the second pitch. We finished off the day with Paul leading Turner Flake and me leading Diagonal, both very cool climbs.

The next day, I had to do all the leading since Chris is a fairly new climber and Paul G. had teamed up with Ged for the day. I was feeling a bit better after a good nights sleep, and we put in an excellent day at the cliff. I was even a little surprised by myself when I decided to lead the first pitch of The Book of Solemnity, one of my favorite Cathedral climbs. After finishing off the day on Bombardment, we had logged 6 solid pitches, and Dawn was waiting at the house for the drive to Maine.

We stopped in Portland for some great Indian Food and managed to get to the hotel in Freeport at a reasonable hour. Dawn's race started at 6AM, so we needed to get up at 4:30AM to make it to the start. It was weird being the one in the supporting role, but I took my duties seriously. After seeing her off at the start, I promptly rolled up in my sleeping bag to take a nap :-) Seriously, what do you do when your runner is going to be out there for 10 hrs. or so?

Anyway, the 50K runners were funneling in, so I didn't sleep long. I got up in time to see Dawn come through at the 15 mile mark. She looked good, and seemed to be in good spirits. My work being done for the moment, I decided to eat breakfast and take another nap while she did the 5.5 mile loop. I figured I had about an hour, and then made it back to my cheering post. I saw some of the runners that had been in front and behind her, but no Dawn. Hmmm, she either came through beforehand, came through while I was chatting with folks, or is back there struggling somewhere. My guess was that she had come through already.

I had been planning to go for a run, so decided to run the course in the opposite direction to check on her status. This strategy really confused most of the runners expecially those that know me as a fellow runner. The cool thing about it was that I ran into fellow CT runner, Bruce, along the way. I didn't realize he was running the race, and was happy to see him. Go Bruce!

After running a short way with Bruce, I headed back on my route. About half way through the loop, I found Dawn walking up a hill (that's what you do at ultras unless you are super fast or stupid), and she was again in great spirits. Cool. My mission was accomplished and I continued to confuse competitors by running the wrong way.

After 10 miles, I decided to stop and get some water, and then watch for Dawn again. While I stood there, I wondered how the heck I ever ran so much and so far last year. I saw last year's second place finisher, Ron, cheering for his wife, and we both wondered why each of us was not running this year. We exchanged stories and then cheered for Daniel who was 3rd place last year. The 3 of us had duked it out last year and I was the one who ended up 4th. Oh well! Daniel was the real winner because he came back for more this year, and eventually finished 4th or 5th. Anyway, Dawn continued to run on her goal pace of 10 hours, but was getting chilled by some light rain. She asked for me to have another shirt for her at the next 10 mile interval, but I was a little worried when it really started to rain hard. Yikes! I put on my Superman costume (actually yellow rain jacket) and ran down the course to find her. After going a couple miles, the sun came out and I was sweating in my yellow raincoat. Well, I guess she doesn't need me now. Nevertheless, I spotted her walking up a hill and decided to wait there for her to come back around a short 1 mile loop. We chatted a bit when she came through, and off I went back to the car. At some point, I showered and ate some food and waited for Dawn to finish. When she came through at 10 hours and 5 minutes, I was incredibly happy for her. She seemed pleased with herself and headed directly to the beer tap to fill her well earned 50 miler glass. I had to smile as this was something I would never do. You go girl!

After stopping in NH for a nice dinner, Dawn dropped me at my car and I gave her a big hug. I told her I was happy for her, but asked her not to do another one for awhile. People always say that to me after a big race, and I always thought it was for my safety or something. As it came out of my mouth, I realized they say it because the whole event is so exhausting for the support crew. Ha! Anyway, I was happy to be on the supporting end for someone that has been there for me. I'm not used to that role, but I think I represented the duty well.

Today, I watched my Granddaughter while she teethed on her first tooth, and then took my daughter and her boyfriend climbing. Afterwards, I shared beers and stories with a couple climbing friends, and checked on Dawn to make sure she was feeling OK. She was doing great.

All in all, it was a great weekend. I had a chance to unwind, enjoy nature, share some time with friends and family, and recharge the batteries. Hope you all had a great weekend too!



Dawn Alguard said...

Thanks for making it a great race day for me.


Steve said...


I miss all my climbing buddies but Bike racing is taking over my life I ride 6 days a week and with all my racing free time is short. But getting in the best shape of my life. I'm Having fun and hope to get on some rock maybe in SEPT OCT.

Steve D