Saturday, April 3, 2010

Northen Nipmuck and Reflections

I ran Northen Nipmuck today with about 120 other enthusiastic, outdoor loving, crazy runners.  It was a blast!  I managed to finish in the Top 20 despite minimal training, falling about 10 times and going off course a bunch.  I had to wear glasses due to my ulcerated cornea issue, and it was like running blind.  As most of you know, doing a face plant takes a lot of energy out of you during a run, so you can imagine how 10 of them would feel.   I'm a bit ahead of myself again, so let's start from the beginning.

The Goat and I drove out to Bigelow Hollow State Park to run Northen Nipmuck for several reasons:

1. Get the Goat some race experience, so he can learn to pace himself.  He tends to go out a bit fast, and NN makes you pay big time for that mistake.  I figured he would either run smart of learn a valuable lesson.
2. We wanted to scope out all the race details for our pre-race planning for Traprock.  Jimmy C. has been doing a great job with the race for many years now, and I figured Goat would appreciate all the details by seeing it first hand.  We also wanted to recruit for the race, and brought some Traprock flyers.
3. Pay homage to my ultra-mentor Jimmy C.  He taught me how to run ultras on this course, and it holds a special place for me.
4. I haven't raced in 2 years...partially due to some scary GI issues that occurred after VT100 2 years ago.  It happened in every race thereafter, so I stopped racing.  I was hopeful for a fresh start.

So, how did we do?  I would call it a successful day!  Goat ran a very impressive race and finished 24th overall just behind Deb Livingston.  He paced himself well and finished strong.  I was very happy for him.

I ran pretty well despite my overall lack of training.   Mark and I traded places several times during the race.  We were around 16th and 17th at the halfway point and Scott and John Agosto were in front of us.  Scott Livingston and the Legend (Rich Fargo) were in front of them.  I ran a great race a couple years ago and managed to beat Rich by a couple minutes, but I had no business running with those boys today.

 I caught up to Scott at the top of the next hill and then Mark and I caught John just before the last aid station (mile 12ish).  John and Scott are in great shape, but I suspect they went out a bit too fast.  NN is not forgiving in that regard.

I felt my energy level fading and knew Mark would have a strong finish.  I was starting to feel nausea and was concerned with the lack of energy.   Mark passed me as did 2 others and I hung on for what was probably 17th place.   I did a nice face plant on the last downhill and Scott Livingston said something about not seeing it.  I smiled and said, You missed the other 10 as well".  The course was very wet and it was hot, so I was pleased with my time (around 2:34ish?).

My voice was sounding very hoarse after the race and I felt a bit dehydrated.   I was wiped out, but relatively pleased considering all the issues.  I really did not expect to run that well.  I saw Jack Pilla at the finish area and congratulated him on this VT100 win, then hung out with Mr. Livingston for a bit.  I desperately needed a drink, so headed for the post race festivities thinking I would get Goat something to drink and catch him at the finish.  Goat finished a couple minutes after I walked away, so I missed it.  Bummer.

So, it was a successful day.  I'm not sure how many takers we had for our Traprock flyers, but we tried.  I later found out that my GI issue has returned.  I think it explained some of the nausea and fade at the end.  So, not sure what that means in terms of future races.  We'll have to see.

I turn 46 tomorrow, and have been feeling my age this past year.  Aging is not pleasant, but it is what it is...  It doesn't matter though.  It was a beautiful day on my favorite trail course.  I saw my ultra mentor and his good buddy, Jeff, who also mentored me in my first ultra.  I ran the course that I have covered as often as any place I have trained.  It was the course that kept me functioning when my divorce sent my world spinning.  It was the course that I ran my first ultramarathon distance on.  I remember Jim and Jeff saying, "You just ran your first ultra" after we finished a 34 mile training run one day.  I had only intended to do 16 with them, and I knew I was in trouble when they said, "Welcome to Massachusetts!"  It was the course where I completed my longest training run ever...9 hours and 10 minutes in 95 degree heat.  It was the course that delivered me to two Top 10 finishes at Vermont 100.

I am so grateful for being able to run this trail as often as I have these years.  Even though I don't get out there much these days, I have the course pretty well memorized.  It was helpful today since I was running by brail most of the time!  Ha!

Thank you Nipmuck Trail and thank you Jimmy C. for a great race!  Thank you for teaching me how to run ultras.  It's been a great ride!

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