Yeah baby, we were nothin'. We existed for less. Our present was empty, our history a mess. But now we can see. Now we do as we please. - The Thermals, "Now We Can see"
The end of the Trail Mix may be in sight. Last year, the weather cut the entrants down to where I was able to win. This year, the economy, plus being sandwiched between Zumbro and Chippewa, has hit and the director, O.C., is hoping to get to 20 years - that's next year.
A week after finishing my first hundred, I went into the race just to finish. But I had to do it my way. Knowing I can always run hard for 60-75 minutes, I decided to make a show of it; as Matt Patten would say, Cool Hand came to the show. For a moment, I thought of getting an age class award, but Paul Holovnia's the same age, and while I can beat him handily most days, I can't spot him 100 miles!
I ran the first loop with Kurt Decker and Eve Rembleski, at about 7:48 a mile and held on for a couple more. At ten, I started to feel the strain and by 13, I was holding on for life. Still, I was in fourth place 1/4 the way through the race (Ziegenfuss, Kocanda and Eugster I wasn't going to chase; this is their home course, anyway) and 6th place after two. [Correction: I was a few places back from what I remembered. See comments.] The third lap, I ran much with Bob Triplett, who I'd run with last year at Voyageur [though I had trouble putting name and face together. He's now leading me in the Fab 5 Fifties series, so I won't forget again]. I desperately needed the port-a-potty at 18 miles (2 1/2 hours) and after that very long delay, I was chafing horribly, a continuation of what happened at Zumbro; fortunately, the problem resolved itself, though I slowed considerably. I hit the marathon mark well under the 4 hour mark.
And then I crashed. It took an hour to go the last 5 miles. I got passed by a ton of runners, but many were running the companion 25K or the relay and I wondered if some of the 50K runners might be a lap behind me. Many who passed did so guiltily, saying, "I know what you did last week." I ran briefly with Kim Martin, who I'd met earlier in the year and found myself saying I thought her hair was redder then; never suggest to a woman she's dyed her hair - I meant that I remembered it as redder. Chalk that faux pas up to tiredness. I was wearing my Garmin only because three other watches all died this week; it's all I have now, but it was handy to know where I was on the course. I checked it three times in one mile, I was suffering so. Near the end, one woman being taken off the course by golf cart due to injury called me by name and said, "You're awesome." I responded, "That's debatable."
My knees and hips started to have twinges, my upper back was sore and I developed a slight pull of my right gracilis muscle. As I said to Al Holtz, who was working an aid station, "These hundreds really take it out of you." Near the end, Val Shuster, who was watching (as were a few other Zumbroites), called, "Are you crazy?" That's debatable, too.
I finished 24th in 5:00:41. I wanted to break 5, but...
For those who haven't run the course, it's four loops, it's moderate rolling hills, some tanbark trail, very little single-track and only one notable hill. One goes down the ski hill (140 feet elevation, 1/7 mile long), which had just a few patches of snow left. There's plenty of wildlife for a suburban race, especially frogs; I saw a garter snake, my first snowy egret of the year and my first tree swallows (plus many barn swallows). It was extremely dry and one could do the run this year in road shoes. The trees were budding and there was so much pollen that the Powerade at the aid stations had a layer of pollen on top and one gust of wind made an orange cloud come out of a pine tree in front of me. Not a good day, if you're allergic, perfect otherwise.
Now I need to pull myself together for Chippewa next week. This five ultras in six weeks might be tougher than I thought, if I keep trying to race them!