Saturday, February 21, 2009

Although not completely recovered from the Tahoe trip, I thought it was in my best interests to run a half-marathon today...  on snowshoes.  The race was designed so that all of the racers had the option to do the full-distance or be content with a shorter 4 mile race.  At any rate, all of the racers began together, and whether or not you chose to further your pain, you could continue on for the remaining 9 miles up and around the summit of Mt. Greylock ~ the highest point in the state.

Early on, I was challenged by the nature of the race...  I was not content settling in, and allowing slower runners to be out in front.  From a longetivity standpoint, it was in my best interests to remain patient, and allow the 4 milers to pass and continue onward and upward.  This mindset only lasted for about 2 miles...  then I sped along to catch up with the pack.  I am not guilty of pushing the threshold; however, I did amp it up to an extent.   When I chose to move along faster, I could see Tim VanOrden and Josh Merlis out in front.  At this point, the racers were very visible as charged up the legendary Thunderbolt Ski Trail.  At the halfway point of the 4 mile race, I was in second place.  I had moved up 15 spots in those two miles...  And for this move, I would inevitably suffer.  On the descent, I did lose a snowshoe cleat, and this would also make for a challenge later in the race, especially on the groomers.

Eventually, TIVO would win this race... and I would finish second.  When I stopped to lose my IPOD, and grab my fuel belt for the remaining 9 miles (back up to the summit of Greylock) I was passed by 3 other half-marathon racers...  two of which I would never see again.  Mile 6 was my first real challenge in the race, ultimately, forcing me to walk.  It was a long, gradual pitch, but it proved itself a challenge.  I was four deep in the field of racers at this point... and I knew I was being chased.  I looked over my shoulder and saw nobody...  Luckily.

After drinking several ounces of water, and chokin' down a GU shot, I was back in action.  We were all blessed with a mile and a half section of beautiful, powdery, downhill singletrack before what would become the most difficult mile I have ever run...  or walked.  On the descent, I did manage to pass Pete (who had driven in from Bar Harbor) and fall, almost literally, into the 3rd spot.  And then, mile 10.  I am not sure what the race director had in mind when he (aka lucifer) had the racers gain an estimated 700 vertical in that one mile.  Pete passed me, as I walked the climb.  

Fortunately, at the summit there was a 'food barrel' and Pete opted to stop.  I am thinking he chugged a water, and ate some fig newtons.  I had my supply on my person.  On the run, I swigged some H2O, and did another GU shot.  I looked over my shoulder and Pete had yet to begin running again.  He admitted to being really fatigued.  The last two miles were all down hill...  and without a cleat on my right snowshoe I was certain I would be pulling a groin... but made it happen anyway without suffering from an injury.  I would finish the half marathon in a time of 2 hours and 17 minutes, and in the third spot.  I was told 38 other racers were a part of the grueling, self-punishment.

It was the longest run of my life... and certainly provided for great mental preparation for this year's Lake Placid IronMan competition.  Hopefully, I will have regained composure before then...

Thanks for reading.

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