I realistically thought I could finish around 25 or 26 hours, so that was my goal. I didn’t care about place so much, but figured that if I ran my goal time, I’d be up there. I talked about my time goals at WUS because I think it helps in holding me accountable. I also had a crew and pacer because I figured if people were giving up their weekends to support me it was all the more motivation to suck it up and not fade or drop.
I went out about as hard as I planned. I had my Garmin on, and we were running between 7-8 minute miles on the roads. I ran and chatted with Brennen, who is a teammate on the Wasatch Speedgoat Mountain Racing Team. I run commute and 7:30 is a normal pace, so it felt comfortable and I didn’t feel like I was pushing. I probably should have slowed it down a bit, but there are few parts at MMT that are just easy running, so I figured I should take advantage of those various sections of road miles in the first 25 miles. My plan was to do as much as I could while it was light, and then survive the night. I basically either wanted to run my goal time, or crash and burn trying. I, of course, did not mention this to my crew or pacer.
I'm not going to give a blow by blow, but will just point out some highs and lows.
Falling. It’s something I do well. I started running on trails about 2 years ago and can claim 4 broken bones in my left hand during that time. This go round I fell twice. Once was up on Kearns, which is probably the most technical part of the course, and a pain even on fresh legs. The second was a front roll up on Short Mountain. On the Kearns fall I cut open my middle finger on my left hand. Nothing major, but it’s the same finger I broke in March while training on MMT trails, so I had a moment of panic when I first went down. Especially knowing that I need to go back for a check-up with the hand surgeon in the next couple of weeks, and he’s going to ask what the big scab is from. The next fall I landed on my back up on Short Mountain. I’m not sure how I managed that, but no real damage done. I was pretty proud to have only fallen twice. Two falls and no broken bones is a definite high.
Music. I am a changed runner. I have never listened to music in the 20+ years I’ve been running, and get annoyed by people I pass on trail who are plugged in and can’t hear me. Well, I’m converted. I borrowed a friend’s iPod Shuffle and loaded 3 hours of my favorite 2 bands: Scroat Belly and Split Lip Rayfield. Kind of like blue grass or rockabilly on acid. I used the music a good deal during the day, and at some point in the night had to plug in again to try to get back into a faster rhythm. It was like being at a live private show in the woods all day. I used to claim I wanted to ‘hear’ the woods, yadda yadda. No more of that silliness. I did have some ‘quiet’ time as well, and enjoyed the whippoorwills and conversations with my pacer. I might consider loading on more music in the future—3 CDs over several hours is OK if you REALLY like the CDs. In this case, I’m kinda a groupie, and can listen to them for days.
My crew and pacer. I was psyched when Rick Kerby and Jim Daniels asked me a few months ago if I wanted a crew. I had seen them crew for Rick’s brother up at Vermont and knew that they were pros. They were indeed rock stars. And two of my non-running friends came out from DC for aid stations 5-7. That was great, too, as they have a better understanding of what it is I do when I disappear on the weekends. And my pacer rocked, as well. The whole bunch took great care of me, and even though I think I scared them in the beginning, they didn’t freak out too much. I was in the best hands possible.
VHTRC. The home course advantage of MMT was great—both in knowing the course and in knowing so many of the volunteers and other runners. At Bighorn last year I got really lonely and down. Not possible at MMT. Fun times. The VHTRC puts on great events and it was fun to see many VHTRC friends working the aid stations and out on the course during the run.
Potato soup. I had problems wanting to eat much of the day and night, but that potato soup at Edinburg Gap was awesome. It might have saved me.
Habron Gap, Aid Station 5. I was running slightly faster than my crew anticipated and I beat them to the aid station. I saw Keith, my pacer, and barked at him as to where everyone was. They had just pulled up, and I was not friendly to any of them. Jim told me I was moving too fast, and I think I just growled at him. I left the aid station, and then felt extreme guilt over the next 9 miles until I saw them again, and expressed my love for all of them.
The finish. I really didn’t have much left after about mile 90, and slogged it in. There were a couple of other low points during the day and night, but the last aid station was probably my lowest point, and then that final climb. It was longer than I expected and my legs were toast. I just couldn’t lift them over rocks.
Ensure. Ew. I've tried soy milk and yogurt on runs, and like it, and gave Ensure a try. I think I'll wait until I'm at least 75 to try it again. Eating in general was not fun, and I avoided it most of the night, which factored in to the slog-fest towards the end.
Toenails. I lost at least 4, and it’s the start of cute shoe season, dammit. No pedicures for me for months. Blisters were pretty bad over the last 20 miles but not bad until then. It was just too wet for too long. It’s 2 days post-MMT and I think I could run today or tomorrow if not for my feet.
Overall, I can't complain. I finished in 26:08.57 in 10th overall. A beautiful day in the Massanuttens and I set out what I had hoped to do, give or take 9 minutes. A huge thanks to Jim, Rick, Keith, Susan, Rina and all of the volunteers and runners who made this such a great day. Massanutten rocks, as does the VHTRC!