Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Virgil Crest 100

This is a race report of George's incredible weekend accomplishment. It is written and reported by him following is his awesome experience. I am so proud and in awe of his amazing determination and focus!!

Keep Dreaming!

Annie.....now on to the report!!

Virgil Crest 100 Race Report

First off, congrats Emma and Ian for a fine race on a super tough muddy course. Emma, wow, first 100 and second woman. It was fun sharing this race and seeing them on the course. Simply great peeps.

I never planned to do the VC, but after I quit on myself at VT, I felt the need to do a Fall 100. My two choices were VC or Grindstone. I went for the shorter ride and went for VC.

The course is an out and back once for 50, twice for the 100. The course had a whole lot of muddy, twisted trails, if you lost your focus you were going to do some serious damage by falling off a cliff or steep incline. Each leg was basically 25 miles which was broke down into 5 sections. The first section was the most runnable with basically access and double track trails. The second section starts off mildly enough, but then turns into this crazy up and down ''O'' trail, crossing through brooks where you had to, because of the mud, crawl down and crawl up. It ended with about a mile of road section down hill (uphill on the way back) to the second Aid Station, Lift House. The third section runs you up down, up down, the Greek Peak Ski area with many 35 degree ups and down which were very muddy. This reminded me of the Loon Mtn. Race which is fun once. Torture 4 times. After completing the first Alpine Loop, I ran into the RD from the Finger Lakes 50, who I had met at his race, StoneCat and Pinelands. After some small talk, he asked what I thought of the loop and I jokingly told him, "that's not a hill, in Maine we consider that a speed bump." You can add that to the life long list of smart remarks I would pay for later. After doing the Alpine Loop, you head to Section 4 which rewards you with another muddy single track climb up the back side of the mountain. From there, you continue on all single track. With many sections, you had to watch your footing or pay dearly. The last section to the turn around is alot more of the same except for one section it climbs up a mountain where you need ropes to get up and get down. This wouldn't have been so bad, but the trail was very greasy and not giving this respect when you were tired or at night would have been serious. So to sum it up, slow goin'.

I knew from the onset, I was in for a fight. The first 50 went by pretty uneventful except for one time where I was sent down the wrong path by an aid station worker resulting in an extra 2 miles and a loss of 25 minutes of time that I would have liked to have at the end. I am not totally without blame, I should have known I was going back down the trail I came from, but I was at a low point and trusted the aid station worker. Putting that behind me, I came into the 50 mile mark at a jaw dropping 16 hours. Here I vented a little to the RD who was very nice about it and picked up Annie for some night running. She kept me company for the next 2 sections until Alpine loop #3, where I convinced her to go back to the hotel and get some sleep because I knew I needed her more the next day to pick up the pieces. I was not going to be in as good a shape as after the McNaughton 100. The rest of that loop was pretty uneventful. I bumped into Ian and Emma who had about 20 more miles to go and they looked great. This part of the race was just about keeping forward motion and getting through the night. I was moving toward the turnaround, day light was coming up and all and all I was not feeling too bad. I got to the turnaround mile 75 and was informed that I was a few minutes from being cut off. At this point, I had to go back on my attitude that I wrap my mind around going into this race before I started which was finish or hospital. I know this sounds crazy, but for this distance, I have to be all in with no wiggle room. I didn't come all this way to be cut off because of my slacker running habits. With renewed vigor I set off, on the final 5 legs. First part, I actually felt good and was running like it was mile 1. I got to the aid station and was informed I just picked up a good amount of time on the Aid Station cutoffs. Energized by that, I started heading off on the second section passing people, and feeling OK, but fading fast. About half way through this section, (83 miles) I noticed, I was starting to see things that weren't there. Ferns looked like tent sites and logs looked like people until I got right up and focused on them. Nothing too crazy, just things that weren't there. I wished I had some tunes, so I could fully enjoy this diversion. A couple of squirrels crossed the trail and I started asking the squirrels if they knew Mindy and if they would keep me company. I was riding on the crazy train, but still moving OK. On to the last Alpine Loop. At this point, it was about 12:30 sunny and 80. Starting up the climb, I had nothing. Not only was my mind starting to get wacky, but my body was at it's lowest point. The sun was making me sweat profusely, dizzy headed and nauseous. I was in trouble and in danger of passing out. Being a man of loose beliefs and not comfortable with asking for help, I started asking, begging and praying for help. I repeated that I need some help. This went on for about 10 minutes. Finally I started to come out of it and continued with the climbs and even more painful descents. At one point, I stepped in a muddy section and lost my shoe. When I pulled it out, it was full of mud. Scooping the mud out and rinsing it with my water bottle, I jammed it back on my swollen foot. For some reason, I actually thought this was funny. That fourth loop was flat out painful. Ever aware at any moment on the 30 degree decline a cramp could seriously hurt me. Getting done with that 4 1/2 mile loop in a jaw dropping 1 hour 40 minutes, I was actually still moving OK and I was OK on time. Back to the final 4th leg, you walk about a mile of uphill road to the Finger Lakes Trail, which again, you are rewarded with more time zapping wet twisted trail. Finally, making the last Aid Station in OK time, I knew I had it. The last section which is the most runnable, I was in get it done mode. Running as much as I could despite my feet causing me sharp pain from 35 plus hours of wet shoes, blisters (which I ignored to the point they broke apart on their own) and pounding. The course finishes with a wrap around the lake walkway where I could hear Annie, Ian and Emma cheering. It was over. I never thought, it would take 35 plus hours, even for a back of the pack slacker runner like me. Kudos to you guys running 100's with more than 20,000 feet, that was plenty for me. All and all, a good race though I am definitely more beat up than from McNaughton. The course was well marked. The Aid Stations were well stocked. The RD had it together.
I would actually like to do it again under drier conditions. I feel good about my performance, because I know I spent it all. Next up Stone Cat 50, where you may find me putting some effort into it or dropping to a fun run marathon and hanging in the woods by the keg. 100's are crazy events, but I definitely get something from wrapping my mind around a goal and not giving in. But be forewarned when you are sitting on the couch reading the blogs and it all seems so doable. I was so trashed after this one, I had to curl up on the bed still muddy where I shook uncontrollably for about an hour. Thanks to TM Nation for all the help and positive vibes. Maybe they came through for me on that fourth Alpine Loop.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


''O'' for the O Trail and for Old unpublished Bradbury Breaker Race Report

OOOOOOOooooooooooh, I should be so happy I am the proud owner and wearer of a Bada$$ hoodie, but why didn't I feel happy. Could it be I didn't feel Bada$$. I didn't fall and get bumped and bruised in any of the races? I for some reason felt I don't know what. It's taken me awhile to come full circle, but everything finally comes around.

The Bradbury Breaker fell on 9/11 this year. A few days before the race, the company I work for published some stories from associates who were working in our New York office on the 30th Floor of the North Tower 1 of The World Trade Center on 9/11. One in particular really made an impression on me. I've never met anyone who was actually there, his story was incredible. He described how he stood there holding the door and taking a head count and a sweep of the floor to make sure everyone was out. As he got to the 27th Floor he stopped and was asked to wait with a coworker and another coworker who was a quadriplegic in a wheelchair who were told by security to stay put and they would come get them. He wrote, ''nobody knew what was going on and we just thought it was a fire drill...I was happy to help.'' After receiving a frantic call from his wife who was watching CNN pleading with him to get out, he had to make a decision. He offered to carry his coworker down with the help of the other coworker. But because security told them to stay put they wouldn't leave. He had to let them know he was leaving. Shortly after getting out the building, as he was walking away, he turned around and saw the building collapse. As I finished his story, I reached out to him via our company IM and thanked him for sharing his story. I silently vowed I was going to run my race in tribute of this man.

Before the series started, George let me know he would run this race with me due to my fear of the ''O'' Trail. He had Virgil Crest coming up and was just fine to run with me. I really felt safe and secure and wasn't nervous at all. I was pleased when Ian took a few moments of silence in tribute to 9/11 before the race. I appreciated having the time to focus on my 9/11 survivor. We were soon off and we jumped in at my usual back of the pack and it felt great running. We seemed to move along and the twists and turns felt fun. I continued to have fun and felt great throughout. And then, ''O''. The first few ups and downs were great. At some point, Kate popped on by and then she was gone and then were we lost, we were seeing people, I heard Linda yell and then we saw or heard no one. Oh wait, there's Natasha, what????? Seeing her strained face and she was walking was shocking, she had been lost for an hour or so, horrors! Were we going the right way, had we circled the same taped area 2, 3 times? I whined. Poor George. He said something at the end like, ''usually I'm following someone''...This made me chuckle..because I'm usually never following anyone. :)

Although I was a few minutes faster than in the past, I felt defeated by the ''O'' and frankly not Bad at all. I kind of felt like I let my 9/11 survivor down by whining.

Still searching from my feelings of defeat of the ''O'' Trail, my thoughts shifted to Cortland, NY a few weeks later. George was running the Virgil Crest 100. Ian and Emma were also running. Adventures!!

I played spectator and planned to do some miles with George. The plan was to meet him after his first 50 and provide another set of eyes for night running. The glow sticks can get a bit memerizing at night. VC used reflective tapes which were better than glow sticks and as the race director described enviromentally friendly as they can be reused. George came into the 50 mile point later than expected and he was a tad worked up due to some extra miles he did through direction of a volunteer. I could tell he was at a low and did my best to run with him but most of all to get his thoughts shifted away from the mix up. I told him how Val had a bad fall at Bradbury that day. He asked if she hurt herself and what happened. I also filled him in on TM Nation and how everyone was following the run. I told him about Ryan's funny posts and everyone else's support and comments. I think this really helped him work through things. We got to an aid station and I was looking forward to going up the ''hill'', although typical George style, he was worried about me getting back to the start area to get to my car, so I could get some sleep and as he said, ''pick up the pieces in the morning.'' He sent me off with some kind relay runners who were heading back. As I left him, he was stuffing his foot into Inov's with a great grip, but really not the best width for his beat up feet. I was sad to leave thinking about him running by himself. Although he took great pains to ensure I had good directions getting to and from the hotel, I took a wrong turn back to the hotel and drove up and down 81 hoping no drunk drivers were out. I finally figured out how to get back, although I felt like the town sign for Marathon, VT was mocking me in a wierd way

I headed back the next day and it's hard to describe how inspirational and emotional it was to see Emma and Ian finish. The end of the run is both toture for the finishers and for spectators. There's tons of anxiety waiting for a runner to pop out of the woods and then to loop around the lake to the finish. I could barely take pictures of Ian and Emma as I was chocking back tears.

As I waited for George, it started to really heat up, the temps were maybe in the 80's. I somehow got in my head, they were shutting down the aid stations and he would have no water. Of course this wasn't the case. I paced, I moved my chair to about 10 different locations, took to standing on the picnic table for an ariel view and was even getting special delivery updates from the kind computer timing guy and a kind woman volunteer. I FB'd a special friend and told her I think I was going to die waiting. Thanks special friend for your encouraging words, I didn't die waiting. I finally saw him coming from the woods and he was on the final loop around the lake. I yelled and yelled that he had it and he got into get it done mode and finished! I was so happy and quite surprised he didn't look as beat up as I imagined. Note to self..''gotta have faith.''

So my full circle is, I'm really not a Bada$$. I realized this when I was talking to some home schooled kids out doing a science project in our neighborhood and felt the need to fold my arms to cover the Bada$$ on my hoodie. Maybe the ''O'' will always terrify me. I know I'll always cry when I see others accomplish an amazing challenge. I'll also continue to think ridiculous things when George is out there. And I'll always be humbled by stories of folks who are really Bada$$. But how can you not love it, trail running rocks! It's always filled with adventure and fun. It's about being in the moment and most of the time for me, surviving the challenge whatever it may be. I guess maybe, I'm a little Bada$$.

Keep dreaming!