Jun 032011

by Mindy

I love how every race is a story. We write it as we run, we retell it with our friends afterward. Sometimes we embellish years later, but it only makes it better. Kind of a primitive re-enactment around the campfire about the kill for the day (ok, maybe that was a little too Dances With Wolves). This weekend was the Pineland Trail festival. Almost all the Trail Monsters were running at least one event and those who were organizing, working, or recovering, were there with added support and encouragement.

This was Val’s race, not mine, so I can’t claim any credit for the kill, my job was to help track. So I will just retell a small part of the story. The plan was for me to join about 9 miles into the 2nd loop at the Valley Farm Road aid station – after that it was about a mile back to the Grove where camp was set up and then we’d cruise around for the final loop of the 50 miler. It was hot. Watching folks run by while I waited was good information about how hot and humid it must be, people were drenched after their first lap. I cruised over to the aid station around 11am which was a rough calculation of when I thought Val would be coming by. While standing there, I saw Jeff, Danielle, Julia, and Randy come through looking strong for the 25k race. Blaine and Emma cruised through as well looking strong and shortly after, Val headed to the station and did a quick refuel. Her ITB was starting to grump a bit and she was feeling the effects of the heat with some muscle cramps, though still running strong. Back at camp she was met by cheers and we loaded up for the final 25k lap. I decided that my main job would be to push fluids with sodium and potassium and do whatever else was needed to help out along the way. We refilled bottles, Val rolled her legs, and Rick had potatoes and salt at the ready. With cheers from other TMs, we were off on the next lap. The heat was a definite challenge. Val seemed to work out a perfect mix of walk, run, stretching the piriformis, and getting in enough fluids and food. I just hung along for the ride and tried to keep things light and tell stories. We hit highs and lows, but her running pace was strong. I was just in awe of her consistency, persistence, and ability to laugh, smile, and just enjoy the surroundings the whole way through. She is perhaps one of the most mentally (and physically) strong runners that I’ve met, it’s quite something to behold on the racecourse. No complaining, no whining, just getting the job done, dealing with whatever was going on, and also relishing the whole challenge of it all.

I will leave all the race details to Val, but just want to say again how I am always overwhelmed with Trail Monster camaraderie in general, but especially during races. Cacky, Sara, and Karen at various aid stations were incredible. When we were about to cross Valley Farm Rd to the aid station Jeff was there waiting for Val to cheer her on and run a few steps with her and provide encouragement and congrats and high fives. During the final stop at Camp before heading to the Oak Hill side, Val was met with and surrounded by cheering Trail Monsters. Jim handed her a beer, Ryan held a bag of ice on the back of her neck, and everyone else joked and got her what she needed and provided a tremendous boost. In the last 2 miles, Alosaurus ran out and met up with us which was a huge boost. He ran with us to the last aid station and was so positive and encouraging. As we came around the final field on the Oak Hill side, Emma ran out to us cheering like crazy, Jamie and Rick were at the top of the hill by the road cheering (and maybe others, I might have missed them), George, Ann, and Kate were taking pictures as we crossed through the woods and into the final stretch. I peeled off to let Val run across the field and through the chute to a horde of screaming Trail Monsters – I think James, Bethany, Linda, Ian, and others, it was just totally awesome. At various points through the day I watched both Ian and Ryan provide incredible support to the TMs – running them in to the grove, running with them heading out over to Oak Hill. There’s something about having a very talented runner run with you a few steps and say just the right thing that adds an unspeakable aspect to the whole experience. Afterward, we all sat around together and recounted the day, got the highlights from others’ races. Emma worked out some knots in Val’s shoulders as she sat down and everyone had some food and beer. It really was like a family picnic complete with all the good-natured teasing and jokes and laughter that I love about our group.

Pacing for Val yesterday, I got in 22 miles for a nice long training run. I’m feeling good today. My back is a little sore from my hydration pack, but all in all, things are fine. I’m now moving in to the next phase of training which will be longer back-to-back weekend runs in preparation for my 40 miler in September. Emma suggested a run at 50k before then to work out my nutrition and hydration which was a brilliant suggestion. So I may be planning that as a training run sometime in July/August if anyone wants to join in preparation for their own upcoming long races or …lemme know…!

  One Response to “Pacing the Pineland Farms 50-Miler – Mindy”

  1. Gtreat story mindy, Hope all is well, stay healthy. Fran

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