by Ann Alexion – Our vacation started with a trip to VT as G was running the VT50, a 50 mile run at Ascutney Mountain. We left the house a little earlier than planned, so we had plenty of time to make a few little trips (for Annie!) along the way. G was a good sport about this, maybe because he convinced me to sign up for 50K when we got to Ascutney…
We arrived at the mountain with no problems, parked and went in to register at the base of the mountain. G picked up his number while I registered. I initially got a number with an “8” in it and thought to myself, my favorite number, this is going to be good! But then the woman handing out the numbers realized she had given me a number for the 50 miler, not the 50K…oh well. The T-shirts were cool, 100% Organic Cotten and they had size small! Things were looking good, along with the beautiful weather. We had brought our own food for supper, so looking for some place to eat eliminated any hassles, so we drove to our hotel and checked in. Sleep was no problem for either of us, we woke up to the alarm and looked out the window. Too bad, it was raining and a tad chilly, but we though maybe it will clear as it was early morning. Needless to say, that never happened. The day was chilly, rainy and most of all muddier than could even be imagined. I can’t complain as miraculously I did manage to finish, 31 miles of pure slip and slide. Took a few tumbles, but plugged along. At some point while running away from bikes on the single tracks, I had made up my mind at Mile 22, that was going to be the end of the race for me. I knew what those last 9 miles were like because I ran them with G last year. I remember last year saying to myself, I cannot imagine running this after running 41 miles as G did last year. Little did I know, I would be presented with this after 22miles a year later. My knee had become stiff, I was cold and wet as the the race photographer took my picture…I said to myself, ‘when I look at this picture, I’ll know, I was thinking, take my picture now, because I dropping out as soon as I reach Dugdale’s aid station.
I arrived at the Dugdale’s and of course, I was afraid to tell anyone I wanted to drop out. I weighed my options, and then decided oh well 9 miles, I might as well go for it. Heading down the trail, the mud was horrendous, so I slipped my way back uphill, asked someone what time it was…as I was thinking…geez maybe G will be coming up the hill shortly and we can run in together…that would be fun! The thought then left my mind and I asked someone when the pacer van was coming back as I wanted to drop. This is the point in the race, pacer’s can meet 50 mile runners to pace them in to the finish. They said they could call it if I wanted and then one of the volunteer men I recognized from last year, asked me if I was sure and wanted to make it official. Wierd, I felt quite emotional and almost started crying (I don’t think he noticed), but I was then undecided what to do. He was incredibly nice and said why don’t you eat something and think about it. A young girl said to me, that she could run me in if I wanted. She had on those rubber I think polka dot boots and one of the bikers remarked that she had the right foot gear on to do it. I thought to myself, how cool was that for an offer. In the meantime, the aid station got crazy…some girl small and in all black came in and she was frantic saying she had gotten lost and needed to make up time. I saw Chuck and Katie also looking frantic and heading out. I guess I sort of got inspired and caught up in all the excitement and said what the heck. Needless to say, I slipped slided my way to the next aid station which was 6 miles away and was pleased I had not given up. At this aid station, I got a nice chuckle to myself when a biker looked at me and said to me, ‘nice job ma’m’. That in a nutshell was my best memory of the day. As I am a real back of the packer plugger, I thought it was pretty cool to see some peeps who are ‘real’ ultra runners. Along the way, I don’t remember where milage wise, I thought it was pretty neat to see Devon Crosby Helms pass me. She went on to win the 50 miler. I don’t know her, but read her blog and just knew it was her from the back. I also saw the men’s winner. So amazing, it seemed effortlessly, he ran past me and said ‘nice job’. I saw other real runners whose blogs I read and thought it was cool to be ‘running’ with them. So I ended up finishing in what I can only describe as a day at the office with some overtime and tons of mud!
I then ended up getting a really bad cold that lasted a good 3 weeks. We spent a few days home and then headed off for Baxter State Park. We enjoyed a couple great days in a wilderness cabin at Daicey Pond. The weather continued to be rainy, rainy, however with a woodstove cranking and our LL Bean rockers, we enjoyed our time reading, did a bit of hiking and plenty of eating.
My cold got worse, but I was signed up for the Maine Half Marathon, so I ran the half and it, along with a pretty dissapointing time, it was pure torture. I started out great. G had decided he would pace me, which I was thrilled about before the cold, but towards around mile 8 or so, I totally lost it and the rest was pure misery. Poor G, I was quite a grump and upon finishing went right to the car and we drove home. I am glad I did the run (I guess) as in many ways it was great for mental toughness. I felt so lousy, but still kept plugging. I also decided, that I really have no love for street running, trails are really what I enjoy and love.
Well, I have procrastinated publishing this post, so I might as well, press publish and will hopefully very shortly write my recap of Stone Cat.