Jun 042011

by Ann Alexion – Follow the Yellow Brick Road – Pineland Farms 50K

Pineland Farms is always such a great event. It seems like the break out event to celebrate the end of a long winter. During the few months prior to the race, I sometimes wonder if the snow will be gone by race day. This year for sure I was thinking that, but what usually happens, it ends up to be one of the hottest days we’ve gotten so far. This year proved to be no exception. Throughout my run it seemed to me like a trip down the Yellow Brick Road. I collected inspiration and encouragement that I would get ”home” as there is no place like the finish line to get the cow bell.

A few days before the race, I checked the entry list to see who I could look forward to seeing throughout my day. I noticed I was listed as part of the Trail Monster Team. Although, I was incredibly honored to be a part of the team, I was horrified. My races are usually alot like Dorothy’s, filled with ups and downs and sometimes wondering if I will ever get there. I checked with Eric as I didn’t want to mess up chances of the Trail Monsters being the winning 50K team. Eric assured me it was fine he and Ian had discussed it. I humbly accepted the honor and appreciated his words, “please don’t worry about your time or the team. Just focus on finishing your own run.”

Like most races, I have my clothes ready the night before, go to bed early, get up early and then run around the house the last minute looking for something. Usually, at that point, George will say something like, “let me find it, why don’t you continue getting ready.” This morning was no different, I didn’t seem to have just the right socks I wanted to wear. Of course, moments later, he found the right socks. Thank you Georgie!

We arrived at Pineland and we saw Ian. He was ready for a long day, cowboy hat and all. We then bumped into Bob Poirer. I had contacted him months earlier to have him make a birdhouse for George’s birthday. We walked back to his truck and George had no idea why we were doing this. I can’t believe I didn’t tell George ahead of time. He was totally surprised and loved it! Bob’s carpentry work (as well as his running) is great, the bird condo is awesome.

We then headed to Camp Val. We saw Kate and Ryan. Kate was on camera duty and Ryan was there and I am sure he would have loved to be running this year. A few years back I remember seeing Ryan crank by me as he was off to finish his race looking strong and going fast but still took the time to say ”hi”. Danielle did run and she finished with a 25K PR. We chatted with Kate and Ryan for a bit and headed to Camp Val to get ready. Bruce was no where to be found. (I call Rick Bruce. Val posted some pictures of their earlier years and I think he looked like Bruce Springsteen.) He arrived in a bit. Val had forgotten her water belt and he drove home to get it. It seems, Val’s list did include this sort of important item. Val’s race is always an exciting one. Val ended with a strong 50 mile race all smiles along with her pacer, my Stone Cat idol, Mindy. We talked with Bruce as we got ready. I adjusted my ”best” ever North Face water bottle belt. I wore it in VT while running with George at night during his 100. It was the best. Fit perfect. No bounce.

We made our way to the start. I enjoyed looking around and seeing alot of familar faces. Pineland seems to be a Memorial Day staple for many trail runners. Then we’re off. It feels great to be running across the street into the woods. Although my water belt felt wierd, it was bouncing all over the place. Before I know it the water bottle falls out. How embarrassing we just started! Some nice runner behind me, stopped and picked it up for me. Thank you kind trail runner! As I trotted along, I settled in with some of the usual peeps I recognize from past years. I don’t wear a garmin and never know how far I’ve gone or have left to go, so I was happy to see the ”K” markers. I was good about stopping at every aid station drinking water and eating salted peanuts. During my Stone Cat run, for some strange reason my calves cramped unbelievably and I certainly didn’t want that to happen. Trucking along was alot of fun and I felt really good. Because I felt so good, I got the super smart idea, that I needed to eat a banana to balance the sodium. Don’t ask me why I think of these things, because I know nothing about such things. But, what I should have known is I did this at the Five Fingers race last summer and my stomach was not happy about it.

It didn’t seem much later a cyclone began brewing in my stomach. I continued on and then I saw Linda. I was so happy to see Linda coming my way. We hugged and encouraged each other. I was tempted to turn around and continue on in her direction, but I didn’t. She went on to a strong finish in the 25K.

Just as I was at the “on no” stage of stomach issues, along out of no where comes what seemed to me like a little angel. The little angel was offering me some of her ginger. The little angel was Emma and I graciously accepted the ginger. We chatted and just as she had arrived, she was off and quickly out of sight. Emma finished as second woman in the 50 mile race.

Along, the way, Stephen passed me, told me how great it was to see me out there and asked if George was running too. As he passed me, he glided along, purposely brushing his hand along the higher grass. He seemed to be enjoying each step. This reminded me to enjoy the run. I continued to have more sightings, Jamie ran by looking very strong and I asked him how he was doing and he motioned his hand saying, “so, so”. I thought well if he’s so, so it’s not so bad that I feel so, so. I continued along and Jamie continued to a course PR.

A highlight for me whenever and where ever we do long races, is seeing Amy Lane. Amy is always just one big ball of positive words as she effortlessly runs past me. I didn’t see her name on the entrants list and was happily surprised when I heard her coming behind me saying “hi”, maybe even something about seeing George along with her usual words of encouragement. Amy went on the win the women’s 50 mile race. Somewhere along the course, I begin to wonder when Amy’s boyfriend is going run past me. In true fashion, at some point, we for a split thousandth of a second run side by side. No different today. He went on the win the men’s 50 miler. My shuffle along continued throughout exchanging words with other 50Kers, 50 milers, and being offered a salt tablet from a couple I kept meeting along the way. I was also seeing my usual peeps here and there who were ahead of me this year.

I neared the last five mile loop, I was greeted by Chandra with all sorts of shouts and cow bell ringing and I saw George. I could tell he was searching for some sort of encouragement which told me my race time wasn’t too good. He eventually said, “you look smiley.” Well, not all bad, it encouraged me to tackle the last part. I found out later, George finished a PR 50K. Yea George! The much appreciated encouragement on the final loop mile always come from Alan and Karen and this year was no different. I asked Alan how his race was and he said it was really great.

As I neared the end of the race, I thought how I really earned my cow bell this year and I am going to kiss that thing. I finished to cheers and kissed the bell. Amazingly, just as Eric had said, I finished my own race and didn’t worry about my time and thought to myself, “another 50K completed, click, click, another 50K completed”.

A few days later George put up the bird condo. It seemed appropriate blue birds immediatly took up residence and I thought of the song, Somewhere Over the Rainbow….
“If happy little bluebirds fly
Beyond the rainbow
Why, oh why can’t I?”


Keep dreaming!


  One Response to “Pineland Farms 50K – Ann Alexion”

  1. LOVED THIS, Ann! I will remember it when I’m running my own 50K at Pineland in May. Thank you for inspiring and motivating! Hope to see your smiling face there and check out whatever running skirt you’re sporting!

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