Sep 272011

by George Alexion

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 a lot 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 at 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.

  6 Responses to “Virgil Crest 100 – George Alexion”

  1. Loved the write-up, George! You are one tough cookie! Very impressive. I love the line, “But be forewarned when you are sitting on the couch reading the blogs and it all seems so doable.” 🙂 So true. I don’t think a lot of us have it in us to do what you did out there this weekend, George. Way to go!!

  2. Awesome work on a tough course in tougher conditions George, was great to have you and the northern crews.

  3. Nice writeup, George and great job finishing in those muddy conditions!

  4. Fantastic race George. You are quite and inspiration and man of determination. Congratulations on surviving the ordeal!

  5. great job George and a write that had me feeling tired…….some day…..some day I might convince myself to attempt 100 miles, but I have to accomplish a 50 miler first.

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