Jun 042012

by Ann Alexion – Pineland Farms 50K!

Thinking back, I should have written this post on Monday, but instead spent most the day sitting outside with a huge smile on my face, reliving all the wonderful details. My initial post was going to be ”P” is for Pineland! It seemed the day was full of ”p’s”…photos, potatoes, PBJ squares, passing peeps, Peak Power but I decided it was more about how I followed my Pre race TV interview.  🙂

We started the weekend, volunteering at registration pick up on Sat.  Registration was busy and fun.  I found it pretty neat to see some people at packet pick up and then see them on the trails the next day.  I also found that Pathfinder not only has a great kick at the end of his races, but also has a great arm for throwing t-shirts..perfect pitch!  We finished up, drove home and got our gear ready for the next day, as we would have to leave early on Sunday to ensure an early arrival.

Normally we would be heading to Camp Val in the morning.  However, this year Val did Peaks in VT because of a graduation commitment the weekend of Pineland.  She was missed and so was the camp support.  We immediately saw smiling Christine and Kate and set up our gear with which was soon to be a TMR gathering spot. The race starts at 8, however, earlier in the week, Eric sent out an email about a Channel 8 interview.  The interview was to be at 7:20.  It was a neat group, Brenda, Kate, and Christine were completing their first 50 and I was referred to as a veteran of sorts. Wow was that fun.  I think we all felt pretty special, the interview was great fun and really got us excited for the race.  I was asked as the veteran of the group what my advice for the race was and said, something about..keep on smiling, keep on going and suck up all the support along the way.  I found for the most part, this was my race strategy for the day and successfully followed my own advice.

We lined up and the race started.  As last year, it’s fun to start out, seeing every one’s enthusiasm, recognizing many from years past, crossing the street to trails..here we go!  It seems like a tradition now to see Ryan at the start. I don’t know what it will be like when he is racing it next year.  🙂  He gave me the same reassuring nod as last year, I imagine he’s saying, ”you got it.”  However, same as last year, my water belt decided to bounce. I’ve gone back to my old faithful Nathan water belt.  The belt in someways seems like a part of me, as it has shared my most exciting adventures in life with me. I  cursed myself for using it through the winter, ”stretching” it out over layers and decided maybe the elastic has finally had it’s day.  As it bounced and I fiddled with it, I finally realized, don’t ask me how, I didn’t even have the Velcro to the right tightness.

I tend to run by myself as I often think I don’t have the extra energy to talk and run, especially during a long run.  I did the same during this race.  I  went along K by K listening to my tunes which were a combo of my tunes and included some of George’s. I didn’t think my IPhone had enough battery for the day, so I used an Ipod George reloaded the night before to include ”Annie tunes”.  I laughed to myself several times when a Jethro Tull song would be in the mix as those certainly aren’t ”Annie tunes”.   I wondered at what point during a run or 100 mile race would George find ”snots running down his face” motivating.

Very early on, I think I might have run past Kate, I remember thinking…”ummm she must have a specific pace per mile in mind.”  Unlike myself, I had no real plan at all for time and was just going by feel.  I thought for  a bit of the first loop, I’ll be golden if I can keep Xar within my field of vision.  This was a good plan for awhile and maybe a great goal for the future, but she got away from eye view after a few aid stations.  Eventually, I settled in to running my own race.

During the first loop, I had amazing boosts of inspiration.  Dave was manning an aid station and Ian was there at the same time.  Both extremely positive influences in this world of trail running and it was great to see them.  This year my glimmers of greatness happened as usual.  It was pretty interesting this year.  The runners were all so very kind and encouraging throughout.  Not a single pass without some sort of acknowledgement.  It’s hard to really express, how amazing this really was.  It’s not that the runners aren’t always kind, but this year had a more laid back feel or just genuine kindness throughout.   At one point, Brian R flew past and I found myself saying ”go Brian.” Since I had headphones on, I have no idea how loud I said this.  He easily was the 50 mile leader.  He actually stopped it seemed for a second, turned and said, ”hi”.  I sort of freaked for a second hoping I didn’t disturb his ”chai” or  thought what if the distraction made him trip.  He’s a very disciplined runner, extremely focused and amazing. I should know, he’s been passing me for years.  🙂  A bit later, Amy Lane happily came upon me at some point.  She’s totally a boost of energy, always saying ”hi” with encouraging words and asking about George. It was really cool to see her not lose stride, check her watch quickly and vanish. She went on to win the women’s 50 miler. I remember thinking I feel so much better this year than last year when I saw her, however, I could not for the life of me figure out was  ahead or behind of last year

It’s always a great feeling to get the first lap done and then the work begins.  I somehow knew, I needed to mentally get myself going for this second loop.  I felt fine, no stomach upset as I opted to consume potatoes the first loop.  Reading the night before, Chuck was boiling potatoes for the aid stations made me somehow imagine they would be the magic nutrition for me.  I carried Gu’s with me throughout but the thought of gagging a few down never happened.  So at the half, I pulled out the big gun, George’s Peak’s hat from McNaughton100 and I was going to use all the Peak Power around me to keep me going.

I remember running through the fields at one point, although I don’t think the temps were too bad, the sun was brightly shining all day, I felt like I was barely running and thought geez, if anyone was to come upon me, what might they think .  I was trying my best to keep moving. I believe I had another Xar siting and noticed a woman I ran with a TARC at a crossing point ahead.  At another point a train of 3 or 4 Crow Athletics very politely chugged past me, they were consistently moving along enjoying themselves.  They occasionally let out a, ”caw caw” as I heard them move away from me.  They made a comment about how if they passed anyone they would do it slowly and I may have imagined this part, but they may have said ”and politely” and they did just that.  It was like they went by in this little train in slow motion. I thought to myself it was pretty cool.  The 50 milers were passing along and I was able to see Stephen who was moving with a pack.  I overheard one in the back of  his  pack saying, ”it wasn’t the kind of day to be a hero.”  I wonder if that was a thought process for many throughout, as everyone just seemed to be enjoying the ride.  I continued moving along and was getting passed by 50 milers, 50kers including Kate at some point and some of my usual peeps who I hadn’t seen the whole time past me.  I continued moving along and remember seeing Kale who I didn’t know, but know from FB.  I introduced myself to the man I envision living in the woods.  He took a few seconds to stop, turn around and to shake my hand as he continued on his 50 mile trek. I also remember bumping into Jose from last year who reminded me to take salt tabs.  At some point, it probably was the last loop after the start finish, Tika and I exchanged words across the trails, although we couldn’t see each other.  She recognized my voice I think, as I was trying to thank Chuck for the potatoes.  He and Katy were focused and I don’t think they heard me.

I noticed I was getting into the double digit K’s of the second loop and knew pretty soon I’ll have just a 10K to finish. At this point, I realized I was near completing the 50K distance again and it’s at this point, I just want to cry.  I don’t know why, but I just get overwhelmed.  Coincidentally, I then bumped into Kate and Jamie.  I can’t say I was the most talkative person at that point, but Jamie was a great motivator for me in saying, ”only 10K to go..break it down into (2) 5k’s, you can do it”.  This became the best part of my whole run and my remaining mantra.  I was able to pick  it up a bit, and felt like I was gliding through the start finish for the last loop.  Amazingly it seemed like all the TMR’s were there and high fives abounded, it was so much fun.  I totally tapped into each on of their Peak experience I had read about throughout the weeks before, reviewing some for extra for strength the night before.  I think I even was saying Peak Power.  That last loop was alot of fun.  Usually it’s this crazy weeble wobble for me.  This year powered by inspiration from many and encouragement from all, I dropped my water belt at the mini drop Christine, Kate and I set up, had some Mountain Dew and got to it.  Towards the last bit of the stretch forward, it was totally awesome to have Dave and Nathan run up behind me.  Nathan looked awesome..he fist bumped me and went on past…what a strong 50 miles for him!  I finished up to high fives and cheers and hugs at the finish line and had my red hot dog fix for the year.  Amazingly I followed my own advice throughout to keep on going, keep on smiling, and suck up the support along the race.  It was quite a day!

Special thanks to Eric, Ian, Chandra and Four for putting on an outstanding event!  Thank you to the help of all the volunteers.  Special thanks to the TMR crew for the start/finish amazing support. That was rock star cool! Big congrats to Brenda, Christine and Kate for finishing their first 50K distance.  Thanks again Jamie for the last 10K pep talk.  George thanks for getting me those red hot dogs at the finish, yummy!  Maybe in some strange way, Jethro Tull did help…everything happens for a reason.  🙂

Keep dreaming!


  2 Responses to “Pineland 50K – Ann Alexion”

  1. Interesting report, though I know it was difficult as all 50Ks and longer are, it seemed easy while reading.

  2. Hi Ann good job. I’m proud of you! Brother jim

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