I spent most of 2013 on the roads, prepping for the Double Buckle. I assumed the training would do double duty and prep me for Oil Creek 100. In some ways, it did. I was mentally able to take on the challenge. I knew what I would face. I knew how to prepare and to execute. What I didn’t know was how to beat that damned clock.
I just didn’t train the trails enough. It bit me HARD at Oil Creek. I needed it to.
Enter, Mendon Pond 50k. It was my first race back on the trail since OC, and I was determined to nail it. As is custom, I somehow annoyed Mother Nature and she decided to play with her weather machine. We had a windstorm the day before with 60 mph gusts. It was cold, and it was predicted to rain—hard. AWESOME!!!! If I was going to prove myself, I wanted something to work with. Thanks Mom!
This is a small race. Not long after I got my registration materials, my phone rang. My buddy Jim was looking for me! After a bear hug, he introduced me to his friend, who was attempting her first ultra. We joked that he “Roger-ed” her---yup, buddy—you’re a verb now. We sat in my car to stay warm before the race.
The race started off almost too warm. I couldn’t get my layers off fast enough. Jim’s friend started to struggle at about mile 3. I wanted to show her the ropes, so I gave her a pep talk, some S-Caps and a pace that she could keep me in sights and learn the course. It kept me a bit slower, but it put an idea in my head. I’m going for negative splits. This means that I would have to run each loop faster than the last.
Lap two was uneventful, and I was able to run it with ease. I could literally feel the temperatures dropping. I kept telling myself that if I ran fast enough, the temps wouldn’t matter. It worked
Until lap 3. Then the rain started. It went drip—drop---splat. It was a heavy, cold rain. YES! I’m going to get to run in some mud! I ran by my car and grabbed the gear I would need and I was off. The trail absorbed the rain pretty well and I was able to continue with decent momentum on the climbs and descents. Then my son called. Seriously kid…No; I can’t come home early to give you a ride. Okay, there’s my motivation to keep moving. Still on track with negative splits.
Lap 4: The trail had absorbed all it was going to, and it was muddy. Once you are wet and dirty, it’s not like you can get wetter and dirtier, so I decided to go all out on this loop. I plugged in my iPod. First song: Beast of Burden. Second song: Sweet Caroline. Oh yes! Still making negative splits, but not with as much cushion.
Lap 5. I took a short walk break on the road leading up to the trails. I started to see people getting down about the weather. I met a few runners who just hated it. They motivated me…I decided I was going to pass every runner I came upon. I missed one, but otherwise met this goal. I used my experience to navigate the terrain and the weather, and I felt amazing. I found myself doing what I haven't done in a while---I was singing. I was truly happy. I was never so sad to see a finish line! And yes, my split was negative!
After I got my medal, I stopped by the pavilion to chat with some friends. Most of them were wrapped in blankets and jackets. My body figured out that they must be cold, and decided to join them. I started shivering immediately. Brrrrr.
It felt amazing to be on the trail, and I will pursue as many trail races as possible this year, including one next weekend. I also ran fast enough that I was able to help out my son.