Saturday, after a 4:15 AM wake up call, we geared up and headed down to breakfast. The hotel had a 4:30 breakfast for which many of the runners took advantage. Mark and I chatted with a couple of guys from Boston. We were laughing with one guy who wasn’t looking forward to flying to India the next day. Not the best post race method for stretching out the legs!
We drove over to Willowdale State Forest in Ipswich, MA and the race was underway at 6:15 AM. We were stoked to see that the rain had passed and it looked like we’d have a clear, but still cold, day of running. We eased into a nice pace and ran with two guys (Ron F. and Keith M.) from MA. The course was rolling but lacked any significant climbs so there was no walking (at this point.) We bypassed the two stations in the loop and made our first stop at the end of the 12.5 mile lap. We finished the first lap in 2:03. After filling up the bottles and grabbing some soup we headed out for lap 2. It was pretty much more of the same and we knocked out the second lap in 2:07.
Lap 3 is where the race started to get tough. Physically, fatigue from just having run a marathon started to set in and mentally, the fact that we had to run another one became a reality. The talking diminished and the focus turned to breathing, hydrating, foot placement, pain management etc… Mark was looking strong and kept easing up so Keith and I would not fall too far behind. It was key having Mark to pace me through that lap. By the end of the third lap, which I finished in 2:38, Mark pulled ahead a few minutes and Keith decided to call it a day with a knee injury. It was disappointing to see Keith drop because he’s a solid runner and it was cool chatting with him about life’s adventures.
At the start of lap 4, Mark asked me if he should wait or go on. I appreciated the gesture but knew he was feeling stronger and I wouldn’t be able to keep his pace. So I urged him to go on without me. I was hungry so I grabbed some pretzels and soup and took a little extra time to get myself together before heading out for the final 12.5 miles. After the stop, I was cold and my legs stiffened up so it was hard getting into a steady pace starting the last lap. I shuffled my way to Al Cat’s. I was so hungry when I got to the station I gobbled up M&M’s, Chocolate Chip and Macademea nut cookies along with some soup and PB&J. The food and positive support from the volunteers provided a much-needed boost. I was also happy to realize that in only 4 miles I’ be at Freddie’s station and then I’d only have the final 4.5 miles from Freddie’s to the finish.
As I was cruising down some wide-open double track, I clipped a rock with my foot and was sent through the air superman style. As I projectiled into the dirt I yelped out an agonizing “OOhh.” A voice from a runner on the trail behind me called out “Are you ok?” I turned around, couldn’t see anyone, but responded, “I’m good. Thanks.” I took inventory, dusted myself off and continued on. I stopped at the last station for only a few seconds to fill up my bottle. I picked up my pace, finished as strong as I could and ended up completing the last lap in 2:43. Here I am 50 yards from the finish:
The giveaways were excellent. All runners received a long sleeve coolmax shirt and finishers scored a jacket:
I finished with a time of 9:52, which was 33rd place out of 131 runners. (Note: Of the 131 runners who started the race, there were 81 finishers for a 62% completion rate)
As I gingerly ambled into work Monday morning, a guy walking from the parking lot behind me shouted out “What, do you have a stick up your ass?” I turned around and had no idea whom the fellow employee was and he didn’t know me either. Astonished at not seeing the face he expected, he apologized “Sorry I thought you were someone else. Really, I’m sorry.” My co-workers got a good laugh when I told them the story and I told them to watch out for the guy who sits over there…
My kids summed things up: “All done running? Daddy stiff? Daddy you run faster next time.”