Joe, Karen Fennie, and I headed down to Maryland on Friday, checked into our hotel, hit the grocery store for breakfast foods, had a good dinner and then went back to the hotel to relax. I had worked on Thursday night and had gotten only about 5 ½ hours of sleep before our drive, so it didn’t take long for me to fall asleep while watching the NCAA basketball. Unfortunately, one of the hazards of working evenings is that night-time sleep is a luxury that I usually don’t get. I woke-up at 2am and was wide awake, thinking it was time to get up. At somewhere around 3:40am I think I managed to fall back to sleep and then 5am came really early.
We got to Susquehanna State Park at about 7:15am to set-up our own private aid station tent and to socialize (and isn’t that what ultra running is really all about?!) with many of our old friends and we met some really great new friends.
The start of the race was in an open field and with 445 starters it really didn’t matter where you lined-up! I just blended-into the crowd and slowly worked my way around, as long as it didn’t require any extra effort, anyone whose pace was slower than mine. The day was sunny but cool with a cool wind and I knew that it would definitely get warmer once we hit the trails. And it did.
I pretty much ran alone and within myself until the first aid station. I refilled my bottle with HEED, grabbed a pretzel stick, and walked. As I was walking I head a familiar voice up ahead and eventually caught up to my friend, Frank. Frank was really great and I was enjoying his company as he told me some great stories which kept my mind off from some of the more tedious sections (read: road sections). When we came to the creek crossing I just plunged right in. I have learned my lesson about trying to keep my feet dry when it comes to creek crossings. Don’t even try. It usually ends in disaster. Unfortunately, there was some pretty deep sand in the creek which filled my sneakers. I got ahead of Frank here. When I got back to our tent I had to make a pit stop to change socks and clean out my shoes and Frank went running by me. I started to feel a bit whippy and realized that my face felt like a salt-lick. So I chucked-down some extra Endurolytes and drank more HEED and then I had a revelation . . . I really hadn’t been eating much. So when I reached the next aid station I was extremely grateful to find warm, salty French fries! I grabbed a handful and walked and ate until I could feel my brain beginning to work again. I ran off and on and when I reached that horrible road section I was really missing Frank’s company. That section had gone so much better with him distracting me. So I just whined to myself until I reached the next aid station . . . only to find HOT, salty French fries waiting for me! Oh, this was way too good to be true. I knocked-back a Coke and a ton of those fries and walked out of the station. And when I crossed the creek again, where I had left Frank on the first lap, I found him again! This really boosted my spirits to have him help pace me along. Eventually I got a second wind and had to leave Frank, but I figured he wouldn’t be far behind me. I finished the race in 5:51:44 – not a PR, but my second best 50K ever! And good for 6th out of 30 in my age-group and 113th out of 385 overall. Joe finished in 6:31:31 and Karen in 7:26:40. I recovered quite well with more of those awesome hot, salty fries and some Pork Slap Ale. A good time was had by all.
Sunday was a day of recovery. I really did intend to go out for a run. However, the weather was cold, overcast, and windy. Joe was hurting from his fall (knocked his head on a rock and #$%*ed-up his right hand). So I did a light 30 minutes on the bike and tried to do some nutritional recovery. However, my heart got a real work-out in the evening when we watched the Six Nations Rugby championship game. Holy crap was it a good one! Ireland came in undefeated and a win would make it a Grand Slam – their first in 61 years! Wales was looking strong but to win the tournament they had to beat Ireland by 13 points. My Man, Ronan O’Gara missed his first penalty kick and then Ireland gave up two really stupid penalties to Wales, which they converted. A half-time talk with the coach must have made all the difference as Ireland came out fighting in the second half. With less than 3 minutes to go in the game Ireland was down by one, but My Man came through. O’Gara put down a drop goal so nice and smooth and put Ireland up by two. But one more stupid penalty gave Wales a chance for the win with no time left on the clock. It was pure luck that the Welsh kicker couldn’t get the distance, because his kick was dead-on. Ireland won!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Anyone whose interest I might have piqued . . . check-out all the goods at http://www.rugbyrugby.com.
And what do you think was truly the totally best part of the ENTIRE weekend? I got to see the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile up-close and in-person as we passed it on the highway on our drive home on Saturday night!
“When an excursion into the woods is proposed, all sorts of dangers are imagined
. . . Yet it is far safer to wander in God’s woods than to travel on black
highways or to stay at home . . . No American wilderness that I know of is so
dangerous as a city home “with all the modern improvements.” One should go
into the woods for safety, if for nothing else.”