Road ID

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Mill Stoned

It was around 5:15am as my alarm clock sounded.  The day for my first 50K had arrived.  I got up, made sure my wife was moving around, and starting stuffing carbs down my throat even though I was not really hungry.  My better half and I loaded up in the CRV and hit the road.

I arrived at Anne Springs Close Greenway just after 7am.  This was my second ever visit to this venue, the first was to do a training run this past January.  A handful of runners were already there "milling" around as I found a parking place with a view.  My wife was there to go on our Valentine's Celebration Cruise, and just happened to get to watch my race from the comfort and warmth of our vehicle.  My scan of the competition revealed a myriad of runners, male/female/old/young/ and everything in between. 

After packet pick-up, I took care of all that last minute business runners must do and found my way to the starting line, or starting cones as it turned out.  To my surprise, there was not a big to-do at the start, just a safety briefing and the race director snapped a couple of pics.  With both Garmins (yes, I was wearing one on each wrist) I heard the Race Director say Go....Just like that, I began my journey to complete 31 miles for the first time in my life. 

The First Loop (10.5 miles)
The beginning of the loop started on a packed gravel road, which lead down a slight grade and turned to the right where I encountered the first water crossing of the course.  The temperature was around 38ish degrees and there I was with wet feet within the first quarter of a mile.  There was a narrow footbridge available, but it was slower and not as inviting as just going for it through the water.  After the Steele Creek Crossing, the loop quickly turned into a single track trail that parallelled a pasture surrounded by a wire fence.  After about a 1/2 mile of following the fence line, the trail lead into the wilderness and was not much more than a well beaten path covered with leaves.  I crossed several swinging type walkways along with a few static board walks.  The first aid station was at mile 3.5, just after passing the Historic Millstone.  This aid station also served as the 7 mile mark aid station.  Not much more than a couple of volunteers with clipboards, water & gatorade, and a few snacks.  Past the aid station came the East/West School Loops, which were made up of mostly single track trails and a few pedestrian tunnels that went under roadways.  After exiting the School Loops, I passed the Grist Mill, and was headed back to the start/finish line.  At some point between the Mill and the start/finish line, I traversed through the second creek crossing as pictured below.

2nd Creek Crossing

After this crossing, I continued on a single track trail through some of the muddiest parts of this run.  I finally made my way around the lake and up several inclines back to the beginning of the loop.  My first loop was completed at somewhere around a 10 minute per mile pace, which I'm sure for my training was a bit fast and ill advised by my DM Friend Patrick...but I was having fun and experimenting at the same time.

The Second Loop (10.5 Miles)

As I began my second leg of this run, I shed the long sleeve shirt pictured above and my beanie that you see me carrying in my right hand.  I was continuing to fuel with gatorade at the aid stations and water from my hydration pack as my thirst required.  I had planned to eat at some of the aid stations, but I really had to force my self to get down GU's, etc.  My second lap was ran very similar to my first and again, I averaged a 10 minute or so mile back to the starting point of my final lap, except this time I was starting to feel a bit spent.

My Final Loop (10 miles)

I left my wife this time with not a lot of gas in the tank.  This time around, I was walking a lot more inclines than the previous two loops, and at some points, really asking myself what the heck was I thinking...and then I reminded myself of my Extreme Personality and desire to PUSH my limits.  I did pass a few runners on my last lap, as with my previous 2, but I got passed some too.  I distinctly remember passing a gentleman that appeared to be in his early 20's, who commented as I passed him while he was walking..."it's just about survival at this point."  In my mind I was agreeing as we were both reduced to walking this particular section, but when I started my shuffle again in an attempt to look like I was running, he was still walking.  I never saw him the rest of the race.  Soon, I found myself digging deep, even if only to walk a lot, I vowed silently to myself I would not quit, but would die first.

A Family Finish

During my final loop shuffle, it became very clear to me I would not finish near the time I told my wife and family to start looking for me (I projected a 5 hour, 10 minute finish).  As I rounded the last corner, and started my final shuffle up about a 2% grade for the last 1/2 mile to the finish line, my family came into view, but they were walking towards me.  My wife threw up her hands (I don't know if it was out of relief, or frustration form my 1 hour and 10 minute variation of my original projected finish time).  As I neared, my wife, daughter, and her boyfriend (my daughter & boyfriend had driven from their college to see me finish) began to shuffle beside me and my wife informed me they had come to run the last few strides with me.  Later on, my wife shared with me they had started to get concerned I may have fallen and injured myself, or something.  (Well, I had fell, hit my knee, but got up and kept going.)  We reached the top of the incline, I made a hard left and ran through the finish chute, at which time two volunteers placed a large hand crafted metal mill stone medallion around my neck hanging from a green ribbon and said something like... "Congratulations!"  I stopped my Garmin (which read 6:23:16), but my wife's Garmin had stopped itself at mile 29 due to the battery life. 

Just like that, I had reached a very coveted milestone in my life by running the
Mill Stone, and somehow wondered about how I would have to do a better job training for a 50 mile race...

Trying to muster a SMILE with Jade, my oldest.

My official times can be found here:

Lessons Learned-

I firmly believe in most training situations for long distances, you should at least run the same distance of the target distance once in training, if not more.  I felt much more prepared and stronger during my first 1/2 marathon in November 2012. 

I may experiment with not wearing a hydration pack in future ultra runs, perhap, I will utilize the handheld bottle method.  I really felt weighted down, even though I completed 99% of my training runs wearing hydration pack filled with water.

I may also experiment with actually stopping at the aid stations and not just running to and through them.


The rush of the run.

Knowing I finished this feat after just turning 40.

Seeing my family meet me to run to the finish line.

The satisfaction of knowing I did it!!!

The Grand Finale

You guessed it, a short trip to The Bahamas with an Angel I met flying too low to the ground who I married in June of 1993.

Sunrise off the coast of Freeport, Bahamas.