Monday, May 4, 2009

Tough time at Pineland and the Camden Hills

The antibiotic treatment I was on after Boston took its toll. It wasn't until this past weekend, almost two weeks after Boston, that I started feeling like myself again.

The Saturday following Boston was my planned long run for the Massanutten Mountain Trails 100 (on for next Saturday) - the apex of my training and the doorway to taper. The day started rough as I missed my alarm and awoke an hour later to a call from Jamie wondering where I was. Dohhh. While I consoled myself with the rationale that I needed the rest to get better, I was still frustrated knowing that today's run was all or nothing. After that I was in the inner sanctum of taper and there was no violating the rest rule.

I arrived at Pineland at 20 minutes to 6 AM and headed out for a short jaunt before returning after a couple miles to join up with my buddy, Jim G. We ran for an hour and half before coming upon Jamie and his neighbor and friend, Kate. After running with them for a short bit, we arrived back at the YMCA parking lot to meet up with the rest of the Trail Monsters.

My plan all along was to start at 4 AM and run until noon, regardless of the miles I got in. I was estimating I could get in 50 miles in this time, which is typically the max distance I run in preparation for a100-miler. Well, I started shortly before 6 AM and had promised Kelly I would be done at noon, so 50 miles was not in the cards. This was all the better as I started to feel terrible around 11 AM and the last hour of the run was terribly difficult (good training for the last hour of the 100...). I did not come out of this run with any confidence. In fact, it may have even shattered any hopes I had of doing really well at Massanutten. Now, that is not to say I am not going to attempt to do well. I just know that my training did not go according to plan, starting with my failure at Boston, and continuing on to my inability to go long at Pineland the following weekend. The only solace I take is that I gave Boston my all and then five days later I was able to run 32 miles in 6 hours on very tired legs and week dose of antibiotics. That has to count for something!

The week following the Pineland "long" run found my training back to normal. I was able to run daily and hit my morning workout class for each of the three days it was offered. On Saturday I met Jim G. again out at Pineland at 6 AM and we got in a couple hours of running on the most perfectly idyllic spring morning. We got in about 13 miles at a pretty even and good pace, and I started to feel better. I had finished my antibiotics the day before and I was starting to feel like my old self again. After Kelly met me at 8 AM at Pineland for her run and to hand the kids off to me, I headed home to pack for our trip up to Camden (the pictures included in this post is from this trip).

Last week the Trail Monsters had suggested a run through the Camden Hills. I started formulating plan that would enable me to do this run, somewhat as vindication for the poor training over the prior two weeks. By Friday my plan was cemented and included Kelly and I dropping the kids off with my most gracious and helpful father-in-law, Phil, and his lovely partner, Thea (Boo Boo). After the drop off Kelly I headed up to Camden and took a room at the Camden Windward House B&B in downtown Camden (we would recommend it). We spent a great afternoon shopping around Camden (where amongst other things we found a very excellent Van Gogh action figure for Jamie's 29th birthday) and had a great dinner on the water. A bottle of wine helped us to an early retirement and an equally early placement at the breakfast table on Sunday morning.

After breakfast and finishing John Parker's legendary running novel, "Once a Runner", Kelly and I made the quarter mile trip up the Mt. Battie trailhead to meet the Trail Monsters. Joining us for the run was Jeff "Professor" Walker, Ian "Giant" Parlin, Floyd "Robot" Lavery, Jim "The Mouth" Dunn, Ryan "Sushi" Triffit, and Jamie "The Pacer" Anderson. Kelly joined a group of the ladies for a hike (she ended up doing over 7 miles through the hills, which was quite impressive). The start of the run was straight up Mt. Battie, an 600-700 foot climb in one half mile. Quickly we were sweating while our hearts cursed us for robbing it of its oxygen so quickly and without warning. Once on top of Mt. Battie, where we took in a most marvelous panoramic of Camden and Penobscot Bay, we headed down the trail where we were going to scale Mt. Megunticook. Before we made it to far, Jeff's foot caught under a root and he took a gnarly looking spill. As I was right behind him, I witnessed it in all its gruesome detail. The fall would have been minor if Jeff had not have landed with his mid-section on an erosion break of rocks. In my opinion Jeff came away from this fall very lucky. What should have been a series of broken ribs was nothing more than a little blood and some "road" rash. Lucky dude.

After Mt. Megunticook the run pretty much was just up and down with spectacular views sprinkled in. A couple hours in we all decided that to achieve our goal of 20 miles would require more time than any of us had so we decided to cut out a 2.5 mile out and back to Frohock Mountain. Well, that is except for the hard core among us..."The Mouth" and "Sushi" decided they were going the whole distance, so we separated from those animals I think on Carey Mountain (???) and headed for home, which we guessed would take us another couple hours. (the hard core among us, "Mouth" and "Sushi" ended up calling in the cavalry from Frohock Mountain and almost beat us back to the parking lot, courtesy of the shuttle van!)

The ups and downs, coupled with some harder runs the day before, started wearing on some of us. I for one was getting tired, hungry, and thirsty. On the way out the door Saturday I had grabbed the wrong camelback (an old one) so my water tasted like freezer burn (or as Floyd, "Robot", described it, "an old Swanson" dinner) which made it less than palatable. While I was feeling much better after flushing most of the antibiotics out of my system, I still was a little beat and hopefully tired from the accumulation of effort over the training season. I am hoping my renewed health and a couple weeks rest will make all okay with the world and Massanutten a success. At any rate, after four hours of being on the trails, we made it back down Mt. Battie to our cars. The tally for the day was 15.26 miles and lots of elevation gain/loss. I am expecting Massanutten to be 85 more miles of this same type of terrain. Boy am I in for a hurtin'.

Post run we all headed into town and collectively we consumed an entire cow in the form of hamburgers. Beer was had all around (well, Jim took care of most of it, leaving some for the rest of us), and many laughs shared. To me, this day was what running is all about. Meeting your running buddies, sharing some grueling moments together tackling hard terrain, pushing your limits, and sticking by friends who are hitting low spots. Following these runs is a shared disregard for swine flu while you consume ground beef laced with bacon and drink your weight in beer. These types of shared experiences are hard to come by in this lazy, anti-septic world. Long live the Trail Monsters!


Dan said...

Stephen, no need to worry about Massanutten. With the rest you'll get tapering you'll be good to go for at least 100 miles!

Laurel said...

I choose to believe we are supposed to feel like our running has gone all to hell going into our taper for Massanutten, I know that's how I feel! Two weeks of a good taper will do wonders and we'll both be very strong at MMT. I'll introduce myself if I see you there.
-a fellow Maine MMTer, Laurel

middle.professor said...

Well put. I'll drink to that!

(and I'll buy your drink following the Massofnuthin 100)