Sunday, April 16, 2006

McNaughton Park Trail Runs: 30 Mile Race Report

A few pics from McNaugton. My wife took them at the start/finish so they're all pretty self indulgent. Race report is below the pics.

Keegan building up glycogen stores and plotting next year's 100 miler.

Ahh, the finish.

Plodding along....

Heat, Humility, and a Hippie: View from the Back of the 30 Mile Pack

“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing views. May your mountains rise into the clouds.” -Edward Abbey

Pekin, IL. If you’re a local then you’re used to the name of this town being most referenced pejoratively, say as the site of the federal prison or breeding ground for the KKK, not as the site of one of the most inspiring trails in the Midwest. Ok, granted the mountains don’t rise into the clouds, but there ARE hills, at least by flatland standards. No foolin. There are also great creeks crossings, spring greenery, wildflowers of various sorts, critters too numerous to list, and the Midwestern hospitality of Weinberg and company.

For me personally this year was a chance to finally do the race after injuries the past two years. Word has gotten out—a maxed out field since a week before the race, news crews doing interviews, and a crowded starting line, all testaments to the experiences to be had. Andy started us off with the bagpiper at the first mile, the strains of the highlands a lovely way to start a journey for sure.

Our plan as usual was to start slow, suck down two both bottles between each aid station (half sports drink, half agua), and one succeed cap per hour. Beyond that, it was just more slowing down, more drinking, and hopefully peeing. Both Pam and I tucked in behind a group of 50 and 100 milers and went out conservatively. Heat was an issue. Most training runs this spring have been done in 30-40 degree temps, while highs for the race would top into the low 80’s, add the sun and it was fairly brutal for everyone. For a 30 mile plodder like me it was manageable, but I give mad respect to the 100 milers who have a much slimmer margin for error.

Loop one went by nicely, chatting it up with whomever was around, walking the steep ups, running all the downs and most of the flats. Being able to train on the course anytime is an advantage when it comes to tempo planning for sure and makes it easier to kick into autopilot.

Loop two was largely without incident, but the usual leg cramping started to twinge at about 4 hours. While cruising through the wooded area past the heaven’s gate field, I came upon a tie-dyed woman with a walking stick hanging out on the trail. Being down with the occasional Dylan tune, I threw her the customary “How goes it?” The only response I got back was “You’re 152nd.” Wussup, we’re out in the middle of the frickin woods and she’s keeping track of my inferiority as a racer? Thanks for the update, but where’s that 60’s egalitarian spirit? Ah, well, dehydration…lsd…it ain’t that much different, I suppose. So on I plod.

By marathon distance the legs were rebelling, the cramps were winning, end in sight so it’s ignorable. Trudged the last four miles with a woman from PA. who was jumping from her first 50k to the 100 in just a month’s time. The conversation made the kick home pleasant. I sincerely hope she completed her dream. Kim and Keegan were there at the finish (ok, ok, 7:35, but I got there) to cap off a great way to spend the morning.

Highlights for me were 1. The people. They’re the best--True salt of the earth, passionate and friendly all. 2. The trail itself. The creeks were up a bit, the wildflowers (especially my favorite patch of bluebells that wasn’t there last weekend) are establishing their temporary residence on the forest floor, and the tree canopy is greening all over. 3. Fig Newtons.

50 miles next year.

Congrats to my training partner Pam for her tenacity and thanks for the friendship. Props to my fellow Dead Runners Club madmen Stinky Pants Malone (Tapp) who is infected with the ultra bug and completed his first 50, Whisk for completing his first ultra after being sick all week, and Iron Lung Walcott for blazing the 30 while not even going all out. Large respect for everyone out there, especially those 100 milers, who occupy a universe I someday hope to enter.

Peace to all.


moor-rambler said...

Good job, mate. Way to hang in there and get the job done. It makes me think I need to get running again!! See you in a week...

Anonymous said...

Looks nice! Awesome content. Good job guys.